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Digital marketing has revolutionized the strategies for many companies. While this is the case for all industries, businesses in the travel sector have seen a meaningful impact.

Now they have the ability to create a more accurate strategy planning, simply because they have precise data which they can use and measure with. Plus they have many more communication channel options (webs, social media, external blogs, customer review sites etc.) 

Today, going digital is not an option, it is a must if businesses in the travel sector want to have a competitive edge and want to make their brand stand out. 

If your vacation rental business has not completely taken on these changes, it is time that you do so, or you will be left behind. 

We decided to interview our Digital Marketing Expert, Jorge Navarro, who has been working for Avantio for 2 years to give you some tips and talk about everything digital. 

Tell us about your experience in Digital Marketing

I started to work with small SEO projects 13 years ago. After gaining experience with these, I started to take on more ambitious projects, where I defined the strategy to gain traffic the fastest way possible. In the last years I have specialized developing SEO, SEM and SMM strategies in the tourism industry, first in the hospitality sector and then with some vacation rental portals and web pages that focused in one single destination. 

¿What changes have you seen in the past years in the digital marketing world?

At the beginning everything was much easier, you just had to fill in each section of the web with the keywords that you wanted to position with and collaborate with free directories, this way in just a few months you would have hundreds of daily visits. Nowadays the world of SEO is much more complex and it is necessary to contribute valuable content for the user. 

As for the SEM campaigns with Google Ads these are evolving, so you have to define much more your audience. A good content strategy, plus now with the advertising options that you have through social media, the possibilities are endless and you can target a specific audience through different techniques. 

What do vacation rental agencies have to take into account when creating their website? 

First of all they need to realize that their web project will not bring fast results, as it happens when you receive reservations when connecting with portals. It is necessary to analyze the market to increase market share and find the right audience that will make reservations. And keep track and study the competition. Once you have all this information well defined, you need to develop a strategy. Particularly with your SEO strategy, you need to understand that positioning the web might take months or years, you will not get immediate results. 

As for pay per click campaigns (PPC) or social media promotions the results will be seen much faster, but you need to properly segment your target audience in order to see a return of investment. 

Agencies, need a strategy to generate traffic to their web. If they just create the web, waiting for reservations to come in, the site will become a complete failure. 

Do you think that a web page can achieve customer loyalty and create recurring sales? 

Of course, the advantage of having a website is that we have the user data when they make a reservation, with this information we can catch the attention and target visitors that have shown an interest or clients that have already made a reservation through the web with messages. 

We are able to create promotions via e-mail marketing campaigns or through other non-traditional techniques, such as remarketing. With this digital marketing strategy we are able to show promotional banner ads when they are checking their Facebook or Instagram page or simply navigating through the Internet, all depending on the user’s behaviour. 

By combining e-mail marketing and banner ad remarketing strategies, we do not solely depend on e-mails that might end up being sent as spam, and target our audience through different channels. 

What advantages does a website offer as opposed to other sales channels?

As mentioned beforehand, getting recurring visits is one of the advantages. And more importantly enhancing brand image. Many vacation rental agencies specialize in a single destination or region, so they are able to become a benchmark for tourism in their particular areas, allowing tourists to associate their brand name with a complete experience. This in turn will bring a continuous flow of reservations without the need of making special efforts to bring them over. 

What type of data do I have to take into consideration when creating a digital marketing strategy? 

It is very important to analyze the results of each of your digital marketing actions. With these you are able to see the behaviour that the users have, for example if they are visiting the sections of our site where we want them to be or the percentage of users that complete a reservation, plus the type of searches that they are making on our site. 

This type of data is important in order to check if your actions are giving good results, because you might be investing a lot of money and time solely on generating traffic to the web which does not bring conversions.You should analyze the results to find out the strategies that are not working out and keep the ones that actually bring profit. 

Also, performing a benchmark on the competition and following industry news can give help you to generate interesting ideas. 

Which are the 3 free tools which can be used to gather the data mentioned above? 

The basic tool, that any person who is responsible of the web should have is Google Analytics. It allows you to review user behaviour data, where you can see where the traffic is coming from and more importantly check how users arrived to the site and completed the reservation. 

To optimize your page for SEO and create strategies, you are able to use Search Console, a free tool that Google offers that helps you find out which are the keywords with which the site has appeared in the searches, also in the position the site has appeared and how many times it was shown; as well as where did the users click. You are also able to detect errors of the site and see where the external links come from. 

As for analyzing the competition there are different tools, though I particularly recommend using Semrush, where we are able to register and have access to some free reports. We will not be able to see all of the data, but we can gather some interesting information about the competition such as keywords that bring traffic to their site and see the type of Google ad campaigns they have. 

What are the digital marketing trends that work best for the vacation rental sector? 

I still think that SEO is a safe bet and best practice to get good results, though it is true that we are competing with big portals for important keywords, we should go for secondary ones that can also increase your ranking and position the site. 

Voice search, is a new trend that has opened up new possibilities and if you are an expert of the destinations that you know and promote, you should anticipate yourself and take advantage. 

Finally, I highly recommend social media campaigns, because channels such as Facebook or Instagram have a lot of information about their users, this means you are able to segment and send a pay per click campaign that will target the correct audience. 

Now that we have given you some tips and ideas about all the benefits that the digital world has for you, start planning and thinking about your Digital Marketing Strategy to increase the visibility of your vacation rental brand and generate more sales.