Visual Data Systems Blog

Make Your Reviews Count; See Our New Website Launches
Posted by Sally Robbins | Wednesday, November 1, 2017

In this newsletter, we’ll share how our clients generated 5-star reviews with an email request to their guests, show you our latest website launches, and explain why you need a secure website. Enjoy!

More 5-Star Reviews, Please!

One of the best marketing tools for a vacation rental can be great reviews. Guests love to know that others have had a good experience in the rental, and good reviews can positively sway the decision-making process. Conversely, if guests leave negative reviews, whether they are deserved or not, those reviews can discourage guests from booking.

We partnered with our client CENTURY 21 New Horizon in Ocean City, Maryland, to increase their amount of Google My Business reviews. Within the first 24 hours after sending out an email to qualified past guests asking for feedback on their recent stay, they received over 40 reviews, with most of them in the 4-5 star range. In addition to the great reviews, Director of Marketing Laurie Murray reported that another benefit was “not just for the positive reflection of our business, but also for the confirmation that our team really deserves to see that all their hard work, dedication, and determination truly is appreciated by our guests.

Julia Filo, one of our stellar Online Marketing Consultants, has worked with other clients to bolster real and positive reviews. One of the campaigns garnered over 20 reviews in two days, and more importantly, the new positive reviews launched them from the worst star rating to the best in local listings. “This is important because there is evidence that Google ranks business in the local pack by their reviews. After all, Google wouldn’t want to actively recommend a 1- star company over a 5-star,” Julia said.

If you and your company would like to improve your reviews and ranking, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our online marketing team.

Our Latest Website Launches

The developers and designers at VDS have been busy creating exciting new websites, and we can’t wait for you to see them!

·      Ski Country – check out their new vacation planner

·      Luxury Rentals Oahu – this brand-new site gives you the best of Hawaii

·      VR 365 – see how this Escapia partner redesigned their look and became mobile-friendly

·      Budaugraphy – create your own personal journal

Why Do I Need A Secure Website?

There’s been a lot of talk about secure websites this year. VDS has been leading the charge on helping our clients making the move to secure websites for several reasons:

1.     It will help your SEO ranking. Google recognizes secure sites and uses it as a ranking factor. You want to do everything you can to increase your ranking.

2.     Visitors can trust your site. Your website needs to be a place where visitors can trust that their privacy and security are being protected as much as possible. If they see your site as non-secure, they’ll likely go to your competitors.

3.     Many web browsers now require it. Browsers such as Chrome now indicate whether a website is secure, which means non-secure sites stand out like a sore thumb.

Clients like Ali’i Beach Rentals made the switch to a secure site. “We want to stay on top of every technological advantage we can, and ensure our website visitors’ safety and security,” stated Kai Jack, owner of Ali’i. “It was a no-brainer to make our site secure,” Kai concluded.

Making your site secure is a small investment compared to the huge ramifications if your site is hacked. Don’t wait for that to happen! Contact us today to see how easy it is to make your site secure.

Google Reviews Secure Website Vacation Rental Marketing

6 Things You Must Do Before Next Year's Season
Posted by Sally Robbins | Wednesday, September 13, 2017

As the summer season winds down for many in the vacation rental industry, this is the time of year that allows most VR owners the opportunity to take a breather and plan for the next season. Here are 6 actions you can take now to ensure a successful season next year:

  1. Review Last Year’s Numbers - A review of the previous year is one of the best ways to begin your planning. What worked? What didn’t? How can you improve on products and processes? Sitting down with staff to assess these questions can be valuable in creating an action plan that utilizes this important information.
  2. Send Out A Client Survey – One of the best ways to get feedback for your business is to send out a survey to your existing client base who stayed with you in the previous year. It’s important to acknowledge all survey responses, thanking them for taking the time to fill out the survey, perhaps with a bounce back coupon that they can use for next season. Processing the data received on the survey is critical to determine the next appropriate action steps.
  3. Update Your Website – Your most important marketing tool should be reviewed for the following:
  • Is it relevant? Are pictures and information up to date? Any broken links that need to be fixed? Does it present you and your products in the best light?
  • Is it responsive? More and more website visits are from phones and tablets, so your site needs to be responsive or your guest will go elsewhere.
  • Is it easy to navigate? Are you utilizing technology like sticky search, vacation planning tools, and split cost calculators to make it easy for your guests to plan their stay with you?
  1. Be Consistent With Your Brand – Do all of your marketing pieces, including your website, have a consistent brand look? Does that brand tell your story well? Could your brand use a face-lift? Nothing is worse than your website looking like it’s stuck in the 1990s.
  2. Upgrade Your Online Marketing – Are you getting the biggest bang from your SEO, PPC and online marketing? Are you using online analytics to bring the marketplace to you? Hiring a consultant to help you with these items can make you far more money than they cost.
  3. Maximize Your Emails – Examine your open rates, click rates and conversion rates. Could they be higher and producing more revenue for you? Perhaps now is the time to bring in an expert that can tailor your email marketing to drive more conversions. And like the online marketing consultants, the results will more than pay for the cost of expert help.

Take advantage of this slower time to see how you can use one or more of these six tactics to drive more dollars to your bottom line. The experts at VDS can help in any of these areas, and we’d love to see how we can help you grow your business in 2018. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Email Marketing Online Marketing Successful Vr Season Vacation Rental Industry Website Development

Hurricane Preparedness For Your Business
Posted by Julia Filo | Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Are you in the path of Hurricane Irma? Or maybe you'd just like to review your emergency preparedness procedures for your site? Here are our recommendations for navigating guests and future guests through a natural disaster situation.

  • Update your website’s home page with pertinent information.
    • Decide how guests should get in touch- should they call? Should they email? In either case, try to let them know it may be a short while before they hear back.
    • Employ a call-out with details about your office hours, how to get in touch, and any other updates you see necessary.

    • If more information is needed, consider a static page or a blog post as it will give you more space to write what you need to say.

  • Alert Vacation Planning Tools members

    • Within your dashboard, you have options to send a push notification to your VPT members, or an email, or simply put a banner across their home page.  This allows you the control and flexibility to set the tone of urgency you need.

  • Communicate with your homeowners

    • Using your Ownernet 2.0 platform, you can add necessary messaging to the owners' dashboards. This messaging may be similar to what you use in your callout, but be sure to input any special instructions for how they should secure their homes.

  • If upcoming check-ins are affected, send out an email.

    • Let your guests know the status of their check-in- is it safe to come? Will their reservation be nullified? Refunded? How will they handle travel insurance, if they purchased? This is easiest done by email, but make sure to have your contact information prominent for further questions.

    • You may also want to send an email even if check-ins are not affected. Guests may still have many questions and will want to know where they stand. Even if business is operating as normal, you may want to let them know about closed roads, increased traffic, etc.

  • Update your social media.

    • This messaging will be very similar to what you post on your home page callout, but be sure to let your social media followers know what’s going on and how to get in touch with you.

    • You will want to update (at minimum):

      • Facebook (status update)

      • Twitter (tweet)

      • Google Post (with link to the home page)

    • You can “pin” what you post on Facebook and Twitter to the top of your page so that even if you post updates after, the most important will always be at the top.

  • Check in with paid advertising

    • You may want to pause or lower your budget on any paid advertising you're doing. On top of coming across as insensitive, you may be bringing people to the site who are looking for hurricane updates and not necessarily vacation rental information. That would lead to higher bounce rates and more irrelevant clicks.

  • Philanthropy/Good will

    • Often in times of natural disaster people feel willing to help but confused about the best way to do so. After an appropriate amount of time has passed and you have let people know about the emergency/contact information, you can also spread the news about charities and organizations needing help and donations

      • You could update social media or a blog post with the charities and organizations you choose.

      • You could collect a portion of the reservations (with the guest’s permission) to send to relief efforts.

      • You could set up a canned food or donation drive in your office.

As always, we at Visual Data are here to help you, especially in times of emergency. Please save our emails and support phone numbers and let us know what we can update on your behalf.

Litchfield's New Site Offers The Best Of The Lowcountry
Posted by Sally Robbins | Friday, August 4, 2017

Litchfield Real Estate recently launched its new responsive website, giving its clients an updated and expanded search capability, as well as a new look and feel to the site. Specializing in Pawleys Island and Litchfield Beach areas, located just 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach, Litchfield Real Estate's vacation rental and real estate listings offer a more laid-back character, appealing to those who prefer a quieter vacation or lifestyle.

Kerry Norlin, director of marketing for Litchfield, oversaw the site upgrade. Norlin said, "We are extremely excited about launching our newly redesigned website. Our clients are loving the new search options."

The site's homepage offers three different landing pages: Vacation Rentals, Property Management, and Real Estate. The website's new features include:

  • Responsive Site: Across all devices, the website and its features are highly readable and easy to use
  • Secure Site: This website uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and the traffic is encrypted so users feel safe in their ecommerce transactions
  • Sticky Search: The search bar stays at the bottom of the screen
  • 3 Different Views: Searches can be viewed by list, on the map, or by gallery
  • Vacation Planning Tools: Enables guests to utilize vacation planning tools such as customized vacation calendars to keep track of day-to-day activities, property selection shareable with family and friends, and even an app to sync with the concierge and all planning information
  • OwnerNet: Allows owners to stay connected with property management, see reservation calendar, run reports, and request service
  • Preferred Customer Club: All guests of Litchfield Real Estate are eligible for discounts and/or complimentary gifts from local merchants

In addition to the new site, Litchfield is also taking advantage of VDS' online marketing program, which includes pay-per-click consulting and an email marketing program. The results tell the story: since the new website's launch, website traffic has increased 15% over last year, and Litchfield's ecommerce rate more than doubled.

Is your website up-to-date with the latest technology? VDS can help! Contact us today for more information.

Litchfield Real Estate New Website Launch

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