Social media for Airbnb

Using Instagram and Pinterest to Promote Your Vacation Rental

It is no news that digital marketing is becoming more and more important for the hospitality industry. Especially social media takes up a huge part of it and mastering feels more complex each day. So which social media channels should you use to promote your short-term rental? All of them or just a selected few? We have taken the time to take a closer look at the four biggest social platforms. In our previous blog post we talked about Twitter and Facebook specifically. Find our expert guide Social Media for Short-term Rentals – Part I here.

In this blog we are sharing some advice on utilising Instagram and Pinterest for your vacation let. Read on to find out more!

Instagram for short-term rentals

Instagram

After Facebook, Instagram is the second most popular platform of the big social media clients. Users flock to it to show off the holiday snaps, to get inspired as well as to keep in touch with friends and family. Big brands use Instagram to show of their products and offerings and many short-term rental operators have discovered it for themselves as well. For example, a 2018 report by Netbase found that the majority of public conversations around Airbnb happen on Instagram (40%). This is compared to other channels such as forums (16%), blogs (13%), Twitter (12%) or Facebook (5%). This means potential guests are on Instagram, but your competitors is as well. So how do you stand out, get more likes and create an impressive following on Instagram? It is a more or less an easy answer: provide content people are interested in.

Outstanding Content

Firstly, high-quality pictures of your short-term rental are a must. Most smartphones now take awesome photos, but make sure the lighting is good, the image is not overfiltered and you add a splash of colour to your pictures. For instance, if you are taking a picture of your Airbnb kitchen, add a vase of flowers. It is also useful to commit to a couple of hours to ‘shooting’, so you get a few different shots. These you can then post at a later time as well. Also, make sure to capture the quirks of your short-term let like a reading nook or the novelty clock in the living room. You can highlight also your facilities on your Instagram like a boat pier or billiard table. Bonus tip: If your offering is pet-friendly, get those four-legged friends into the spotlight. Instagram loves animals! Finally, do not be afraid to advertise the security and safety features of your short-term rental as well. As an example, mention the pool gates in the caption of a beautiful picture of your swimming pool.

However, do not just post about your vacation rental on your account. Provide inspiration why people should visit the area you are located in. And do not worry if you do not have a lot of nice pictures. Repost talented Instagrammers’ work as long as you give them credit. You can also use your account as a source of information for potential and future guests on what to do in the place you are located. Give some advice on where to eat, the most instagrammable photo spots and what to do. There is a local adventure farm nearby? Publish some pictures of it and more information about the local attraction.

Hashtags and Tagging Accounts

That you can use up to 30 hashtags for your Instagram post and that you should, too, is not novel advice. It is crucial for getting your content discovered by Instagram users. However, this year the concept of the shadow ban has been looming over people’s heads. Especially if you use Instagram for business with a business account and repeat the same hashtags over and over again, you might no longer show for these hashtags. Therefore, mix it up. Use different hashtags each time and sometimes more or less. Also, from my own research I have found that business accounts are more like to be affected by shadowbans. If you do not plan in investing money in Instagram ads just yet, remaining with a personal account might be a better option for you.

Secondly, tag relevant accounts in your pictures. For example, if you are posting about the destination, tag your area’s travel pages, for example @visitcalifornia. As well, depending on the type of accommodation you offer, there might be certain Instagram accounts dedicated to it. For instance, @thecabinland for cabins or @delightfulspaces for cottage-style interiors. They might repost your content and you can reach a much bigger audience.

To increase your audience further and grow engagement on your posts, you can use pods. Pods are groups of similar Instagram accounts, who support each other by liking each others’ content and commenting. These are usually organised through personal messages. Sometimes they are hard to find and you need to know someone who is in it already to be added. Nevertheless, there is a really helpful Facebook group for short-term rental hosts where you can share your Instagram content for mutual support. At times, pods will be advertised there, too.

Pinterest for short-term rentals

Pinterest

With over 200 million users in 2018, Pinterest is worth a thought. Especially because many consumers use the platform for holiday inspiration. Users create boards like “Bucket list” or “Dream destinations” to remember places and travel tips for later. There are a couple of ways you can utilise Pinterest for your short-term rental. However, keep in mind that it is more of a useful tool to provide valuable info for future guests than a converting channel.

Showing Off Your Short-term Rental

First of all, you can create a board with pictures of your Airbnb. Always make sure to go into detail on what your pin is showing in the description. This helps getting your pins discovered on Pinterest. If you have a particularly good-looking Airbnb, who knows, people might save your pins for interior design inspiration.

In addition, I have seen boards which are a visual representation of the accommodation’s facilities. Through pins you can provide a good overview of all the short-term property has to offer – for example, pool, balcony, flat-screen TV and more. You can then cross-link them on our social channels to give more information on your Airbnb.

Extra Info for Future Guests

Lastly, you can use Pinterest to create boards for sharing handy content for future guests. For example, create a board with blog posts about fun activities in your STR’s area. Or make your own board with your favourite local attractions. Another idea would be to fill a board with recommended rainy-day activities guests can try when they stay with you. Post links to these boards on Facebook and Instagram or link to it in your pre-stay email and confirmations. E.g. “Check out our Pinterest board of the best things to do in Ohio.” This establishes you as a knowledgeable host and provide extra value to your guests. Finally, if you are offering any upsells – such as early check-ins, breakfast, parking etc – you can have a Pinterest board as a menu of additional services.

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About the Author: A digital native, Susann has been working in the hospitality industry for over two years and has been consulting short-term accommodation operators as well as the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers on digital marketing. 

Social media for short-term rentals

Using Facebook and Twitter to Promote Your Vacation Rental

“You’ve got to use all social media for short-term rentals. The more the better, right?” In a perfect world this would be true. With unlimited resources, a full-time social media manager and a lot of cash to spend on paid advertising there is certainly no limit. But not everyone is so lucky and with limited budget and time, you might have to choose what platforms to be active on. And then those channels will have to be the ones you really put your heart and soul in. Because nothing looks worse than a deserted Facebook or Twitter page. Last post 12th July 2015? Customers might think you are no longer operating.

However, you want to be everywhere your potential guests are. And obviously the more guests (and bookings), the better. Direct bookings avoid those pesky commisions and you are in the driver’s seat and not some third-party site. Still, that doesn’t mean all social media platforms are for you and provide the same return on investment – specifically from investment in terms of time commitment.

Well, fret not. We’ve compiled a guide to social media for short-term rentals and today we will talk about Facebook and Twitter specifically. Read on to find out more!

Facebook for short-term rentals

Facebook

First and foremost, we have got to talk about the most popular social media for short-term rentals, Facebook. With over 2 billion registered users, Facebook is the go-to platform for marketers as well as short-term rental operators aiming to promote their business. Thus, your potential customers will be definitely be on it, but your competitors most likely, too.

A Facebook page can in some instances even replace a website and is a useful communication channel for people interested in your business. Someone wanting to inquire about your short-term rental might prefer to chat to you through Facebook messenger than to give you a ring or send a lengthy email. Therefore, make sure to download the Facebook Page app, so you get notified immediately when a message comes in. In addition, a speedy response time will show up on your Facebook page and might encourage more potential guests to get in touch.

So you have created a Facebook page, completed all the required info and uploaded some high-quality images of your pad. What’s next? You would like more likes! More likes mean a bigger audience you can market your product to.

Getting Likes Organically on Facebook

Starting from scratch, how do you get people to organically like your page? Without investing any money in Facebook ads, tell your guests before, during and after your stay about your page. For example, include a link to your Facebook page in your booking confirmation and mention how they can find a lot more info on the area on the page. Then mention Facebook in your guest folder and encourage check-ins while guests are in house. After the guest’s stay, you can refer to your page in your follow-up email and encourage them to like it with the promise of exclusive offers.

Another great way to grow your page without too much investment is with competitions – i.e. “To win a 2-night stay at our cottage, like this competition post and comment who you would take with you.” With not much effort required, people will be happy to enter. And by them liking and tagging your content, it might show up on their friends timeline again increasing the amount of persons you reach. Extra tip: Instead of just giving a stay at your STR away, include something unique in the competition – something that adds to the experience, for example, a dinner at a local restaurant, a theatre show or entry to a nearby attraction. However, be careful as some competitions asking for likes, shares and tags can be against Facebook rules. More info here.

Investing in Facebook Ads

Do keep in mind that to reach people, you might also want to invest some money in Facebook ads. Highly specific targeting makes it easy for you to reach an audience that is likely to be interested in your vacation rental. For example, if you operate near Universal Studios in Florida, you can target people who like the Universal Studio Facebook page, who like Airbnb, with a certain annual income and a specific number of family members. Targeting combinations are nearly limitless. Find a handy infographic by WordStream, which includes all targeting options and is regularly updated, here.

Also, you can pursue different objectives with your Facebook ads. Go for page likes, if you want to build a long-term audience. Pay for clicks, if you have a website and want people to view content on there. Or go for impressions, if you would like to increase awareness of your short-term rental brand. Your Facebook budget does not need to be huge. Start small and test which audiences respond best to your ads.

Content, Content, Content on Facebook

People like Facebook pages that provide value to them. For example, previous guests who had an enjoyable experience with you will like your page to stay in touch and to be the first to hear the latest news and offers. Potential guests might like your page in order to keep your vacation rental ‘on file’ – i.e. to save it for later, to benefit from offers or to gain inspiration for their next trip. Hence wise, treat those people who like your Facebook page to something special. For instance, give them access to an exclusive offer. Furthermore, besides special discounts provide content that is of interest to past and future guests. This could be insider information on your city or region, information on local events or blog posts third parties have written on the area you operate in.

Also, don’t be scared to get personal. Introduce yourself on your Facebook page and the people you work with you (e.g. cleaners, business partners etc.). Guests want to see in whose capable hands they put their short-term stay. Also, share positive guest feedback. It can be a lot more effective than the perfectly-written copy on your website.

Social Media for Short-term Rentals

Twitter

Definitely not as popular as Facebook in terms of social media for short-term rentals, Twitter serves a different purpose. With a very low conversion rate, Twitter is more of a tool to engage with the community, such as local businesses, as well as influences and bloggers. However, in the long run this can also pay off with higher occupancy rates and more bookings for your vacation rental. But how?

3 Ways to Raise Awareness of your Short-term Rental on Twitter

Participating in travel chats. There are dozens of chats happening on Twitter specifically centring around travel. Usually focusing on a region or subject, Twitter chats are usually an hour long and follow a list of questions which will be released one-by-one by the chat moderator. The Twitter community then has time to reply to these questions. Even though the subject of the chat might not be directly related to your vacation home, it is still useful to engage in it. As these chats are frequented by influences and bloggers, they might notice your profile and offering and keep you in mind for future trips. See a list of Twitter travel chats here.

Engaging with travel bloggers. Many travel influencers are active on Twitter and you can engage with them by sharing their content – for example, if they have written an informational piece on the region you operate in. If you have a well-presented Twitter feed with good content, you might get their attention. And, who knows, one travel bloggers might decide to stay with you. This in turn can mean getting your short-term rental brand noticed by a lot more potential guests.

Speaking to local businesses. Some businesses operating in your area will have Twitter accounts. Engage with them, recommend them, share their content, and they might reciprocate and share yours. Additionally, getting involved in the community is always beneficial to make people aware of your offering. You never know, the restaurant down the road might have some business for you. In addition, make sure if you post interesting content about your city or region, to tag local travel pages – e.g. @VisitScotland, and use the area’s tourism hashtags, e.g. #SeeYourCity for New York.  At times these accounts will retweet and share with their often extensive audiences.

What to Post on Twitter

Similar to Facebook you can use Twitter to provide some more info on the area or to share beautiful photography or video content from the region your short-term rental is located in. Also, post behind-the-scenes footage of your STR and special offers. And whereas a faux pas on Facebook, don’t be afraid to post the same tweet again after a while. Twitter is fast-moving and your tweet will only be seen by a fraction of the audience each time around. Finally, a tweet without a picture, is a lost tweet. Make sure you include pictures for all tweets to capture fellow Twitter users’ attention. If you do not have a lot of images at hand, Pexel and Unsplash provide high-quality images for free.

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Keep your eyes peeled on our social channels for Social Media for Short-term Rentals – Part II. Follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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About the Author: A digital native, Susann has been working in the hospitality industry for over two years and has been consulting short-term accommodation operators as well as the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers on digital marketing. 

local regulations airbnb

How to Find out about Laws and Regulations in Your Area

Navigating local regulations regarding short-term rentals’ safety and security can be a confusing minefield. With laws constantly changing on a national, regional and most frequently city level, hosts have to put in increased efforts to keep up with the latest requirements. Most of the time not fulfilling these requirements can mean not only putting the safety of your guests at stake but also risking being banned from running your Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO. For example, as stated in an article by Justin Ford on VRMintel, “many localities around the United States […] require vacation rentals to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, emergency exit lighting, and fire extinguishers in place.”

Additionally, some places also ask STR hosts to follow certain procedures in order to avoid health issues. These can, for example, involve linen sanitization or pool and spa maintenance.

So where do you begin? Not to worry! We’ve compiled a guide on where to look for your area’s safety and security requirements for your short-term rental or vacation home.

Consult Your Local Government

Firstly, your local government will be able to provide materials on what safety standards need to be fulfilled by STRs or even if safety inspections are required. However, which department of the government is responsible varies a lot. Generally, you will be able to obtain information from the city hall or the city’s general website. At times, it is also worth checking with the housing department or the licensing department, since running an STR can be considered a business. For example, to obtain a Short-term Rental Licence in Denver the “STR must have an operable smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher”. Find this information on the city website under the Business Licensing Center section.

Check the Airbnb Website

Secondly, the Airbnb website provides some great guidelines on how to be responsible host in the US.  These recommendations proof useful even if your not in the United States or if you use other channels than Airbnb to promote your STR. Further down the page, US hosts can find the regulations specific to their city. For example, in Seattle, WA, the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance requires certain rental property owners to register with the city. In Seattle short-term rentals need to abide by certain standards, which include safety and security variables, in order to legally welcome guests.

safety regulations short-term rental

Join Facebook Groups

In addition to the above, Facebook groups, where fellow short-term rental hosts come together, can provide a great resource. It might not give you the most reliable answers but will provide a great starting point for your own research. Find our short-list of the 5 most useful Facebook groups for hosts to join here.

Ask CertiStay

We are experts when it comes the safety and security of short-term rentals. We work with a Safety & Security Committee of renowned experts in the industry. Furthermore we’re constantly providing recommendations to hosts on how to keep their guests and property safe. This is why we’re always up-to-date with the latest regulations and are happy to share. Get in touch!

Do you know another great way to find out about local regulations that you would like to share with us? We would love to hear from you on our social channels – FacebookTwitter or Instagram