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What AC/DC Can Teach You About Selling Vacation Rental Homes. A Website Marketing Makeover.

by Paul Montreal. Average Reading Time: almost 6 minutes.

Website marketing makeover of a vacation rental website

I’m doing a website marketing makeover on Joanna’s site. She’s got a couple of vacation rental properties in Orlando. She wants to reduce her bounce rate (the number of people who visit, then leave her site without booking) and she’d love it if people read her blog posts. Let’s see what we can learn. (I’m listening to AC/DC while I work)…

Click for full size.

Click for full size.

When you solve the big problems first, the details get easier.

When it comes to helping people turnaround their websites, sometimes it’s a case of tweaking the individual tactics. And sometimes it’s a case of questioning the overall strategy. This week I’m going to make some suggestions about the overall strategy first. Then we can see how that might influence all the little details…

Here’s the problem. After a good 20 minutes studying your website, the only thing I can remember is that your son is wearing an AC/DC t-shirt, in the single photograph that accompanies your “About us” blurb.

That’s the most interesting thing about the site. Everything else is a blur of generic holiday rental words and images. Emotionally, you just haven’t made me care about the place and that’s a mistake AC/DC would never make. Love them, or hate them, they would never get lost in a crowd.

It’s not that there’s a whole lot that’s really bad. But there are another 100,000 houses available for rent, just like yours, all within driving distance of the Orlando attractions. And they are all just a click away.

With that much competition, being good isn’t good enough.

You’re selling a commodity. A Florida rental home. In a fiercely competitive market. When times are good, I’m sure things are fine. When the economy dips, you and the other 100,000 rental owners all attempt to get the same attention, with the same properties and the same blog posts, hoping to get to the top of the same Google searches or be noticed on the same 3rd party booking sites – whilst all being exactly the same.

The result is a bidding war. And in a bidding war, the cost of being noticed becomes uneconomical.


The secret to selling a commodity, is to stop selling a commodity and start really liking your customers.

The solution to selling commodities in a saturated market – is to position that commodity in such a way that it is no longer a commodity. It actually becomes the obvious choice, the only choice, for a smaller group of potential customers.

Before trying to fix any of the details, I’d seriously pick a smaller niche to focus on than “any family travelling to Orlando”.

A big part of marketing a small business, that is rarely talked about, is “liking your customers”. I don’t mean in the customer service, fake smile, have a nice day way. I mean, actually give a damn about them on a fundamental level.

You have to put an immense amount of effort into getting people’s attention and even more effort into creating real value for them. To put in that effort, we have to like the people we’re serving. It just shows in everything we do.

But serving “anyone and everyone” rarely brings that level of effort or commitment. One way or another we have to pick a group of people we can relate to. A group of people we really want to help. People who share some values and beliefs with us.

Start with your interests, or specific knowledge, and explore what might be commercially viable. List your passions or interests or experience. Here’s a random list of things off the top of my head…

You may have:
A passion for music.
A passion for classic motorcycles.
A passion for dinosaurs.
A passion for dogs.
A unique experience living with someone who is handicapped in some way.

Any of these interests, taps into an existing view of the world. Any of these helps you connect in a strong, definite way to other people with these interests. Any of these allows you to see that world and market your commodity through a far more interesting and personal point of view.

Once you’ve narrowed your field, you can start to market a commodity as if it’s not a commodity at all. Your house with a pool, becomes a destination for families who are also music lovers, or motorcycle fanatics, or dog lovers or people with mobility issues.

I want to take this idea and show you how it applies to a few specific areas of your website. And how much more value you are able to offer when competing against everyone else who is offering a generic space…


Instantly turning features into benefits.

Here’s the existing headline for one of your properties…

Sunset Palms Retreat
Imagine you could shape your perfect family vacation. At Sunset Palms Retreat you can have all that and more.

Let’s be honest, this really doesn’t mean anything at all. :)

You’d be better starting with a plain feature list in your headline, so at least people know what they are getting…

Sunset Palms Retreat.
Just 5 miles from Disney World, our 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom spacious property, has the benefit of a 20 ft. covered pool.

At least we now have an idea what we’re looking at. (I’m not being accurate with the features, but you get the idea). But we can do even better. Especially if we stop trying to appeal to everyone. And aim only to be Interesting or even Perfect to a smaller group of people. For example…

Sunset Palms Piano Retreat.
If music is your life and Orlando is your destination, then our unique villa is the perfect setting for family evenings around the piano, or the pool. Just 5 miles from Disney World, our 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom property has the benefit of a 20 Ft covered pool and a baby grand piano. All the ingredients for making magical, musical memories with your family and friends.

For the piano lovers, you just went to the top of the list. You became their number one pick. Let’s try that again, with another niche…

Sunset Palms Mobility Retreat.
If Orlando is your destination, but you or a loved family member have mobility difficulties, then our unique villa is the perfect, stress-free base for your adventures. Just 5 miles from Disney World, our 4 bedroom property has 2 wheelchair friendly bathrooms, including a “drive-in” wet room and shower. And our 20 ft. covered pool has its own mechanical lift, for easy access. Why put up with the inconvenience of a hotel when you can enjoy all the advantages of the region, at your own pace, and in complete comfort.

Now, I’m trying not to offend people with mobility issues, or musical taste, I really know nothing about either niche and I’m simply making up copy to demonstrate a bigger point. That point being, the niche you choose doesn’t matter. What matters is choosing a niche, so that you are no longer a commodity space. You become more interesting to a smaller group. You become their first pick.


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