“They don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on bulk postcards, but they can use Postalytics with no minimums. They can send 20 postcards a month at a super-reasonable price. ”
Jason Smolarek, Founder & CEO, Vacation Reputation
Vacation Reputation in Tampa, Florida helps vacation rental managers grow their inventory. Additionally, the company offers tools that help property managers get more 5-star reviews and direct bookings. Items on the list include reputation management, web chat, SMS and email automation, text-2-pay upsells, and 24/7/365 answering service. The company is a marketing agency, but also a technology platform designed to meet the needs of the vacation rental industry. Finding a no minimum direct mail automation solution was a key priority to advance the platform.
Finding more properties to manage can be a difficult task, yet vacation rental managers know each vacation home they add to their portfolio has a positive effect on their revenue. Finding absentee property owners and then convincing them to contract with a vacation rental manager requires time, skill and a good reputation. The courtship between manager and owner can be a long-term affair that features regular communication delivered over several months. This is where Vacation Reputation plays an important role.
Owners of vacation homes can be individual investors, families who use the home sparingly and want to rent it the rest of the time, or couples who bought vacation property as a retirement home but are still working. For the best results, these groups must be approached differently. Each has their own goals and objectives for their properties.
Like in any industry, the best way to attract new property owners is with a multi-channel, multi-touch approach. Jason Smolarek, Vacation Reputation’s co-founder, understands this concept. He also appreciates the power of direct mail. Postal mail is the way to cut through digital clutter and make an impression over the long term.
Vacation Reputation teaches their clients how to locate and then solicit business from absentee vacation property owners. Most vacation rental managers have neither the time nor the knowledge to do this on their own. Once they have a list, the next challenge for vacation rental managers is to market their services. Direct mail is an effective way to get the attention of the owners.
Vacation Reputation found that traditional direct mail approaches can be expensive and time-consuming. Legacy direct mail solutions are batch-based and include set-up charges that make small mailings impractical. Waiting to accumulate enough prospects to make launching a direct mail campaign financially sensible can result in missed opportunities.
For traditional direct mail approaches to make sense financially, marketers typically send mail based on a general criterion such as geographic location. Marketers waste money on unqualified prospects in an effort to build a list that meets the minimum volumes most print and mail service providers require. No minimum direct mail that really drives vacation rental ROI isn’t a practical option for legacy direct mail service providers.
Once Postalytics® was integrated into their strategy, Vacation Reputation’s challenges of minimum job sizes, personalization, and segmentation disappeared. The company discovered they could begin efforts to attract the attention of absentee property owners as soon as prospects were identified, rather than waiting to build a large batch of them. They could help their clients focus on the owners of a single condominium complex, for example — perhaps only a few dozen owners.
They also found the postcards they created with Postalytics could be personalized with variable text and images. Plus, by adding QR codes and personal URLs to the postcards, the responses of each property owner could be individually tracked, thereby allowing vacation rental managers to follow up through automated emails, phone calls and text messages upon owner engagement.
Other direct mail programs researched by Vacation Reputation did not offer the comprehensive tracking and reporting available from Postalytics, or the simplicity associated with no minimum direct mail automation.
Before working with us, one of my clients spent $50,000 on postcards and didn’t sign any properties. The postcard vendor locked them into sending the same postcard 30,000 times.”Jason Smolarek
The Postalytics® platform includes a drag and drop QR code tool that gives recipients an easy way to hop online and respond to offers. The patented Postalytics® QR code solution is that each QR code that is printed and mailed is unique. When recipients receive the offer and scan the QR code, the Postalytics® system is tracking the unique visits, so that the vacation rental manager knows which prospective owner is responding to each offer.
All of the data about the campaign is tracked in a campaign dashboard, including:
Account level views of all campaigns are easily analyzed in the home dashboard where cross campaign data can be filtered and analyzed to see the overall impact of the direct mail effort.
After adding Postalytics to their list of services, one of Vacation Reputation’s clients signed six new properties after sending only 2100 postcards—an incredible response to cold outreach in this industry. The targeted campaign approached property owners in thirteen condominium complexes. Vacation Reputation based each complex’s campaign on a custom postcard that featured images of the complex, personalized URLs, QR codes, and a landing page dedicated to each condominium development.
Jason Smolarek likes the variable data aspect of direct mail generated by Postalytics. He describes one way to leverage this capability is to include gross rental revenue projections on a postcard. Those projections will be different depending on the size of the property, such as the number of bedrooms, and other factors.
Vacation Reputation adds more features that contribute to a campaign’s success. For instance, landing pages with a video sales letter, a contact form, a web chat widget, and a tracking pixel the company uses for re-targeting individuals who respond to the postcard.
Strategies such as these contribute to Vacation Reputation campaigns that are generating positive results for their clients. Property owners notice the mailers because they are personalized and include familiar graphics and photos. The text on the postcards is crafted to appeal to the interests of each property owner.
The manager that’s just getting started may have only one property and a limited marketing budget,” said Smolarek, “They don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on bulk postcards, but they can use Postalytics with no minimums. They can send 20 postcards a month at a super-reasonable price. They often don’t realize it doesn’t take thousands of dollars to grow their property inventory.”Jason Smolarek, Vacation Reputation
By integrating Postalytics with property management software via APIs or Zapier, Vacation Reputation also helps their clients get more direct bookings. Sending automated thank you cards and greeting cards to past guests ensures the property management company is top of mind when guests go to book their next getaway while avoiding commissions charged by marketplaces such as Airbnb, Booking.com, or VRBO.
Once a property is booked, vacation rental managers can also take advantage of Vacation Reputation’s technology platform that can send guest’s pre-arrival property details, 24/7/365 answering service, and post-departure review requests.
Follow-up with guests is also part of the Vacation Reputation platform. Guests are encouraged to post a positive review. They are thanked for their stay, and are re-contacted at key times, such as birthdays or anniversaries. Repeat guests create a stable revenue stream.
For property managers, the return on their investment in Vacation Reputation can be substantial. A postcard that prompts a direct booking can net the manager a commission of between 15% and 30% – an ROI that is hundreds of times the cost of the direct mail.
Jason Smolarek points out the Vacation Reputation software platform applies to other industries, not just vacation rentals. Real estate professionals, for instance, could use the system to gather listings, for example – a natural fit.
The Vacation Reputation technology platform is a framework that allows for outside services, like Postalytics to be easily integrated. Smolarek’s goal is to provide a system that is scalable and affordable for any size company, whether just getting started or well established.
Most Postalytics customers are using the software to promote their own businesses or non-profit organization. In contrast, Vacation Reputation has integrated Postalytics as part of a system, giving their clients access and information about how to use Postalytics along with all the backend software that connects the Postalytics functionality and reporting to an overall solution.
Postalytics is an ideal way to leverage the power of direct mail in a small, highly targeted manner. With no minimum sending volumes, vacation rental managers can use Vacation Reputation to communicate the right messages to the right people at the right time and do it affordably.