The above question was asked to several veteran managers this week at a meeting I attended. It is an uncomfortable question, one that produces much thought, emotions and there is only one answer.
The actions of the past two months have been telegraphed for years. HomeAway has been very transparent in their plans and now they are executing. The results has been anger on the part of the owner / managers and confusion on the traveler side. There is no longer any transparency to the vacation rental traveler when it comes to your brand.
Understand Centralized Platforms
All advertisers are now centralized booking platforms….embrace it, use it wisely and don’t become dependent on it. Make them earn every booking. This will cause some owner managers to raise their prices while these platform aim to drive it down. Guess what happens when they move to commissions only?
Treat Your Business Like a Stock
70% of the value of your company is directly correlated to your brand. Your brand is no longer visible to the traveler. It is imperative that you treat your business like you would your stock portfolio by diversifying your distribution and making investments in “tools” that drive value back to your brand. If you think these tools are found in all-in-one property management systems, you are sorely mistaken. Many are no longer aligned with your business interest.
Building a Retention Strategy That Rewards Your brand
Decoupling marketing data made sense to our business five years ago…makes it even more compelling today. If you are sitting on a closed property management system you know exactly the predicament you face. Your ability to retain guests is directly connected to how the traveler connects with your brand. The OTA’s and some Property Management Systems know going to centralized platforms will slow down leakage. You need alternative routes to display your brand and connect with these travelers. There are many tools available out there to promote your brand, from Social Media to Newsletters to regional sites that work in your best interest.
Leverage Community and Content
Owner /Managers looking to build consumer habits should remember that monetization is a result of engagement — not necessarily the other way around. Be it a financial services firm, a real estate agent, or a seasonal business, buying the product or service might not be a habit — but creating related habits around content and community can pay off in reputation, satisfaction, and more bookings.
- Owning a guests habit is an asset that pays you.
- Acknowledge this is difficult and commit to a strategy that captures these habits.
- Focus on getting the traveler to engage your brand…not a reason to disengage.
- Leveraging content and community are two ways to keep the traveler engaged.
- Monetization is a result of engagement — not necessarily the other way around.
What is Your Brand Worth?
What someone will pay for it. If they are unable to determine the value of your brand this decreases the value of your business. For those of you who have been in business for years, this is a golden opportunity to invest in your brand for the long haul. For those that are just starting out…..start right.
Travelers are looking for your brand…you might want to help them find you.