For every starting business, this is the area where most companies fail and it translates into NOT ENOUGH SALES. The good news is that you can do a lot yourself and the only cost is your time.
1 Social media Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Google maps listings – my advice would be to make separate listings for all your vacation rental properties where you can and be responsive whenever a review comes in. DO NOT INVEST TOO MUCH TIME LOOKING FOR LIKES AND RETWEETS as the users of the social networks are not in a BUYING MOOD whenever the use them. It is more of a proof of life and additional push for a client who has already made up his mind to rent and an SEO tool for your own direct bookings. YouTube also falls into the social media category and is becoming increasingly important – use it to make videos of your area and also to make video instructions for your clients (How to enter/exit, tricky equipment etc)
2 Own website.
Even if there is a single website which you use and it brings you a lot of bookings you still have to make your own as you will save on commissions and also the markets change very quickly nowadays and you will be prepared for whatever lies ahead like commission increase, some channels have even closed over time, changed and bought by the competition.
CAUTION: before you start with the website you will have to figure out first which Property management software or Channel Manager you will use as they will provide you with the online booking capability. There are a lot of free platforms you can use but Wordpress has the most options and different plugins you can use. Think about who is your client and in which languages you have to make the website. Make news sections where you can post news of your area and of your properties.
3 Channel manager
As you will want to have a reach on different platforms as AirBnB, Booking,com, Agoda, Hotels.com and etc. you will need to have a tool which will sync the availability of your vacation rental properties on all of them simultaneously so you wouldn’t have overbookings. Some of the vendors provide 2 in 1 solutions as they also serve as Property management software. Do your own research on this one as this is a very extensive topic and I will feature it in a separate blog post.
4 Mailing list
An important tool which is easy to implement. Set up a form on your website to help you collect email addresses of potential clients and ask your existing clients to enroll too. MailChimp and CampaignMonitor are one of the biggest and easiest to use
5 It is last on this list but the most important. Photos of the property. Don’t waste your time and order a professional real estate photographer who works in your area. It would take you way more time and money to learn this craft yourself. 80% of the decision is made based on the photo of your vacation rental.