With PointCentral’s Angel Piontek at VRMA International
It’s VRMA International week and the PointCentral team has been busy meeting new and old industry faces. Set in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, the event has been packed with interesting talks and thought-provoking industry discussions, all of which are equipping short-term rental property managers with the skills, tools and knowledge to succeed.
On Monday, our very own head of marketing Angel Piontek took to the stage to discuss brand building. In a packed out room, she took part in The Ultimate Social Media Blueprint: Brand Building, Content Creation & Influencer Marketing panel with industry experts Courtney Ross and Tyann Marcink Hammond.
For property managers wanting to boost their short-term rental marketing strategy, here are some key takeaways from Angel’s session:
Unlocking the power of a strong brand
The ultimate goal of a property manager is to deliver a memorable experience for guests, but attracting the right audience is key. In order to draw the right guests to your property, it’s important first to build a strong foundation for your brand.
In a deep dive into the power of a solid brand identity, Angel highlighted that the conception of your brand is one thing, but how your customers perceive your brand is a whole other matter. The opinion formed of your brand by potential guests and customers relies on every interaction they have with you – whether it’s a social media post, an email in their inbox, or the welcome book they find in the property.
In a crowded marketplace, a unique brand identity not only helps you to differentiate yourself from the competition but it helps to foster trust and credibility, effective communication, and provides a framework for consistency.
So, how do you build a brand identity? Here are Angel’s tips:
Developing your brand identity
Brand identity encompasses your values and mission statement (what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there), logo and visual identity (defining what your branding looks like), and consistency across all touchpoints (ensuring alignment in everything you do).
A great example Angel used is Michelin Star. While the standard of the food is incredibly important, delivering a Michelin Star experience goes beyond taste or presentation on the plate. It’s about a commitment to the highest standards and making sure each guest enjoys a consistent dining experience, right down to the smallest details. The fundamental message is that brand consistency creates a unique experience for customers. The same goes for vacation rentals. It’s crucial to ensure your brand shines in all that you do, whether it’s that initial welcome email, an Instagram post or ‘thanks for visiting’ text.
Developing brand standards
Angel went on to discuss the importance of nailing down your brand standards. When it comes to color palettes, different colors evoke different emotions – so choose yours carefully depending on how you would like to make your guests feel. Typography defines the visual language of your brand; a top tip here was to stick to one or two fonts, but use different weights to draw attention to certain words and messaging.
Brand tone of voice is also a must-have, and this can change depending on your target audience. Your tone of voice should reflect your brand’s personality and values. If you have a couple of different audiences, you may choose to use different tones to appeal to each one.
Identifying customer personas
Once your brand identity and brand standards have been established, Angel confirmed it’s time to move on to customer personas. Who do you want to stay at your property? She stressed how visualizing your audience and giving them a name makes it easier to tap into their mindset and discover their desires, aspirations, and even pain points. All of your content should speak to these different personas and customers, and your language should change depending on who you’re talking to. When you identify your customer personas, you can start to personalize recommendations and even allocate resources to the right segment.
Creating content that resonates with your audience was the key takeaway here. If you’re trying to target families, for example, consider using language and social media visuals that will appeal to those looking for a family getaway.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media
We all know how important social media can be for connecting with new and old guests. But different social channels have different purposes, and Angel stressed the importance of how using different platforms can help you achieve different goals.
TikTok, for example, is extremely popular with Gen Z , so if you want to appeal to the younger generation (your future customers), building your brand on TikTok is key. Take the time to research the audience of each platform and adjust your social strategies accordingly.
It’s also important to make sure you’re engaging with your audience on these platforms – don’t let it be a one-sided conversation. Remember to like, comment, and respond to audiences, and don’t underestimate the importance of having a strategy in place for any negative comments or interactions.
Video content is key
To compete in today’s competitive short-term rental landscape, every property manager should have high-quality, professional photos of their property. But the visuals don’t stop there.
Video content, Angel confirmed, is another way to reach your audience and encourage bookings. A quick walk-through video or property tour can give potential guests a snapshot of exactly what you have to offer. Video is a dynamic way to tell your brand’s story in a way that static images never could.
Use AI – but don’t rely on it
AI is somewhat of a buzzword in the industry at the moment and with good reason. Angel discussed how AI-assisted content can save time and boost productivity – but she also stressed that the key word here is ‘assisted’. AI should not replace your writing, but instead inspire and drive ideas.
Property managers can take something they’ve written – whether it is a social media caption or property description – and ask AI to rewrite it in their brand voice. While the content will still need refining and reviewing, using machine learning models can instantly boost productivity.
Encourage user-generated content
Finally, Angel discussed the power of user-generated content. This is where customers and guests create content around their stay at a property. It can be an effective strategy to attract new customers and to build the reputation of your brand, especially for those with a limited marketing budget as it costs nothing. It’s powerful social proof, showing that previous guests have enjoyed positive experiences at your properties.
Encourage guests to tag you in their social media posts. You can then create a ‘highlights’ section on Instagram to showcase your stories, which acts as a permanent visual gallery of unbiased reviews directly from people who have stayed at your property. Easy but very effective for anyone looking to see how other guests found staying in your property!