• Vacation rentals can be life-changing. But due to a surge in popularity, the requirements of the job are more challenging than ever. VRMB Communities is a private forum that helps thoughtful owners & managers automate and delegate tasks, so you can focus on the activities that win loyalty and direct bookings. Preview Private Forum Here

Midweek Motivation 8 Deep Adjustments To Your Listings

Note: Thanks to ToonTownRob ToonTownRob for posting this mini-revelation about the power of starting your email responses with a twist. It inspired this week's Motivation (and I decided to record it in podcast form too below).


Listing sites like Airbnb and Vrbo rank as the top pound-for-pound allocation of your time to generate inquiries. All the various listing sites make up Stage 1 of Listing Site Independence framework. But also from our findings, we learned that not all listings are created equally. Like speed-dating, if you don’t convey quickly what makes you different from every other listing, you’ve lost the goldfish-level attention span of the visitor.

Note: As Kim Kim likes to remind us, according to some research, the average human attention span is now eight seconds, less than that of the goldfish with nine

Below are 8 deep adjustments that are reverse engineered from the factors that lead a visitor to inquire or book: intrigue, engagement, and confidence.

1) Explain you do this for a living​

The vast majority of Airbnb hosts do not view their listing as a job, which while endearing and whimsical can also sew doubt in prospective guests. So come out with a disclaimer at the beginning of your listing, revealing you run your property like a business.

2) Add provenance​

The word provenance refers to the chronology of an antique or piece or art. The backstory of that object is what makes it valuable. So sprinkle provenance throughout your listing: what’s the story on the property, how did you come to represent it, why is the destination special to you and your family?

3) Sprinkle property name liberally​

“The billboard effect” is a phenomenon that occurs when vacation rental professionals see additional direct bookings after listing on Airbnb. But you need a unique property name (or business name) to pull this off. Insert your unique property name in the title and several times throughout the description, photo captions, and About Us section.

4) Improve & shorten origin story​

How did you find yourself in this position as a host? DO NOT leave your aspirational storyline on the table.The more interesting or relatable your “pre vacation rental” About Us section, the more you’ll attract inquiries who respect and admire your business. Brevity beats details in this department: you should be able to explain your “origin” story in a few sentences.

5) Get on the eco train​

Environmentally-friendly vacation rentals are exponentially more appealing than their direct counterparts. Which aspects of your business (products, services, amenities) reflect your awareness of the environment? Mention them blatantly.

6) Associate with a special interest niche​

Listing sites like Airbnb are like a giant supermarket and it can be overwhelming for guests to navigate to the right specialty aisle, much less find your particular product without some solid signage. Make sure to mention the exact kinds of travelers who most enjoy your property with any buzzwords necessary (yes, this is the one time we permit the use of buzzwords #blessed).

7) Deploy “underdog narrative”​

Hollywood movie writers use the underdog narrative to get potential viewers to admire the character for trying, moreso than for their actual success. Do this with your listing by including a short anecdote about a challenge, failure, or humble achievement that triggers emotion -- turning what was previously a transaction into a human experience.

8) Skimmify your text (3 parts)​

Remember the goldfish stat? Listing viewers have very short attention spans and the more skimmable your layout, the better. Here are three quick ways to do that.
  • 8.1 Normal paragraphs feel like massive walls to someone not fully vested just yet (aka. Visitors simply do not read them) so reduce your paragraph length down to 1-2 sentences (3 max) deleting as much fluff as possible. Your paragraphs should include everything they need, nothing they don’t
  • 8.2 Use headers (or short summaries of content) to break up sections. Headers are best when ordered to give the hierarchy of the listing.
  • 8.3 CAPITALIZE money words that pique people’s interest, make them use their imagination and turn the ordinary into something worth paying money for. Use ALL CAPS sparingly.
  • 8.4 Use bullets or lists to show features, benefits, or any cluster of items together one per line.

Question for Members: What other ideas have you done (consciously or by accident) to beef up your listings?
 
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ConradO

Envoy
Inner Circle
These are great tips in my opinion! On #3: this is a key factor in attracting the "leakage" or "off platform" bookings that Airbnb/Expedia execs like to talk about. Having your property brand be unique to you, building your own site for the brand + ranking in Google for it is key. I do see lots of listings like "The Beach House at Whateverland" which can hurt/be too generic for people to find your website and book direct.

On #8, the key points there are what we've called "Bullet Points + Narrative" format which is what we're seeing most of the customers at Guest Hook choose for their writing style. Guests reading your listing do love a story, but they also want the facts in a quick skimmable format that is easy to digest.

Better to have:
  • Four bedrooms
  • Two full bathrooms
Then a longer form sentence that reads: Our property features four bedrooms and two full bathrooms.
 

Jed

Accelerator
Inner Circle
Accelerator
Author
These are great suggestions for beefing up copy - and I can tell by my internal groan as I read them that I have some work to do on my copy for my listings. That said, I've not put too much emphasis on the copy because I've become convinced that the standard person will not ever read them. I think that despite that inclination, I'll put some work into them anyway because it is better to be good than lucky ;)

On the other hand, I've had some really good success with a few other ways that we make our listings stand out.
  • High quality listings photos are absolutely non-negotiable. I have been shocked by how much better our listings with professional photos have performed right out of the gates than when we use non-professional photos. The people who do this for a living know the angles and have the equipment to pull it off. Your phone photos may be able to stand up to a high quality camera in a few specific instances, but don't think that it can do the same job as a purpose built setup. Pay the extra and get the good photos.
  • Order of photos on your gallery. This is actually an under appreciated subtlety of listing building. Start with the best shot that you'll be using - this is the attention grabber. I like to follow the first great property photo with a beach shot or something like that to pique the imagination. Next go to the living room since that is where they will be spending the most time. Then kitchen. Then master bedroom & bathroom, then on to guest rooms. Exterior features next - pool, gardens, etc. Last comes the neighborhood / community features / & more beach photos ;).
  • We always use a "property name" to try and bring some individuality to the property - works better than "condo #2" or "1234 street". This also provides continuity to those travelers who are savvy enough to search multiple listing sites for the best rate. With any luck, you'll be able to pepper your copy with bread crumbs that lead back to your independent site and they can book there.
  • Amenities are important to list, but like my concern over copy, they get glossed over a lot of the time. It is a totally mandatory thing to list them in the clearest way possible (use bullets / tables / etc - not in a paragraph). Still, they are a part of the formula.
  • Finally and arguably as important as anything else - reviews. This social proof on your listings will allow people to give themselves permission to believe that the property is as good as you've represented it to be by showing how much other people enjoyed it. By the time that guests get to reading the reviews - they are looking to be sold. Make sure that you're putting your best foot forward and earning those good reviews, and make sure that they are easy to get to.
Can't wait to hear what works for everyone else!
 
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Michele T

Counselor
Inner Circle
Interesting Matt Landau Matt Landau
I agree for the most part, in regards to #8 "Skimmify" I'm in total agreement that your listing description needs to have headlines and bullet lists, but that doesn't mean not having well-written paragraphs under headlines - the point is to help the traveler imagine themselves at your property. Yes some will skim, but some will read so have that info available for them.

In regards to #1 not everyone who is professional in every way about the self-management of their properties does this for a living.

I'm not sure what is meant by #7 "underdog narrative"? Depending on what is meant by this? I'm not sure relaying a story of difficulties and perseverance to overcome a difficulty in regards to your VR business or your VR is appropriate or professional? I may be misunderstanding what is meant
 

Michele T

Counselor
Inner Circle
These are great suggestions for beefing up copy - and I can tell by my internal groan as I read them that I have some work to do on my copy for my listings. That said, I've not put too much emphasis on the copy because I've become convinced that the standard person will not ever read them. I think that despite that inclination, I'll put some work into them anyway because it is better to be good than lucky ;)

On the other hand, I've had some really good success with a few other ways that we make our listings stand out.
  • High quality listings photos are absolutely non-negotiable. I have been shocked by how much better our listings with professional photos have performed right out of the gates than when we use non-professional photos. The people who do this for a living know the angles and have the equipment to pull it off. Your phone photos may be able to stand up to a high quality camera in a few specific instances, but don't think that it can do the same job as a purpose built setup. Pay the extra and get the good photos.
  • Order of photos on your gallery. This is actually an under appreciated subtlety of listing building. Start with the best shot that you'll be using - this is the attention grabber. I like to follow the first great property photo with a beach shot or something like that to pique the imagination. Next go to the living room since that is where they will be spending the most time. Then kitchen. Then master bedroom & bathroom, then on to guest rooms. Exterior features next - pool, gardens, etc. Last comes the neighborhood / community features / & more beach photos ;).
  • We always use a "property name" to try and bring some individuality to the property - works better than "condo #2" or "1234 street". This also provides continuity to those travelers who are savvy enough to search multiple listing sites for the best rate. With any luck, you'll be able to pepper your copy with bread crumbs that lead back to your independent site and they can book there.
  • Amenities are important to list, but like my concern over copy, they get glossed over a lot of the time. It is a totally mandatory thing to list them in the clearest way possible (use bullets / tables / etc - not in a paragraph). Still, they are a part of the formula.
  • Finally and arguably as important as anything else - reviews. This social proof on your listings will allow people to give themselves permission to believe that the property is as good as you've represented it to be by showing how much other people enjoyed it. By the time that guests get to reading the reviews - they are looking to be sold. Make sure that you're putting your best foot forward and earning those good reviews, and make sure that they are easy to get to.
Can't wait to hear what works for everyone else!
Agree with 100% of this - especially professional photos
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Interesting Matt Landau Matt Landau
I agree for the most part, in regards to #8 "Skimmify" I'm in total agreement that your listing description needs to have headlines and bullet lists, but that doesn't mean not having well-written paragraphs under headlines - the point is to help the traveler imagine themselves at your property. Yes some will skim, but some will read so have that info available for them.

In regards to #1 not everyone who is professional in every way about the self-management of their properties does this for a living.

I'm not sure what is meant by #7 "underdog narrative"? Depending on what is meant by this? I'm not sure relaying a story of difficulties and perseverance to overcome a difficulty in regards to your VR business or your VR is appropriate or professional? I may be misunderstanding what is meant
Skip at 14:01 for explainer: https://community.vrmb.com/threads/welcome-to-force-field-executive-summary-pdf.5466/
 

PBos

Counselor
Inner Circle
These are good tips. Nevertheless, now in Paris the market is, by defintion, nearlly all domestic and all this kind of strategy which is avalaible in "normal time" is not very effective now where the majority of clients are looking for one thing : the price.
 

Barry

Counselor
Inner Circle
Terrific ideas! Gets my neurons popping :) I'll jump in here with something we've heard many times before but with a slightly different twist. We've all heard that the ROI on using a professional photographer is HUGE. I used our local airbnb photographer on a side gig and got some pretty decent pics for about $100. Well worth it. What we don't hear emphasized enough is that we ought to spend time planning and staging every shot in the photo shoot beforehand. We want every frame to tell a story and convey a feeling. I spent hours over the course of a few days doing my planning and staging, whereas the shoot itself took less than an hour. Consider it the foreplay for achieving really great results ;) Mine don't quite achieve that high bar, but take a look at the images and videos in Sallie Sallie 's CasaMarAzul. Her images are an 11 on a scale from 1 to 10.
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Terrific ideas! Gets my neurons popping :) I'll jump in here with something we've heard many times before but with a slightly different twist. We've all heard that the ROI on using a professional photographer is HUGE. I used our local airbnb photographer on a side gig and got some pretty decent pics for about $100. Well worth it. What we don't hear emphasized enough is that we ought to spend time planning and staging every shot in the photo shoot beforehand. We want every frame to tell a story and convey a feeling. I spent hours over the course of a few days doing my planning and staging, whereas the shoot itself took less than an hour. Consider it the foreplay for achieving really great results ;) Mine don't quite achieve that high bar, but take a look at the images and videos in Sallie Sallie 's CasaMarAzul. Her images are an 11 on a scale from 1 to 10.
Be sure to read DMartinez DMartinez favorite thread of all time: Maybe the Best Photo Staging Ever
 

StacyW

Counselor
Inner Circle
Accelerator
I am liking #7 the underdog! I feel in my area we have had two big players come in and try to squash us little guys out and I like the idea of the under dog. We always share with our renters that we are a family run business and we treat out clients like family. Our newest marketing went out this week to try and get more home owners and we put out an ad that says family run business with all the bells and whistles that the big companies have, written much better of course, I am just paraphrasing, lol. Will dive into the rest of the list with our marketing team and see where else we might be able to adjust.
 

[email protected]

Counselor
Inner Circle
No listing site is the same, which is 100% correct

It's hard to have a one shoe fits all approach when looking at all of them

For example, Airbnb you can get super creative with copy

However the USP is what I am going to add in

U-Unique
S-Selling
P-Photo

The first photo is the main one.
It's your best one

It's the thumb stopper
The scroll stopper

And also, when you set it, don't forget it.

A photo you use in the Spring will be different you use for Summer bookings

OR for those Hyyge winter bookings

Thanks for the tag Matt Landau Matt Landau

And just to clarify your point, my attention to spam and addiction to all things online now meant it was very hard for me to read that whole post and the comments.

I am 100% a video and audio guy

Which is madness, seeing that I'm writing my first book this year 😂
 

Sallie

Envoy
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
Author
The best sales letter ever written sold $2 billion worth of subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal between 1975-2003.

This classic "The Tale of Two Young Men" begins with:
On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both – as young college graduates are – were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.
Recently, these two men returned to college for their 25th reunion.
They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.
But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.
What Made The Difference
Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t always a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t.
The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge.
And that is why I am writing to you and to people like you about The Wall Street Journal. For that is the whole purpose of The Journal: To give its readers knowledge – knowledge that they can use in business…

What are the takeaways for us?

1. Know who your ideal guest is. The above letter is written to the person who wants to be the company president, not a manager of a small department.

What do your guests want? What do they yearn for?

Remember Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" pyramid, with five levels ascending from physical needs to self-actualization?

Unless you're hosting disaster victims or Hospice patients, we can skip over the pyramid's two bottom levels covering the basic needs of water, food, clothing, shelter; financial security, health, and physical safety.

The third level up is "Love and Belonging"—friendship, romantic love, family, social groups, community acceptance. How does your property and hosting help fulfill one or more of these needs?

The fourth level is "Esteem," and this is where we shine as hosts. People crave to feel valued and appreciated (without pandering).

Like in the film Avatar, we ache to have someone demonstrate "I see you."

Your photos and captions can communicate this (people look at photos before they read body copy).

For example, our Mexican beach location and property are for adults craving rest, relaxation and reconnection, along with the sense of living in their own private resort. A photo of a woman getting a massage on the ocean-view terrace is captioned with "Pampering services come to you."

Once your guests arrive, their finding small touches and amenities can continue conveying your message "I see you." You're already doing these things: a personalized Welcome note, a dog toy if you welcome doggies, a nightlight in the bathroom, a couple of suggestions for where to eat dinner their first evening, even clearing up "What time is it here?" when guests arrive from different time zones.

Maslow's final level is "Self Actualization," when we've reached our full potential. While this is an aspiration few achieve, can we offer any experiences that could help our guests find a meaning to life that could transform them a bit? Experiences with nature, or interacting with people very different from themselves, can open this door.

2. Write like you're talking to a friend. What do you want your friend to anticipate experiencing? What do you want him to feel jazzed about? What do you want her to visualize?

Would you say to her, "Our unit is steps from the ocean" or would you say, "Wrap a sarong around your bathing suit, pad across the lawn, and in less than a minute you're scrunching sand between your toes and looking at the sparkling turquoise sea."

3. Copywriters learn to make an emotional connection before attempting to convey information. Yes, prospective guests need to know how many people you can accommodate and what's included. But that won't stand out against your competitors.

Go back to the Wall Street Journal letter example. The first part is all story. No subscription amounts, no mention of prize-winning reporting. It draws in the reader, who wants to indeed find out "What Made The Difference."

What story will your guests walk into? How will they feel when they live in your property? What will they experience? What emotions can you evoke?

When you're on our website's Home page or Vrbo listing, the first thing you read is:
"Imagine stepping onto the terrace with your morning coffee and gazing at the ocean for signs of whales. Blue long-tailed magpie jays swoop from tree to tree, their calls backed by the sound of waves. A warm, velvety breeze brushes your skin. One word comes to mind—bliss."

If this is what captures your attention, then you'll keep reading.

4. Provide substantiation for your claims. Videos, photos and captions, clips of guest reviews, references to media coverage can do this.

5. As already covered in Matt's #8, make your text readable. Short paragraphs, subheads, bullets, all caps.

6. Zig when everyone else zags. Do most of your competitors lead with nearly the same photo? Do most headlines say the same thing?

Instead of a photo of your pool (like everyone else's pool), how about a photo of a breaching whale? Instead of "Lakefront home, 4 bdrms, sleeps 8" how about "Lakefront sunsets by the firepit, water toys for 8."

All of these steps make us relatable humans to potential guests instead of anonymous owners who just want to deposit the check. It also differentiates our property from all the others.

Whew. Thank you for reading this!
 
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Nancy

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
Author
I would add to your list Matt Landau Matt Landau and agree that it's super important to really tell the "story" of your property.
How guests can envision themselves using the property but definitely in a skim-able format. Explain what you, the owner, likes to do while you are visiting your properties (kayak, fish, grilling, etc...)

Your Not Selling Real Estate
The biggest mistake I see in a host's listing details is reverting to a "Real Estate" format.
Guests aren't looking for buying metrics and real estate KPIs (square footage is less important) and a curb-side real estate photo thumbnail is a snooze-fest.
Guests are investing in a dream getaway for their family so BOTH the written narrative and the staging photos should reflect that.

Does the guest care about how the house looks from the street? No!
Do they care more about the time they will be spending in the spaces? Yes! - Exploit that.

Allow the Guest to Easily Imagine How They Will Enjoy the Property - Vacation Goals
I remember picking a property years and years ago because of the small Mickey Mouse wading pool it had in addition to their regular pool. I could easily envision the delight of my kids faces and use of the wading pool with my small children. This was the deciding buying factor for me. Showing the feature that sets your home apart in both the photos and the narrative is the most important way to close a sale.

The Listing Description is the Silent Sale
The narrative should definitely reflect who you are as a host as best you can because really it's a SILENT SALE.
The other common mistake I see owners making is putting little time and effort into their listing details. One paragraph just doesn't cut it!!!!!
Having little to no information in the description to me sets the tone that the host doesn't care about the home or the host experience.

Putting thought, time, effort and your best foot forward is money well spent in carving out an epic listing that closes sales for you.
As well as makes you recognizable in the larger scheme to help travelers find your listing throughout the web if they are price conscious and prefer to Book Direct.
There are a LOT of travelers who are in the habit of doing this! Don't miss the opportunity!

Make sure you put in items in the listing description that overcome objections that you hear travelers asking you often.
For example.... your home is not beachfront? - Clearly write how far the beach is and what amenities you offer to get them to the beach easily. Like beach carts, chairs, umbrellas, coolers, etc... that your competitor may not offer. Golf cart? Even better... maybe they didn't think about using a golf cart to the beach. That sounds super fun right??/

Include your Protocols
Cleaning has become a big deal with the pandemic. Write in a small blurb to gain traveler trust that you are professional and dealing with the pandemic in a safe way.
Cancellation is also one of the top questions.

Reference your Track Record
Reviews are solid gold!!!!! Make sure you mention that in your story as a host. It's another key buying factor with travelers.
 

Nancy

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
Author
I need to add another item to this thread... sorry still thinking about it.
The final point should also include: Mindful Inclusive Text

I recently received what I thought was a ridiculous email from VERBOH... pointing out that the text I used could be construed as insensitive.
"Plantation Shutters".
Well that set me off because to me plantation shutters is a widely used design and product term.
The VRBOH AI must have thought I was using the word plantation to describe my entire home... which is not the case.

After researching text and descriptions I found out that many real estate boards are no longer permitting the use of the word "Master" for Master Bedroom... the new term to use now is Primary Bedroom.

And the use of the word "Plantation" to describe a house is also a bit of a taboo I found out.

So it's a good idea to relook at what's happening in the word every once in a while to see what's OUT and what's still IN in terms of mindful usage of text.

**************************

Email Received from VERBOH:

Vrbo is more than a platform - we're a community of guests and hosts built on mutual respect. And we're committed to creating a welcoming experience for everyone who uses our site.

As part of this commitment, we've worked with award-winning inclusion and diversity leaders the 360 Agency and Dr. Kazique Prince to make sure the property listings on Vrbo reflect our policy and purpose.

We invite you to join us in shaping a world that's inclusive to people of all racial and cultural backgrounds.

We ask that you review your listing description and avoid using the term "plantation" or "plantation-style." Instead, you may want to use the word "estate" or "mansion." If you are using the term to describe a property’s design, consider neutral language such as “tropical-style” or describe the specific features.

Going forward, "plantation" should only be used to describe, and never celebrate, properties with a history of slavery in the United States.

When we address language in this way - removing it or adding context - we're not trying to rewrite history. We're breaking down historical barriers that have harmed some people as a step toward creating a safer, more inclusive future for everyone.

Learn more about what Vrbo is doing to drive change in our industry.

We thank you for joining us in our effort to be a welcoming place for travelers everywhere.
 

DMartinez

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
I'm at a loss on adding or commenting tips on this particular post as it relates specifically to OTA-type listings as I have not yet pulled the switch to make my listing come alive (visualize Mel Brooks' "Frankenstein," with Gene Wilder).

I approach those 8 points within my landing page, specific menu tabs, and blogs.

In fact, it's a bit ironic that my blog post yesterday covers 7 Tips for picking the perfect short-term rental. Yet my home would not be found on those listing sites. Nonetheless, it is "findable."

My critical focus remains on how to make my little home pop out ahead of the competition of local Property Manager sites with their hundreds of listings that also use OTAs to further boost their ranking. Therefore, your 8 points, Matt, are applicable, even if all you have are your little website and your social media outreach as your conduits to your past and potential guests.

One "trick" I've used is to be sure I've incorporated the #1 keyword (Sea Ranch Rentals) within my text for Googling sake- even though it doesn't directly apply to me as an owner of 1 single home, not a plurality of rentals:

Screen Shot 2021-03-23 at 7.46.26 AM.png


As a result, I do get phone calls from google searchers for vacation rentals asking if I AM "Sea Ranch Rentals." So I simply respond to the question, "I'm the owner of a VR, Sea Ranch Abalone Bay... how may I help you?"

The delicious irony of all that is my competition actually has as its website: SeaRanchRentals!

Return focus on the 8 points- should I actually make my OTA listings live item #3 will be my critical one, to assure I remain "findable"
 

Kristi

Co-Owner and Co-Founder, Starship Landing
Inner Circle
Love this post and all of the ideas given in the comments! A lot has already been said, so the only thing I can think to contribute is this:

There's a lot of info here about using your listing copy to sell yourselves and your home to potential guests, but what about using the listing copy to manage expectations? Often, guests give bad reviews because their experience of the home doesn't match up to what they were expecting. So by managing expectations in the listing, you can help ensure that this doesn't happen. And if a guest complains about something that was clearly stated in the listing copy, you can respond and say "this was clearly stated in the listing copy" and that usually stops them from mentioning it in a public review. Because to Jed Jed's point, reviews are an extremely important part of the listing. Lots of people (including myself) go straight to the reviews rather than reading the listing copy. Who wants to hear the host bragging about themselves and how great they are - I'm more interested in what other people are saying.

To give an example of this - we do a "Bedroom Breakdown" on our listing (see attached image) where we explain that there is no actual door to the basement - just a curtain (installing a door there isn't possible - we tried). After getting a few complaints about the room not having a door, we added this to the listing. We also list "other sleeping areas" so that guests know that the "sunrise room" (with sofa bed) isn't an actual bedroom. Since adding this, we rarely have a complaint about these things, and if we do, they don't mention it in the review because it's their own fault for not reading more closely. (Side note: we also have a sketch of the entire floor plan in our photos, as well as photos showing the various rooms and the basement "curtain door", so putting it in the copy is just an extra measure to ensure they know what to expect.)

Also Matt Landau Matt Landau - just a thought on how to improve your above list of ideas... it might be helpful to VRMB members if you include a real-life example or screenshot from an actual listing under each bullet point that shows how it's done. That might make the points easier to understand (rather than having to reference a video to explain what you meant by a certain point).

Keep up the good work, everyone!
 

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ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
Great content and ideas Matt, but I do have a problem with this whole 'Goldfish' attention span thing...

In fact, it drives me crazy! And I think it is completely wrong, and it drives people away from creating really effective copy for their vacation rental listings.
 
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Sallie

Envoy
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
Author
I want to dispute that people's attention spans have dwindled to seconds.

Yes, this will be true if you're trying to describe to me how to rotate my vehicle's tires myself, or the international trade implications for Nutella after Brexit.

But if you want to communicate with me about housetraining golden retriever puppies, five easy ways to get quality followers on Instagram, or the most beautiful villages in Liguria, I will read every single word and click on every single link.

People browsing OTAs are intent on finding a property in their desired area. If your photo and headline attract their attention by connecting with what they want, they will keep reading.
 
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DMartinez

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
I need to add another item to this thread... sorry still thinking about it.
The final point should also include: Mindful Inclusive Text

I recently received what I thought was a ridiculous email from VERBOH... pointing out that the text I used could be construed as insensitive.
"Plantation Shutters".
Well that set me off because to me plantation shutters is a widely used design and product term.
The VRBOH AI must have thought I was using the word plantation to describe my entire home... which is not the case.

After researching text and descriptions I found out that many real estate boards are no longer permitting the use of the word "Master" for Master Bedroom... the new term to use now is Primary Bedroom.

And the use of the word "Plantation" to describe a house is also a bit of a taboo I found out.

So it's a good idea to relook at what's happening in the word every once in a while to see what's OUT and what's still IN in terms of mindful usage of text.

**************************

Email Received from VERBOH:

Vrbo is more than a platform - we're a community of guests and hosts built on mutual respect. And we're committed to creating a welcoming experience for everyone who uses our site.

As part of this commitment, we've worked with award-winning inclusion and diversity leaders the 360 Agency and Dr. Kazique Prince to make sure the property listings on Vrbo reflect our policy and purpose.

We invite you to join us in shaping a world that's inclusive to people of all racial and cultural backgrounds.

We ask that you review your listing description and avoid using the term "plantation" or "plantation-style." Instead, you may want to use the word "estate" or "mansion." If you are using the term to describe a property’s design, consider neutral language such as “tropical-style” or describe the specific features.

Going forward, "plantation" should only be used to describe, and never celebrate, properties with a history of slavery in the United States.

When we address language in this way - removing it or adding context - we're not trying to rewrite history. We're breaking down historical barriers that have harmed some people as a step toward creating a safer, more inclusive future for everyone.

Learn more about what Vrbo is doing to drive change in our industry.

We thank you for joining us in our effort to be a welcoming place for travelers everywhere.

Nancy Nancy , this is a perfect example of what I was referring to when I wrote this post here.

Although the title doesn't necessarily reflect it, the need to review, adapt and keep our messaging up with the times continues to get more and more important!
 

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
I want to dispute that people's attention spans have dwindled to seconds.

Yes, this will be true if you're trying to describe to me how to rotate my tires myself, or the international trade implications for Nutella after Brexit.

But if you want to communicate with me about golden retriever puppies, five easy ways to get quality followers on Instagram, or the most beautiful villages in Liguria, I will read every single word and click on every single link.

People browsing OTAs are intent on finding a property in their desired area. If your photo and headline attract their attention by connecting with what they want, they will keep reading.

Hah hah hah... Given my most recent post, this makes me laugh right out loud! Thanks for demonstrating how I could have done it!
 
Last edited:

Catherine

Envoy
Inner Circle
I looked at the listing with the best staged photos, and the one common feature that stands out to me is the use of "candid" photos. "Staged " and "candid" are really opposites, but in this case it works.
Showing people who are enjoying the perks of a rental are just fun to view.
I ask my guests to take pictures of their dogs playing in my back yard and add them to my listings and web site as "furry guests". I tell them that their pictures will be featured on my site.
This appeals to their "doggie pride"...and let's me feature my fenced-in yard without being boring.
 

Camille

Attaché
Inner Circle
These are good ideas! I find that guests are all over the place as to what they will read. Some read nothing; some clean to every word. However, changing things up makes everything fresh. Motivation to to pump and work on our on site as well.
 

Jed

Accelerator
Inner Circle
Accelerator
Author
I need to add another item to this thread... sorry still thinking about it.
The final point should also include: Mindful Inclusive Text

I recently received what I thought was a ridiculous email from VERBOH... pointing out that the text I used could be construed as insensitive.
"Plantation Shutters".
Well that set me off because to me plantation shutters is a widely used design and product term.
The VRBOH AI must have thought I was using the word plantation to describe my entire home... which is not the case.

After researching text and descriptions I found out that many real estate boards are no longer permitting the use of the word "Master" for Master Bedroom... the new term to use now is Primary Bedroom.

And the use of the word "Plantation" to describe a house is also a bit of a taboo I found out.

So it's a good idea to relook at what's happening in the word every once in a while to see what's OUT and what's still IN in terms of mindful usage of text.

**************************

Email Received from VERBOH:

Vrbo is more than a platform - we're a community of guests and hosts built on mutual respect. And we're committed to creating a welcoming experience for everyone who uses our site.

As part of this commitment, we've worked with award-winning inclusion and diversity leaders the 360 Agency and Dr. Kazique Prince to make sure the property listings on Vrbo reflect our policy and purpose.

We invite you to join us in shaping a world that's inclusive to people of all racial and cultural backgrounds.

We ask that you review your listing description and avoid using the term "plantation" or "plantation-style." Instead, you may want to use the word "estate" or "mansion." If you are using the term to describe a property’s design, consider neutral language such as “tropical-style” or describe the specific features.

Going forward, "plantation" should only be used to describe, and never celebrate, properties with a history of slavery in the United States.

When we address language in this way - removing it or adding context - we're not trying to rewrite history. We're breaking down historical barriers that have harmed some people as a step toward creating a safer, more inclusive future for everyone.

Learn more about what Vrbo is doing to drive change in our industry.

We thank you for joining us in our effort to be a welcoming place for travelers everywhere.
I had a similar experience - but for us it was about a property that we manage at called "Kiahuna Plantation". They were trying to get me to remove my use of the word plantation, which is part of the name of the resort. I just about lost it on my account executive who was pushing me on why I needed to use the name of the property in my listing. I don't get upset about things, but that really got to me. 5 of our 13 properties are at this resort, so for me, it is a pretty big deal to be able to use the name of the property in my listings.

If they change the name of the property, then I'm fine not using "plantation" in my listings. I don't have any moral objection to improving language and am not interested in keeping nostalgia for a horrible time in our history. Generally, I'm on board with evolution of thought and mindfulness. My whole issue was with how Vrbo implemented this policy and then won't allow for a human to see the exceptions. I'm still waiting on them for a resolution.
 

Robin

Counselor
Inner Circle
Great thread, packed full of thought-provoking and compelling ideas!

To confirm 100%

- Name Your Homes - a street address has no identity and has no magical SEO benefits. A name can be traced back to you for that direct reservation relationship to occur "organically". Be creative, and look for meaningful and individual identities for your homes - it's such an opportunity to tell a story too!

- Photos - spend $100 per photo to get the results that will sell the experience that your homes offer the guest. Stage them, and light them, and get with the most talented photographer and editor (that is half of the work) that you can afford. You will never look back. Here's an example: https://www.movingmountains.com/vacation-rentals/chalet-cristallo

- Speak to your guest about what they will experience with your company! You are not selling real estate - they want an experience and it's up to you to spell that out in your copy, social media, blogs, and email newsletters.

- Underdog narrative - love that concept although I think that for us that is more about staying humble and never assuming that we are the best. We are only as good as our last guest stay, like a restaurant is only as good as the last meal they served. You have to be willing to prove and deliver over and over again. But, our underdog mentality says - You can do it! You are good enough! Just let us show you!

- Tell Your Story - your "about us" page humanizes your business, and shows your guests who you are. There is a great opportunity here to tell people how you came to be where you are and what you are all about. Not all, but many guests visit these pages and surprise us by how much they know about us when they arrive. I am amazed how many companies do not show off their team and recognize them individually - this is also a moment of pride for our team.

I could go on :)
 

RuthM

Envoy
Inner Circle
AMAZING THREAD! Thank you everyone: IC at its finest! I agree with these great suggestions.

I would add: know your property or, if you are a professional manager, stay at all of your properties at least once a year to really understand what makes the place special to convey your Unique Selling Proposition to your guests.

I am a big believer in "home truths" and managing expectations. Here in Vernazza, we are a car-free village with narrow medieval alleys made up of stairs instead of streets. We have lots of stairs to get to our properties with their unobstructed, panoramic views over the Ligurian Sea.

This is what I write in our Airbnb listing and website:
If you want an extraordinary view in Vernazza, you have to earn it: there are 75 stairs to arrive from main street via Roma to Carattino 12. If you have mobility issues or toddlers, this may not be the right place for you.​

These two sentences make all the difference! Whereas some folks in our village have tons of negative reviews about having to climb stairs, we get only 5 star reviews and folks sometimes saying "the stairs mean we can eat more pasta and gelato"!

In summary:
  1. know and communicate what makes your offering special
  2. less is more (sharp text, only the best photos)
  3. invite future guests to dream but manage expectations
 

RuthM

Envoy
Inner Circle
Great thread, packed full of thought-provoking and compelling ideas!

To confirm 100%

- Name Your Homes - a street address has no identity and has no magical SEO benefits. A name can be traced back to you for that direct reservation relationship to occur "organically". Be creative, and look for meaningful and individual identities for your homes - it's such an opportunity to tell a story too!

- Photos - spend $100 per photo to get the results that will sell the experience that your homes offer the guest. Stage them, and light them, and get with the most talented photographer and editor (that is half of the work) that you can afford. You will never look back. Here's an example: https://www.movingmountains.com/vacation-rentals/chalet-cristallo

- Speak to your guest about what they will experience with your company! You are not selling real estate - they want an experience and it's up to you to spell that out in your copy, social media, blogs, and email newsletters.

- Underdog narrative - love that concept although I think that for us that is more about staying humble and never assuming that we are the best. We are only as good as our last guest stay, like a restaurant is only as good as the last meal they served. You have to be willing to prove and deliver over and over again. But, our underdog mentality says - You can do it! You are good enough! Just let us show you!

- Tell Your Story - your "about us" page humanizes your business, and shows your guests who you are. There is a great opportunity here to tell people how you came to be where you are and what you are all about. Not all, but many guests visit these pages and surprise us by how much they know about us when they arrive. I am amazed how many companies do not show off their team and recognize them individually - this is also a moment of pride for our team.

I could go on :)
As I am planning and building my first real website, I have found myself turning to Moving Mountains again and again. Your photos are outstanding ...and make me want to plan a family ski vacation! Some day...
Thank you for being such a leader in this vacation rental community.
 

RuthM

Envoy
Inner Circle
These are good tips. Nevertheless, now in Paris the market is, by defintion, nearlly all domestic and all this kind of strategy which is avalaible in "normal time" is not very effective now where the majority of clients are looking for one thing : the price.
We are in Italy and missing our American and Australian guests but I believe now is the right time to build out your strategy for when travel improves, hopefully this summer and for 2022.
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
After researching text and descriptions I found out that many real estate boards are no longer permitting the use of the word "Master" for Master Bedroom... the new term to use now is Primary Bedroom.
Warning: This is not about vacation rentals. But Nancy Nancy I thought you'd really like it:

It started with a glass of pineapple rum. Osayi Endolyn, a black food writer, asked a white bartender at a cocktail bar in Nashville the brand name of the pineapple rum on the menu. The waitress hesitated. “It’s Plantation. Plantation Rum,” she said quietly. She scurried away. That awkward interaction sent Osayi on a journey to investigate the reoccurrence of the word plantation in the food world.

Here's the episode on one of my favorite podcasts The Sporkful: http://www.sporkful.com/when-white-people-say-plantation-pt-1/
 

Lee

Owner of Accommodations in Telluride
Inner Circle
Terrific ideas! Gets my neurons popping :) I'll jump in here with something we've heard many times before but with a slightly different twist. We've all heard that the ROI on using a professional photographer is HUGE. I used our local airbnb photographer on a side gig and got some pretty decent pics for about $100. Well worth it. What we don't hear emphasized enough is that we ought to spend time planning and staging every shot in the photo shoot beforehand. We want every frame to tell a story and convey a feeling. I spent hours over the course of a few days doing my planning and staging, whereas the shoot itself took less than an hour. Consider it the foreplay for achieving really great results ;) Mine don't quite achieve that high bar, but take a look at the images and videos in Sallie Sallie 's CasaMarAzul. Her images are an 11 on a scale from 1 to 10.
Really sweet video!
 

BobG

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter

5) Get on the eco train​

Environmentally-friendly vacation rentals are exponentially more appealing than their direct counterparts. Which aspects of your business (products, services, amenities) reflect your awareness of the environment? Mention them blatantly.
The confluence of:
  • the increasing survey data on travellers expectation for a more sustainable stay
  • the profile of eco-stays in the mainstream press
  • the forthcoming regulation which will force changes on hosts
  • the issue of the climate crisis becoming daily news
are all combining to create massive change in our industry.

Some simple steps can help you to tap into the eco market. What have you got to loose?
 

RuthM

Envoy
Inner Circle
Warning: This is not about vacation rentals. But Nancy Nancy I thought you'd really like it:

It started with a glass of pineapple rum. Osayi Endolyn, a black food writer, asked a white bartender at a cocktail bar in Nashville the brand name of the pineapple rum on the menu. The waitress hesitated. “It’s Plantation. Plantation Rum,” she said quietly. She scurried away. That awkward interaction sent Osayi on a journey to investigate the reoccurrence of the word plantation in the food world.

Here's the episode on one of my favorite podcasts The Sporkful: http://www.sporkful.com/when-white-people-say-plantation-pt-1/
Matt, this is such an important point. I was just thinking about how the key to everything is making HOSPITALITY the center of our strategy, mission and interactions. To me, hospitality means making people feel welcome, cared for and relaxed in our home and with us so that they can just be themselves. We can all do better to look at all of our communications to make sure we are sending and living this message.
 

RuthM

Envoy
Inner Circle
The confluence of:
  • the increasing survey data on travellers expectation for a more sustainable stay
  • the profile of eco-stays in the mainstream press
  • the forthcoming regulation which will force changes on hosts
  • the issue of the climate crisis becoming daily news
are all combining to create massive change in our industry.

Some simple steps can help you to tap into the eco market. What have you got to loose?
BobG BobG I am sitting at my desk and looking at the post it that says "Bob G, GO GREEN". I have already started writing my plan! Promise it is on my To do list and I'm going to do it!!
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Matt, this is such an important point. I was just thinking about how the key to everything is making HOSPITALITY the center of our strategy, mission and interactions. To me, hospitality means making people feel welcome, cared for and relaxed in our home and with us so that they can just be themselves. We can all do better to look at all of our communications to make sure we are sending and living this message.
So true. I can’t share this quote enough: “Hospitality means we take people into the space that is ourselves — our lives and our minds and our hearts and our work and our efforts. It is the way we come out of ourselves. It is the first step toward dismantling the barriers of the world. Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around one heart at a time.” - joan chittister
 

paulmanzey

Attaché
#8 here really hits home, as it's something that I've seen a lot of success with through other marketing avenues as well. While we're all hoping that travelers aren't employing a goldfish attention span, the reality is that there are a lot of people looking for the quick, bulleted information. That's why you're also trying to (#4) shorten your origin story.

Whether we like it or not, people are much more visually driven now because of all of the online exposure. Use bullet points, but use them wisely. Don't necessarily put just any information in this format -- make sure it's compelling (USP) so that you're drawing those potential guests into the experience.

Echoing what Jed Jed is saying, imagery is also key. High quality images are a non-negotiable, but you have to use those images to tell the same story that your content is telling, knowing that in some cases they won't make it to your listing description. You (or your owners) know the rental inside and out. In some cases, guests are leaving reviews of their experience. Use that information to highlight what they are highlighting. Find the trends -- and solicit more information from them so that you can paint a better picture of the experience they are going to enjoy when they're staying in your unit.

Finally, while the guests may not be buying the KPI's like Nancy Nancy is saying, that doesn't mean you can't use your own KPI's to understand what's happening as people are viewing your listings. I think there are two items that can give great insights into how far people are actually making it on a given listing:
  1. G4 Analytics - Google has been pushing out some great information on their new platform (the old Web + App), but I haven't seen many partners who have been quick to implement. It's definitely different, and offering different data points that may not be what we're all used to within the Universal Analytics setup. However, the one event that they are tracking here (automatically) is scrolls. Find out which of your rentals are getting scrolls, and do a little reverse engineering. Why are they scrolling down the page? Is it because of the name? The Imagery? The Rate? Use that data to help you tell your story even better.
  2. Google Tag Manager - Again, we're getting into how people are interacting with these individual listing pages. In this case (similar to the G4 case above) you're able to track scroll depth on a given page. Find the average scroll depth on your top properties vs your bottom properties, and figure out not only what content you need to put in these descriptions, but where it needs to be placed in location on the listing itself.
 

Randy

Counselor
Inner Circle
This is such a valuable topic with a lot of wisdom provided! It would be difficult to add much insight here but I do 100% believe it all starts with the "Title" (Phase I). When writing posts/page/descriptions I always start with grading the effectiveness of the title for click through. One free tool I have found valuable is this Headline Analyzer (https://headlines.sharethrough.com/).

A well-written title will at least grab attention for a few seconds to get the potential guest interested for phase II (Step 8: Skimmify), then if you pass phase II they will typically read long-form copy (like Sallie mentioned). I look at it is multiple short bursts that compound the effectiveness if you pass each phase of interest to ultimately getting the conversion! Woohoo....

It is truly amazing how much strategy, creativity, A/B testing, and neuroscience goes into maximizing the effectiveness of a listing. Hopefully Matt will use this compilation of wisdom and create the following blog post:

Design an Airbnb Listing that Guarantees Double the Bookings (Scores 73 on the Headline Analyzer 🤔)
 

Will Franco

Efficiency Manager
Staff member
Like speed-dating, if you don’t convey quickly what makes you different from every other listing, you’ve lost the goldfish-level attention span of the visitor.

Note: As @Kim likes to remind us, according to some research, the average human attention span is now eight seconds, less than that of the goldfish with nine

The analogy is perfect because once in a while, someone catches your eye and makes a great first impression.



My attention is less than 3 seconds when it comes to booking a vacation rental.

I'm a visual person and make my decision based on the first 3 photos. If the property doesn't look good, I move onto the next listing. I whittle it down to 2 or 3 properties. Next, I read the title and description. Like a resume, the more you write, the higher the probability that I will exclude the property. Congruency between the headline and first photos is a factor.

For example (same price, same location)

1616801659327.png
Thought stream
  • The title feels like SPAM. Is this a bogus scamming listing?!
  • The living area has no heart.
  • The beach looks bad
  • That TV looks too high. It looks like it would hurt my neck.
  • What are these people thinking?
  • I feel bad for them.
  • Should I email them a link to the LSI quiz? ;)
_____________________________

1616801771094.png
Thought stream:
  • Title is congruent with the photos. Check.
  • First bedroom (on the left) is awful.
  • Second bedroom looks great :)
  • On wait, it's the same bedroom.
  • Duh! It's a 1BR.
  • Oh WOW, the main area looks amazing! ❤️ [photo in the bottom right]
  • I want it.
  • And it's close to the beach.
  • Done deal. I hope it's available.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
The analogy is perfect because once in a while, someone catches your eye and makes a great first impression.



My attention is less than 3 seconds when it comes to booking a vacation rental.

I'm a visual person and make my decision based on the first 3 photos. If the property doesn't look good, I move onto the next listing. I whittle it down to 2 or 3 properties. Next, I read the title and description. Like a resume, the more you write, the higher the probability that I will exclude the property. Congruency between the headline and first photos is a factor.

For example (same price, same location)

View attachment 3893
Thought stream
  • The title feels like SPAM. Is this a bogus scamming listing?!
  • The living area has no heart.
  • The beach looks like $#!T
  • That TV looks too high. It looks like it would hurt my neck.
  • What are these people thinking?
  • I feel bad for them.
  • Should I email them a link to the LSI quiz? ;)
_____________________________

View attachment 3894
Thought stream:
  • Title is congruent with the photos. Check.
  • First bedroom (on the left) is awful.
  • Second bedroom looks great :)
  • On wait, it's the same bedroom.
  • Duh! It's a 1BR.
  • Oh WOW, the main area looks amazing! ❤️ [photo in the bottom right]
  • I want it.
  • And it's close to the beach.
  • Done deal. I hope it's available.
I’d love to do more livestreams of someone’s thoughts as they book. Super interesting.
 

Christina

Counselor
Inner Circle
These are good tips. Nevertheless, now in Paris the market is, by defintion, nearlly all domestic and all this kind of strategy which is avalaible in "normal time" is not very effective now where the majority of clients are looking for one thing : the price.
So properties have become more commodity versus unique? Are there ways to make them different than anything else? Our experience with folks currently in the US is they want to 1) drive to the destination, 2) be outside their normal four walls, and 3) have everything PERFECT (ugh). I wonder if we could somehow elevate their experience. Thor and I this morning early were discussing putting something in every house, chalkboard with the words "What are you Grateful For?" and then bullet points or numbers (at least five) to have them frame their own experience out of gratitude versus frustration from other parts of their life. We even discussed leaving a kids version like a restaurant with a small pack of non-staining markers or something (and have a puzzle and/or coloring page with our logo or the house shape of each house). Maybe a cool game that helps people staying together reconnect (lots of folks are 'meeting' in the middle to visit from various cities).
 

Christina

Counselor
Inner Circle
The analogy is perfect because once in a while, someone catches your eye and makes a great first impression.



My attention is less than 3 seconds when it comes to booking a vacation rental.

I'm a visual person and make my decision based on the first 3 photos. If the property doesn't look good, I move onto the next listing. I whittle it down to 2 or 3 properties. Next, I read the title and description. Like a resume, the more you write, the higher the probability that I will exclude the property. Congruency between the headline and first photos is a factor.

For example (same price, same location)

View attachment 3893
Thought stream
  • The title feels like SPAM. Is this a bogus scamming listing?!
  • The living area has no heart.
  • The beach looks bad
  • That TV looks too high. It looks like it would hurt my neck.
  • What are these people thinking?
  • I feel bad for them.
  • Should I email them a link to the LSI quiz? ;)
_____________________________

View attachment 3894
Thought stream:
  • Title is congruent with the photos. Check.
  • First bedroom (on the left) is awful.
  • Second bedroom looks great :)
  • On wait, it's the same bedroom.
  • Duh! It's a 1BR.
  • Oh WOW, the main area looks amazing! ❤️ [photo in the bottom right]
  • I want it.
  • And it's close to the beach.
  • Done deal. I hope it's available.
Good points! And agreed, as a traveler I think this is their process.
 

Susanne

Counselor
Inner Circle
Matt Landau Matt Landau, your speed-dating reference is the perfect analogy. When I met the owner of this property, he had a VRBO listing with a few grainy, dark photos of his faux-chateau-themed 1000 sq foot condo. There was not one photo that even hinted ALL windows had a sweeping lake view. Nowhere did it mention the property was located in the tourist epicenter, on the lake, in the center of town. There was no reference to the dozens of area attractions and booking magnets within walking distance. He knew there was more he could do, but was not sure where to start.

The transformation has taken a full year through all the stages of branding, name, logo, ideal guest avatars, property description, automation, website build etc. This thread mentions the importance of good photos. That helps a lot, but my experience is that good photos cannot make up for bad design. For this post's purpose, I will focus on our design efforts. If the property has "star potential" among the comps, don't be afraid to make an investment in elevating the design with the help of professionals.

Make sure to ask whether they can provide past examples of their VR work, and case studies backing up some whopping ROI jumps. We targeted the luxury market, and it is an interesting niche to be sure. Our guest two nights ago was persistent and determined to buy the place upon checkout. Then yesterday morning we pulled in $10,000 in bookings before lunch. It has taken off like a rocket. Targeting special occasions has been really effective. People want a special place to celebrate their milestone birthdays, anniversaries, or retirements. www.urbanshores.ca. Credits to www.1ChicRetreat.com for design and www.jodibourne.com for the website.
 

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DMartinez

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
So properties have become more commodity versus unique? Are there ways to make them different than anything else? Our experience with folks currently in the US is they want to 1) drive to the destination, 2) be outside their normal four walls, and 3) have everything PERFECT (ugh). I wonder if we could somehow elevate their experience. Thor and I this morning early were discussing putting something in every house, chalkboard with the words "What are you Grateful For?" and then bullet points or numbers (at least five) to have them frame their own experience out of gratitude versus frustration from other parts of their life. We even discussed leaving a kids version like a restaurant with a small pack of non-staining markers or something (and have a puzzle and/or coloring page with our logo or the house shape of each house). Maybe a cool game that helps people staying together reconnect (lots of folks are 'meeting' in the middle to visit from various cities).

Actually, I am in the process of creating a coloring book for our guests using mimi-panda.com
See examples of our pages. Note we use to keep artist pencils and adult level coloring books but no one used them. My goal is to create a small coloring book either as a "let's get excited about the arrival" and/or departing gift (thinking send me your photos and I'll send you a coloring book)
The trick here is to use a photo that has very distinct lines in it and little clutter (in my case the meadow and sunset did not pop as much as my grandkids' smiles).
 

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Craig

Envoy
Inner Circle
Accelerator
I need to add another item to this thread... sorry still thinking about it.
The final point should also include: Mindful Inclusive Text

I recently received what I thought was a ridiculous email from VERBOH... pointing out that the text I used could be construed as insensitive.
"Plantation Shutters".
Well that set me off because to me plantation shutters is a widely used design and product term.
The VRBOH AI must have thought I was using the word plantation to describe my entire home... which is not the case.

After researching text and descriptions I found out that many real estate boards are no longer permitting the use of the word "Master" for Master Bedroom... the new term to use now is Primary Bedroom.

And the use of the word "Plantation" to describe a house is also a bit of a taboo I found out.

So it's a good idea to relook at what's happening in the word every once in a while to see what's OUT and what's still IN in terms of mindful usage of text.

**************************

Email Received from VERBOH:

Vrbo is more than a platform - we're a community of guests and hosts built on mutual respect. And we're committed to creating a welcoming experience for everyone who uses our site.

As part of this commitment, we've worked with award-winning inclusion and diversity leaders the 360 Agency and Dr. Kazique Prince to make sure the property listings on Vrbo reflect our policy and purpose.

We invite you to join us in shaping a world that's inclusive to people of all racial and cultural backgrounds.

We ask that you review your listing description and avoid using the term "plantation" or "plantation-style." Instead, you may want to use the word "estate" or "mansion." If you are using the term to describe a property’s design, consider neutral language such as “tropical-style” or describe the specific features.

Going forward, "plantation" should only be used to describe, and never celebrate, properties with a history of slavery in the United States.

When we address language in this way - removing it or adding context - we're not trying to rewrite history. We're breaking down historical barriers that have harmed some people as a step toward creating a safer, more inclusive future for everyone.

Learn more about what Vrbo is doing to drive change in our industry.

We thank you for joining us in our effort to be a welcoming place for travelers everywhere.
Oh dear god. The PC brigade have gone mad...
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
So properties have become more commodity versus unique? Are there ways to make them different than anything else? Our experience with folks currently in the US is they want to 1) drive to the destination, 2) be outside their normal four walls, and 3) have everything PERFECT (ugh). I wonder if we could somehow elevate their experience. Thor and I this morning early were discussing putting something in every house, chalkboard with the words "What are you Grateful For?" and then bullet points or numbers (at least five) to have them frame their own experience out of gratitude versus frustration from other parts of their life. We even discussed leaving a kids version like a restaurant with a small pack of non-staining markers or something (and have a puzzle and/or coloring page with our logo or the house shape of each house). Maybe a cool game that helps people staying together reconnect (lots of folks are 'meeting' in the middle to visit from various cities).
My family did this every evening of covid quarantine. It has incredibly unifying and memorable ramifications.
 

SScurlock

Envoy
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
Another great thread and ideas! I need to work on #1 and let them know I run my vacation rentals as a business.

#2 - I think I have added provenance in my story with the story of the farm and how we began the business. I have notebooks in the farm written by my mother that tell the story of them purchasing the land, building the homes, her painting, etc. Guests tell me they read it cover-to-cover and love it.

#3 - Years ago I believe someone in the IC advised having the property name under every photo and I have done that.

#4 - Okay, I really need to work on shortening my About Us Story! I know I can get too wordy.

#5 - thanks to BobG BobG I got on the eco-train and it has been a fun ride so far! I knew I instinctively did a lot of eco-friendly things with the farm and rentals, but had not thought about using that information to attract guests until BobG BobG. Yesterday I did a recorded Zoom interview that will be used by Tourism Declares Emergency about what I am doing with to make my rentals and farm eco-friendly.

#6 - Associate with a specialty niche - I found FarmStayUSA after Matt did a blog post about niche listings. Many of my rentals now come via FarmStay and I will be helping Scottie Jones, founder of FarmStay, and Bill Lee, CEO and co-founder of Yonder, add farms and wineries to their websites as places for guests to stay wanting to connect with nature and/or stay on a farm.

#7 - I will need to work on the "Underdog narrative"

#* - Skimmify text. This is the area I need to do the most work on! I will spend some time to shorten things, make smaller paragraphs, use headers and use bullet lists more.

Thanks Matt Landau Matt Landau for some really good ideas that will be easy to implement!
 

BobG

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
#5 - thanks to @BobG I got on the eco-train and it has been a fun ride so far! I knew I instinctively did a lot of eco-friendly things with the farm and rentals, but had not thought about using that information to attract guests until @BobG. Yesterday I did a recorded Zoom interview that will be used by Tourism Declares Emergency about what I am doing with to make my rentals and farm eco-friendly.
Nice work SScurlock SScurlock I think you make a good point that probably applies to many hosts, you don't realise all the eco-friendly things that you already do until you make that list and start talking to your guests about them. I watched your interview too - great job!
 

LMejias

I make films
Inner Circle
Note: Thanks to ToonTownRob ToonTownRob for posting this mini-revelation about the power of starting your email responses with a twist. It inspired this week's Motivation (and I decided to record it in podcast form too below).


Listing sites like Airbnb and Vrbo rank as the top pound-for-pound allocation of your time to generate inquiries. All the various listing sites make up Stage 1 of Listing Site Independence framework. But also from our findings, we learned that not all listings are created equally. Like speed-dating, if you don’t convey quickly what makes you different from every other listing, you’ve lost the goldfish-level attention span of the visitor.

Note: As Kim Kim likes to remind us, according to some research, the average human attention span is now eight seconds, less than that of the goldfish with nine

Below are 8 deep adjustments that are reverse engineered from the factors that lead a visitor to inquire or book: intrigue, engagement, and confidence.

1) Explain you do this for a living​

The vast majority of Airbnb hosts do not view their listing as a job, which while endearing and whimsical can also sew doubt in prospective guests. So come out with a disclaimer at the beginning of your listing, revealing you run your property like a business.

2) Add provenance​

The word provenance refers to the chronology of an antique or piece or art. The backstory of that object is what makes it valuable. So sprinkle provenance throughout your listing: what’s the story on the property, how did you come to represent it, why is the destination special to you and your family?

3) Sprinkle property name liberally​

“The billboard effect” is a phenomenon that occurs when vacation rental professionals see additional direct bookings after listing on Airbnb. But you need a unique property name (or business name) to pull this off. Insert your unique property name in the title and several times throughout the description, photo captions, and About Us section.

4) Improve & shorten origin story​

How did you find yourself in this position as a host? DO NOT leave your aspirational storyline on the table.The more interesting or relatable your “pre vacation rental” About Us section, the more you’ll attract inquiries who respect and admire your business. Brevity beats details in this department: you should be able to explain your “origin” story in a few sentences.

5) Get on the eco train​

Environmentally-friendly vacation rentals are exponentially more appealing than their direct counterparts. Which aspects of your business (products, services, amenities) reflect your awareness of the environment? Mention them blatantly.

6) Associate with a special interest niche​

Listing sites like Airbnb are like a giant supermarket and it can be overwhelming for guests to navigate to the right specialty aisle, much less find your particular product without some solid signage. Make sure to mention the exact kinds of travelers who most enjoy your property with any buzzwords necessary (yes, this is the one time we permit the use of buzzwords #blessed).

7) Deploy “underdog narrative”​

Hollywood movie writers use the underdog narrative to get potential viewers to admire the character for trying, moreso than for their actual success. Do this with your listing by including a short anecdote about a challenge, failure, or humble achievement that triggers emotion -- turning what was previously a transaction into a human experience.

8) Skimmify your text (3 parts)​

Remember the goldfish stat? Listing viewers have very short attention spans and the more skimmable your layout, the better. Here are three quick ways to do that.
  • 8.1 Normal paragraphs feel like massive walls to someone not fully vested just yet (aka. Visitors simply do not read them) so reduce your paragraph length down to 1-2 sentences (3 max) deleting as much fluff as possible. Your paragraphs should include everything they need, nothing they don’t
  • 8.2 Use headers (or short summaries of content) to break up sections. Headers are best when ordered to give the hierarchy of the listing.
  • 8.3 CAPITALIZE money words that pique people’s interest, make them use their imagination and turn the ordinary into something worth paying money for. Use ALL CAPS sparingly.
  • 8.4 Use bullets or lists to show features, benefits, or any cluster of items together one per line.

Question for Members: What other ideas have you done (consciously or by accident) to beef up your listings?
God, this is all so true. Thank you.

It feels like reading attention is shorter than ever.
 

Stephen

Counselor
Note: Thanks to ToonTownRob ToonTownRob for posting this mini-revelation about the power of starting your email responses with a twist. It inspired this week's Motivation (and I decided to record it in podcast form too below).


Listing sites like Airbnb and Vrbo rank as the top pound-for-pound allocation of your time to generate inquiries. All the various listing sites make up Stage 1 of Listing Site Independence framework. But also from our findings, we learned that not all listings are created equally. Like speed-dating, if you don’t convey quickly what makes you different from every other listing, you’ve lost the goldfish-level attention span of the visitor.

Note: As Kim Kim likes to remind us, according to some research, the average human attention span is now eight seconds, less than that of the goldfish with nine

Below are 8 deep adjustments that are reverse engineered from the factors that lead a visitor to inquire or book: intrigue, engagement, and confidence.

1) Explain you do this for a living​

The vast majority of Airbnb hosts do not view their listing as a job, which while endearing and whimsical can also sew doubt in prospective guests. So come out with a disclaimer at the beginning of your listing, revealing you run your property like a business.

2) Add provenance​

The word provenance refers to the chronology of an antique or piece or art. The backstory of that object is what makes it valuable. So sprinkle provenance throughout your listing: what’s the story on the property, how did you come to represent it, why is the destination special to you and your family?

3) Sprinkle property name liberally​

“The billboard effect” is a phenomenon that occurs when vacation rental professionals see additional direct bookings after listing on Airbnb. But you need a unique property name (or business name) to pull this off. Insert your unique property name in the title and several times throughout the description, photo captions, and About Us section.

4) Improve & shorten origin story​

How did you find yourself in this position as a host? DO NOT leave your aspirational storyline on the table.The more interesting or relatable your “pre vacation rental” About Us section, the more you’ll attract inquiries who respect and admire your business. Brevity beats details in this department: you should be able to explain your “origin” story in a few sentences.

5) Get on the eco train​

Environmentally-friendly vacation rentals are exponentially more appealing than their direct counterparts. Which aspects of your business (products, services, amenities) reflect your awareness of the environment? Mention them blatantly.

6) Associate with a special interest niche​

Listing sites like Airbnb are like a giant supermarket and it can be overwhelming for guests to navigate to the right specialty aisle, much less find your particular product without some solid signage. Make sure to mention the exact kinds of travelers who most enjoy your property with any buzzwords necessary (yes, this is the one time we permit the use of buzzwords #blessed).

7) Deploy “underdog narrative”​

Hollywood movie writers use the underdog narrative to get potential viewers to admire the character for trying, moreso than for their actual success. Do this with your listing by including a short anecdote about a challenge, failure, or humble achievement that triggers emotion -- turning what was previously a transaction into a human experience.

8) Skimmify your text (3 parts)​

Remember the goldfish stat? Listing viewers have very short attention spans and the more skimmable your layout, the better. Here are three quick ways to do that.
  • 8.1 Normal paragraphs feel like massive walls to someone not fully vested just yet (aka. Visitors simply do not read them) so reduce your paragraph length down to 1-2 sentences (3 max) deleting as much fluff as possible. Your paragraphs should include everything they need, nothing they don’t
  • 8.2 Use headers (or short summaries of content) to break up sections. Headers are best when ordered to give the hierarchy of the listing.
  • 8.3 CAPITALIZE money words that pique people’s interest, make them use their imagination and turn the ordinary into something worth paying money for. Use ALL CAPS sparingly.
  • 8.4 Use bullets or lists to show features, benefits, or any cluster of items together one per line.

Question for Members: What other ideas have you done (consciously or by accident) to beef up your listings?
Great ideas. I will apply these suggestions to my listings right away. Thank you!
 

Christina

Counselor
Inner Circle
Another great thread and ideas! I need to work on #1 and let them know I run my vacation rentals as a business.

#2 - I think I have added provenance in my story with the story of the farm and how we began the business. I have notebooks in the farm written by my mother that tell the story of them purchasing the land, building the homes, her painting, etc. Guests tell me they read it cover-to-cover and love it.

#3 - Years ago I believe someone in the IC advised having the property name under every photo and I have done that.

#4 - Okay, I really need to work on shortening my About Us Story! I know I can get too wordy.

#5 - thanks to BobG BobG I got on the eco-train and it has been a fun ride so far! I knew I instinctively did a lot of eco-friendly things with the farm and rentals, but had not thought about using that information to attract guests until BobG BobG. Yesterday I did a recorded Zoom interview that will be used by Tourism Declares Emergency about what I am doing with to make my rentals and farm eco-friendly.

#6 - Associate with a specialty niche - I found FarmStayUSA after Matt did a blog post about niche listings. Many of my rentals now come via FarmStay and I will be helping Scottie Jones, founder of FarmStay, and Bill Lee, CEO and co-founder of Yonder, add farms and wineries to their websites as places for guests to stay wanting to connect with nature and/or stay on a farm.

#7 - I will need to work on the "Underdog narrative"

#* - Skimmify text. This is the area I need to do the most work on! I will spend some time to shorten things, make smaller paragraphs, use headers and use bullet lists more.

Thanks Matt Landau Matt Landau for some really good ideas that will be easy to implement!
If I had more time, I would have written less ;-)
 

Craig

Envoy
Inner Circle
Accelerator
I want to dispute that people's attention spans have dwindled to seconds.

Yes, this will be true if you're trying to describe to me how to rotate my vehicle's tires myself, or the international trade implications for Nutella after Brexit.

But if you want to communicate with me about housetraining golden retriever puppies, five easy ways to get quality followers on Instagram, or the most beautiful villages in Liguria, I will read every single word and click on every single link.

People browsing OTAs are intent on finding a property in their desired area. If your photo and headline attract their attention by connecting with what they want, they will keep reading.
Agree. My theory is that they will only look at photos when comparing properties, narrow it down to 2-3 options then agree on one, THEN read the description in full. Well, that's what I do anyway...maybe I'm not normal...
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Agree. My theory is that they will only look at photos when comparing properties, narrow it down to 2-3 options then agree on one, THEN read the description in full. Well, that's what I do anyway...maybe I'm not normal...
I really like this theory. Gonna try to see if anyone's done research.
 
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