Vacation Rental Marketing And Blind Dates
There has been a fair bit written lately regarding social marketing and a lot of people think that this involves marketing on social media platforms - It doesn't.
These two concepts, social marketing and marketing on social media could not be further apart yet most people with something to sell do the latter thinking that they are on the cutting edge of social marketing.
To explain what I mean I'm going to take you on a blind date.
I'm on a blind date...
Let's imagine that I'm in a restaurant and I'm sat opposite Susan A.
I've not met Susan before, obviously, but we introduce ourselves and after a bit of chit chat Susan tells me that she has a couple of vacation rental properties outside Orlando. She asks me if I've ever been to Florida and I tell her that I haven't been but I've always fancied going there.
Before I get a chance to say anything else she whips out her smartphone and proceeds to show me pictures of her houses. She starts showing me pool photos, images of bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms, and photographs of games rooms, indoor cinemas and double garages.
We've hardly spoken at this stage.
If this wasn't bad enough, once we finish our starters she begins to give me detailed descriptions of the amenities at these properties, the size of the various beds and TV's and she spends time droning on about air con, free WiFi and Netflix. This goes on, and on, throughout the main course.
As I'm dipping into a rather nice ice cream dessert she keeps telling me that she can offer me a special discount for one particular house at the end of next month due to a late cancellation.
Like that's why I'm here.
I'm getting pretty bored with Susan and what she has to say.
She's not being very social.
She's marketing at a social event. That's a faux pas if ever there was one. It's just plain antisocial.
She has alienated me, I've switched off, I'm not really listening.
Post date thoughts...
I'm less likely to visit Florida after an evening with Susan A.
Not only that, Susan has wasted her time. She didn't make any effort to get to know me.
The thing is, Susan was doing what nearly all vacation rental home owners, agents and listers do on social media - They market their properties. That's their social media strategy.
It's actually a social media travesty.
So what could Susan do?
What would be better for both Susan and I?
Once again, let's imagine that I'm at the same restaurant and I'm sat opposite Susan B.
As you know, I've not met Susan before but we introduce ourselves and it turns out that Susan has a couple of vacation rental properties outside Orlando (surprise surprise). She asks me if I've ever been to Florida and I tell her that I haven't. So far I'm getting a little de deja vu.
Susan's eyes light up when I tell her I've always fancied going there and she starts to enthuse about Florida and what it has to offer.
She asks me if I play golf and, when I tell her I do, she tells me that she loves golf and one of the reasons that she moved to Florida is that there are over 1,250 golf courses in the state. I'm amazed by that (I must share that fact with my golfing buddies). She also tells me that she has played at the famous TPC Sawgrass, which is apparently a public course (I didn't know that). I'm impressed. She adds that there are 29 courses in Orlando alone
We are both having trout for our main course. Susan tells me she caught a big sea trout on an inshore sports fishing trip near Titusville, about 45 minutes east of Orlando. She says this is quite close to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. I learn that there are six rocket launches scheduled for 2019. Imagine seeing a rocket launch. That must be on a lot of peoples bucket list. I wouldn't mind seeing that myself.
Over dessert, I ask her if she's been to Disneyworld and she says she has been a few times as it's only 10 miles from one of her houses. She tells me about some of the rides, Epcot and Disney's animal kingdom. It all sounds fantastic.
She also mentions Seaworld and bubbles over when she tells me a story about the time she and her family went on a "Penguin up close tour" and they got to touch a Penguin. She shows me some photos on her phone. I tell her that my daughters would love that.
Post date thoughts...
At the end of the evening, I feel that I want to visit Florida more than ever. I have learnt more about some of the things to see and do and who knows I may even end up staying at one of Susan’s houses.
Susan spent the evening talking to me, not at me.
This in effect is social marketing.
It's not sales orientated. It's sharing what you know about your region. It's sharing your experiences and preferences. It’s dispensing information.
If you think about it, all internet business is just like a blind date. We don't know the people that we are trying to sell to, yet that's all most people try and do - cold call, in your face, hard selling - me, me, me marketing - just like Susan A tried with me on our date.
It's not anyone's fault. Technology, platforms and marketing techniques evolve and other new things are born. Before you realise, media has matured. Things move forward and we find ourselves in a position to do things differently.
As far as social marketing is concerned it's actually much more natural than old-style marketing. You just share what you know with people that you don't know. That's what humans have been doing since the beginning of time.
As you share things people get to know and trust you.
That's all Susan B was doing. She was sharing her passion, her experience and her knowledge. That passion, experience and knowledge just happened to be lightly seasoned with the fact that she has a couple of vacation rental properties.
This may only have been the first date but all relationships (business and personal) start out with a first date. Some stumble at the first hurdle, some blossom into lasting relationships.
Both you and I know that I'm not going to see Susan A again. But we both know that I would like to have another date with Susan B.
Need help getting from A to B?
Social media is not a place for business so those of you that are solely advertising your properties on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like are just wasting your time and you may as well pack up your tent.
You are using the wrong methods in the wrong media.
That's just like placing newspaper ads on the radio or radio ads on TV. It ain't gonna work.
You need to be more social. Social media. Social marketing.
The clue is in the words and it's right in front of you.
If you have enjoyed this brief date with me and would like to know more about cutting-edge social marketing techniques developed expressly for your vacation rental business then head over to Vacation Soup and have a look around.
If you prefer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to meeting you.
Regards Alan Egan