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Vacation Rental Marketing Plan: The Ultimate Luxury Rental Playbook
Luxury rentals require a different marketing strategy from the rest of the vacation rentals industry. You’re dealing with some of the most exclusive properties on the market and trying to appeal to the luxury traveler, so the standard approach won’t cut it.
You need to show affluent travelers that staying in your property will elevate their social status. In fact, your luxury vacation rental marketing strategy should have more in common with high-end brands like Ferrari, Rolex, or Chanel, than that of a typical vacation home.
Those names represent a different class, and by owning their products, people can buy their way into a social status that is rare and exclusive.
In this article, we’ll explain how to learn from these aspirational brands and elevate your marketing strategy to appeal to luxury guests. We’ve spoken to experts in the luxury travel space who’ve provided valuable insights on how to bring your luxury vacation rental marketing plan to the next level.
Avantio has 20 years of experience in the vacation rentals industry, and we’ve helped many high-end clients market vacation rentals to the right customer. We know that it takes a different approach to distribute your luxury listings.
Take our free 5-day email course for property managers who want new, creative strategies for distributing their vacation rentals.
The challenges of marketing luxury vacation rentals
Before we go any further, it’s important to distinguish between premium properties and those that truly warrant the “luxury” label.
Will Slickers, from The SlickTalk Podcast, says that the key differences are in the level of service and attention to detail.
“Almost anyone can have a premium property but some of the biggest differences that make a property luxury (and I mean really luxury) is the brand, service, and attention to detail that the company provides alongside it. It’s no longer a “heads in beds” play. You’re creating a lifestyle for your guests beyond the normal experience.”
In the luxury market, you may have to disregard the usual strategy of generating high volumes of traffic to your listings and website. Instead, you should direct your energy to the customer experience, providing outstanding service every step of the way. Luxury clients expect every last detail of the experience to be flawless.
Setting pricing is also challenging because your rates must be high to convey value and generate a handsome profit. However, it’s also good to surprise potential guests when they find out the property is slightly more affordable than they expected.
Finally, you have to think carefully about how to distribute your listings across channels. For most property managers, a smart strategy is to list properties on as many vacation rental sites as possible, including big OTAs like Airbnb and Vrbo, to increase occupancy. However, this doesn’t work for luxury properties. Customers need to feel that they are booking an exclusive property, one that few people have access to.
Choosing a smaller selection of channels that cater to the premium traveler is a better approach. It’s also a good idea to work on digital marketing and direct booking strategies to get more bookings from your own website. With good SEO practices, you can capture organic traffic from search engines and convert visitors to guests.
Luxury vacation rental branding
“Luxury is much more than a price point,” says Simon Lehman of AJL Atelier.
“A true luxury home will be unique in some aspects, it can be the history it breathes, its location, and the ability of a VRM to showcase its uniqueness. Beyond the accommodation itself, the services provided to the guests is where the true luxury experience happens, the ability to tailor experiences to a wide variety of needs is the key of a successful luxury rental business.”
A luxury vacation rental marketing plan is more about developing an enduring brand than short-term tactics.
Branding in luxury is all about conveying the unique, exceptional qualities of your property through storytelling, and appealing to your specific ideal customer.
Telling the story of your property
Every luxury property has a story. What is it about your property that puts it in the luxury category?
Perhaps it’s a one-of-a-kind property designed by a famous architect. Maybe it has ties to local history and culture, or it’s a modern masterpiece, designed to perfection.
Your property’s location is also part of its history. Maybe the property is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, or it’s a desirable penthouse with views of the city’s most famous landmarks.
Whatever it is, the history of the property and its connection to the local area should be front and center in your listings and website.
Knowing your target customer
Next, you should consider who your ideal customer is. What kind of person or group would book the property, and what experience would they be looking for? Think about what special features of your property would matter most to them, whether it’s the amenities, the proximity to nature, or the local area.
Once you figure out your unique offering and your target demographic, you have to make sure you reinforce this through your branding at all stages of the customer journey.
Every interaction and every aspect of the guest experience, from consideration all the way through to check out and beyond, must convey a tailored, luxury experience. This experience must be consistent across all marketing channels, including your website, social media, email marketing efforts, and your listings on OTAs.
In luxury, you’ll want to focus less on clever marketing campaigns. Instead, curate your image through storytelling and reputation building so that your ideal customers come to you.
Tech-first luxury rentals
When it comes to luxury rentals, removing any inconvenience can be a key differentiator. In fact, Steve Davis, CEO of Operto, argues that a property cannot be considered luxury without making use of smart technology.
“What separates any other high-end vacation rental from a truly luxurious experience is doing away with the most remote inconvenience. Today’s luxury properties are using technology to provide the highest level of guest experience: personalized experience through seemingly futuristic technology. While the technology “seems” futuristic, it’s actually highly accessible and usable through intelligent design and the proliferation of smart devices. Bearing that in mind, a property couldn’t be considered “luxury” without it.”Steve Davis, CEO of Operto
When we researched vacation rental statistics for 2021, we discovered that more and more property managers were embracing technology, and realizing that their guests expected tech solutions that enhanced their stays.
82.4% of vacation rental property managers said they would consider implementing keyless technology. They also predicted that contactless check-in, keyless entry, and smart home devices would be the most widely adopted tech solutions in the coming years.
Technology can make the guest experience smoother from start to finish. It’s vital that luxury property management companies get on board with this trend and embrace the latest developments in smart home technology for the vacation rental industry.
Smart homes make guests feel like they’ve stepped into the future. They can use voice to control and customize every detail, from the lighting to the temperature, the sound system, and more.
Going contactless is also a must. Keyless entry, smart locks, and an advanced security system not only improve guest experience but also give them peace of mind that the property is safe.
Aim for a seamless and stress-free experience wherever possible. Be innovative and open to new technology that will provide the best possible experience to your guests.
Sustainability and eco-friendliness as the new luxury
Luxury doesn’t just mean extravagance, and it doesn’t have to be incompatible with waste reduction and sustainable values.
Modern consumers at all levels of society are becoming more conscious about how their lifestyles affect the environment. They value brands that stand by eco-friendly values. A 2021 survey from Deloitte found that 1 in 3 consumers had stopped purchasing from a brand because of ethical or sustainability-related concerns.
It appears that this trend could be spilling over into the luxury travel market as well. Luxury hotel brand Six Senses, for example, is aiming to go completely plastic-free by 2022. In the past few years, there’s been a rise in eco-friendly luxury resorts as seen on platforms like EcoLuxury.
Luxury travelers want to feel like they’re having a positive impact on the environment and local ecosystems.
Here are some ideas for ways to make your luxury vacation rental more sustainable:
- Furnish the property with high-quality, hand-crafted goods. Not only does this add to the authenticity and character of the property, but it also supports local businesses and economies.
- Stock the fridge with locally produced wines, cheese, and other produce. You can also give guests the opportunity to order fresh organic groceries from local farms.
- Choose sustainable, luxury brands for shampoo, soaps, cleaning products, and more. Look for high-end products that use all-natural ingredients and come in sustainable packaging.
Remember to emphasize any actions you take towards sustainability in your luxury vacation rental branding.
Building out the guest’s journey from your website to a loyal guest
Your luxury vacation rental marketing plan must account for every stage of the customer journey.
From the moment that potential guests become aware of your property, through to booking and beyond, you must be consistent in your language and approach.
Word choice matters, and when you’re speaking to the luxury customer you have to use highly descriptive language. For example:
- Instead of describing a feature of your property as “beautiful,” you could say it’s “exquisite,” “sumptuous, ” or “majestic.”
- The kitchen could be “rustic and timeless” or “minimalist and modern.”
- Give your property some personality. Is it a lakeside sanctuary, set against a backdrop of a tranquil forest? A seductive apartment in a vibrant city? Or a palatial villa steeped in tradition and charm?
As well as selecting the right words, your property listings and website must have plenty of professional photos and maybe even vacation rental videos, showcasing the fine details of the home.
These images must be dramatic, inviting, and, of course, luxurious. Include things like:
- Close-ups of exquisite bed linen, toiletries, towels, and kitchenware.
- The property’s sweeping panoramic views, a sunset over the ocean, or snow-capped mountains.
- The clear blue, pristine private pool or a bubbling hot tub with champagne on ice.
- Sophisticated and tastefully decorated interior spaces.
As well as choosing the right words and images, it’s important that you give potential guests attentive service and a concierge experience. Maintain contact at every step of their journey, including throughout their stay, to ensure they have everything they need and more to have an amazing time.
Be on call to answer questions and don’t rely on generic automated messaging.
Your goal is to convey the utmost luxury, class, and elegance of your property at every customer interaction.
Building a position of rarity and scarcity for the luxury vacation rental
Luxury brands use scarcity to generate more desire for their products. That’s why the typical strategy of listing properties on as many sites as possible is not a good approach for luxury property managers.
If your property is available on too many channels, it will no longer be viewed as exclusive and desirable by the luxury traveler.
Think back to our luxury brand examples. If you saw lots of people every day wearing Rolexes, or driving Ferraris, these products would no longer be status symbols and markers of success.
These brands limit their stock and even make people sign up to waiting lists to get access.
Rarity and scarcity are important factors in marketing your luxury brand. That’s why you need to carefully select your booking channels and also focus on getting bookings from your own vacation rental website.
Avantio customers have access to our professional website design services. We can build you a beautiful customized vacation rental website that’s SEO optimized and likely to convert.
“Luxury in the Holiday Rental represents one of the greatest opportunities in recent years,” says Gianpaolo Vairo, of Vacation Rental Rocket
“In the Mediterranean area, luxury in the short-term rentals grew by more than 30% in 2021 alone, so much that during the past summer, in the middle of a pandemic, many tourist destinations in Croatia, Italy and Spain, the demand was well above the supply. Now, more than ever, is a good time to focus on properties aimed at a more purchasing audience, where demand is growing and competition is still at a sustainable level.”
Despite this, Gianpaolo warns that it’s important to remember the role that scarcity and rarity play in the luxury travel market.
“But you have to be careful; there is a difference between premium accommodation and luxury accommodation. Often we fall into the misunderstanding of associating it with luxury for its perfection but, to be honest, there is a substantial difference: premium is aimed at the mass and tries to involve its customers as much as possible, favoring them, instead, Luxury is a rarity, a scarce product, almost unique, with quality and service characteristics at another level, inaccessible for some.”
Luxury guest services: what guests don’t get in other rentals
Luxury guests expect an impeccable standard and level of service in a vacation rental. To qualify as “luxury” you must offer features and services that guests wouldn’t get in other rentals.
Paola Gheis, co-founder and host of the LUXRE Luxury Rentals Event, has helped hundreds of property managers build luxury vacation rental businesses. According to her, there is a set of non-negotiable features of a luxury rental.
“These properties have to offer space and privacy; the renovation or house design is to be very well managed by a competent architect. Interior decoration must be curated professionally.”
This goes beyond a property owner who has good taste. According to Paola, luxury properties require a professional eye.
“There is a holistic approach that tells a story in a consistent manner across all spaces both indoors and outdoors and a professional interior decorator can do that. The decoration has to have high-end design and art, emphasising the uniqueness and the beauty which are fundamental parameters when you work in luxury. Bathrooms and kitchen renovated and contemporary. And this is often what separates a premium property from a luxury one. Bathrooms should be ensuite and available in each bedroom.”
Paola then explains the role of exclusive services and experiences, saying that services should be delivered by trained and professional personnel.
“Experiences must be exclusive, which does not mean expensive. They must be designed to deliver a sense of privilege to the guest, meaning that the experience can be accessible only to his/her group and it is not something available to the masses. Experiences have to be authentic and offer a real discovery of the territory.”
To ensure experiences are authentic, she recommends collaborating with local artists, artisans, producers of excellencies belonging to the territory. And, she also touches on the crossover of sustainability and luxury.
“The luxury properties can be sustainable, and many of them are. The development of these relationships sustain an economy in the destination. Lastly, communication which must be extremely well-curated with a cult for excellence. In short, when you work in real luxury you have to drive empathy. Work with emotions and create a dream in the guest’s mind.”
Finding the right mix of listing sites & online travel agencies for luxury rentals
We’ve discussed why luxury vacation rental property managers must choose wisely when deciding where to list their properties.
To get your listing strategy started, here are a few examples of booking sites that attract affluent and high-end travelers.
Homes & Villas by Marriott International
Marriott is well-known around the world for luxury hotels, and in 2019 they launched an exclusive, curated platform for short-term rental properties.
They only accept professionally managed private homes. All properties are vetted to ensure they meet the same exceptional standards in quality and service that guests would expect from a Marriott hotel.
The platform looks for unique, luxury properties, and vacation rental businesses that go above and beyond to deliver one-of-a-kind, unforgettable guest experiences.
Avantio was one of the first channel managers to partner with Homes & Villas by Marriott International. We can help our customers on getting their properties listed on the channel, and vacation rental managers working with us can rest assured that their property listings will always be up to date and synced.
To learn more about this luxury booking channel, check out our complete guide explaining how to list properties on Homes & Villas by Marriott International.
Plum Guide offers affluent travelers an expertly curated selection of the world’s best homes.
Instead of relying on reviews from sites like TripAdvisor, Plum Guide’s luxury clientele know that properties have passed through a meticulous vetting process before receiving the channel’s seal of approval.
The platform provides guests with a concierge team of experts who are available 7 days a week to help them find the perfect stay.
Property managers who list on Plum Guide can expect to attract guests who appreciate quality and respect your properties. You can contact the company to apply to list your vacation rental home.
The Luxury Travel Book
Guests can browse top-end city apartments and luxury private homes in desirable destinations with The Luxury Travel Book.
They can also search specifically for wedding venues, honeymoons, and fitness retreats. The platform’s concierge service provides travelers with personalized recommendations for local attractions and restaurants, and they also offer extra concierge services to make their stays even more special.
For the chance to be included on the platform you can contact the company directly and include a description of your property along with photos.
Building loyalty and word-of-mouth with the luxury guest
Luxury guests expect a high standard and an impeccable experience. For many luxury travelers, renting exclusive properties is a status symbol. Though they are wealthy, they are seeking a luxury experience that goes beyond even what they are used to.
These kinds of travelers care a lot about social status and are likely to spread the word about your properties among their circle, and of course, share photos and videos on social media platforms.
If you want to build loyalty with your guests the best approach is to go the extra mile and provide a truly unforgettable experience that they can’t resist boasting about to their friends and social media followers.
After capturing guest contact details during the booking process, you can add them to your email marketing list. However, make sure any marketing materials you send to them compliment your luxury brand and don’t appear as a marketing ploy.
To do this, personalize all communication, remembering names and important details of the stay, like whether it was a birthday celebration or a honeymoon, for example.
If you want to offer a reward or incentive to book again, create a tailor-made special offer just for them rather than a generic discount, which could cheapen your luxury brand.
Create a luxury rental marketing strategy that works for your vacation rental business
There are many aspects to consider when building a luxury property marketing strategy.
- Consider your branding. What can you offer that’s different from the average vacation rental property? How can you go above and beyond every step of the way?
- Who is your target audience? When you define your ideal guest you can make sure your branding and messaging are tailored to them all the way through the journey.
- Keep branding and messaging consistent across all platforms, including social media, your own website, and listing sites.
- Remember that luxury is not only about extravagance – technology and sustainability form part of the modern luxury experience.
- Go above and beyond every step of the way. Delight your guests and give them a luxury vacation rental experience that they’ll remember for a lifetime.
- Which channels are you going to list on? List on the perfect mix of channels to attract the right type of guests. Avoid mainstream channels like Airbnb that don’t signal scarcity and exclusivity. Aim to increase direct bookings.
When it comes to choosing the right channels, Avantio can help. We work with a wide variety of vacation rental booking sites so you can make sure your property is visible on all the best channels for your ideal guests.
Distributing your luxury listings requires a different approach. Take our free 5-day email course for property managers who want new, creative strategies for distributing their vacation rentals.