Today we’re going to talk about a company that has done the unthinkable – they’ve successfully completed a head-to-toe transformation of their vacation rental business.
I’m talking about a complete overhaul which included rebranding, logo design, website development, video and upgraded vacation rental listing technology – of not one but two websites, and it’s all being done at the same time.
If that’s not enough, we’ll also be simultaneously running a vacation rental marketing campaign.
As a business owner, I’m sure you’ll agree while the positive changes sound great, turning your business on its head is not something you really want to think about doing, right?
The truth is we can learn from these two experienced entrepreneurs and examine our own brands in the same way they did, to ask ourselves the questions – is it time to refresh my brand? Is it time to reposition my vacation rental business?
If you don’t, ask yourself “what will happen to my business in the next 3 years?”
Kevin and Michael both managing partners with The Timeshare Brokers shared with me that they’ve achieved a certain level of success in their business.
However, being savvy business people it was obvious they knew that to stay competitive with all the changes happening in the rental industry, they’d have to change with their surroundings.
They’d have to adapt and become a chameleon. Are you a chameleon? This is an essential skill set entrepreneurs need to nurture and develop within themselves.
Fortunately, Michael and Kevin both understood and I hope you do too, if everything around you is changing, you have to change too.
Like many of you, The Timeshare Brokers are a hands on and value driven company. So, their business model didn’t fit well with some of the new rules and added fees vacation rental listing sites are implementing.
They knew they had to get bookings driven by their own vacation rental website. But their old website wasn’t able to take them where they wanted to go.
That’s why they invested in themselves and repositioned their vacation business in a way to generate its own leads.
By The Timeshare Brokers avoiding commission fees and booking charges whenever possible, they’re able to translate that benefit to their customers in the form of highly competitive rates on their accommodations.
When it comes to your business don’t avoid making improvements
You can’t be intimidated by the potential work involved.
Delaying the necessary is almost always more costly!
When marketing is done right, your reward will be well worth your time and the money invested.
Now let’s get started with what their website looked like before their new vacation property website design.
Let me introduce you to The Timeshare Brokers.
This Is Their Old Vacation Rental Website Design
Before I get into dissecting the details of this radical redesign, let me bring you up to speed with the specifics of the project so you can get an understanding of what we had to do and why it was done.
It was apparent early on, this wasn’t going to be the easiest of projects. After a few consultations, I knew we would be combining their two, already established companies into one.
Changing so many things at once in any business is not an easy pill to swallow and never an easy sale for a business owner to buy into.
But There Was A Real Need To Streamline & Pivot
The Timeshare Brokers buy and sell timeshares, but they also rent amazing vacation rental properties at some of the world’s most popular vacation resorts.
Their extensive inventory includes approx. 75 vacation resorts and properties at dozens of destinations like Colorado, Mexico, Hawaii and the Bahamas, but the problem was all of this valuable information wasn’t found in one place.
Instead, they were using two separate websites to showcase each service.
The website I just shared with you, was dedicated more towards the timeshare sales and resale market.
They also had another website in their portfolio which focused on the vacation and travel side of their business. That website is called TheVacationAdvantage.com
Maybe you have a real estate, vacation rental and or property management company whose faced similar problems with merging different services and multi-level branding integration. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
We were concerned with the separation of their services causing a disconnect with their users and we were right.
Shortly after the launch of the new website they experienced an influx in inquiries, receiving several inquiries per day generated directly from their website.
They’re experiencing similar success to Kendall who generated 300 inquiries to his website in a short time.
So, we set out to make the experience easier and better than ever for The Timeshare Brokers customers.
If we fast-forward to today, this is what Kevin says on his website about his new site “Our website is easy-to-use”. Not something he was able to say before.
When you feel good about your website and brand, it comes through and gives business owners a confidence that transcends through to their customers.
We are proud to have been a part of making that happen for TTB and their customers.
But it took some work to get it to that point. We had to take several steps to get it all done, let me walk you through them
The first step was to revisit the brand.
Should I Redesign My Vacation Rental Logo?
Should I Change My Vacation Rental Brand?
These are a couple of questions many vacation rental professionals have had to ask themselves, just like Kevin and Michael did.
They’ve been operating for several years under the brand name The Timeshare Brokers. The name has established brand equity, and they didn’t want to lose that.
Something we have to consider when rebranding is the fact that Google considers the age of a domain name as a ranking factor in their search results.
After a few discussions about branding, we understood the goal would be not to create a new vacation rental brand or logo but to instead enhance the current look and feel with a “logo refresh”.
Let’s have a closer look at what we did with the logo and branding.
Align The Design
As you can see from the logo above the concept is there but the logo was a bit “all over the place”.
What we wanted to do here in the design is to make the logo design more cohesive, symmetrical and contained.
Your logo should have a “center” and everything else in the design including text and design elements should align with that center.
Easy To Absorb Design
As you can see there were some branding issues here with their old logo design.
It’s a bit difficult on the eyes. The logo has four focal points that keep you from easily absorbing their brand messaging.
Your eyes have to jump to 4 different places to read their branding.
You can see below their refreshed logo has 1 focal point and you can easily read the logo from top to bottom.
Designing A Logo With Meaning
We’ve also added an element to the design to incorporate a tropical, “vacation” feel.
This was especially important to do for their brand to help convey they do not just buy and sell timeshares but they also offer vacation rental properties. Using images in your logo can be very helpful to translate messages faster.
However, I do caution against using cartoony Style images. These types of images can cheapen the look of your brand.
Consider The Psychology Of Colors
Let’s talk about the color orange. As you can see from the old logo it was more of a yellowish color. Since we had a bit of free hand with colors, we made it orange. Why orange?
Did you know the color orange gives a sensation of heat?
This is appropriate for this brand since the majority of their vacation rental properties are located in sunny vacation spots.
In studies, the color orange is also associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics.
Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.
To the human eye, orange is a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat.
As I explained in my recent post 10 Inspiring Vacation Rental Brands blue is a color we associate with trust.
This is why we kept the color concept of blue in the logo design.
However, we did make a minor adjustment on the shade of blue.
When it comes to colors, the different shades of colors can convey a different meaning. We went for a darker blue a more Royal shade of blue which signifies stability.
Old Vacation Logo
New Logo Design
No matter if you’re designing a vacation rental website from scratch or redesigning a completely new one, you’ll have to think about your content.
Unfortunately, content is the least planned area of website design and marketing for vacation rental managers and owners.
We usually think about content when we realize – oh wow! I’m going to have to write or rewrite text for these website pages. It is an area owner and managers struggle with.
It’s also the main reason owners get delayed with their website launches. It’s also why we include copywriting services in our campaigns – it just makes it easier for our clients to expedite the process.
If you need help with your content get a writer on your team. I explained in an earlier post about vacation rental copywriting and why it’s centric to your marketing.
Inspire and Persuade
Fortunately, Kevin and Michael were able to pull together some great content.
They were on point with their content and what they wanted it to do.- sell! I want you to think of these two words, inspire and persuade.
This is what your content should do for your readers if your goal is to have your website do much of the selling for you.
I urge you to think about content and really consider the contents intent.
Is your current content intentionally inspiring and persuading potential guests?
Direct With Content
Your content should lead people to where people want to go and tell them what they want to know, as fast as possible.
With that in mind, we needed to combine the two sites and offer both services “under one roof” but where do you start in merging these two established companies together?
We began the process by going over the existing pages on both sites (Yay – the fun part – not really)
You don’t need fluff in your content. All of your content should be there for a purpose.
Our job was to decide what material is absolutely essential to give prospects enough information for them to be able to make a purchase decision.
Everything else went away or got consolidated into other pieces of content.
We also asked ourselves “what do we need to say and show prospects that aren’t there now in the presentation?”.
We had to ask ourselves “what are the key benefits and are we clearly conveying all of them within the content?”
I find the best way to be certain your benefits are being absorbed by visitors is to highlight the benefits using bullet points, much like Kevin and Michael did. Here is an example from their website.
Imagine it. You can…
Explore new cities and attractions.
Enjoy features like hot tubs, gourmet kitchens, and luxury linens.
Spread out in an entire condo or villa instead of living out of a cramped hotel room.
Take advantage of our amazing discounts.
Organize Content and Menus For Better Website Flow and Conversions
Once we compiled the content and key benefits we took the content of those pages and began to visualize how it would all work together in their presentation.
We ended up merging both websites into a total of 13 pages all within one website.
As you will see from the end result in the website design section, we used drop-down menus to organize the content on their website into menus which act much like categories for their content.
Why use drop downs? When working through the content of your vacation rental website you’ll want to think of the website’s flow.
In other words – where does each page lead the reader to? You should connect all related selling content to other relevant pages.
The goal is to lead potential guests and customers to take action. Is your content doing that?
By connecting your website pages to other related content within your site it helps website users to digest all of your content. It’s strategy called interlinking, and it’s a good SEO practice to put in action.
It’s a process for helping to make your website Pages more discoverable to search engines and people.
We sometimes use drop downs with sites that have a larger amount of pages.
I try to avoid drop downs when possible but they are necessary on some sites because they can help keep your top menu area from feeling cluttered and from burying information deeper into a website.
Drop down menus make it easier to navigate a website, especially if that website has a hefty amount of content.
By creating menus with dropdowns it organizing the content and creates a “website flow” for the different type of customers who’ll be interested in different things.
These menus help you to direct people to the content they’re looking for while improving your website click-throughs.
The drop down menu also makes it easier for people to navigate your website from any page.
Their old vacation rental website needed a complete makeover. There really wasn’t much we could salvage from that design.
This is great because we were able to start with a clean slate. For the new design, we went for a clean bright and fresh look. That’s why we chose the color white.
For this website, we wanted to have big bright images of fantastic-looking destinations as the first thing you see.
We’re going to let much of the colors come from those pictures so it was important for our presentation that we get pictures that pop.
This took a few rounds of finding the best photos. At the end of the day, you want those photos in the banner to be brilliant, not stretched or distorted as it takes away from the perceived quality of your vacation rental.
Since I discuss many of the website and development details in each of the categories I am going to go straight into revealing the vacation rental website redesign – have a look!
New Cleaner Vacation Rental Website
On their old vacation rental website, they didn’t have a blog.
Having a blog today is a fundamental tool needed for a vacation rental owner, manager or travel agent to become independent from third-party services and vacation rental listing sites.
Your blog is more than just a place to talk about stuff. Your blog is a place where you can communicate with existing and potential guest. Your blog is a place you can invest in yourself.
For every piece of content, you create, you’re investing in your own business’s marketing.
Not like listing sites where your money expires. Blogging gives you more of a return on your marketing investment.
There are many different ways companies can leverage a Blog. One of the biggest motivators for installing a blog on The Timeshare Brokers website was to increase website traffic.
Using your blog with social media and content marketing strategy you can grow traffic.
You can bring qualified travelers to your website and that is exactly what we planned to do. As they move into marketing their website blogging will help them get found by more travelers.
Funny thing – within just weeks of the website launch daily leads were being generated from the site – without publishing a single blog yet. How did that happen? I explain that further in an upcoming section of this case study. Keep reading to see what happened.
Another example of the benefits of blogging is its ability to help you build your brand’s identity.
If your blog post is your voice, then your blog pages might just be your face? Let’s talk about brand identity.
Blogging & Brand Identity
We wanted to create more than just a standard blog that doesn’t look like everyone else’s.
I think the custom blog really helps to differentiate your brand from others.
Especially for those vacation rental owners and managers who are embracing a content marketing strategy.
We’re learning a lot about brands and how brands are shaped and that the perception of our brand is often formed through the details of your presentation.
Your brand’s voice is unique and that’s why I think your blog should be too.
That doesn’t mean you have to do anything overly expensive just something that differentiates your blog from others.
What we did for The Timeshare Brokers website was to include an Interactive slide show at the top of the blog to help engage users even more with their content.
The slide show also works on mobile devices. But I encourage you to personalize your blog to make it reflect not the brand you are but the brand you want to be known as.
When designing a vacation rental website we need to consider the user’s experience on mobile devices.
It’s not enough for a website just to be mobile-friendly.
A website needs to be built for conversions on mobile devices, not just desktops.
That’s why we’ve included an inquiry form front and center on the mobile site like you can see below.
I’ve seen many websites that have a mobile view but they are not built for converting mobile visitors.
Remember – You always want to make it as simple as possible for guests to contact you. Now go and check your mobile websites.
You’ve heard the saying before – presentation is everything! True presentations create perceptions in the mind of your consumers.
Psychology Studies have shown that people make judgments and form opinions within 7 seconds. That’s why your first impression is important.
You want them to perceive you as being a high-class, high value, honest, and quality company, right? Well, you have to portray that image.
You cannot simply say you offer a quality product. Everything about your presentation needs to say that for you!
There are many elements that come together in a presentation like photographs and other visual content. Just remember this is your presentation, make it stellar – every part of it!
Search engine optimization is the process of making your vacation rental website more visible and discoverable on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
SEO has to do a lot with the content of your website and even your blog.
I hope you can begin to see how all of these steps work together to create the perfect property presentation.
As I mentioned earlier in the blog section we hadn’t started blogging just yet. Even so, The Timeshare Brokers began to receive daily inquiries through their website after the launch.
Why did that happen? Mainly because they have content, a good amount of it.
What we did for the timeshare brokers was optimize the primary pages of the website.
Those are the pages we discussed earlier in the menu category.
We optimized those pages for a broader set of keywords related to vacation rentals, timeshares and accommodation types.
We then optimized 68 pages of specific property listings on their website.
Since each of these properties are located in different resorts, we were able to expand our market reach very quickly by distributing these pages that were now optimized with niche keywords targeting specific resorts.
When you launch a website the more content you have for that launch the more visibility that website will have initially. So, part of launching a website may very well have to do with developing property inventory and creating content to publish as part of the launch.
With each page, you post it’s another opportunity for your website to get found and each page you publish should be optimized.
In 2016 video is no longer the up-and-coming thing for marketing. If you’re not using video as part of your vacation rental marketing strategy then you really aren’t doing much. Everyone should have a video by now.
But since we were only going to create one video and we had nearly 75 properties how would we do it. We decided the best route would be to create one Sizzle reel. One video with the hottest properties on there.
Having a video on the homepage of your website will keep visitors on your website longer, increase engagement, improve click-throughs and drive up sales.
If you notice in the video The Branding is consistent throughout with the same colors of the logo and the website.
The logo and the branding are consistent and in your face which is great for your marketing and brand recall.
With a video like this, you can get travelers excited and encourage them to inquire and ask you more. Check out the video we did for them.
Since Kevin and Michael couldn’t very easily go out to all of these properties and shoot videos of each of these we created a video from photographs.
If you do not have video footage, create a video of your vacation rental and attractions from photographs.
It’s important to have a video so it can be used for video marketing which is a great opportunity for vacation rental owners and managers to get their businesses and properties found online.
YouTube is a great place to leverage but it’s not the only place. If you’re not working on videos and video marketing it’s an area with opportunities for you
So – have you learned anything from this post? Your comments and interaction is the biggest way to say thank you! If it’s helped you or you’ve enjoyed it please comment and share it.
Thank you to The Timeshare Brokers for the inspiration. If you need a vacation be sure to check them out and their new website.
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