It is said that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that the successful grasp the obvious opportunities in front of their nose while the unsuccessful wait for the perfect next big thing, which never comes.
I think of this when I am asked “where should I list my property?”
The answer is not rocket science. Given that most guest searches start on Google the obvious thing to do is to think like a guest and search like a guest. Where are your guests and what are they searching for?
Local to me is a holiday town called Lorne, where “Accommodation Lorne” is a typical guest search and the top Google search result is the Stayz property listing directory, a directory based in Australia.
In fact, right across my local Great Ocean Road region, Stayz comes top of the results for town after town.
So here on the Great Ocean Road, the obvious place to advertise properties is Stayz!
Think local not global
Some owners think that they should go with the global consensus. Flipkey or Homeaway or VRBO or Airbnb.
Why would you list on a big international listing site if it is not near the top of Google locally? There will be some brand strength for the big brands but local search success is the obvious one to follow.
This was taken to the ridiculous a few years back on LinkedIn, where the owner of a villa in Portugal asked global readers, “where should I list?”
He was given all sorts of advice from people all over the world about their favourite listing sites. It was all irrelevant. What he needed to do was simply search like his guests and the answer was most likely a local European listing site.
Did you know you can ask Google to give you search results as if you are located in a different country? There is a great Google tool called the Adwords preview tool – visible only from within Google Adwords (adwords.google.com.au/d/AdPreview).
Using this tool, the Portuguese villa owner could check what a searching guest would see if they were located in London, or New York or Melbourne. The answer that came top when I checked was Ownersdirect.
The Stayz story
The Australian site Stayz made international news in December 2013. It was bought by Homeaway for $220 million after being purchased 7 years earlier by local publisher Fairfax Media for $6 million.
But why did Homeaway, the global giant in the vacation rental industry buy Stayz in distant Australia?
One reason they bought Stayz, apart from its local dominance, was to get a deeper understanding of the model, which is a commission driven revenue model based on owner honesty.
Stayz is unusual in that owners are trusted to report nights booked. Stayz also has a sensible checking system that asks enquiring guests if they did in fact complete the booking.
It also allows free communication with enquiring guests which makes the conversion to bookings very effective. In my opinion, this is a better system than the Airbnb system, which inhibits communication between owner and enquiring guest prior to the booking.
Stayz consistently lists high in the Google search results for many holiday destination all over Australia. How?
One winning strategy has been for the parent publisher to link directly to Stayz from its online newspaper homepages, which have a monster Google PageRank of 8.
Google gives extra SEO weight to websites with very strong backlinks like this.
Google loves these Stayz backlinks and Stayz benefits accordingly.
Yes, Stayz dominates my local market. It is obvious and I use it and exploit its best features to help my three rentals. One feature in particular. I pay a modest monthly fee to list in the top eight Stayz results. This pushes me ahead of my competition and sends me 70% of my bookings!
The back end admin system is also very good. I know a very successful owner who uses the entire Stayz booking system to control all 9 rentals she manages.
My cleaner also loves the Stayz cleaners report. She does a simple search on her iPhone and checks to see when she needs to clean and how many guests are coming. No need for me to tell her. As my calendar is up to date the simple report saves both of us time and gives us both clarity of communication.
Exploiting your local market
Have you found the best listing place for your market, and do you exploit it to your advantage?
As rental owners, while we might think we have the answer today, it may not be the answer in a few months’ time. The road to rental mastery doesn’t have an end. The market keeps shifting as competitors come and go.
We need to do the work and periodically check the Google results for our local area in case the market has shifted.
It is also good practice to diversify, to advertise in several places, and to have an email marketing campaign to past guests. All subjects of future posts.
For Australian readers – do you do the obvious and check if Stayz also dominates your market?
For international readers – do you periodically check the results that your guests search for? Are you listing in the right place?
Please let me know in the comments.
Holiday Rental Mastery
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