Like it or not, vacation rental networking has become crucial to establishing connections in the industry. The power behind face-to-face networking helps property managers become a part of their community and meet other individuals and businesses with similar goals. A study from Hubspot even shows that 95 percent of participants believe face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships.
“The first rule of networking is give,” says Jeff Beaudin, Director of Training, iTrip Vacations. “The second rule is give to the right people. As a vacation rental property manager, you have multiple businesses that touch your potential owner. Use that knowledge, make a list of who you know, who you want to know, and where they are. Make a plan to reach them.”
Where should you start? Whether a longtime business owner or just starting out, these vacation rental networking tips will help you build a better foundation and possibly lead to more sales.
Top 7 Vacation Rental Networking Tips for Professionals
Join the Chamber and CVB
Chambers of Commerce commit their time to building and supporting businesses in the area. For vacation property management companies, chambers help managers meet other local business owners, residents and community leaders. Joining the chamber also provides businesses with credibility in the area, website listing options and access to special events. Check for other chambers in the area as well. Many communities have multiple organizations that focus on women-, minority- or industry-focused businesses.
Once a member, look for promotional opportunities that expand your reach. Many chambers send out e-newsletters, manage social media accounts, and produce print and online materials they distribute to larger audiences. In addition, consider participating in panels or becoming a committee member to reach even more community leaders.
Convention and Visitors Bureau
Different from the chamber, the local Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) focuses on driving tourism and visitors to the area. These organizations work to provide the best experience to guests and offer their own promotional opportunities and special events. In many cases, CVBs are a part of the Chamber, however larger cities and states have both. In heavy tourism areas – North Carolina for example – most cities have their own chamber, CVB and/or both. Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to tap into both the local business community and the local tourism organization. Find your local chamber of commerce.
Partner With Companies in the Industry
Successful vacation property management companies don’t do it alone. They work with businesses in the area to ensure owners and guests receive the best services possible. Reach out to longtime businesses in the area, including cleaning companies, electricians, plumbers, interior decorators, concierge service providers, local utilities, grocery delivery, and Uber and Lyft drivers.
When networking with local businesses, discuss how to help one another add customers and build solid relationships. For example, if you partner with a cleaning company, leave their business card in the vacation rental, include them on social media or in your app, or add their logo to your website and link to theirs. In return, suggest they do the same and create an equal partnership.
VR Pro Tip: Provide easy ways to promote each other and drive additional business.
Meet Realtors and Lots of Them
Realtor referrals rank as a must for successful property management companies. Local Realtors carry a lot of power in their position, and their primary goal is to sell real estate. Once a rental is sold, the owner may not want to manage it, so that’s when property management contacts become useful to both the Realtor and new owner.
Good Realtor relationships can lead to dozens of referrals and help businesses increase exposure and credibility in the area. Many Realtors and Brokers work on commission-based pay, so consider offering payment for each closed referral. For example, agree to pay the Realtor a finder’s fee or small percentage of the bookings each quarter. For example, if a rental nets $20,000 for the first quarter, offer 2 percent to the Realtor, which totals $400 per quarter. Not all property management companies can afford a percentage, so a finder’s fee may work better depending on the situation.
VR Pro Tip: Give them incentives to work with your company.
Contact Homeowner’s Associations, Onsite Resort Professionals
Another vacation rental networking tactic includes area homeowner’s associations (HOAs) and resort development professionals. Sharing services with HOAs enable property managers to meet homeowners and offer services that the association may not be able to provide.
One example is Party Squasher, a device that monitors Wi-Fi enabled devices and protects against large parties. Vacation rental homeowners rest easy knowing their home is monitored by both Party Squasher and the property manager, as Party Squasher notifies the manager immediately if there is a potential party. Other home security features that property management offer include smart smoke alarms and keyless entry.
Is there ongoing development in the area? Research current and upcoming projects such as new resorts or additions, new condo complexes, and new residential communities. These development and construction teams work with the project from the ground up and may also provide valuable connections in real estate.
Appear in Local and Regional Newspapers
Who doesn’t love good press coverage? Local and regional news sources are helpful resources when trying to promote a special offer, unveil new features or boost a new business opening. Much of today’s media has been flooded with negativity, so news sources need positive stories to share with their audiences.
Many news channels have special features that highlight area businesses and people who make a difference in their community. One example is Savannah Now, Savannah Morning News. In addition to providing news, the site also has a Your Good News section that spotlights locals, special groups, events and more in the area. Check for opportunities where you can share good news about your business, how you help owners and guests, and why you love serving the area.
Many communities host industry and topic-driven meetups in the area. Meetup events include meet-and-greets, outdoor activities, tours, seminars, presentations, dinners, and simple cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Whether hosting or attending a meetup, these opportunities allow managers to network with people with similar interests and goals. Learn more about how Meetup works.
And remember: Networking is not transactional, it is relational.