10 Words or Less - The Art of Writing a Great Listing Title
By Amy Greener
Published: 01/31/05 Topics: Comments:
You can have a fantastic vacation rental property. You can offer a tremendous value in the off season. You can have a super web page, with outstanding photographs and copy. You can also be sitting next to the phone or computer, waiting for someone to inquire about your rental. That's not a good feeling, especially when you know you've poured your heart and soul--and wallet--into your advertising efforts.
In my consultation work with clients, I notice they invariably ask for help with photos and web page copy. And yes, content is very important. Easy to read, well-written copy and photos that makes one wish they were already there is what it's all about. But you've got to get those vacation rental web site visitors to click on your listing first. If you don't catch their interest, they'll just continue scanning and scrolling down, down, down.
Ask yourself when was the last time you changed or updated your listing's title...the same title competing with all the other rentals on that gigantic website? I certainly don't have any research to back it up, but I would guess that half of owners don't update their listing titles even twice a year. That's a shame because these owners don't realize the opportunity they've missed to attract more visitors to their web page. And more visitors, mean more chances to book someone.
I can't emphasize enough that if your property is located in a very dense market with pages upon pages of vacation home listings, you need to stand out from the crowd. Though I don't own any property in Florida, I am dumbfounded at the sheer numbers there! Can you imagine being on the other side of the fence, as someone trying to locate a nice rental? That's why you want to make their search as easy as possible; by making your listing's title a real standout.
Though I don't have space in this newsletter format to completely explain the mechanics of writing a great listing title, here are some tips to get you started. Just remember that your property is unique and there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.
1. Know what renters want
2. Promote your property's best attributes
3. Avoid sentences; use short phrases or feature lists
4. Make it exciting; use descriptive, enticing words
5. Economize word length
6. Be creative
Anyone who has posted their property to a vacation rental web site knows there are only so many characters allowed for your listing title. Frustrating isn't it? Trying over and over to fit everything you want to say into that little box? That's why every word, every letter, every space has to count. Look at these possible listings and see how we've taken the same amount of characters, but made them pack a whole lot more punch:
Before: Clover Mountain Resort 2 bed/2 bath/sleeps 6--Nice!
After: Big Views! Ski in-Ski out/Fireplace/Jacuzzi/Loaded
The before version is a typical listing. It tells you where the property is, how many beds, baths, guest accommodations and that it's nice. Guess what...every single word except for 'nice' is a waste of space. Remember that most vacation property sites already have that information posted right next to the title. So it's totally redundant. And unless the property location is truly spectacular or paramount, you can save that for the web page itself. We're trying to get them to click onto your page, so you've got to use every trick in the book. The location or property name is nice but if you can replace it with something more enticing, do it.
The after version takes a completely different approach: we're promoting the very best attributes of this condominium. What do you get for your vacation dollar at this condo? Well, a great view, the convenience of skiing right onto the slopes, a fireplace and jacuzzi to enjoy after skiing, and even more since it's described as being "loaded". This listing is oriented to features and benefits, which is what most people are looking for when they hunt for the ideal rental. You're making their job easier when you present it right up front in the listing title.
Now, which listing would you be more likely to click on?
Like most things in life, there is no single answer as to what is the best approach for your vacation property's listing. My personal philosophy is that of informed trial and error: I take into consideration my knowledge of the market, my property and my target renters, then test different listing titles to see what seems to work best. Once you've found a winner you'll know, because the hit counter, emails and phone calls will reflect it. So be creative and have fun with "10 words or less."
The Author - Amy Ashcroft Greener and her husband own and self-manage two vacation rental properties near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. She is a contributing writer to How to Rent by Owner: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental by Christine Karpinksi (2004). Amy and Christine are currently collaborating on a second book for vacation rental owners. A mother of three, Amy's primary profession is that of voiceover talent. If you have Onstar service, you now know who to be mad at when the system voice says "I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Please try again."
Author: Amy Greener, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0056 – 01/31/05
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