8 Vacation Rental Copywriting Tips
For vacation rental hosts and property managers, copywriting is all too often seen as a hurdle. In reality, everything from written descriptions to photo captions, responses, and guest reviews are opportunities to make a listing stand out. Here are 8 useful vacation rental copywriting tips, as well as some of the best-performing language based on unique AllTheRooms Analytics data.
Personalize Your Listing
One of the most important things to keep in mind when describing vacation rentals is to speak directly towards your audience. Stay away from vague, impersonal, hotel-style language and keep the content colloquial. Many travelers opt to stay in vacation rentals because they enjoy having a relationship with the host — so make sure your listings have a personalized feel.
The easiest way to do this is to use personal pronouns. Instead of “the cozy apartment,” go with “our cozy apartment.” Speak directly to the potential guest by using “you,” and be sure to write a friendly host profile that paints you as trustworthy. Here’s an example of a unique spot in Amsterdam that utilizes personal pronounces very well.
Be Clear and Concise
Vacation rental copywriting is all about striking the right balance between being detailed and concise. Mention all the important aspects of your listing but be aware that your readers won’t spend more than a few minutes poring over your prose. “Brevity is next to godliness” is a copywriting mantra that will keep readers hooked and increase your bookings.
Keep Spacing in Mind
Countless studies have proven that large blocks of text are significantly more difficult to read than smaller chunks. Ever wonder why the “terms and conditions” are frequently formatted with page-long blocks of capitalized text? Because it’s tough to get through. WordPress and other applications have “readability” tools that score writing based on, among other things, how well space is used throughout a piece of content.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t let paragraphs run longer than four or five lines. Hit “enter” a few more times and take note of how much easier it is to skim read.
Write a Caption for Every Photo
Hosts and property managers often elect to not write captions for their photos. They understand the importance of good photography but underestimate how far a well-written caption can go.
Rather than simply describing the photo — “Rooftop” — feel free to be a bit playful by placing readers in the house — “Stunning terrace perfect for stargazing, sunset barbecues, and early-morning yoga.” Illustrate what the space or amenity can be used for, rather than simply describing what it is. Below is an example of Austin, Texas farmhouse marketing all guests can do in the “party barn.”
Adjust Copy Accordingly (Or Don’t at All)
A common question among new Airbnb hosts is how regularly a listing’s description needs to be updated. Firstly, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Good copy stands the test of time and shouldn’t need to be changed.
That being said, if your vacation rental is located in a highly seasonal market, consider tailoring the copy to the time of the year. During wintertime you can highlight the listing’s fireplace and hot tub while emphasizing adjectives like ‘cozy’ and ‘comfy.’ During the summertime, consider spotlighting the listing’s proximity to outdoor activities, how there’s tons of natural light or how its outdoor spaces are perfect for soaking up the summer sun.
Another tip is to stay up to date on your city’s primetime events. If there’s a conference, a sports game or a concert coming to town, respond to increased demand by mentioning this in your listing’s description. It doesn’t have to be much, something as simple as: “Perfect home base for New Orleans Jazz Fest” goes a long way in showing guests that you’re an active host and mindful about the guest experience.
Respond to Comments
While guest communication wouldn’t traditionally be considered copywriting, it’s a blurb that ultimately helps sell an accommodation — so it’s just as important. Responding to positive reviews is one thing, but responding to negative reviews is significantly more important.
The first thing to do in response to a negative review is to thank the guest. This makes you look professional, it shows guests that you appreciate their feedback, and that you care about improving your hosting skills. Next, accept blame and inform them that you’ve already solved the problem or you plan to do so soon. This shows future readers that they won’t have to worry about whatever the issue was. Here’s an example of how quick and easy it is to respond to negative reviews:
Use Tried-and-True Language
In addition to considering the way to structure the listing’s copy, hosts should also pay attention to the specific wording. Here at AllTheRooms Analytics, we provide data intelligence on the entire short-term rental market. One of our capabilities is to analyze the terminology associated with the best-performing vacation homes.
In order to determine which words have the greatest impact, we’ve created word clouds for four distinct markets.
For urban markets, we ran the data for the entire city of Chicago. Below are the words most associated with vacation rentals maintaining at least 70% occupancy over the past year.
For mountain markets, we analyzed data from the entire state of Utah — one of the U.S’ most sought-after destinations for wintertime and summertime mountain sports.
For lake destinations, we crawled vacation rental data from 8 popular lake-centered markets around the U.S: Priest Lake, ID, Door County, WI, Mackinac County, MI, Mchenry, IL, Wolfeboro, NH, Charlevoix, MI, Lake Junaluska, NC, and Smith Mountain Lake, VA.
Finally, for beach getaways, we pulled information from five popular beach destinations: Myrtle Beach, SC, Clearwater, FL, Dauphin Island, AL, South Padre Island, TX, and Sanibel, FL.
Consider Outsourcing the Work to a Professional
If writer’s block takes over and you find yourself struggling to put together a decent description, don’t worry — you’re in luck. As the vacation rental industry has grown so rapidly over the past few years, so too have vacation rental copywriting services. For a relatively small fee you can outsource your projects to a professional on freelancing platforms like Upwork. Investing in the poster page of your vacation rental is never a bad expense, and it is these small modifications that can significantly affect revenue.