By Julian Castelli, CEO LeisureLink
Millennials are a powerful segment of today’s travelers, and their preferences and habits will help shape the future of travel preferences going forward. They are proving to be always connected, cost-conscious travelers that expect better access to online content, pricing information, along with quick response times to booking requests. In 2014 mobile and tablet devices generated nearly 40 percent of page views, and approximately 20 percent of bookings and room nights. This means vacation rental and resort property managers are faced with the new challenge of integrating a brand story across desktop, mobile, and tablet platforms – all while guiding mobile-savvy millennial users seamlessly through the booking funnel. Here are three tips for vacation rental suppliers to maximize engagement with these users, and translating that engagement into increased revenue.
Optimize the online experience
Studies reveal that millennials are a tech savvy group who place a premium on convenience. If your rental property’s online strategy doesn’t support dynamic content personalization, merchandising, and reservation abandonment prevention, you’re losing ground with this profitable market segment. It’s no longer a viable option for most property managers or owners to manage everything manually or with fragmented systems. Upgrading to an integrated, full-service distribution solution will enable you to manage and maximize all your distribution, as well as to optimize rates, availability, specials, and even content changes to increase exposure in less time, with less effort. What’s more, a system like this will give you full control not only over content, but also over the ways in which elements like rates, images, and merchandising options adapt dynamically to each user’s preferences and interests. Adaptive rate offerings, for example, can help maximize RevPAR; while adaptive brand storytelling can boost user engagement, and a solid reservation abandonment prevention system can make sure bookings don’t slip away.
Integrate an authentic social media story
Millennials and today’s tech-savvy travelers can be aptly dubbed as a demographic called “Generation C” – consumers who are “always connected” to online resources via their mobile and tablet devices. Social media represents a full 28 percent of time spent online for Generation C, which means that a multi-channel campaign integrating social media is a powerful tool for driving conversions across multiple platforms. Rich imagery can introduce users to your rental property’s story – and concrete offers during the planning and booking stages can reinforce that story throughout the booking funnel. Millennial users are known for sharing interesting vacation experiences and deals when they find them – which means that competitive rates and rate parity are both crucial for generating leads from this demographic. With a system that tracks the pricing changes in your market, aligns your pricing accordingly across your full range of online channels, and allocates your rental inventory as needed, you’ll be able to close each deal at a price point that maximizes your ROI.
Be responsive in every way
Millennials’ multi-device browsing habits make it necessary to track their behavior across multiple platforms and channels, and adapt each component of the campaign in order meet traveler expectations for convenience and speed of communication. Since members of Generation C handle almost all their business online, it’s essential to be visible on as many channels as possible, and also to be available 24/7 to close the deal. That means making sure you’re telling your property’s story on every online distribution channel you can, from websites of OTAs and tour operators to niche vacation review sites to all-purpose social media channels – across desktop, mobile, and tablet platforms. If millennial users get hit with that story across every platform they’re using – and can confirm bookings at any time, any place, from any device – that’s a major step toward increasing direct bookings, and maximizing the number of engaged users you can convert into sales.
Millennials’ booking habits have disrupted vacation rental industry in all three of these ways – in the ways users search and shop online, in the ways they share content on social media, and in the ways they move between sites and platforms as they plan their bookings. In order to maximize occupancy and RevPAR for your vacation rental property, it’s necessary to develop adaptive content, and to distribute that content on the fly in response to the emerging demands and trends. With the right technology and tools to implement a dynamic distribution and marketing strategy, though, it’s possible to attract this profitable generation of users and guide them smoothly to a finalized booking, no matter which screen – or screens – that process takes place on.
Vacation rental suppliers interested in learning more about expanding their distribution reach are encouraged to schedule a demo of LeisureLink suite of solutions at http://content.leisurelink.com/demo-land-page.