Starting Out

How To Write A Listing That Converts Part 1

Do you know how much time the average vacation rental owner spends on creating their listing?

Less than an hour.

Wow, you might say – that’s great. I don’t need to expend much time or energy in getting my listing up and then the bookings will just flood in. It would be great if that were the case but with the amount of owners and rental agencies posting new listings every day, it’s important to invest your time in creating a great listing that SELLS, rather than a mediocre one that looks just like the rest. Because the more attention you pay on creating a listing that SELLS, the more likely you are to attract the serious buyers.

Why the emphasis on SELLS? The reason is because that is what you are doing. Selling a product (a period of time in your vacation home) to the customer (your prospective guests) and like any other transaction that happens between a seller and a buyer, there is some marketing that comes before it. If that marketing is bland and boring, the sale is unlikely to happen. It’s the same with your listing.

Know Your Market

Who are your customers? The most successful businesses know who is going to buy their products. They know their age; their family background; their likes and dislikes, and they find these things out by doing surveys and asking questions. You probably don’t have that luxury but you probably have a good idea if your target guests are:

  • Families with small children
  • Active couples
  • Pet owners
  • RetireesYou’ll probably have a mix of all of them but your listing needs to focus on the one demographic that is going to bring you the most bookings because that is who you are going to target with your text. Don’t forget you can always change your listing to attract different groups at different times of the year – for example in the spring you may be looking for family groups to book for the summer, but once you are full for the season, you could begin marketing to an older demographic who don’t have children, and are looking for a different experience. Most people who advertise their properties never change their listing to attract different types of people, so you will be way ahead of your competition by doing this.

The Hook

The first few lines of the first paragraph are the ones that will appear when someone does a search on your area and you have minimal opportunity to

capture the attention so use the space wisely. This is the hook that is going to catch your prospective guests interest. Let’s say you want to appeal to families with sub-teen and teen children. Write down what you think will interest them. Maybe it would be stand-up paddleboards, fishing off the dock or best of all….high speed internet. Then create a two line power-hook that incorporates them all.

How much better does this sound………

Keep kids happy with unlimited WiFi, paddleboards and kayaks, great swimming, and a PS3!

Than this……?

Our 3 bed/2 bath cottage on Bill’s Lake will make your vacation completely enjoyable and fun.

The first appeals to everyone in the group. Mom wants the kids to have something to occupy them, and the kids will be falling over themselves to get this one booked.

The second example is mostly a waste of this valuable space because it doesn’t say WHY you should book. There is the hint there may be something there that would offer some additional enjoyment but not enough to get anyone to click through and find out.

This strategy comes into it’s own when your place is fully booked for the high season and you want to market your low season period. At this time there are hundreds of listings chasing a much smaller market so to increase your occupancy you need to be more creative and strategic.

For example, if you have a pet-friendly property, use this as a marketing tactic and target pet owners who might be looking for a fall getaway. Show how welcoming you are to the 4-legged guests and why they should choose your place.

Which is better?

Pets! – bring your owners to the cottage this fall. Enjoy a comfy bed, a basket of dog toys, some home-made treats and some great local walks.


This two storey, pet friendly cottage with 100 feet of frontage on Mary Lake in Muskoka.

Give the attention to the hook and more people will click through to your full listing, which is where you have the opportunity to really sell your place. How to Write a Listing That Converts – Part 2 – shows you how to use persuasive language to help your guests decide your place is for them.

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Posted On

June 30, 2016


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