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6 Ways To Emanate "Lifestyle Brand" Vibes

Catherine

Envoy
Inner Circle
Well, as I told Matt, my place is dog-centric. I emphasize my huge, fenced-in yard with deck so guests can chill on the deck, and watch their dogs play.
On my site I have a Dog Gallery, and ask guests to take pics of their dogs so I can put on my site as "furry guests".
 

Robin

Counselor
Inner Circle
Great thread and thanks for including us.

At Moving Mountains, we try to make it about the experience or the memories that are going to be made. So, for us, connecting aspects of our marketing to the moments that every guest is seeking is not rocket science. We want to get away from a reservation conversation purely driven around what "unit" they are renting and rates/discounts you can offer per night.

I use the "u" word because those in the unit business need to know that they are not in the same business we see ourselves in. If you think putting people in a unit is what you do, you are doing it wrong or at least missing a huge opportunity to get people to rent from you for reasons other than the rate or the discount. It should also be about the experiences ahead and you can evoke that reaction through great photography and creative staging far more effectively than any amount of words.
 

ROster

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
Wing Fighter
Well said Matt!

The only thing I would add is that you don't have to guess on what vibe to create. Let the guest do it for you.

I'm in the middle of reading "Nail it then scale it" which emphasis the importance of getting on the phone with you customers and talking to them. I have recently started calling every single one of the guests we've had in the last 6 months and learned that we have been accidentally appealing to the "birthday" guest. Over 70% of the guests I've talked to have come for a kids birthday. So now we are honing our experience to be more catered to kids birthday parties and upselling catering, party favors, character visits, etc.
OK @Jefferson I am so curious! How the heck do you acidentally appeal to birthday guests?
 

ROster

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
Wing Fighter
Last year we made several changes at Opulent Vacations. The first was a new name and brand. It took us two years to transition from Utopian LVH to Opulent Vacations. It is now a brand name we can build upon as we grow. Second, we have wine that has been private labeled as part of a welcome basket for each guest. We have done the coffee mug gift as well. With that said, our most important guest is our homeowner and them getting behind our brand has been a big deal. We swag them, as a surprise at least once a year. Recently we have live lucky hats with our logo, we also have gone with artic for our coffee mugs and water glasses and golf shirts for him/her. Last, we have launched a tv series in each of our markets to support our brand, community awareness and the lifestyle we create. Pelotons, we are doing that, in all the high end homes and available upon request for a fee. We have also really taken on the concierge side of the business with yourwelcome. Most all of our vendors are now signed up and paying referral fees. We hired, as President, the former head of Vegas.com with his experience running 400 concierges to build out the guest services side of our business. We have also developed the OS (operating system or Opulent system) to run dash boards for each department. In essence, no more manual spreadsheets which has been our band aid for years. I was able to save our team somewhere between 30-50% of their time by creating systems for operations, accounting, sales, concierge, etc. The OS will be a product we offer to the industry over the coming years. It is PMS agnostic so it doesn't matter which system you are using it will work to make operating your business much easier. Last, but certainly not least we have made acquisitions in La Jolla and Lake Tahoe. We are in the process of integrating their brands with Opulent and beginning to seek additional acquisitions. We are raising our first capital make make the next two acquisitions this year. To tie it all together from a marketing perspective, I am a launch ambassador for Scott Miller, franklin covey, called Marketing Mess to Brand Success. There are 30 challenges that are all nuggets that you can implement in your businesses to help create your brand.

Ahhhh, Franklin Covey. I used a Franklin planner for 25 years. Still feel the need to put a little circle next to each of my "to-do" items and put a small check mark in the circle when I'm done! Souds like you've made a lot of progress in a short period of time @JeffJ . Congrats!
 

Barry

Counselor
Inner Circle
I'm not the best guy to address "lifestyle brand vibes." In my opinion, Airbnb's markets its "lifestyle brands" with curated destinations, properties and hosts, which is good for them, since they don't really own those properties. They perform this well, as they should, given their depth of expertise in this arena.
  • Piggyback on lifestyle brand like Peleton, Tesla or YETI: My market wouldn't be attracted to the first two, but maybe the third. Peleton is expensive ($1895) but becomes somewhat more affordable at $49 per month for 39 months. Then I'd have to figure out where to put it. Tesla is great for charging Teslas, but perhaps not for other EVs. (The city owns a used Tesla and has its own charging station about a block away from our properties.) General Motors is partnering with EVGo with offer both the CHAdeMO dcfc and SAE Combo (J1772). I'll leave it up to @BobG whether his Tesla charging stations will work for other EVs. Here is Yeti's corporate giving site: https://www.yeti.com/en_US/corporate-gifting.html. We sweat the details of providing Voss (Norwegian) water and another treat.
  • We can certainly work on an "About Us"photo, but it wouldn't be on our property. There's a pony-sized Dala horse at one of our small businesses that we could gather around could gather around - just have to get back there soon!
  • While we certainly curate the Swedish culture, we don't really have adventure experiences that other small businesses in the area provide for visitors. Lindsborg's CVB and small businesses direct guests to find these adventures on their own. That said, the CVB is curating a kite flying event at Coronado Heights this month, hosted by a kite company out of Wichita, so that's something.
  • Lindsborg's CVB is curating lifestyle bloggers for the entire city. We are a part of that, but since we're not a destination unto itself, such as @SScurlock Farm - we have do play the hand that's dealt.
  • We don't seem to have a problem with guests turning down our properties because they aren't designed well. Virtually all of them are so surprised that these properties exist at all in this small town.
  • I'm embracing scenes and vignettes on Instagram by employing photographic editing tips by National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, using Snapseed (free) primarily. And I'm bringing in more guests into Mailchimp audience with StayFi. I'll never be on par with @Barry of Carmel Retreats, but then again, I don't think that I need to do that.
I plan to reach out to a production company behind a new Amazon series who plans to film an episode in Lindsborg later this year.

I know that @Matt is tired of hearing this, but properties with "lifestyle brand vibes" will cater to wealthier guests so that these amenities could be included.
Thanks for the mention, Jim, but I'm quite a newbie at all this, just kind of winging it as I go - likely, many of us here are in the same boat. That said, I feel that authenticity is more important than vibe, and what we offer in our images and messaging should come first from a place of who we really are, what we care about, and what we want our guests to feel when they stay with us. Your whole website is authentically you and most would be hard pressed to match that.
 

Nancy

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
I wholeheartedly agree that it is the experience that we are offering to our guests, including setting up the vibes.

It's not really about the brick and mortar of the home in terms of real estate values and terms like bedroom types and square footage.

Story telling about how guests will experience the home is the best approach in both the text and visual formats.
It's really the ABC's of how to attract your ideal avatar isn't it?
Set the stage and they will come!

We just loaded up this little cute cottage for a new host yesterday on FLARBO.
The owner has done and incredible job of staging, and ensuring the photography is really creating an emotional reaction.

You can tell they've really thought out the design and created spaces and moments where the guest can delight in relaxation.
The cost was probably pretty minimal with the choice of materials and furnishings but WOW what an impact.

We can't wait to rush these out on Instagram and social to start marketing and advsertising it!
 

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Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
I feel that authenticity is more important than vibe, and what we offer in our images and messaging should come first from a place of who we really are, what we care about, and what we want our guests to feel when they stay with us. Your whole website is authentically you and most would be hard pressed to match that.
@Gabor would you mind sharing with the community the importance of this statement in branding a lodging business? (For those who don’t know him, Gabor is a renowned hospitality professor at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and has been researching and teaching this subject for many years.)
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
I wholeheartedly agree that it is the experience that we are offering to our guests, including setting up the vibes.

It's not really about the brick and mortar of the home in terms of real estate values and terms like bedroom types and square footage.

Story telling about how guests will experience the home is the best approach in both the text and visual formats.
It's really the ABC's of how to attract your ideal avatar isn't it?
Set the stage and they will come!

We just loaded up this little cute cottage for a new host yesterday on FLARBO.
The owner has done and incredible job of staging, and ensuring the photography is really creating an emotional reaction.

You can tell they've really thought out the design and created spaces and moments where the guest can delight in relaxation.
The cost was probably pretty minimal with the choice of materials and furnishings but WOW what an impact.

We can't wait to rush these out on Instagram and social to start marketing and advsertising it!
@Nancy I absolutely love the cottage lifestyle vibes!

I use the "u" word because those in the unit business need to know that they are not in the same business we see ourselves in. If you think putting people in a unit is what you do, you are doing it wrong or at least missing a huge opportunity to get people to rent from you for reasons other than the rate or the discount.
@Robin this is such a great point. "The U Word" might be part of my next presentation. It reminds me of @Amy and @LindaS comment at minute 2:43 in the video below:
I'm not the best guy to address "lifestyle brand vibes."
@JPrugh I know you like to downplay your achievements but Lindsborg is a lifestyle designer's dream. For anyone who wants to see what I mean, a snapshot here:
One strategy we use to create the 'character' of a property is a unique onboarding process in which we conduct a "sleep-through"
@StaySavvy Michael I absolutely love this sleep-through idea. It's one way a larger manager can achieve the effect of a single property owner: by actually placing themselves in the shoes of guests, realizing what THEY WOULD WANT when they stay, and then equipping accordingly. Looking forward to learning from your dense hotel background.

we have wine that has been private labeled
@JeffJ thanks for this awesome update! You're like a bear. You hibernate on us for a while, then you come out and unleash that beautiful roar. For anyone who wants to see Jeff in action, here's an episode we did on his operations in Park City. I got to taste the private label wine -- the ultimate lifestyle branding swag to me (and simultaneously, just an excuse to have your own private label wine).

when emitting "lifestyle vibes" it is important to come authentically.
So well put @JStokinger -- I think @Barry hits on this in his post later in the thread. If you're being authentically YOU then the lifestyle vibes can flow. If not, you're left trying to copy someone else's vibes. I have been some more prelim research with @Gabor on how exactly to make our branding more authentic. Please stay tuned.

Consider your photos are the story board for the vacation movie playing in your guests' imaginations.
BINGO! Imagine you had no text and the ONLY communication was a string of photos that showed what your vacation would be like (not just the property, the vacation!) Such a great way to describe this @Sallie
 

Filipa

Envoy
Inner Circle
Hello!

Tourism is dead in Portugal, so I'm diving into social media these weeks. :D

I decided first to follow the @Thibault idea you can read here https://www.rentalscaleup.com/vrma-facebook-marketing/ and started to upload my guest list (since 2010) to Facebook (I thought it would be better than upload it to Mailchimp as I didn't use to ask permission).

To check if this would work, I created a 4€ paid campaign with beach photos and only target this guest list; I only spend 1,65€ and already receive 1 message from previous guests saying they missed Portugal. :D

I will continue to study more about social media and Instagram. I loved @Barry idea of reposting local business, and I need to learn how to do that.

Thank you all for this :D

I'm following all your IG accounts for ideas, if you know a good place to learn let me know! :giggle: my IG is @rent4rest
 

Susanne

Counselor
Inner Circle
There is so much practical "nut and bolt" business that must be tackled to set up a vacation rental. Often this visionary, foundational planning stage is missed entirely. Plus, some people are intuitively good at it, and others find this type of brand-voice work more of a struggle.

Tying a property entirely to location and destination is a recipe to be, well, exactly like everyone else. Some vibes probably evolve over time but I am a proponent of doing the work upfront, if possible. The more you can drill down to capture the essence and then define it, the easier everything else will fall into place.

@Matt Landau, this is a wish list item for the Inner Circle. Is it possible to set up a VIBE INSPIRATION section with categories? vintage, western, boho, rustic, fishing cabin, inland lake, ocean beach, middle of the big city, romance, luxury, family, farm, zen/minimalist, villa, musical, chalet, family reunions, and more? This is not a complete list and needs to be polished, but you get the idea. Maybe the IC members who resonate with a category could share their top tips for creating that vibe? There is nothing to say you cannot take the info and then mix and match to get more specific. Romantic Western? Boho Big City?

I would love to see the websites of vibe-inspired vacation rentals. I know many on this group have their own websites but there are some Airbnb-only hosts hitting it out of the park too. In the category of super-budget (which the world needs now) Here is one I stumbled across last year and concluded "Oh Peggy Sue, I love you!"
 
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Mark

Envoy
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
I'm a bit late to the party here. What a fantastic thread with so many great thoughts!
@Matt Landau - as a 'Lifestyler' my mind wants to go in so many different directions at once! :)

Of the categories you highlighted, I have focused most on "6 - 'Embracing scenes or vignettes". I've tried to VR-ify (new word!) the approach of one of the masters of Experience in the boutique luxury resort world - Rosewood.

Before the wonderful VRMB 'Sense of Place' season, I had become a big fan of Rosewood Resorts 'Sense of Place' campaign that continues today.

Rosewood does an amazing job of communicating a feeling, or vibe, long before guests have set foot on the property. From their opening webpage (https://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/default), to their location/property photography, it's a feeling of "Ahhhhhhhh"!! They somehow capture the feeling they want to convey through photos.

Each of their major properties tend to have an awesome video focused on experience and the Sense of Place at that location. Besides their own website, there are more videos at their production company's website at: https://www.picturefarmproduction.com/rosewood-hotels-a-sense-of-place-series/ . I think it's worth checking out from the perspective of successfully communicating Limited Edition and Experience in an amorphous, intangible way.

Now none of us have multi-million dollar production budgets, but there are still great take-aways for us VR folks.

Mine was - show the property, but somehow convey a feeling of the experience the property delivers to draw attention away from all the other similar properties in my market. So right from the start I focused on the guest experience to differentiate above and beyond the built-in uniqueness of the property itself.

For instance, 32 of the 50 photos on my listings are more to set a mood and feeling than put a check in the box for one room after another. I'm definitely no master and will always be trying to do better, but many guests have commented that they chose my home because of the feeling they had when looking at the photos. They could mentally put themselves there relaxing and they just knew it was the one.

It's time for me to break through my mental barrier on going to video, because there's no better medium (with accompanying music) to capture scenes or vignettes that communicate a feeling!
 

JPrugh

Envoy
Inner Circle
Thanks for the comments from @Matt Landau @Barry @Sallie and @ROster! Matt was generous enough to provide some footage for the Lindsborg Life video to attract new residents to town (see below). So rather than compete in the "lifestyle" space, we can certainly be in the "enjoy your life here" space. Many visitors, even daytrippers, consistently remark how pleasant and welcoming our downtown small business merchants can be. So I'll continue to encourage our guests to jump in and participate in the city's goings-on. That's why I copy and paste the CVB's monthly newsletter and include it on my Google My Business webpages for each property. As vaccination opportunities are plentiful, COVID restrictions are beginning to lift. Three new businesses are gestating now: reopening Farley's, ice cream store, soda fountain. New bakery opened a month ago.
 
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BobG

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
I think this is a really cool topic. I believe what many guests are seeking from a stay is not a uniform standard approach that makes them feel like they could be anywhere. They want to feel special, they want to feel appreciated and they want to feel that they have chosen well in finding a place that is in tune with their vibe.

Of course this vibe can be expressed and shown in so many ways as we can see from all the great comments and perspectives on this thread. Let me add my two themes that seem to work for us.

The first theme is one of belonging. We want people to feel like they are staying in their second home, so it is relaxed, familiar and welcoming. Maybe our last review of 2020 says it best
'A sort of homecoming!
2020 was different for all of us except for that week in July at Casal dei Fichi. It felt like a sort of homecoming! In the past we stayed several times at this lovely place, though the last time was in 2014. We left home without clear destination, after a couple of hours the entire family agreed to call Bob and Ian. ..... Decision taken. And indeed, it was not a sort of homecoming, it felt like being home. The four of us (11 years older than the first visit) were still amazed of the breath taking views, the garden with the pool and more importantly the hospitality of the two young owners!' ****

And the second theme for us is definitely our eco approach. One of the initivies that @Matt Landau and @JPrugh mention is the electric car chargers. We have them for both Tesla and other electric cars and they certainly attract visitors who might not otherwise stay with us. Drivers of EV are obviously looking for a place with an EV charger and so they cross reference the public databases of EV chargers with other sources for great places to stay. They always message us to check that the charger will work for them before they book. So we end up chatting and then of course they book with us direct.

*** he was being somewhat creative with the use of the word 'young' :LOL::LOL:
 

Jefferson

Attaché
Inner Circle
Love this idea! Curious to know how you set the stage for the call and what the flow of conversation sounds like?
Sure! I just tried to keep it informal is possible. Just called and said “hi Jessica my name is Jeff and I’m the founder of Loma homes. We hosted your stay back in December and I was wondering if you be willing to give us your feedback”. Almost all of them really appreciated the call and ask for a quote to come back. Another hidden benefit of the call.
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
@SScurlock was kind enough to introduce me to Bill Lee of Yonder.com. In looking through their website, I came upon "Yonder Films" which are short little documentaries (3-4 mins) that tell the story of the experience or "lifestyle" you will get when you visit. If you notice, the focus is less on the properties and more on the vibes:



And if you want to go ultra simple, this one is merely 30 seconds of "spring morning"...

Not to be confused with @MarkB Yonder :)
 

Tarkan and Julia

Istanbul Place Apartments
Inner Circle
These are fabulous -
1) love the Rumi adaptation, remind me to tell you my Rumi story
2) great ideas about focusing on NOT the property but the STORY (i.e. not a commodity)
3) Thanks Jefferson for the book recommendation - Amazon should have it here by next week
4) we need more story and less commodity in our brand
Please tell us all your Rumi story!
 

CCapalbo

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
My target audiences are; 1. Families 2. Group of Friends 3. Mancation
The vacation rental /villa rental in Jamaica is very saturated, so, as an owner, I need to find something other than our building /villa to differentiate us from our competitors. My staff and I focus on how we can make our prospective guests feel when they stay at the vacation rental.

Focusing on the interest of my target audience and try to cultivate their interest, feeling of togetherness, relaxation, and adventure in my marketing. We aim to provide a feeling of belonging, That is where I want to be (self-actualization)

1. For adventure seekers, we partner with tour operators offering fun adrenaline activities, onsite DJ once per week. Adventure seekers are also looking to spend time with friends or loved ones. They may be celebrating a milestone event, such as a bachelorette, milestone birthday, etc.

Togetherness/families with children, family reunion:

This group is primarily looking to relax and spend time with loved ones or reconnect. We offer full-time staff, including chef, butler, bartender, housekeepers, on-site massage therapist.
We also provide an on-site bar lounge area, serving premium alcohols, and space where adults can have fun, enjoy their favorite cocktails. We are more than just a vacation rental.
There is a kid's game room where kids of all ages can enjoy.
Outdoor poolside dining and event night. We have had an anniversary, bachelorette, birthday celebration by the pool, move to the bar lounge if raining
We just create an outdoor kitchen with a gas grill and Jamaican jerk pan Plus seating for dining or cocktails
On-site dedicated spa for guests who need to be pampered & Gym for those who want to continue fitness activities while on vacation.
Everyone loves food, I work with our chefs to ensure we are providing great meals that can be raved about.
We work with a transportation company to ensure our guests travel together, from arrival to departure.
I also set up a personalized chat group with guests and the house manager to ensure staff is aware of guests' requests, for example, what time they require breakfast, what time is the bus to pick up the group to take them to activities, etc.
 

LMejias

I make films
Inner Circle
I use the term "lifestyle brand" to describe a vacation rental business whose marketing leads not with the property, but the vibes (or lifestyle) guests experience when staying there. You can immediately feel a lifestyle vacation rental brand when you come in contact with it.

For instance, @Kristi and Starship Landing Retreat. The property itself is still there. But it's not the centerpiece of the photography: rather a component of the greater "being there" experience.

View attachment 3911

If you were to draw a spectrum, lifestyle branding is polar opposite real estate branding where the property is the product: typically technical/objective/transactional.

With vacation rentals, the product (vacation time with loved ones full of meaning, purpose, and memories) is actually a byproduct of the property itself.
And a vacation rental lifestyle brand is one whose imagery is based on this more evolved definition "product" that our guests are seeking.

Perhaps it evokes emotional connections using staging like @Robin with Chateau Mirador of Moving Mountains.

View attachment 3919

While not all of us own/manage opulent ski chalets, we do offer vibes of cozy, warm, elegant, picturesque....etc.

I believe independent vacation rental marketers are ideally positioned to emanate lifestyle vibes because we already curate those vibes for a living. With a little packaging, we evoke aspirations and the reaction: I want that for my vacation!

Here are some ideas to rise above normal vacation rental marketing levels and enter the territory of lifestyle brand vibes featuring a handful of Inner Circle stewards:

1. Piggyback on a lifestyle brand like Peloton, Tesla, or YETI


If you're looking for a quick hack to lifestyle branding vibes, find a company that already does this well and integrate.
@KirstenK (Kirsten King) of Big Sky Vacation Rentals invested in Peloton bikes for select homes.
View attachment 3912

@BobG has a Tesla charging station.

View attachment 3913

@CJ of Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals sends his repeat guests YETI mugs and thermoses.
Note: CJ loves the YETI but they're simply too expensive for him to buy in bulk and so he buys similar ones that cost 1/2 the price.

View attachment 3921

2. Take 'About Us' photos that embody interests & attitudes

@SScurlock and
Scurlock Farms's community of guests who adore farm life is not being created out of thin air: it already exists. So she shows it (along with her team/family) on the About Us page.

View attachment 3914

3. Curate culture


To adapt the great Rumi quote, "your property is not a drop in the destination: It's the destination in a drop."

Rather than simply being a part of the local community, show your vacation rental business as an active participant and connector in the community. @ROster of Oster Golf Houses nails this with his drone video tours of the local golf holes.

Be more than the hotel that people stay in when they visit a location; be the lifestyle portal.
Stephanie Farr does this (as she does with most things lifestyle branding) exceptionally well in the form of Maya Luxe adventure experiences.

View attachment 3915


4. Ask lifestyle bloggers to do it for you

@Kim and
The Houses on Manzanita Beach made an arrangement with the Pretty Life Girls Blog to host in exchange for photos. And as you can see, the photos are less focused on any single property/feature and more on "scenes" or vignettes. Employing the artful eye of influencers and social media influencers with their own esthetic is a great way to hack this process.

View attachment 3918


5. Ditch age-old design advice for simplicity

@LMejias and
Fixie Lofts in Dominican Republic does this as well as anyone. There’s a reason every product and their sister for sale is utilizing the ultra-simple esthetic.

View attachment 3917

6. Embrace scenes or vignettes

For @Barry of
Carmel Retreats and his newly achieved Instagram Fame, branding is about more than a room or property feature or facade: it's about a scene or vignette: a miniature story with things going on. Instagram (the world’s biggest lifestyle brand marketplace) is perfect for this and you can take the same logic to your own website.

View attachment 3920

Questions for the community:
  • Do you have any instances of companies that do the lifestyle branding thing really well?
  • Have you struck a chord in any of your marketing that achieves this lifestyle vibe?
  • Is there another way to describe this style of marketing (lifestyle brand can sound frou frou)?

I ABSOLUTELY agree.

Your website (and Instagram) allows you to show "ROMANCE" (mood, vibe, emotion), while room photos on Booking.com and other OTAS are just showing "EXPLICIT SEX". You want people to fall in love with your place, not just people who need a bed to sleep.

We have also reached magazine editors and sent them our MOOD mix (words, images... and Instagram @fixielofts).

Managed so far to be featured on FORBES (last week), AD SPAIN, CN TRAVELLER, and Casa Vogue!.
 
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