Lessons From Top Vacation Rental Brands

Having a branded vacation rental website is now par for the course in the vacation rental management industry. With platforms like Lodgify, Kigo, and Guesty enabling anyone to launch a branded website, there’s no reason not to have one.

Some brands, however, have gone above and beyond generic templates to offer something truly special. You may not have the resources of some of the example companies in this article, but there are still lessons you can use to improve your own site.

Lesson One: Open With Your Brand’s Story

Research shows that most people buy based on emotion and then justify their decision with logic. It is important, therefore, to build an emotional connection with your website’s visitors. One of the best ways to do this is to open with a brand story, instead of just listing facts about what your vacation rental properties offer.

One of the brands that does this best is AvantStay. AvantStay’s home page offers a bold vision for their brand that communicates a story to guests. Their tag line, “travel with the people you love,” immediately evokes an emotional response by reminding people that travel brings them closer to friends and family.

AvantStay Home Page

You see this story of “togetherness” throughout the site with images of families and friends traveling together. A surprising choice in the vacation rental industry as most websites focus on property images.

Another example of a vacation rental brand that opens with their story is Cuvée. Cuvée shares its story of creating exceptional experiences and memories for guests through a video on their homepage.

Creating a compelling narrative that feels authentic to your brand requires a deep understanding of your target audience. Looking at the AvantStay and Cuvée websites, it is clear what types of travelers their brands are appealing to. Once you understand what drives your guests to travel, you can start telling a story that appeals to them at an emotional level.

Lesson Two: Build A Brand Pyramid

Featuring a story that connects on an emotional level is the first step to improve your vacation rental branding. However, to make this message effective, you need to support your story with actual features from your properties. Using a Framework, like the “Brand Pyramid,” can be a useful way develop and crystalize how you want to communicate your brand.

The Brand Pyramid starts with the emotional benefits you want your guests to experience at the top. Underneath those are layers of consumer benefits, functional benefits, and product attributes that support the emotional benefit.

Brand Pyramid
Source: Ignite Partnerships

AvantStay does an excellent job of introducing consumer benefits right after they open with their emotional brand story. Two of the main consumer benefits they feature are staying in a true neighborhood when traveling and having an experience like a traditional home.

Finally, AvantStay summarizes the product attributes that makes their homes special and desirable to their target audience.

AvantStay Product Attributes

AvantStay is not the only vacation rental brand that does a great job outlining consumer benefits and product attributes. The Guild also uses a brand pyramid approach to promote its business traveler program. On their page for business travelers, The Guild emphasizes the key product attributes and consumer benefits that business travelers are looking for.

The Guild Business Program

The Brand Pyramid is a framework for articulating your brand in a way that is meaningful to your audience. You do not need to seperate your home page into four sections that cover the four levels of the pyramid. Instead, you will see websites like AvantStay, The Guild, and Domio, use concepts from the framework to express what makes their brand interesting to their target audience.

Lesson Three: Invest In Differention

When you have limited resources to build your website, focus on what makes your brand matter to your target audience. A good example is how The Guild has chosen what parts of the website to customize. While they have developed pages for city guides, their business program, and others, they do not have a customer front-end for their booking engine.

Their booking engine is an out-of-the box solution hosted on RezTrip, a product developed by Travel Tripper.

The Guild Booking Engine

Brand building is about making key investments in the parts of the experience that matter to your audience. In an ideal world, every part of your website would be perfect from the get-go. However, as a business owner or marketing leader, you should focus on building out core brand assets first – determining what is a must-have vs. a nice-to-have.

Summary: Website Branding Lessons From Top Vacation Rental Brands

  1. Open with your brand’s story – tell a story that appeals to people’s emotions.
  2. Build the brand pyramid – reinforce your emotional story with practical product attributes like amenities and reviews.
  3. Differentiate where it matters – spend resources to customize the parts of the website that matter most to your target audience.

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