As the director of, Abode PR, both B2C and B2B vacation rental businesses approach me keen to discuss PR, and to explore how actively working with a PR agency or doing their own PR in-house, will benefit their business. The reasons given for exploring a PR strategy are wide and varied – a bit like the businesses themselves.
A question I always ask potential clients at the offset of our conversation is, “What do you need PR to achieve for your business?” This question is fundamental. Answers given include, “Raising our profile, increasing traffic to our website, help with converting initial enquiries to guests, increasing enquiries, attracting new or ‘better’ owners, having an edge on our competition, building resilience in our business, attracting media attention, influencing the ‘influencers’, support for developing in a new market, and helping us to tell others what we do and how well we do it.”
All of these answers fall into three fundamental objectives. In fact, these 3 key areas cover all businesses; vacation rental or not. The 3 objectives that our clients are looking for PR to support are:
- To build trust in their offering
- To support SEO – drive traffic
- To become ‘Thought Leaders’ – location/type experts
1) PR for building trust
Building trust with potential guests, property managers or owners is essential for all vacation rental businesses. However, PR alone can’t build trust. If your product or service is not up to scrap, no amount of positive PR will save you in the long run. But having mentions and coverage in the press, having your product shared through social media and being featured on industry or travel platforms can really help with the issue of trust and can enhance good feelings for an already genuinely excellent experience.
Essentially, people believe what others say about you more readily than they believe what you say about you. This goes for the good and the not so good. Purchasing a vacation, whether in a hotel, a vacation rental or through a tour operator, is a big-ticket item. Committing to a new product or service or changing a behaviour can be too. A stay in your vacation rental may be the end result of months of saving and anticipation. When it comes to choosing which property manager, booking site, service provider or villa agency will receive that hard-earned cash, a positive reputation enhanced by PR can help sway a decision.
2) PR for supporting SEO activity
Digital PR which focusses on coverage, mentions and links online rather than offline, is now the backbone of modern PR. Having backlinks and mentions in high-quality online publications or even ‘small’ but very targeted publications has an impact on your website’s visibility. Most vacation businesses are in fact online businesses until the guest or customer actually arrives, so PR that supports SEO is fundamental to success.
However, I have an informal ‘rule of thumb’ when discussing the merits of both online and traditional PR. It’s the 80/20 rule. Any strategy that focusses solely on generating traffic and enhancing SEO, is limited in my view. ‘Traditional PR’ is still very much involved in our other two objectives, building trust and developing thought leadership and should still have a seat at the table.
3) PR for developing expertise and ‘Thought Leadership’
Developing a reputation through ‘thought leadership’ is closely linked to the building of trust and reputation. It is also linked to enhancing SEO. PR can help to shape your reputation as the ‘go to’ expert in your niche. This may be a specific destination, a type of guest you are looking to attract, an overall experience that you offer, or for businesses that service property managers, hosts and owners; for the challenge that you help solve.
PR, and wider content marketing, can help position your expertise and allow for communicating to specific audiences the benefits that your product, service or experience will deliver. Having the development of ‘expertise’ as a key PR objective, increases the likelihood that you will attract more media or influencer attention. Publicity opportunities tend to attract more of the same and this kind of momentum plays a role in public relations, which can apply to both positive and negative press.
Make sure that these three objectives are at the forefront of both your thinking and also that of your chosen agencies. This is how you will achieve focused and targeted PR activity and the kind of results that can only benefit your business.
About Jessica Gillingham
Jessica Gillingham is the director of Abode PR, a PR and content marketing agency specializing in working with the international vacation and short-term rental industry. Over the years, Jessica has worked with many brands, big and small (some travel and some not) and is a member of the Chartered Institute for Public Relations.
If you would like to discuss PR for your vacation rental business with us, please contact us.