Data-Driven SEO: Estimate Your Returns in Just 4 Steps

Search Engine Optimization is a total mystery to many professional vacation rental managers. You know you need to do it. You’ve been told it will help you get more bookings. But, maybe you don’t know where to start, or even how to judge if what you’re doing is paying off.

The organic traffic you get from search engines is free, but SEO is far from free. You have to consider the time and effort you’re putting in to do the work, or the amount of money you’re paying for someone else to do your SEO.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to put a value on your SEO efforts and even estimate your potential return on investment? And what if you could do that before you even started? Interested?

Well, today we’re going to show you a method for doing just that.

The Power of Data

We live in a world where it’s easier than ever to track your website’s performance, thanks to a growing number of tools online (most of them free). In this post, we’re going to show you how to use the information from those tools to estimate your potential return on investment from an SEO campaign.

It all comes down to understanding how Google works and what tools are available to help you assess how SEO could help you get more traffic and ultimately more bookings and more revenue.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Where You Rank Correlates to Traffic

The first step in understanding how ranking better can help you get more bookings is to understand not only that where you rank correlates to how much traffic you get, but also being able to estimate how much traffic you can expect to see at different search engine ranking positions.

Using the following tools and formulas, we’ll show you the potential return you can expect for improving your ranking for a single keyword. Ultimately, you’re going to want to repeat this analysis for every keyword you’re considering. In fact, this process can even help you determine which keywords are most worthwhile to rank for.

For the process to work, you need to understand four key metrics per keyword (explained in the sections below)

  • Search volume for the term
  • Average clicks rates at different search positions
  • Your website’s conversion rate for each term
  • The average revenue per conversion

Let’s get started by exploring how you can estimate a keyword’s monthly search volume.

Estimating Search Volume

The first thing you need to do is estimate how many total searches a keyword gets every month. There are a lot of tools you can use to do these estimates.

Google Search Console – If you’ve got Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) set up and you’re already ranking for some terms, you can go to the Search Traffic > Search Analytics section to see how many total impressions those keywords are getting you each month. You can also get a good estimate from Google of your average position, as well as the click-through rate to your website from search results.

Other Tools – You can use a number of other tools like SEMrush, SpyFu or even the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to estimate how many monthly searches a term gets.

Here’s quick overview of SEMrush’s keyword analytics tool. For this exercise, you’ll be most interested in the Search Volume for the keyword.

Estimating Click Through Rate by Position

The next thing you need to do is look at some of the click-through-rate studies for organic search. Now, every year and with every new Google feature (think local result carousels or rich snippets), this data can change. But, taking these into consideration, you get a rough idea of your click-through-rate at different positions by looking at some of these studies.

This study from AdvancedWebRanking.com does a good job explaining what type of click-through rates you might see at each position. Let’s look at some of the findings:

Position 1 – 28.9%

Position 2 – 14.3%

Position 3 – 10%

Position 4 – 6.47%

Position 5 – 4.58%

Position 6 – 3.29%

Position 7 – 2.43%

Position 8 – 1.87%

Position 9 – 1.41%

Position 10 – 1.06%

As you can see, there is a noticeable drop-off between the top position and the second position, and by the time you get to the end of page one, you’re barely getting 1% of clicks.

But, now that you know how many clicks you stand to get, you can estimate how much traffic you’ll get at different search positions. Just take the total search volume for the term times the click-through rate for the ranking position. For example, if the term got 1,000 monthly searches and you ranked No. 1, you could expect to get about 290 clicks (1000 x .289 = ~290 clicks).

Estimating Traffic Conversion

Now that you have an idea of how much more traffic you can get by ranking higher, you’ll need to understand how that traffic converts to bookings. The problem is that back in about 2011 Google Analytics removed the ability for you to track organic traffic by keyword. However, you can still track conversion by keyword for Adwords terms. This is the next best thing.

So, if you’re advertising for that term on Adwords, take a look at how that keyword is performing in Google Analytics.  

First, head over to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.

Anayltics-Acquisition

Then, click on google / cpc in the list.

google cpc

Under the secondary dimension drop-down, click on Advertising > Keyword.

Analytics-Acquisition2keyword

This will show you a breakdown of every keyword you are bidding on. If you have eCommerce set up on your website, it will tell you your conversion rate for the term (and even the revenue that term is bringing in, if that you have that configured in eCommerce). If you’re using LiveRez, all of our websites are set-up for this eCommerce tracking (you just have to enable it).

ecommerce

Not bidding on the term through Adwords? The next best bet is to look at your overall conversion rate for the website, or even your overall conversion rate for organic traffic. This won’t be as accurate, but it will still give you something to go on.

Estimating Revenue Per Transaction  

Now, that you have this data, you can use it to estimate how much more revenue you could expect from the extra traffic.

First, you want to figure out what your average revenue per transaction is for that term (just take the revenue and divide it by the number of transactions). To get a more accurate representation here, you might want to expand your dates to a full year. 

Then, take the amount of traffic you expect to get from Google (covered in the first two sections) and multiply that by the conversion rate for that term. That will give you a rough idea of how many conversions you can expect a month for that term.

Next, take the number of conversions and multiply them by the average revenue per transaction. That will let you estimate the total monthly revenue you can expect from ranking for that term at that position.

Putting it All Together

Here’s a quick example to explain the entire process.

Step 1: You find the search term is getting 1,000 searches a month.

Step 2: You determined based on the CTR studies that if you rank No. 2. for the term you can expect to get about 143 clicks a month from that term.

Step 3: You look at your conversion rate for that term in Adwords and see that it is at 1%. Therefore, you can assume that of those 143 clicks a month, you’re going to get about 1.4 bookings.

Step 4: You look at some historical conversions for that term and find out that the average conversion (or booking) for that term was worth about $2500 dollars. So, those 1.4 extra bookings a month would amount to about $3500 of booking revenue.

BONUS: If you’re a professional manager, you’re probably only going to be getting a certain percentage of that booking revenue. Let’s say between your commission of the booking revenue and your take of the additional fees, you’ll see a net of about 35% of the booking revenue. That means you would essentially earn about $1225 a month from ranking for that term in that position.

How Much Should You Pay for SEO?

Now comes the fun part. First, run the math for where you rank right now. Then, run the math for where you want to rank (or realistically think you can rank). How much more money would you be making if you improved your ranking position?

This is important information to have when you put together your SEO strategy, especially if you’re thinking about outsourcing your SEO efforts. If what you’re paying in SEO is more expensive than the potential return (all keywords improved), you might want to re-evaluate your strategy.

Additional Considerations

If you haven’t already caught this, the method we’ve laid out today isn’t an exact science. It’s just a data-driven way to estimate your results. As such, here are a few things to take into consideration when using this method.

  • Search volume estimates may vary by tool.
  • Click-through rates can vary, especially if the search results for the term are leveraging a newer Google feature, like a local results breakout or a featured rich-snippet answer.
  • Your Adwords conversion rate by keyword might vary from your organic conversion rate (but it’s the closest metric we can use to compare).  
  • You’re going to get the most traffic from terms where you can rank in the top few results. So, instead of trying to rank for a really competitive term, you might try ranking for multiple long-tail keywords (these generally have lower search volume, but less competition – and because they’re more specific, the traffic to your website generally converts better).
  • Also, remember that sometimes the guests that find you for the search term choose to book over the phone instead of online. It’s much harder to track this, so you’ll want to take this into consideration. In most cases, you’ll probably end up getting even more return than you can estimate because you can’t track the offline bookings as well.
  • Many times the SEO work on your website will have additional benefits. Sometimes it helps your website conversion. The additional content created through SEO efforts can be valuable to guests and help you attract more back links. And back links don’t just help you rank higher, but also get traffic from the sites linking to you.

Want to Learn More about SEO?

If you’ve interesting in learning all about vacation rental SEO, check out our whitepaper: “The Ultimate Guide to Vacation Rental SEO.”

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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7 Deadly Sins of Evaluating Vacation Rental Software

7 Deadly Sins

If you’re shopping for vacation rental software, don’t commit these common sins of omission during the process (including sin #8 – not reading this post).

Let’s face it, when most people shop for vacation rental software, the top things on their checklist are features and price. And, sure, price and functionality are vital considerations, but if these are the only things you evaluate during the buying process, you could be setting yourself up to fail.

At LiveRez, we’ve been around long enough to see some of the biggest mistakes people make when evaluating software. That’s why we put together the list below (which we’ll get to here shortly).

But first, it’s critical to understand the consequences of not doing your research.

For us, it’s always a bittersweet moment when, six months to a year after losing to a competitor, you see a familiar face in the lead queue. It’s a manager that didn’t do their homework and now they’re scrambling to pick up the pieces and looking for help fast.

The same goes for someone who you thought had communicated everything they wanted, you overcame all their obstacles, and identified them as a great fit for your product – just to find out they failed to communicate a major need. And now, after you both have dedicated a lot of time and effort to the implementation process, they discover they have an immediate need for something new you can’t develop overnight. It’s not great for either party.

While there will normally be a few minor issues to work out with any new software, you can avoid the major ones by doing your homework upfront.

Do your due diligence, and you’ll be in heaven. Commit one or more of these common, deadly sins of software evaluation, and you could end up somewhere else.

Deadly Sin #1

Not Doing Your Homework on the Company’s Background

When you’re shopping for vacation rental software, you need to look at more than just the product itself, but also the company that makes it and supports it. Here are a few good question to ask:

Who owns the company?

There’s a big difference between a company that is privately owned and one that is owned by a parent corporation or that is partially owned by a venture capital firm. Why?

Parent corporations (especially if they’re public companies) are going to be highly focused on profit margins. They have shareholders to please after all. If the software they are selling is just a small fraction of their overall business, they’re going to be less likely to pump resources into it. Many times they’re buying the company because of how it fits into their main line of business, and will most likely focus on using their new asset to enhance that side of their business.

Venture capital firms are going to be focusing on growth first, and then profitability. And eventually, they’ll be looking for an “exit” of some sort, either selling to a larger corporation or, in some instances, going public. In this situation, you’ll likely see some sort of promotional introductory pricing to help the company spur its growth initially, but over time you’ll see the strategy evolve to implanting tactics that drive profit. These firms need their winners to win big, to subsidize the bets they make that don’t pan out. As a company, when you take money from venture capitalists, you are in many ways beholden to them. And, if they’re good at what they do, they’ll want you to take actions that drive growth and profits – but that’s not always in the best interest of the people using the software.

LiveRez CEO Tracy Lotz talks about the value of funding your business with revenue. 

Privately owned companies follow their own path. It allows them to make decisions independently, based on what they think is best for their long-term success. The drawback to privately owned companies is that they may lack the resources of a larger organization. Early on, there’s a chance they could fail. But, once they establish themselves, become profitable and lower/eliminate any debt they are carrying, they can be a dependable long-term choice.

Is the company stable?

This is another great question to ask. It’s important to find out how many years the company has been in business. Are they brand new and in the “make it or break it” phase? Are they an established company but stagnating in terms of growth, happy just to cut overhead costs and milk their current client base? Or, are they established and still growing?

How big is their team?

If you’re depending on this company to offer ongoing product support and continual development, it’s good to know how many resources they have at their disposal. Are they running a bare bones operation? Or, do they have the manpower and talent to not only be sustainable but continue to grow?

Deadly Sin #2

Failing to Understand Support and Implementation Processes

One of the biggest x-factors in choosing a software is how the company supports its product and the people using it. Before you enter into an agreement with a company, you need to take the time to understand this. Here are a few good questions to ask:

How does the implementation process work?

Making the transition from your current software to your new software is always challenging. The best way to make this process less challenging is by working with a good implementation team with a solid track record, and by clearly understanding the timeframe and each party’s responsibilities. You may want to ask the software company one of more of these questions to get a better idea about how the implementation process works at their company:  

  • What is my responsibility during implementation?
  • What will you do for me?
  • What data can you transfer for me?
  • How long does a typical implementation take for a company of my size?
  • Will I have a dedicated project manager throughout the process?

How does customer support work?

Switching to a new software is going to come with a learning curve. And, while you’ll probably get a good amount of training during the implementation process, you’ll most likely have a few issues pop up over time. That’s why it’s really important to understand how the company’s customer support works.

LiveRez-Partner-Support-Team

LiveRez invests in hiring the best people for its partner support teams. Seen here is our core support team. We also have a team of implementation project managers and a partner success department staffed with team members that previously worked as professional managers themselves.

 

 

Here’s a few question you should ask the software company before you sign up:

  • Which types of support do you offer (phone, email, chat, online)?
  • Do you have a help center with training and troubleshooting articles and videos?
  • What are your regular hours for phone and email support?
  • How can I get ahold of someone after hours in the case of an emergency?
  • Do you cap your support hours?
  • How responsive are your support agents? What is the typical call back time? Solution time?
  • How many people do you have on your support team?
  • Are your support specialists in-house or do you outsource them?

Deadly Sin #3

Forgetting to Check the Foundation

You wouldn’t want to build a house on a faulty foundation, would you? Then, why would you want to build the future of your company on a piece of technology whose core foundation is old and outdated?

Now, when it gets into software backend technology, it can get really confusing, really quick. Not all of us speak “nerd” fluently, others not at all. But, it’s important to beef up on your knowledge here, because the technology a company builds with can make a big impact on their future.

A company’s backend technology can affect a number of areas, including:

  • What types of functionality they can build in the future
  • How fast they can build that technology
  • What pieces of existing technology they can integrate with
  • What browsers and devices the technology can be accessed with
  • The performance of the functionality
  • And, most importantly, the scalability and stability of the technology

Here are a few questions to ask:

What technology is their system built upon? And what version do you utilize?

Newer companies may be built on newer technology, but have had less time to build features. Older companies may have more features, but haven’t taken the time to update their back-end technology, essentially hindering their ability to adapt to new needs and leverage newer forms of technology.

Updating the framework of your software is not easy. It’s almost akin to updating the foundation of a house. When you have a lot of code sitting on top of it, there are risks involved in making the update. But, forward-thinking companies that want to be relevant and cutting edge will see past the struggles.

Is the software cloud-based?

Anymore, there is virtually no excuse to switch to a software that isn’t cloud-based. All the newest and greatest software systems in the industry are cloud-based. But, as you move to the cloud, you want to understand the reliability of the software and the care the company takes in securing your data.  

Going back to the previous question, you also need to understand that even though cloud-based software is a newer concept that’s evolved over the past 10 to 15 years or more, not all SaaS technologies are equal. If the company is still utilizing the same framework they built the software on 10 or even 15 years ago, there’s a strong chance it could limit them down the line.

Does the software work across all browsers?

Surprisingly we’ve seen certain softwares in our industry not work on certain browsers. In fact, until recently one of LiveRez’s biggest competitors was selling a cloud-based product that only worked on Internet Explorer (which is a big problem if you’re a Mac OS user).  Before you buy a software, make sure it works correctly on all the browsers you use.  In some cases, you may need to upgrade to the latest version of your browser (which is something you should be doing anyway, and it’s nearly always a free update).

Is the software accessible on mobile devices?

The trend in cloud-based software design is mobile-first, meaning that designers ensure that if they are going to design something new it works on even the smallest of smart phones. Most of the new software systems will build mobile responsive technology that dynamically adjusts to display correctly on any device, or throw in a have a companion native app you can download from the iTunes store or the Android Market.

Some software systems are partially mobile responsive, meaning some of the newer features they’ve built work well and display correctly on mobile devices. In the end, it’s up to you to decide which parts of the system are most important to you to be mobile. For example, any guest facing technology will probably need to be mobile responsive, as well as any technology your team will need to use in the field.   

Are they re-investing in their own technology?

This should be another big consideration for you. It’s extremely important that the company you choose is reinvesting in building out their technology. The last thing you want to do is partner with a company that is stagnant, and happy just to “milk their base.” These are the companies that merely support their current offerings without investing much, if anything, into building new functionality or expanding existing functionality.

This also relates back to the first question posed in this section. Is the company investing in keeping their framework up to the existing standards? Are they investing in learning new types of technology, like Angular or NodeJS? Are they paying to provide continuing education to their development teams?

Who is building the software? How many developers do you have in house?

This is something a lot of people overlook. You’ll want to know how many, if any, in-house developers the company has on staff. It may sound crazy that a software company wouldn’t employ any software developers, but with the proliferation of outsourcing nowadays you’d be surprised at how much work gets sent overseas.

LiveRez-Developers

LiveRez employs a large team of in-house developers. Every year, they stand up in front of our partners at our annual conference and represent the work they’ve done. Seen here is just a few of our engineers at our 2015 Partner Conference in Sun Valley, ID. 

Outsourcing can be a great way to save money, but having people in-house allows you to be responsive during emergencies and gives you a team that has intimate knowledge of your code base.

Not to mention, if you plan on partnering with another company through an API there could be communication issues. And, maybe it’s just us, but we wouldn’t feel comfortable sending potentially sensitive information to countries like Russia or China (given all the security breaches we’ve seen recently). That’s why 100% of our developers are full-time, in-house employees that are US Citizens, with the rare exception of allowing an amazing developer to work remotely if extenuating circumstances dictate that they need to move away from Boise.  

Deadly Sin #4

Not Picking a Company You Can Grow With

Just as the needs of your guests and owners change with the times, your needs will also change with the times. In fact, the changing needs of your guests and owners are probably a big factor in your decision to switch software. And, similar to how you are adjusting to their needs, you’ll want to find a software company that can adjust to your changing needs.

That’s why it’s paramount that you partner with a software provider that’s committed to staying ahead of the curve. You don’t want to get stuck with a company that’s stagnant and keeps you from staying competitive.

So, in evaluating the software company, you’ll want to ask one or more of the following questions:

How often does the company update its software?

Any growing software company will update its software often. You should be seeing at least a few updates every month and some big initiatives finished every year.

What are their big initiatives?

Every good software company will have a few big projects on their roadmap. While some companies will undoubtedly want to keep these project close to their chest, others may be more transparent on what they have on the roadmap. One way to understand how active a company is when it comes to releasing major (or even minor) pieces of new functionality is to look into their past development patterns. How many big ticket items did they release last year? The last two years?

How responsive are they to fixing issues?

No software company is perfect. Every company is going to have issues. A good software company will be responsive in fixing bugs that keep their customers from accomplishing their goals. If the company is working on a number of big projects, they may not have time to deal with every little enhancement request, but a good company will know how to prioritize which issues are most important.

Are they involving their customers in the development process?

The end goal of any software is to solve problems for its users. If a company develops a new piece of functionality that doesn’t accomplish that goal, they’ve essentially wasted valuable resources. One way to mitigate that problem is to keep your users tethered to the development process.

Now, when you have hundreds or even thousands of users you won’t be able to involve everyone. But, you can involve certain segments of that group. And, you should be able to gather ideas from the larger group as well.

Sevy-All-Star1

LiveRez VP of Product Brian Sevy whiteboards ideas with one of our partners. LiveRez regularly involves its partners in the development process. 

At LiveRez, we have multiple advisory boards of our current partners that serve two-year terms. They help us prioritize what to develop and give us feedback on our major initiatives through all stages of development. We also have an online community where our partners can not only make suggestions but also talk with each other about how they use the software or run their businesses.  

Deadly Sin #5

Buying on Promises

If a software company is still growing, they probably have a roadmap of what they’ll be developing the next quarter, next year or even next 18 to 24 months. But, a roadmap is only valuable if the company can execute it.

In the world of software development, all sorts of things can come up that affect when (and if) a roadmap item gets completed. Maybe an earlier roadmap item took extra time to complete. Maybe there was a new business need the company needed to prioritize. Maybe the company’s clients’ needs changed. If the item depended on a partnership between two companies (like an API integration), perhaps the partner company faced a roadblock during the process, needed to re-prioritize their own roadmap, or couldn’t come to a solid business agreement.

Thursday-0731

LiveRez VP of Operations Tina Upson trains partners on our new trust accounting system during the 2016 Partner Conference. Even though she’s busy running the day-to-day operations of LiveRez, Tina personally goes the extra mile to make sure partners are successful. 

So, while understanding what a company has planned is always an important consideration, it shouldn’t be the primary reason you make a switch. The proof is in the pudding, not in the promise.

One way you can evaluate a promise is to look at how quickly (and how accurately) the software company delivered on past promises. Was the feature done on schedule and did it work as intended? You might not be able to gather this from the sales person you’re working with, but you could likely learn more by speaking with current and former users of the software.  

Deadly Sin #6

Failure to Read Reviews, Talk to Current Users

When you’re looking at switching something as critical as the software you run your business with, you don’t want to just take the company’s word for it. Just because the salesperson tells you something or the company has something listed on their website, it doesn’t mean it’s always the case. This is especially true with more subjective items like support, implementation and success metrics.

That’s why it’s important to talk to current users of the software. They’ll be able to tell you how responsive the company is to customer’s needs, how they deliver on their promises, and how well the software solves the customers’ problems. While you’ll never have time to talk to every client of every software you’re looking at, you should probably talk with at least a few clients from every one of the companies on your short list.

PC-2Day-2Noon-3738

LiveRez partner Joan Bird of Snow Escape Holidays in Australia speaks out at recent partner event. Our partners’ input is extremely important at LiveRez, as it helps us guide the direction of the company. 

You can also learn a lot from online reviews. These can give you an at-a-glance view at how actual users of a software feel about the system and the company behind it. You’ll need to take these with a grain of salt, too. Some of the great reviews could have been solicited. Some of the really bad reviews could only tell part of the story (as many of you already know with your own experience with online reviews from guests and owners). The important thing here is to familiarize yourself with the company’s reputation among its current and past clients.

Deadly Sin #7

Skimming the Contract  

Always, always, always read the contract carefully. You should never expect a software company to make an exception or let you out of a contract that you supposedly read and have already signed.

If there’s not some sort of a money-back guarantee, don’t expect a refund if you’re unhappy (although many good companies will give you one if they truly failed to deliver on the contractual items).

Make sure you understand their pricing in and out. Are there hidden fees? Are additional services required to be able to utilize the system? Are there service plans that are optional (but really crucial) for you to be successful? Do they cap your support hours or charge you for simple updates? Additional fees can add up quick, and should be evaluated as part of the total price of the software.

All of these details should be outlined in the contract. And, it’s up to you to read it thoroughly, ask questions, get answers, and, in some cases, even seek the advice of your legal team to thoroughly vet the contract.

Closing Thoughts

Remember, no matter how much you trust the salesperson you are dealing with, it’s up to you to clearly communicate your needs and ensure the software (in its current state) can meet those needs. Most salespeople are trained to not identify the downsides to their system unless you specifically ask about a feature they are lacking.

So, when you’re doing your research it’s important to remember the famous adage of former President Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify.”

Looking to Upgrade Your Vacation Rental Software?

Since 2008, more than 1200 professional management companies have chosen to partner with LiveRez for their technology needs. If you’re looking to upgrade your vacation rental software and are interested in LiveRez’s all-in-one platform, give our team a call at (800) 343-2891. We’ll take the time to walk you through every step of the process and answer your questions. And, if for some reason you don’t seem like a great fit for LiveRez, we’ll let you know and can even recommend a system that may be a better fit for your needs.

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. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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2017 LiveRez Partner Conference Kicks Off October 8 at the Wigwam Resort and Spa in Phoenix, AZ

The Vacation Rental Software Leader’s Fourth Annual Conference Will Feature New Format and Nearly Twice as Many Classes

Eagle, IDLiveRez.com, the most widely used cloud-based software for professional vacation rental managers, will hold its fourth annual Partner Conference October 8 through October 11 at the Wigwam Resort and Spa in Phoenix, AZ.

LiveRez-Daymond-John-2016

Each year the conference brings together hundreds of professional vacation rental managers from all across the globe – all of whom run their businesses with LiveRez’s cloud-based platform – making the event the largest gathering of industry professionals using the same software.

This year – thanks to a growing number of industry expert instructors and a new format that allows attendees to build their own schedule – event organizers expect to see yet another huge increase in attendance.

“Our goal is to make this the most robust educational offering available anywhere in the vacation rental industry,” said LiveRez CEO Tracy Lotz.

In 2017, the conference will offer nearly twice as many classes as it has in previous years. In addition to in-depth training on the LiveRez software, the conference will also feature classes on business management and customer service, as well as a wider range of marketing sessions. Additionally, many of the classes include options for different skill levels.

The last day of the conference will also include a series of semi-private workshops, so attendees can get hands-on help from expert instructors.

In additional to LiveRez’s in-house software experts, the company has secured some big-name industry professionals to teach classes, including VRMB’s Matt Landau and the co-founders of SmokyMountains.com, David Angotti and Wes Melton, both of whom consulted with Fortune 500 companies before entering the vacation rental space. More special instructors, as well as conference keynotes speakers, will be announced in the coming months.

But it’s not just the classes that are getting upgraded. LiveRez is also expected to showcase a number of new products at its “LiveRez Live” technology showcase, a perennial conference favorite. The conference will feature its regular array of fun activities, like its famous evening parties, but this year the LiveRez family will have even more space to hold events, as the company has rented out the entire 440-acre resort.

“This year’s conference will undoubtedly be the biggest and best event we’ve ever hosted,” Lotz said. “I can’t wait for the LiveRez family to see what we have in store for them this year!”

To learn more about the 2017 LiveRez Partner Conference, visit LiveRez.com/2017Conference.

About LiveRez

LiveRez is the world’s most widely used software platform for marketing and managing vacation rental homes online. The LiveRez solution offers professional property managers all the tools they need to run their business in a single, cloud-based platform. And, the company’s unique “pay-as-you-book” business model creates a mutually beneficial partnership between LiveRez and its vacation rental manager partners. This partnership fuels the company’s mission of continually developing and supporting cutting-edge solutions that empower independent property managers to compete in the rapidly evolving vacation rental space.

What do vacation rental software and college basketball have in common?

Building your vacation rental business is a lot like building a winning team. You need to have the right leadership, recruit the right players, work smartly as a team, and push through adversity.

But, every great team needs a “glue guy” — someone that really brings the team together and helps them become more than the sum of their respective talents.

That’s where we come in. LiveRez is like your point guard. Our software and support services give you the ability to call and execute any play in any situation. And, when one of our assists helps you score, we win together.

More recently, we’ve been the glue behind bringing 1,000+ professional property managers together into a community that facilitates teamwork. Why? Because we know that for independent small businesses to remain competitive through all the changes in our industry, we have to stick together.

Click here to learn more about what makes Team LiveRez fundamentally different.

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. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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LiveRez Hits the Road for VRM Intel Live! in OBX

Team LiveRez is heading home from an awesome few days at VRM Intel Live! in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

LiveRez Chief Strategy Officer Steve Trover was a featured speaker at the event. Trover’s presentation focused on the opportunities available for professional managers in 2017 and beyond, and included a live, interactive SWOT analysis specifically geared to the Outer Banks. LiveRez VP of Product Brian Sevy also spoke at the event, talking about the evolution of technology and how to understand when you should adopt it. Word on the street is that both presentations were a big hit!

In addition to a fun few days of meeting with old friends and lots of new ones, our on-the-ground team, which also included Ryan Norton and Brian Riggs, had the opportunity to meet with area managers to better understand their needs and the complexity of running large-scale operations in an isolated, yet incredibly beautiful, part of the United States. What managers in the Outer Banks pull off on a daily basis is pretty incredible.

Here are a few shots VRM Intel got of our team. A big thanks to VRM Intel for another great industry event!

Team LiveRez at VRM Intel Live!

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. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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LiveRez Road Trip: Visiting Our Partners in the South

Last week multiple members of the LiveRez team went on a vacation rental road trip to visit some of our partners in the southern part of the United States.

The road trip started in Gulf Shores, AL, where we helped a new partner get set up to go live (with hundreds of properties, we figured they might need a hand).

Next, we made some house calls along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.

Throughout the trip, we were continually amazed by how dedicated our partners were to their guests and owners, and how hard they work to offer both a great experience. And, it was incredibly rewarding when we could give them a tip that made their life easier and helped offer even better service.

Now that we’re back in the office, we’re already missing our friends from the South. But, we look forward to more road trips and seeing more of our partners from across the country.

Here are a few photos from our trip.

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. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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Developing a Stellar Social Media Strategy – Part Four: Pinterest

Social Media Series: Part Four

There was a wall in my childhood bedroom filled with photos of the exotic destinations I would someday visit, fashion trends I was meaning to try, and the recipes I would (probably never) make. I called it my “inspiration wall”.

Pinterest is the new-and-improved version of my “inspiration wall”. Not only does it store all of those travel and food photos, it organizes them into categories and provides links to the companies behind the image. So rather than pinning up that glossy photo of the Eiffel Tower on my bedroom wall, Pinterest can help me actually plan my dream Paris vacation.

Think Pinterest Isn’t For You? Think Again.

If you think your vacation rental company has no reason to be on Pinterest, you’re missing out on an untapped market of potential guests! Here are three big reasons you should reconsider Pinterest as part of your overall social strategy:

1. Ideal User Demographics

The segment of people using Pinterest aligns well with the typical person who books vacation rentals. Here’s what we know about Pinterest’s demographics1:

  • More than 150 million people a month use Pinterest.
  • Nearly half of online women use Pinterest.
  • 66% of users make more than $50k per year.
  • More than half of users fall in the 30-54 age bracket.
  • Travel is one of the top 10 categories.
2. Get in front of the undecided traveler

Pinterest Examples

One of the unique things about Pinterest is that it puts your brand in front of potential guests very early in their vacation planning process – possibly before they’ve even decided where they want to go. This opportunity to get in front of the undecided traveler gives you the chance turn your city from a place they’ve maybe never heard of to a bucket-list destination.

3. Pin Now, Travel Later

Picture this: You’re scrolling through Pinterest and come across a gorgeous photo of the lush, green Smoky Mountains. You had no idea Tennessee was so gorgeous in the springtime! So, you pin the picture to your “Must Visit Destinations” board and go on your way. Months later, when you go to plan your spring break trip, you scroll through that Pinterest board, remember how excited you were about heading to Tennessee, click the pin and boom! You’re taken to a vacation rental company’s website to start your travel plans.

Unlike other social media channels, Pinterest content sticks around. In fact, 30% of clicks happen 30 days or more from the time something was pinned.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

If (and when) you’re ready to add Pinterest to your social media mix, be sure to keep these tips in mind as you’re setting up your new account.

Pinterest for Business. You’ll want to set up a Pinterest business account. If you already have a personal account you’d like to use, you can easily convert it into a business account. This will give you access to analytics data, advertising and a few other goodies.

PRO TIP: Look even more professional by adding your logo to all of your pins. You’ll just need to confirm your website by adding some code to the head section of your website. (LiveRez partners can email our Support team to make this happen.) This will also improve your ranking in Pinterest’s search results.

Learn the lingo. Pinterest uses some different terminology than other social channels, but you’ll get the hang of it. Brush up on your Pinterest vocab below:

Pinterest Lingo Explained

Understand the Pinterest algorithm. If you want anyone to see your boards and pins, you’ll need to first understand how Pinterest works. Really, it functions like a search engine. And, just like you would for a search engine, you’ll need to use strong keywords if you want to rank at the top of the results. This article does a great job outlining the best way to utilize keywords to rank at the top of the Pinterest results.

Do some recon. Look at what other vacation rental and travel companies are doing. Note what accounts they repin content from, what types of boards they have and what pins are performing best for them (most likes and comments). This will help you understand what types of images your audience is most likely to respond to.

Start creating new boards. Before you start sending people to your Pinterest account, you’ll want to make sure you have compelling content for them to look at when they arrive. Users will give your page just a quick glance before deciding whether to follow you, so make sure you’re featuring boards with great photos and keyword-rich titles! You want to have enough that users find value, but not so many that you can’t fill them properly. We give you some ideas in the next section.

Fill your boards with relevant, eye-catching pins. Your boards are like a blank inspiration wall, just waiting for some captivating images to be pinned to it. Fill them with a mix of pins you create and repins of other’s relevant content. For example, your “San Diego Beaches” board could contain a mix of pins you create that link to your website’s local area guide and pins that you’ve found in the Pinterest world about restaurants in San Diego.

PRO TIP: Vertical pins tend to perform best, as they take up more space in people’s news feeds. It’s best to use an aspect ration of 2:3 (note that pins must be at least 600 pixels wide).

Pinterest Inspo

So, you’re ready to get started? Let’s get a little inspiration from some companies who are killing it on Pinterest. It’s helpful to do a little recon on companies similar to you (note which accounts they repin content from, what types of boards they have and what pins are performing best for them) to better understand what your audience is most likely to respond to.

Check out some of our favorite vacation-focused Pinterest boards:

WandershareTravel Cheat Sheets
Conde Naste TravelerCharleston Black Book
Cannon Beach Vacation RentalsTravel Necessities
Eastern Shore Vacation RentalsMaryland Eats
Travel ChannelEast Coast Beach Crawl
AllEars.netHolidays at Disney
Seaside Vacations, LLCBeachy Crafts
All Star Vacation HomesThemed Rooms
Wallowa Lake Vacation RentalsWeddings in Wallowa Lake
Tybee Vacation RentalsSavannah Activities

Your Feedback

What did you think? Did we miss an important tip? Have you had success using Pinterest to market your properties, and guest and owner services? Let us know in the comments 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. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

Did you like this post?

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