PODCAST: Get to Know Blizzard Internet Marketing + Tips on Leveraging Past Guests for Future Reservations

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In this industry, a strong digital marketing plan is essential. But in reality, between delivering amazing guest stays, dealing with your owners, and managing your team, it can be tough to dedicate the time needed to do it well. Just finding the time to vet marketing agencies and pick one you trust to help you out is difficult.

The LiveRez team wanted to take some of that work off your plate, so we’ve spent the last few months interviewing marketing teams to find a company that not only offers best-in-class digital marketing services, but also really values partnership the way LiveRez does. We finally found someone you’re really going to love.

We are so excited to announce our new preferred partner for online marketing services: Blizzard Internet Marketing! Here are just a few of the reasons we felt Blizzard was a great fit for our partners:

  • Blizzard has 20 years of experience in the lodging industry. One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to marketing. Blizzard understands the specific challenges that vacation rental businesses face.
  • Blizzard does it all under one roof. From SEO and PPC to email marketing and social media. While you focus on your core business, they’ll create and execute on a customized marketing plan that works together to get you the best results.
  • Digital marketing is their bread and butter. That means you’ll be working with a team that is laser focused on keeping up with industry trends and utilizing proven methods to get you results.

PODCAST: Get to Know Blizzard

 

We sat down with Susan Blizzard herself to get her tips on easy (and free!) ways you can get past guests to stay with you again and again:

  • (9:13) – Do less work and spend less money by turning past guests into repeat guests.
  • (10:21) – People buy from people. You’re not renting a property. You’re selling someone a dream.
  • (12:25) – The competitive advantage for property managers is your local expertise and personal connection with the guest.
  • (14:25) – Case study: A property manager’s exclusive offer to past guests generated 18 new bookings!
  • (19:39) – Referrals always work best when it’s a win-win-win for all three parties – your company, the referrer and the referee.
  • (21:55) – Some of the highest email open rates come from newsletters and area updates like new restaurants, etc.
  • (25:28) – Your booking calendar could be completely full without ever getting another new traveler. Period.
  • (28:02) – If guests book through one of the OTAs, they have no real connection with you. It’s like saying that you bought your plane ticket from Expedia. Create that connection through thoughtful content marketing.

Work with the Blizzard Team!

Set up some time to talk with the Blizzard team about how they can deliver results for you. Just email [email protected] and let them know you’re ready to learn more!

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more.

At LiveRez, we take our partnership with each and every one of our property managers seriously. We believe in the power of community and teamwork, and, together with our partners, we win as a team.

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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Meet Matt Landau: An Interview with the Vacation Rental Industry’s Marketing Guru

Meet Matt Landau

We couldn’t be more excited to have Matt Landau as one of our featured speakers this year at Partner Conference! You probably know Matt from his website, VRMB, which is one of the go-to sources in our industry for innovative and forward-thinking strategies around vacation rental marketing.

Our own Tina Upson sat down with Matt to talk about how he “fell into” this crazy vacation rental space, the class he’s teaching this year, and why he regards Partner Conference as the best in the industry.

FULL INTERVIEW: Matt Landau, VRMB + Tina Upson, LiveRez

Tina Upson: So, you were one of the favorites last year at Partner Conference. I’m hoping you’ll give us a little sneak peek at what people can expect from your class this year: “Limited Edition as the Great Differentiator.”

Matt Landau: When most people hear the phrase “limited edition,” they think “expensive” or “exclusive.” But really, when we broke it down, the concept of limited edition is just about limited supply. And, the way we got to this idea was actually when I first moved to my neighborhood here in Panama City. I was walking around with the realtor and asked, “Who would want to invest in a neighborhood like this?” And she said, “Well, because we’re a UNESCO World Heritage site, and because you cannot build up and you cannot build out, this is a limited-edition style investment.” And, I liked the way that she phrased that. I began to learn a little bit more about this idea of limited supply in relation to demand.

And then I entered the world of collectibles. You know the show Antique Road Show?

TU: You’re dating yourself a little bit…

ML: I totally am. I must have watched 40 hours of Antiques Roadshow. And, I learned that collectors’ items are very similar in that they are produced in extremely limited supply. And, therefore, there’s always a great demand for them. Amplify that to the world of vacation rentals, and we observed that vacation rentals are increasingly being forced to choose between one of two buckets. The first is what I call the commodity bucket. This is the mainstream type of vacation rental that frankly our industry desperately needs. It’s a baseline of expectation that a traveler should have when they choose a vacation rental. The second bucket – the opposite end of the spectrum – is what we’re calling the limited edition. These are the vacation rental businesses that are steeped in personality, passion, personalization and all these things that a lot of LiveRez partners already do. They just didn’t know there was a name for it.

The goal of the limited edition framework is to help them see that there are two games that you can play in the world of vacation rentals. The first – the commodity game – is huge and amazing and necessary for the industry. It’s also very challenging. The limited edition game is something I think is more tailored to small independent businesses, like all of the LiveRez partners I’ve met.

TU: So, it’s all about focusing on your niche and being the local expert and all of those things we know have become big drivers in this industry?

ML: Exactly. The more limited edition you are, the less you have to play by the rules of the game in your territory, and the less market shifts apply to your business. It provides immediate incentive for people like us who are focused on the unique side of our businesses to double down, because I think now is certainly the time.

TU: Absolutely. Well, I’m excited about that class, especially learning some specific action items that our partners can implement. So, I want to know a little bit more about you. I read that you “fell into” the vacation rental industry. Can you tell us what you meant by that?

Matt Landau Quote

ML: Well for me it meant studying something entirely different – economics. And then becoming a professional in an entirely different industry – travel. And then literally falling into having the opportunity to buy a fleet of vacation rentals in the historic district [in Panama] fall into my lap. None of it was planned. None of it was trained for. I think in that sense, I’m not unlike most independent property managers in that none of us really studied or prepared for this. We stumbled on something that we’re really good at and that we really enjoy, and that’s our recipe for a great business.

And in my case here in Casco Antiguo, I learned vacation rentals the hard way for the first five and a half years. I was the only luxury place to stay in the entire historic district. That came with its fair share of challenges (which is a story for another day). But, in the process of learning all this, I just began documenting what was working and what wasn’t. And that eventually led me to a platform where I could share this information with other independent owners and managers who were going through the exact same things. That became Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, which eventually consolidated into VRMB. I now spend most of my time observing and researching and synthesizing all the amazing case studies that I find into frameworks that we believe are necessary for our industry to grow.

TU: What was the most surprising challenge that you bumped into when you decided to take on that fleet of homes?

ML: I think it had to be the learning curve. It just takes time to figure out how everything works. It takes time to even identify what your problem is. So, when they arrive at Google, for instance, and they’re looking for a software, they don’t know exactly what to type in because they’ve never been prepared or trained for this. So in my case it was just learning everything the old fashioned way. Making a ton of mistakes. Choosing this industry because it was a lifestyle choice, not necessarily because it was going to make me the most possible money or because I could grow it into a massive empire. Having my eye on this goal of a sustainable business that was integrated with the community required a lot of research and education.

And, in the end, finding colleagues like you and other Inner Circle members and VRMB subscribers and people that I meet when I go to conferences who have more or less the same story. They’ve been through this learning curve the hard way. Finding people that we can talk with and share best practices with and commiserate with accelerates the learning curve. And I think that’s the beautiful thing about the people who are coming to Partner Conference.

TU: Absolutely. I often think about the sphere of influence our partners have within their communities, with their guests, and with their owners. With that reach, I think there’s really nothing to fear with the changes in the space. We just have to work together. And I think that’s one of the strengths of VRMB is that it gives property managers the chance to leverage all of their similarities and strengths to help the industry as a whole. There’s so much they can do if they come together.

ML: And, I think in the case of the vacation rental industry, I don’t know of a movement that is going to impact the future more than this niche, this travel sector. And like you said, a lot of owners and managers don’t realize how successful they already are and how much of a role they have to play in their respective communities moving forward, because this is really just the burgeoning tip of something much greater, I believe. That’s why I get so excited.

TU: Me too! Couldn’t agree more. So, last thing. If there’s somebody who hasn’t decided if they’re coming to Partner Conference this year, what would be your sales pitch? Why should they pull the trigger?

ML: I regard the LiveRez Partner Conference as pretty much the best that I’ve been to in the industry. It’s got a couple unique components. One, because it is put on by one company, everyone there is extremely similar in a lot of ways. They’re all dealing with the exact same types of challenges. Whereas association events, industry events, and things like that, people can be a little bit more varied in who they are and what they do.

Matt Landau Quote

The second thing is frankly you guys attract incredible people. And the partners that I met at the conference last year really opened my eyes to a world of professionally managed properties that I didn’t know existed. I knew it existed with owners, because that’s who I primarily used to work with. But, my experience at Partner Conference really helped me to see that there are managers on all sides of the spectrum who are incredibly serious, incredibly bright, have achieved amazing levels of success, and yet constantly want to move quickly and learn more and meet people who are doing things even better than them. That attitude is infectious. And even if I wasn’t a client of LiveRez, I would probably see if I could sneak in just so I could hang out with that type of personality, and through osmosis let it improve me as a manager.

TU: I love it. I totally got vacation rental goosebumps. Thanks for taking the time to be with us! We’ve got some exciting things we’re doing with VRMB. So, everyone stay tuned for when we debut some of that at the conference!

ML: Amazing. Can’t wait!

Meet Matt at Partner Conference!

Check out the 2017 Partner Conference website to get registered! You won’t want to miss the chance to meet Matt in Phoenix this year.

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more.

At LiveRez, we take our partnership with each and every one of our property managers seriously. We believe in the power of community and teamwork, and, together with our partners, we win as a team.

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

Did you like this post?Please consider “liking” it and sharing it on your social media channels via the buttons below. You can also follow us and get notifications of all new posts via the “Follow” button Follow Us in the bottom right-hand part of the screen.

PODCAST: Breaking Down The Latest HomeAway Changes With Our Friend Amy Hinote of VRM Intel

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It’s been a week since HomeAway announced some major updates to their channel causing a pretty emotional reaction among LiveRez partners. (ICYMI: See their latest online booking and guest communication updates.)

So, what’s really happening here? And, what does it mean for the future of the industry? We reached outside the LiveRez network to help connect the dots.

In our latest podcast, Amy Hinote, founder and editor of VRM Intel, joins us to talk misconceptions about listings sites, what you can expect to see next and how there might just be a silver lining in all of this.

Next Steps

As promised in the podcast, stay tuned for more tips, tricks and resources for talking to your owners about the role that listing sites play in your marketing strategy.

But, before you talk to your owners, take a good hard look at where exactly your bookings are coming from. What will it take for you to step up your game, build your brand and increase your direct bookings? These resources will help you get started:

Asked and Answered: Am I Too Dependant on Listing Sites? – VRM Intel
9 Simple Hacks to Get More Direct Bookings – LiveRez Blog
Listing Site Independence – Matt Landau, Vacation Rental Marketing Blog

What do you think?

Is there a misconception about the dominance of listing sites? Or, are they really going to be the most prevalent channel for booking vacation rentals in the future? Weigh in below!

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more.

At LiveRez, we take our partnership with each and every one of our property managers seriously. We believe in the power of community and teamwork, and, together with our partners, we win as a team.

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

Did you like this post?Please consider “liking” it and sharing it on your social media channels via the buttons below. You can also follow us and get notifications of all new posts via the “Follow” button Follow Us in the bottom right-hand part of the screen.

9 Things You Can Do Today to Cut Down on Unnecessary Guest Questions

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Okay, we’re all friends here. Let’s keep it real.

Some days, you’re on it. You have time to greet your guests when they arrive and you tackle guest requests left and right. Heck, you even have time to post the #perfect pic on your new company Instagram account.

But, when busy season hits, all bets are off. When it’s all you can do to get your guests in and out in a somewhat organized fashion, the flood of calls and emails from guests with yet another question about the WiFi password can just about send you over the edge.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. We reached out to some property manager all-stars to discover their secrets for mitigating the seemingly endless guest phone calls. Here’s what they had to say.

BEAT YOUR GUESTS TO THE PUNCH

The guest experience starts before they step foot in the home. Make a personal call to your guests a day or two before arrival to make sure they have received the arrival instructions and answer any last-minute questions. – Matthew Tesdall, Family Time Vacation Rentals

You know your guests will have questions when they first arrive, so why wait for them to call? Reach out an hour or so after they check in. This way you can address any questions right up front. – Emily Carrico, Seabrook Cottage Rentals

communicate

Don’t have the staff to make post-arrival calls? Consider keeping the line of communication open via email. Set up a CRM message to automatically send out one day after they arrive to see if there is anything you can do or if there are issues that need to be taken care of. –  Matthew Tesdall, Family Time Vacation Rentals

Regardless of how you communicate with guests, what’s important is to identify any issues right at the beginning of the stay. Exceeding guest expectations right off the bat really helps to give guests the experience of staying in a professionally managed home. Show them the difference! – Mark Tolan, Seaside Vacation Homes

ELIMINATE COMMON QUESTIONS

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Question #1: “How do you work this dang TV?”

Ask housekeeping to turn the TV on to a music channel before the guests arrive, so you know it’s already set to the right input. – David Angotti, SmokyMountains.com

Take a picture of the TV/DVD player remotes. Then, create a custom instructional sheet with the photos and step-by-step operational instructions that can be placed on the coffee table in front of the TV. – Justin Ford, On the Water in Maine

Question #2: “What’s the WiFi password?”

Send the WiFi password in a pre-arrival email using the new CRM WiFi macro, so they have it handy when they check-in. – Debbie Lipscomb, Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals

Set your WiFi passwords so they’re the same for all units. This way your team can answer WiFi password questions quickly. You can also provide the internet service’s contact information, so the guest can try calling them first if there’s an issue. – Justin Ford, On the Water in Maine

Question #3: “When is the garbage truck/lawn service/etc. coming?”

They’re angry when the grass is long. And, they’re angry when the lawn service shows up… What can you do? The best way to handle this is to overcommunicate about when things like garbage pick-up, lawn care or pool service crews will be coming by the house. – Debbie Lipscomb, Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals

BONUS: Having trouble identifying your common issues? Have a debrief meeting with your team after each rental season to pick their brains on what guests were asking most often about and brainstorm ways to tweak your processes moving forward. – Debbie Lipscomb, Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals

What about you? What creative strategies have you implemented to make your guest communication seamless? Let us know in the comments!

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more.

At LiveRez, we take our partnership with each and every one of our property managers seriously. We believe in the power of community and teamwork, and, together with our partners, we win as a team.

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

Did you like this post?Please consider “liking” it and sharing it on your social media channels via the buttons below. You can also follow us and get notifications of all new posts via the “Follow” button Follow Us in the bottom right-hand part of the screen.

10 Tips for Tackling the Busy Summer Season

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Memorial Day is fast approaching, so you know what that means… The crazy summer season is just about here! This time of year usually finds me ramping up my workout schedule (and wondering what the heck I was thinking waiting until May to start getting into summer shape). Anyone in the same boat? Just me? Okay, moving along.

This time of year also finds property managers scrambling to get ready for the busy summer vacation season, which makes it the perfect time to whip your business into summer shape, too! We put our heads together with a few LiveRez partners to come up with the top 10 things you can be doing right now to help ensure your summer season is smooth sailing.

  1. Tackle your to-do list. When your summer calendar is packed with back-to-back reservations, it can be tough to find time to take care of property updates. Bradie Beagley-Reiner from Bluewater Vacation Homes likes to use this time to tackle that list of upgrades they haven’t gotten around to just yet.
  2. Deep clean. Your properties are about to get some summer love from countless vacationers. Before the masses roll into town, ask your cleaning team to spend a little extra time scrubbing and polishing to make sure all of your properties are ready to take on the busy season.
  3. Spend some time outside. More than likely, it’s been a while since the patios, pools and other outdoor spaces have been utilized by your guests. Don’t wait for your guests to tell you the grill is busted or the lawn furniture has seen better days. Be proactive!
  4. Make it personal. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget about those little personal touches that make you stand out! CJ Stam from Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals recommends increasing that personal touch by sending a company branded postcard out to every booking.
  5. Send good summer vibes. Take some time to consider how you can start your guests’ summer vacations out on the right foot. From pool toys and beach towels to kites and sunscreen, providing thoughtful summer-focused amenities is a great way to show guests how much you care about their vacation. The little details make a big difference!
  6. Refresh your welcome book. Flip through your current welcome book, and take note of ways you could make it more focused on summer activities. This might include things like a special section about the best patio dining, your favorite places to take a picnic, local beach rental shops, etc.
  7. Freshen up your website. Your website is an important part of your business, so don’t forget to give it a little touch of summer, as well! First, be sure to remove any expired winter specials. Then, consider replacing any wintery photos of your area with more summery ones. Lastly, take a look at your local area guide to make sure your summer activity recommendations are front and center.
  8. Simplify your business processes. A busy summer booking calendar will likely mean less time for you to accomplish your day-to-day business tasks. Brainstorm ways you can simplify your business processes to free up time that you can spend taking care of your guests. For you, this could mean finally getting your CRM system set up to automatically send out emails that you’re currently wasting time sending manually. Or, signing up for eSignature, to cut down on the time you spend mailing out rental agreements.
  9. Get your staff pumped up for the season. You’re going to need your team firing on all cylinders this season, so Bradie from Bluewater Vacation Homes makes sure they’re trained and equipped to take it on! If you need to bring on more people, don’t wait until you’re desperate. Take the time to find the right person before things get super busy.
  10. Breathe. You got this!

How do you get ready for the crazy summer season? We want to know! Share your summer hacks in the comments section below.