In my recent talk at the VRSS in Toronto earlier this month, and also in a blog post I wrote for VRMA’s Arrival, I talked about where and how PR ‘sits’ in the typical customer (guest’s) journey towards booking a vacation rental. This blog leads on from both of those discussions.
Exactly how much impact does PR activity have on the main key stages that a guest will walk through both before and after booking their vacation rental? How can PR help to influence the decision of a ‘punter’ to book with your vacation rental business over any other accommodation provider?
Clearly, PR can impact the ‘awareness’ stage of buying a stay in a vacation rental. PR definitely has a strong role in the ‘consideration’ stage when a potential guest is researching for the perfect place to stay. But how about when a guest is actually ‘purchasing’ their stay? Can PR improve ‘loyalty’ and foster returning guests? Where and how does PR fit with ‘advocacy’, the sharing and telling with others?
My experience is that PR plays a valuable role in all of the key stages of a guest’s journey to purchase and beyond. PR can literally sit around and support the entire customer (guest) journey. Let me explain….
The Awareness Stage
In a typical awareness phase of the customer journey, your potential guest becomes aware that they have a need. This need will include visiting a particular destination and a desire to stay in a vacation rental over any other accommodation provider, such as hotel or B&B. Maybe the need has been generated from a desire for a vacation (time with family, a new experience, a break to explore somewhere new), or for work related travel.
For example, a potential guest may have recently become aware that Perugia in Italy is a great place to vacation during the spring, or, they may realise that for their next family vacation they would like to go somewhere that brings each member together, but also allows for individual space.
PR, which essentially covers all earned, not paid for, exposure of your content (typically your vacation rental business and properties), has an important role to play in shaping the discovery phase of a guest starting to think about booking a rental. A well-placed article, an interesting and targeted blog or a shared social media post can all help generate and foster that need and impact ‘awareness’.
The Consideration Stage
In the consideration phase, your guest has become aware of their need to go somewhere. Your guest is looking at Perugia and now they are researching how to get there and where to stay. According to Expedia, consumers visit 38 websites before confirming a booking. Your next potential guest is weighing up the pros and cons of different travel options including: individual websites, booking sites, agencies, property management companies, OTAs and options for their stay.
In the consideration phase, online coverage of your vacation rental business can really impact and influence a booking decision. Your potential guest wants to know what others are saying about you before they make a decision. Coverage may be a mention in a destination feature, on a third-party review site, through a friend’s social media page or on a travel blog. What other people say about your vacation rental business has far more influence over what you say about your rentals.
The Purchase & Loyalty Stages
Good PR can also be helpful in smoothing the way of the purchase phase of your guest’s customer journey. PR can continue to help nurture the buying process and generate the all-important trust in your business.
The Advocacy Stage
Advocacy (happy guests publicly telling their friends and the wider online community about their experience with you), is essential for lead generation and customer conversion. The importance of consumer advocacy is especially true for travel and experiences, and most definitely true for the vacation rental industry. During and after a guest stays with you – what they say about their stay (you) has potentially a big impact on generating new business.
In today’s digital and social world, advocacy and sharing is very powerful. People are influenced by what their friends and families think and say (even if these ‘friends’ are tenuous relationships via social media). In the advocacy stage of the guest journey, your guests become your best PR.
If you would like to speak to our team about maximising PR for your vacation rental business, do contact us. We’d love to hear from you.