The tone you adopt in your descriptions should be a reflection of your brand and audience. Before you begin writing, we recommend considering your key message, your target guest, and three characteristics that define your company. The owner of a cabin in the woods may want to adopt a voice that’s full of energy, adventurous, and approachable. But a high-end penthouse would be better suited to use a tone that’s sophisticated, professional, and luxury-minded. One exercise we find helpful is to write a few quick dos and don’ts in order to more clearly establish what your brand voice sounds like. “Enter our home and enjoy a great view” isn’t the best way to introduce a breezy beachfront bungalow. “Shake off the sand, step inside, and watch the tide roll in from picture windows” is much better.
Different OTAs have different formats—Airbnb’s is different from HomeAway’s, for example—and your copy should be adjusted accordingly. If you have your own website, you have total flexibility to determine the format, and we recommend customizing it with unique sections to best appeal to your guests. But as far as overhauling your listing description for each site, it’s not totally necessary—but it can sometimes yield results. For example, if you find that a majority of your HomeAway bookings are coming from families while most of your Airbnb bookings are coming from couples or friends, you may consider adjusting your listings on each to better target those specific demographics.
Words like oceanfront, mountain-view, wooded, or skyline-view cut to the chase and effectively set the scene for your guests. We recommend being just as specific when describing your interior. Terms like contemporary and rustic work well, but super particular terms like beach chic or mid-century modern are even better.
One of the biggest mistakes we see owners and property managers make is using superlative terms like best, great, and awesome. “Show, don’t tell” is a landmark rule for writing, and it definitely applies to your listing descriptions. Instead of calling your rental awesome and expecting guests to take your word for it, show them what makes it awesome—whether it’s the views, amenities, floor plan, or something else.
Most important tips by Guest Hook ⤵
Today’s reader has a limited attention span, so hooking them immediately is crucial. The perfect intro should:
Like all of your copy, your intro should also exemplify your brand voice. Think of your first paragraph as a handshake —it’s the first impression your guest will have of you, so it’s the best opportunity to show guests you understand their needs, preferences, and attitude.
We like starting at the center of your home and expanding outwards. We usually start by first talking about living spaces, followed by bedrooms and bathrooms, then outdoor spaces, then the community (if applicable), and then the general location.
But what’s more important than the order is the organization: Whenever possible, we recommend dividing your listing up into manageable sections under engaging and informative subheads. This allows guests to quickly find whatever information is most important to them.
The effects of copywriting specifically for the vacation rental industry haven’t been thoroughly researched (yet—we’re on the case!). In an informal survey that Guest Hook invited our friends, followers, and clients to take, we found that 60% of first-time vacation rental guests said property descriptions were part of their booking decision.
Here’s our stance: even if only a handful of your guests read your listing description all the way through, you need to deliver to beat out your competition.
But professionally written content doesn’t just end at listing descriptions. Content marketing can be an effective way to garner a new audience for your rental—in fact, 45 percent of marketers claim blogging is this year’s number one marketing strategy.
At Guest Hook, we help vacation rental businesses of all scales and sizes. We’ve worked on listing descriptions for owners and strategized with property managers to create content marketing plans. We’ve crafted email templates, written blog posts and website copy, and created guest personas for more targeted marketing. To find out how we can help you drive guests towards booking with pro copy and content, please feel free to check out our offerings.
Guest Hook is the web’s first vacation rental copywriting agency. Using the rights words, we help you drive more potential guests towards booking. We offer a full range of services including writing for listing descriptions and web copy, as well as content marketing.