Showcase Your Vacation Rental or Real Estate Listing with a Floor Plan

Adding a floor plan of your vacation rental to show potential guests generates a measurable improvement in your number of bookings.
TruPlace, formerly Mouse on House, commissioned an independent study of over 1,400 vacation rentals that demonstrates a 97% increase in revenue from bookings for properties using their interactive floor plan tours. The amount of time it took to book the property also was measurably shorter. Likewise, at Blizzard, we find that properties with interactive floor plan tours on their property pages generate more revenue.
floor plans increase reservations

The reservation revenue per property for properties with interactive floor plan tours was 97% higher than for those properties without floor plan tours.

virtual tours and floor plans

The booking lead time for properties with interactive floor plan tours is 12 days shorter than for properties without tours.

What the study could not measure was the cost savings in phone calls. The number of phone calls that it took to book the property was presumably smaller, because anyone with questions about the layout of the property was able to find out the answer to their question online. Let’s look at why this is the case. Your goal is to get reservations. Once someone finds your website, how can you turn a looker into a booker? The websites that anticipate the traveler’s questions, and answer them, get more reservations.
Travelers’ questions:

  • Where is it located, exactly?
  • What’s the place like?
  • How much is it?

When it comes to what is the place like, getting a bird’s eye view of the floor plan answers that question in  a split second. In a glance, your potential guests can answer such questions as:

  • How noisy does it look like it will be?
  • Where can I watch TV in the middle of the night without waking up my family?
  • Where will I be relative to the kids? The other people we are staying with?
  • Does my room have a view?
  • Where is the balcony/deck relative to my bedroom? Relative to the kitchen?
  • What is the kitchen like?
  • Are there stairs?
  • How many bathrooms are there and where are they?

Real-Estate-Floor-Plan-Vacation-Rental

What’s the difference between an interactive floor plan tour and a 360 virtual tour?

An interactive floor plan is a floor plan that is clickable. It combines still photography with a floor plan of the entire property so that the visitor can have a high level view and navigate through the home. A 360 virtual tour combines videos or still images in order to provide a simulation of walking through a location.

Interactive floor plan tours can be made just from architectural floor plan renderings; the property does not need to be built yet. Also they are mobile friendly and load more quickly than 360 virtual tours.

360 virtual tours, on the other hand, can provide  a full 360 degree view of the rooms, and if when done correctly, are more entertaining content to put on your website.

Unlike videos and 360 virtual tours, a floor plan gives the traveler a great deal of information in a single glance. That is not to say, however, that videos and 360 virtual tours do not do well. Everyone likes to be entertained. However, if you have videos or 360 virtual tours, make sure that they are actually entertaining; or your potential guest will quickly grow weary of watching them!

Having entertaining content on your website, such as videos and 360 virtual tours, can increase your website traffic and the amount of time that people spend on your site. These are good indicators for Google and can increase your website’s position in search results. Having floor plans and interactive floor plans on your website can help potential guests decide whether to book a specific property. For that reason, interactive floor plan tours can generate more revenue than 360-virtual tours, because the potential guest can click on the floor plan and quickly answer many of the questions that they have.

Do you have a property owner who wants more bookings? Ask them if they are willing to pay for an interactive floor plan tour.

Blizzard University – July 24 & 25, 2014

Blizzard University - Glenwood Springs, July 2014 - Get signed up today!

Doesn’t a trip to the beautiful mountain town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado this summer sound like a wonderful idea? Why not make it a learning experience as well! Join us July 24 & 25, 2014 for another Blizzard University Workshop. Learn from the internet marketing specialists in this 2-day informative workshop geared toward beginner to intermediate internet marketers and vacation rental managers. Book Today or visit our workshops page for more information.

Why the Miley Thing Mattered

Miley during the VMA's

Miley Cyrus

I think Miley Cyrus taught us all a valuable lesson on Monday. Your eyes aren’t fooling you. You read that right.

Miley Cyrus lit up the social world with her antics on MTV’s Video Music Awards. When CNN.com led their news with the Miley story on Tuesday (a day when a new war is on the brink, fires are out of control and more) some questioned CNN’s judgment of newsworthiness. Meredith Artley, Managing Editor of CNN.com, explained the decision in simplistic fashion and her reasoning aligns perfectly with what we tell our clients about their posts, contents, and traffic drivers.

Simply put, Artley explained that we as media consumers don’t click on stories about fires and wars. We do click on stories about our celebrities though – especially when there is a picture of Hannah Montana in lingerie. In order to get the click on the web, you have to get the reader’s attention. It doesn’t have to be risqué like the Miley thing, but it should be valuable. For instance, if you want to get people to spend more time on your website, you need to provide content for them to navigate through.

In the news world, the main goal is just to get people – and it doesn’t matter who – to spend time on a website and get you to view a bunch of pages so they can sell advertising. To advertisers, each set of eyeballs is another cheeseburger, pair of shoes, car, etc. In general, any traffic is good traffic in the retail world. All this traffic is driven by:

Content, oh content! We’re not saying to post photos of scantily clad women all throughout your website. That’ll get you traffic, but it won’t be the kind you want. Those visitors aren’t interested in booking a room or a tour, they’re interested in skin. You need to have relevant content about things to do during a stay, tour information, neighborhood information, descriptions of the area, places to eat, where to rent a boat or skis, or a service you’re providing your guests that your competitors are not. Spend some time to make your content more interesting than your competitors. That content will get people to spend time on your website.

When people spend time on your site, people spend money on your site. That’s a proven fact and that’s why McDonald’s and Nike are what they are and why they don’t care if the content is about Miley (or Britney or Bieber or Boo Boo…). They care about getting eyes on their advertising – and you should too. Your job is much harder because you need to make sure those eyes are interested in your product, but the right content will get you the eyeballs.

See, now you can’t say Miley hasn’t taught you anything.

DIY: 3 Great Website Tools to Check the Speed and Health of Your Pages

With the dawn of the mobile revolution, it has become more critical than ever to have a website that is not only responsive by design for multiple devices, but also fast and mobile friendly.  Statistics show that in the hospitality world 30-40% of users are increasingly using mobile devices to research and book vacation rentals.  It is clear that Google rewards websites in both organic and paid search placements with higher rankings when a user does not use the back button after getting to a landing page.  While this is only one small factor in consideration, it makes a big difference from a usability standpoint when a customer is using a phone or tablet to open a website over a cellular network.  Gone are the days of testing page speed with your desktop computer as T1, T3, Cable, and Fiber connections are much more commonplace in urban areas.  So how can I really tell if my website will open fast for all my users?  How do I isolate the cause of those problems?

If I were you, I would not rely on just one tool to test my website.  Keep in mind, you will get varying results depending on server locations, bandwidth being used, time of day, etc.  So make sure to test a couple of times and get an average.  As well, in this example we will only test the homepage of a website.  I strongly encourage you to test new landing pages used for your AdWords campaigns as well as any that may have extra functionality, forms, widgets, or just a lot of pictures…All of these below are free tools!

1.  WEBSITE OPTIMIZATION For many years, I have referenced this tool as a starting point to get a quick glimpse of how the different objects on my webpage are being seen by crawlers.  http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/

The 2 main things I look at are:

dowload-times

page-analysis

Check out the red highlights in the analysis tool then ask your webmaster how they will address these items.

2. Pingdom Pingdom is great in many ways as you can sign up to get alerts when your website goes down via email or text message.  I use tools.pingdom.com to get even more in-depth with what objects are slowing my website down in addition to THE ORDER that they load.  Sometimes just having some objects load at the end allows a user to see the important stuff and gives time for the other secondary style sheets and .js calls to load.  You can drill down to see specifics, get a “performance grade” and it will also keep a history so you can see how well you have improved over time.

http://tools.pingdom.com/

performance-grade

 3.  Google Page Insights - Lastly, I will check Google’s Page insights to see what score they provide.  It is out if 100 and theoretically the higher the better.  The nice thing about Insights is that they break down all the links, server calls, and objects and let you know where your biggest opportunities are for optimizing for page speed.

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/

google-pagespeed

Remember, most times you can tackle 2 or 3 biggies – usually image size, caching, and order in which objects load to make a dramatic difference in your website’s page speed time.  In the end, the effort is worth it because it will result in a lower bounce rate, higher rankings, and a better overall user experience.  Many have said for years…you only have 8 seconds to make that first impression!  Now go OPTIMIZE!

Google AdWords Remarketing Campaign Best Practices – Part 3 of 3

A remarketing campaign, when set up well, can cost less than a regular pay-per-click campaign. Here are some best practices to follow for remarketing campaigns:

  1. Know your remarketing campaign’s objective. Is it for general branding or to facilitate a purchase? If it’s for a purchase, remarketing ads are ideal to offer special pricing to customers who have already visited your site and to motivate them to take action now and buy! Also, we recommend using cost-per-click bidding for most campaigns, except for the most generalized branding campaigns, which could use cost-per-impression.
  2. Set up specific bids.  Use the features in AdWords to segment or target your display campaigns based on interests, remarketing lists, or demographics.  In the case of remarketing, you’ll want to set bids based on specific audiences, it increases the chance of your ad displaying properly. Each audience segment will have a specific bid assigned to it that you can manipulate in order to accomplish your goals.  Follow your campaigns and adjust bids as necessary to achieve conversions on your website.
  3. Use remarketing tags. Remarketing tags are specific Google analytics scripts that when implemented, allow you to target website visitors that have been to specific areas of your website.  By using a single code throughout the website, you can build lists within Google analytics based on actions, pages visited, and goals, and use them in AdWords to build your target audience.    When putting together the audience, you will have the ability to exclude people who have completed certain goals or have already purchased from you.  
  4. Use contextual targeting. Contextual targeting matches your ads to those sites on the Display Network that are relevant based keywords or topics, among other factors.  You have the ability to allow Google to choose these sites for you with Automatic Placements or you can manually add websites or pages by using the Managed Placements option.  After your campaign has run for a while, you also have the ability to block sites that aren’t performing or don’t match your goals. 
  5. Limit the frequency that your ad is shown. Don’t be creepy or annoying.  Put a frequency cap on how often your ad is shown to certain users.  We suggest capping your ads at 3 views per 24 hour period.
  6. Measure what works. Review your placement reports and nurture the campaigns that perform the best.  Follow your statistics and keep your goals in mind.

Remarketing can be a very successful endeavor for many goals in your advertising campaigns.  It sends a highly targeted message that should result in a substantial ROI.  Following these basic standards will help you to achieve your goals.

How much does Google AdWords remarketing cost? Part 2 of 3

The cost of a remarketing campaign is going to be different for every single advertiser, just like it is for Search campaigns.  You will need to consider that you will incur costs for the actual clicks or impressions you receive (based on your bidding methods, competition, etc.), plus additional costs for the steps you need to take to implement tracking code, privacy policies and create remarketing ads.

There are 4 basic costs to consider:
1.    The cost per click or impression for your ads.

  •  Don’t forget about the time spent on setting up a remarketing campaign!

2.    The cost to add the code to your website.

  •  You will need to replace a single line of code to the existing Google Analytics code on your website. You can get that code from within Google Analytics. This allows Google to track cookies placed on your visitor’s browser, and add them to your remarketing lists.
  •  In addition, if you aren’t already tracking action items on your website, such as reservations, contact forms, etc. you should implement code on key pages of your website that allow you to measure return on investment and other important conversion goals.  Take the time to do this!

3.    The cost to add privacy policy information to your website.

  • This can be added to the current privacy policy page on your site.

4.    The cost to create remarketing ads.

  • You should invest a little time (and money) into ad creation, and have your design team create professional, top quality ads.  You can use the AdWords Display Ad Builder tool if needed.  However, the better the ad, the better your chances of getting that visitor back!

When done properly, you can significantly increase the return on your ads by using remarketing. The time, energy and cost required to get remarketing campaigns going in your AdWords account is worth it in terms of increasing revenue. So, don’t be shy; add the remarketing tags to your website and dip your toe in the water by setting up a small, trial remarketing campaign.

Stay tuned to hear the nitty-gritty on Remarketing Best Practices.

Remarketing in Google AdWords – It’s All About Targeting, Folks! Part 1 of 3

Part 1:

You spend a lot on your PPC ads in Google AdWords. But how many people make a purchase decision the first time that they visit your website? The trick is to capture the traveler who is thinking about coming your way, and still shopping. If you could only capture their email address, you could remind them about why they should stay with you.  But capturing emails means work for the person visiting your site. People hate work.

Remarketing, however, allows you to capture that visitor’s information without your web visitors doing ANYTHING.

Zip.

Nada.

Sound cool? It is! If you aren’t already doing remarketing, then read on.

I was purchasing TV ad time in the early 90s for the small business where I worked. (Yes, I know how that dates me.) I met with the ad rep from CBS, ABC, NBC, and also the “Cable” rep. I could choose my ad time based on the characteristics of the people who watched certain shows. I also purchased magazine and newspaper ads. People who read them had certain traits in common, and I was able to target the people most likely to purchase the products we were offering.

Then along came the Internet and PPC ads. Now we could market to people from all over the world, regardless of where they were, and target them based on what keywords they were targeting. Think about it. I pay for impressions to people searching for keyword terms, and I can limit certain things such as what part of the world they are in, but clearly, I’m targeting a very wide audience with my PPC ads. It’s great to have a wide reach, but also it means a lower number of those people will be likely to book a stay with me, and I can easily pay more per booking, or conversion.

However, when I remarket to those people who already visited my website, suddenly I have the benefit of several things:

1. Repeat impressions. The more often that someone sees your ad, the likelier they are to book. You get that somewhat with PPC ads, but it is diluted. If you use remarketing, however, you specifically target the people who have already been to your website, and you could make it based on viewing a particular page, such as a property that you rent to travelers, or your reservation page.

2. Focus. Your ads are shown to people who already expressed some level of interest in what you have to offer, not just to people who have put in certain keywords into a search engine.

3. Specific Ads for Specific Desires. You can display ads targeted at what the traveler is looking for. If you know that they are coming for a specific event, like Spring Break, you can choose that ad to display to them.

Coming soon: How much does remarketing cost?

Want to learn how to set up remarketing campaigns?

We can help. Our Pay-Per-Click Focus Plans include training on how to more effectively spend your AdWords campaign budgets.