Category: Vacation Rental


How to Use Your Property Analytics

On every property link, TruPlace collects valuable information and organizes it into graphs and charts. In order to take advantage of this beneficial feature, you have to know where to find it and how to use it.

Where Is My Data?

Any current client of TruPlace can log into the Client Portal from home page of our website and access property analytics.
Select a property from your property list. Click on the sunset icon under the Images column. Once that property page loads, go to Property in the top navigation bar and click Analytics.
With each property, we provide data about the behaviors of the online audience interacting with this property page. This access is available for a full year.

What Data Is Available?

You not only get the data showing the sources of the online traffic, or where the traffic came from to view this property, but you can see trends showing which days of the week or times of day that property gets the most views.

How Can I Use It?

Social Media Marketing

You would be shocked at the differences in viewer behavior, based on a property location, price point and marketing efforts. Use the data to determine when to host a virtual open house or when to do a Facebook live event. For example, if the property gets most of its views on Fridays, see what time is most popular, then launch a Facebook live event about that property during that time.

Location Specific Marketing

The map feature is a client favorite. It shows you where the viewers are located when they look at the property online. Because the map is interactive, you can click on each number and drill down to see hyper-local data, even down to the to the street.

The map indicates high concentration clusters, not just locally, but nationally and globally. Property owners and managers can gain a better understanding of your marketing efforts and reach with this visual, as well. Use the zoom in/out to drill down closer or move out further to see the viewer locations.
You can show your sellers the on-line behavior of the buyers and this can help you to adjust or pivot the marketing plan for better results. For residential sales, it is also a smart way to target potential home sellers because if these viewers are looking at homes virtually, they may just be thinking about a move soon. For rentals, it helps lower the cost of pay per click ads when you can target a specific location, especially when you know they are already interested.


5 Reasons Professional Property Photography Is Better Than Amateur Property Photography

1. Professional photographs outperform amateur photographs (Updated 2020).
Studies have shown that 98% of homebuyers judge whether or not to walk through a property by first seeing the listing photos online (Asset Based Lending). Homes that use a professional photographer for their listing on average sell $11,000 over market value and sell 50% faster than homes with standard photos (Asset Based Lending).

Photos are not the only product that can help sell. According to a 2019 NAR report, 29% of REALTORS® hire a professional to operate a drone for their business, while an additional 14% of REALTORS® plan to incorporate the use of drones in the future. 73 percent of homeowners say they are more likely to list their home with an agent who offers to create a video of their property.

In a study by FlipKey, they found “Travelers are 83% more likely to inquire about property listings that contain over 20 photos.” Professionally photographed homes receive a 47% higher asking price per square foot (Redfin). With so much riding on photos, why go the amateur route?

2. Professionals use better camera equipment.
Yes, your iPhone takes good photos of your kids and pets, but it just can’t compare to today’s advanced DSLR cameras. DSLRs have larger sensors with more pixels, better controls and interchangeable lenses. With a DSLR, you’re going to get better white balance that is more visually appealing. And the 3:2 aspect ratio of a DSLR makes for better compositions. But then, you can’t order a pizza using your DSLR.

3. Professionals know how to capture the best angles.
Amateurs typically just walk into a room and shoot. Professionals take into account the entire frame – from left to right, front to back, top to bottom. Does the angle of the bed look appealing? Is the entry to the bathroom in the frame? Is the camera height sufficient to capture the entire counter top? Does the selected lens capture the entire room without distorting the image? Professionals see all of this and more, plus know when to shoot multiple angles when necessary to capture everything a room has to offer.

4. Professionals understand lighting.
An amateur will usually close the drapes so that the sunlight coming in doesn’t “blow out” the detail in the room. This typically results in a shot that is too dark or too light.

A professional with the right equipment can capture the image in a room the way your eye sees it – with details inside the room, and window views of the outside. With today’s modern equipment in the hands of a professional, more detail is captured, colors are more vibrant, and lighting is perfectly balanced.

5. Professionals can enhance the image after the shot.
Images on TVs, fires in fireplaces and anything else that is moving do not photograph very well. This is why most professionals will turn those things off when shooting. But using post-production technology, images can be added to TVs, fires can be added to fireplaces, pool water can be made more inviting, grass greener, and the sky can be transformed to blue, even though it was cloudy the day of the shoot. While not appropriate for cosmetic enhancements that “fool” the viewer, this technology is very useful (and ethical) for enhancing things that come and go.


TruFusion 3D vs. Matterport: A Comparison

3D Tours are the latest must-have for searching renters. With potential guests online more than ever before, they have quickly become the best way to provide an immersive experience. However, not all 3D tours are created equal – some are DIY, some use low resolution images, etc. So which version is the best to use?  Here we will be comparing key aspects of Matterport and TruFusion 3D.

Technology Differences

The technology used to process the image and the equipment used to capture it are the key differences between these two 3D tours. Matterport tours are created using a Matterport camera which captures the information for a connected 3D tour. When the photographer arrives at the property, the camera is placed 5-8’ apart, including behind furniture to scan the space and produce a 3D view. 

TruFusion 3D Tours use DSLR cameras to capture still images which are merged into 3D panoramic views. After the photographers visit the property and capture these high-quality images, the panoramics are then edited and converted into a 3D Tour. Because these views are captured room-by-room, they are also capable of being enhanced individually with virtually staged, or even decluttered.

Quality Differences

The quality differences between Matterport and TruFusion 3D tours are apparent just by viewing the results. While Matterport offers a better quality than most DIY or smart phone options, TruFusion 3D Tours are the highest visual quality 3D tour currently available in the market.

Each TruFusion 3D Tour comes standard with complimentary Blue Sky, enhanced interior coloration, and clear window views. This showcases important details of a property, such as stainless appliances or water views that are otherwise indistinguishable. Because of the process through which TruFusion 3D Tours are made, they have HDR quality and guarantee a crisp, vibrant view.

A side-by-side comparison of the same room on the same day.

Navigation

While both 3D tours offer intuitive navigation, there are a few key differences. Matterport tours open to a “doll house” view of the property. The viewer clicks into a room to begin the tour and then navigates throughout the home using outlined circles on the floor. Once the next circle is clicked, the view shifts to that location’s view.

TruFusion 3D Tours have two navigation options available in every tour. The first option is fairly similar to Matterport. When viewers hover over an arrow, a bubble will appear with a preview of the space.  By clicking it, the 3D view moves to the next room within the tour.  The second option is photo-slider navigation. This is a photo preview of each room divided by levels, great for jumping to a specific room or level-to-level quickly.

3D Tours are becoming one of the standard ways for travelers to view their options. Choose the 3D Tour that will showcase your rental properties in the best light to convert viewers into renters.  


Vacation Rental “New Reality” Checklist

As we re-open and re-enter the world after our first pandemic experience together, check lists are going to be useful. This particular checklist is for your marketing efforts. Take a lesson from the real estate sales side – photos only aren’t cutting it anymore. Properties need to convey more detail, and more information these days. Agents are upping their game with 3D tours, walkthrough videos and social media vignettes, and frankly so should property managers.
The experts are saying that it is better to invest in new visualization products, but to do so in the context of a “new reality” we are all facing. We are all shell shocked from the news and possibly even personal losses as well, so our new reality includes a need for security, safety, reassurances and familiarity. Here’s what you need to market your properties post-COVID-19:

Get these items in order before the end of May:

1. Target Your “Drive-To” Audience

If you don’t have a drive-to list already, create it now. Airplane travel will be avoided this summer, if not the rest of the year. Who can drive to your location in six, eight, even 12 hours? Get to know this audience well. They are your new best friends. You should reach out to them now.
“Drive market targeting is going to easily become the new norm, says Paul Hanak, Marketing Director of InterCoastal NetDesigns (ICND). “Even over the last few weeks, we have seen traffic and searching picking back up for the VR industry.”
Paul also said that most of the website traffic is coming from potential vacationers who live shorter distances away from their destination. This makes them good candidates for a fighting chance for last-minute summer bookings, he added. Now is not the time to cancel all pay per click ads. Instead, Paul suggests reducing spending to keep some awareness out there. if you’re going to part that client from their money

2. Consider Offering Longer Stays

With potential longer drives, weekend getaways are predicted to be less popular than week-long or multi-week rentals in the coming months. Tom Caton discusses the importance of mid-term rentals in this podcast. While roughly 80% of vacation rentals are traditionally seven or fewer days, that number has dropped significantly to 30% due to COVID-19. While the 8-15 day rental period percentage has remained consistent, the ratio of 15+ day period is rapidly growing. Consider adding in multi-week booking options or specials for the summer of 2020.
Not only will this make the drive-time and extra safety precautions taken seem to be a better time investment for the guests, but it will also save on cleaning costs.

3. Update Your Marketing

If you haven’t already, please add the words “flexible, clean, clear, close” to your marketing communication. These are the keywords your audience is looking for and is what they will gravitate towards. They are also looking for more information about the property, such as what can be communicated through 3D tour technology, which allows them to see every nook and cranny of the place. If another property manager offers more visual information than you do, you could lose the business to them. That’s how important this is going to be going forward.
According to an article in Forbes from January: “We’ve found virtual tours are especially valuable for guests with accessibility concerns,” says TurnKey co-founder and CEO John Banczak. “If they’re traveling with someone who has difficulty with stairs or is looking for a particular home layout, the virtual tour will help them determine if a home meets their travel needs.” The same article also stated: This is going to be a breakout year for virtual tours, experts predict.” Little did they know how right they would be.
Communicating how thoroughly your properties have been cleaned is best done through HDR photography, which reveals the shine in stainless steel appliances and the sun reflecting off the pool. The investment in updated photography, floor plan tours and 3D tours is “worth its weight in gold” for converting browsers into bookers.

4. Re-Vamp Your Digital Marketing Plan

We’ve seen some creative uses of our 3D tours on social media lately. Property managers are using Facebook and Instagram to increase the speed with which they are communicating – as everything seems to change by the hour! This builds trust with audiences who want to know there is a real person behind all the online branding. Now is a great time to be a real person.
Social media, along with Google’s Knowledge Box, also contributes to showing up in local searches. A presentation from ICND states that social media has become one of the main ways people found community during the shelter in place orders. Brands sharing positive, uplifting messages got shares and attention.
In that same presentation, the online experts at ICND suggest now is the time for stockpiling content to start slowly rolling out May and June. Get the promos ready, they say, for the dreamers starting the booking process.

Although the Summer 2020 season may not be the same as years prior, it is a great opportunity to stand out to guests and leave a lasting impression. An excellent booking experience for guests in this stressful time can result in future bookings for years to come.


Vacation Rental: The 5 Next Steps You Should Take

All over the nation, vacation destinations are beginning to ever so slightly see a light at the end of the tunnel. We have a long way to go until we arrive at “the new normal,” but loosened restrictions across the country are a sign of hope in an otherwise stagnant industry. For Vacation Rental providers, the steps taken right now can set their companies up for long-term success. Below, we outline some immediate steps that can lead to large gain when the curve is flattened.

1. Show Your Support

There is a strange reassurance knowing that we are all in this together as an industry. Vacation Rental professionals are currently showing solidarity by participating in the “To Guests, with Love” project hosted by both Touch Stay and Hostfully (two competitors in the industry). This project gives companies the opportunity to record a message of hope to their prospective guests. Not only does this showcase a fantastic message of support and solidarity, it also promotes brand recognition that can be used as social media posts, email campaigns, and blog entries that your guests can view.

2. Reassess Profitability Per Property

Those who follow Matt Landau have been fortunate enough to receive a constant stream of beneficial information surrounding the future of the Vacation Rental Industry. In the article above, Landau discusses the importance of assessing your inventory’s profitability as the future will place emphasis on properties that generate a solid amount of income. Trimming the fat is a good place to start.

3. Disinfect and Deep Clean

When this is in our rear-view mirror, Vacation Rentals will emerge as the preferred guest choice due to the benefits of a professionally managed property. So how can you begin to proactively deep clean and disinfect your properties and where to start? Breezeway has you covered. Click the link above to download their COVID-19 Disinfect and Deep Clean guidelines so you can get the jump on what we hope will be a strong Quarter 3 and 4.

4. Beef Up Your Messaging

Now is a fantastic time to be part of the solution. A positive Marketing Message can go a long way as guests look to you for guidance regarding certain regions. ICND’s blog post outlines some savvy ways you can promote your brand’s recognition and stay top of mind.

5. Focus on Your Visual Marketing

A recent post from Key Data Dashboard shows that late summer bookings are on the rise which means that guests looking. How does your visual marketing compare? This might have been the first thing put on the backburner at the beginning of year, and now it could quite literally stand between you and your revenue. While units are vacant, now is a great time for reshoots, floor plans, virtual tours, and anything else that can facilitate an informed booking decision.


How to Visually Repurpose Content and Stay Visible During Difficult Times

To say that that COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on the Vacation Rental industry is an understatement. As property managers like yourself learn to become more resourceful, you’ll find that there are also creative ways to re-use your existing content. You might be surprised to find that your existing articles/visuals are all you need to create a solid marketing strategy on a budget. Below, we’ve outlined some tips and tricks that will help your brand stay visible on a dime by repurposing content.

Step 1: Assess Your Existing Content

It’s a good time to step into the archives and reuse content to create creative engaging microcontent that will help guests remember your brand when things are on the upswing. Developing microcontent in a visual way can stem from the following:

Visuals

o Professional Photography
o Floor Plans
o Amenity Photography

Video/Audio

o Drone videos
o Walkthrough Videos
o Podcasts

Text

o Blog Posts
o Surveys
o Research Reports
User Generated Content
o Reviews & Testimonials
o Social Media Posts

Step 2: Repurpose Content on a dime

Once you assess your existing content, creating compelling microcontent for your guests becomes easier. Utilizing free visual services is a great way to break apart pieces of your existing blog posts, testimonials, etc. Below are some free tools that can assist you and your budget. Both applications also provide you with low-cost upgrades if you need more options for your visual marketing.

CANVA

Canva is a free graphics service that allows you to use your existing visuals to create microcontent for email campaigns and your social media. Your professional photography used in conjunction with text can create visual content that promotes a consistent stream of brand recognition.

Lumen 5

Static images are beneficial for your marketing but to really stand out and differentiate yourself, videos can also be beneficial. Taking your text and wrapping it up in video format is a great way to repurpose your content. Free services like Lumen 5 take your text and turn it into video. From there, you can showcase your professional photography as the backdrop and take testimonials, blog posts, or property descriptions as moveable text.

Step 3: Schedule to save time and budget

After you’ve leveraged free tools to redistribute your existing content, it’s time for some marketing automation. Marketing automation is technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically. With marketing automation, businesses can target customers with automated messages across email, web, social, and text.

Social Media

Products like Buffer, Meet Edgar, and Hoot Suite, are fantastic tools to manage all social media accounts by providing the means for a user to schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Email Automation

Emma, Constant Contact and Mailchimp are all examples of email marketing automation tools than can assist you as you schedule emails to your database.

Conclusion

When the industry picks up, and prospective guests are ready for their much-needed vacation, businesses that did not go dark during this time will be the ones they remember. Consistent marketing can be done on a dime by assessing what you already have and utilizing free tools and services to schedule a constant stream of fantastic visual marketing.