Just a couple of decades ago, a website was a novelty, especially for a vacation rental. Heck, even some of the larger hotels only recently put up professionally designed websites. But the reality is this: A name, website, and defined brand identity are essential for succeeding in today's internet-centric world.
When my property manager first approached me about naming and branding one of my vacation rentals, I remember thinking that it sounded extravagant and unnecessary. But then he explained to me precisely how and why branding is necessary. Think of branding as your vacation home's public “personality” or “flavor,” and its name is the brand name.
My property manager encouraged me to think of my own buying decisions and how I perceive various brands and products. From a very young age, we're conditioned to use branding elements -- such as logo, packaging, and overall brand style -- to help form our opinions about a product, service, or hotel. Beyond this, branding helps you sell more than just a place to stay; it helps you sell an experience. This experience is at the very heart of the equation when it comes to the primary difference between accommodations in the hospitality industry.
This all seemed very logical to me, so I went for it and named my vacation rental home. I worked with my property manager to build a memorable brand identity that extended across the website, marketing materials, and beyond. The result was actually quite remarkable. I saw an increase in bookings. This included an increase in the number of prospective guests who followed through on making a booking.
So precisely why does branding and naming a vacation rental property make a difference? And how can your property manager help you with this process? Let's explore.
How Does a Brand Impact Buying Decisions?
There have been countless marketing studies performed that show the impact of a brand on consumers' decisions. Branding (or lack thereof) can tell us a lot about a product, service, or in our case, a vacation rental home. Brand gives us a feel for the value, quality, and price point. Our expectations are largely built around the first impressions that form as we take in a brand identity.
A nice “packaging” and brand identity can go a long way toward how we perceive something. Think of how you perceive two items on a store shelf. You're likely going to view the pricier product with the more elegant branding more favorably than the economy-priced product with the generic packaging. Assuming both are within your price range, study after study has revealed that you will almost certainly pick the well-branded option over the unbranded generic version.
The same goes for your vacation rental home. People are going to be more likely to pick a well-branded vacation home over one that appears more “generic.” They're also more likely to pay more for the well-branded vacation rental due to what they perceive as a higher quality or value. So in this way, you could actually increase your vacation home's ROI because prospective guests will be more willing to pay your rental fee, even if it's a bit higher than a comparable (but “unbranded”) home down the street.
Of course, you need to understand your target audience to appeal to them, so this is where your property manager can be extremely helpful because he or she will have a firm grasp on who comprises your target audience and what appeals to them.
Why Do I Need to Name My Vacation Home to Improve ROI?
Your property's name will serve as the core of your brand identity. You can think of a property that's advertised with only a street address as a “generic” vacation home, whereas the property with a name is regarded as being the more desirable branded option. The very act of naming your property ups the perceived quality and value. Plus, an actual name is far more memorable than an address.
The name also plays a key role when it comes to making a first impression and conveying the brand identity -- the home's “personality.” For this reason, it's important to choose a name that's fitting for your home and the brand identity you're creating. You might expect Cordwell Estates or St. Appleton House to be an old, large luxurious mansion in the Hamptons, while you might expect to encounter a small, cozy oceanfront bungalow if you booked a week at Blue Whelk Cottage. Book a reservation at Five Moon Plantation, and it would be reasonable to expect a southern plantation home in the heart of Louisiana.
Your property manager can help you understand precisely what brand identity will resonate most with your target audience. Would most of your guests find it more appealing if you market it as cozy and relaxed or more luxurious and formal? Image and first impression can make all the difference. Your property manager can help you make sure that you’re presenting the right image and making a positive first impression with the right people.
As consumers, we're more likely to make a purchase decision if we feel the brand is in line with our desires. Based on this, logic dictates that if you had two comparable properties, the well-named and well-branded property would receive more bookings (even with a higher rental fee) versus the unnamed, unbranded property. That's because the named and branded home paints a picture in your mind of what you can expect during your vacation, whereas the unnamed and unbranded home is forgettable and doesn't convey any information about what to expect for your trip. For this reason, a home with a name and a defined brand is going to be easier for your property management company to promote and ultimately, it will be far more likely to bring in a higher ROI.
What Do I Need to Brand My Vacation Home?
If you're ready to build a brand for your vacation home, you'll need some key elements. Your property manager can work with you to develop these key branding elements because he or she can provide useful insight as to what’s going to appeal to your target audience. You’ll need:
- A name for your property.
- A logo for your vacation home.
- A “feel” or style aesthetic for the brand elements and the actual home's décor.
- A color scheme that will be present in the logo, in the actual home décor, and on branding materials such as the website, social media sites, and brochures and pamphlets.
- A website, with your logo and color scheme.
The color scheme and style aesthetic should be consistent with the region and the experience and environment you're trying to convey. It should also match the brand identity that you create. Consistency is key when building a brand identity for your vacation home. Your property manager can also serve as an objective party who can offer an opinion if one of these elements just doesn’t seem to “fit” with the others.
Working with Your Property Manager to Brand Your New Vacation Home
When developing a brand and market strategy for your vacation home, your property manager will play an instrumental role because he or she knows what sells and what doesn’t. It’s impossible to create an effective brand identity in a void. It must be created with a specific target audience in mind. Your property manager knows your target audience better than most, so they’ll have the insight and knowledge you need to succeed in this regard.
A defined brand personality makes your vacation home more memorable and easier to market. That means more first-time and return bookings. Plus, you’ll be giving your property manager the tools that he or she needs to sell an “experience” rather than just a “place to stay.”
You’ll also be equipping your property manager with the ability to differentiate your home from comparable properties, while simultaneously justifying a higher rental fee.
Add a Property Manager to Your Brand Team
So it's time to team up with your property manager and start using your creative side to think up the perfect name for your vacation home. Your property management firm can then use your new logo, website, and other branded marketing materials to showcase your vacation rental to the world.
An experienced property manager can make the most of your new brand identity with the right marketing efforts, while also managing the property in a way that reduces losses and maximizes profits -- all while helping you save time and money. You can get started in your search for a fabulous property manager by setting up a profile at Rented.com. Join for free today and be matched with a property manager that best fits your needs. While you’re there, try out our rental income calculator to find out how much you could be earning from your vacation home.
Lead image: Flickr CC user Mimi Cummins