Prepare Now for the Season of Pre-Holiday Sales

Prepare Now for the Season of Pre-Holiday Sales

Tips for Gaming Holiday Marketing Campaigns

We are well trained now to shop during times as set by the retail industry. Even I have been known to shop online in the middle of the night to take average age of s specific offer. Or to hunt the best price for an item I needed (or I actually just really wanted).

While the holidays may seem to be in the distant future to you, the time is now for vacation rental managers (VRM’s) to make decisions and prepare your marketing campaigns. Consumers now expect low-priced deals, full-service packages, or exclusive offers.  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, flash sales, are all based on time-sensitive buying during limited hours or days. The VRM’s that are the most successful at managing these sales were ready for it, then dedicated energy to pushing the promotions and monitoring the bookings during the heat of the sale.

Pre-Game – Start Now!

Agree on what the offers will be. What is the goal? Who will you target? Do you want to fill shoulder seasons or give people a jump on booking early for your high season?  How can you get your message out that will motivate your audience in the fewest amount of words? Simple is best.

  • "% OFF" Works

    It’s easily read and understood in all languages.

  • "Stay 5 Nights Get the 6th Night Free"

    Sometimes your offer requires more wording to explain:  When you book 5 nights, you can stay for the 6th night at no charge.  Cut it down for quick viewer recognition.

  • "Add 1 day for $$ or % OFF"

    Extend your weekend, extend your vacation verbiage to attract longer stays.

  • “FREE Bicycle Rentals with Your Booking”

    Not all deals need to be a discount. Increase the value of the purchase by using add-ons.

  • Promote Your Unique Offerings

    Consider what you provide that your competitor does not and promote that.

  • "Limited Time Offer"

    Create a sense of urgency in your message around the limited time offer

  • Offer Qualifiers

    Define who would qualify for the offer if you want to make it seem exclusive to the viewer.  Is the offer limited to guests who meet a certain criterion or is it specific to property types or condo complexes, or one location?

Set the Rules – Dates & Disclaimers

Your reservationists should be included on these decisions as well. Decide the start and end dates you plan to run each promotion. Determine the range of the Stay Dates for your offer beforehand and be sure that info is included in your messaging: Offer Valid for stays from MM-DD-YYYY through MM-DD-YYYY only. Reservations must be made on or before MM-DD-YYYY. Existing reservations not included. (You get the gist.)

Choose Your Players, Your Marketing Channels

Pick your players

This is another reason why you must start early. Each channel has its own requirements for things like total # of characters, image sizes, dynamic messaging, dynamic imaging, frequency and of course, cost. You WILL want to use multiple channels to get your message out but be clear which channels you will be using.

Define your audience – will you reach your past guests only, people from a certain region, or perhaps the offer is only for specific complexes.
Reference your Google Analytics to find which channels bring you the most engagement.
Determine which has brought in conversions and revenue.
Ease of use and flexibility of those channels matters also, more on that in a bit.


Get a pre-approved budget then determine how you want to disperse it to each channel. Depending on how far you want to take it, allocate an appropriate amount of staffing time for implementation, execution and follow-up.

Set it up in your PMS

Why worry about this part so soon?  You need to verify it works before the sale begins.  Enter the promo code, reservations process and validate the pricing with a test reservation. Review the process with your reservationist as well, discuss the questions they may be asked. Things move fast on a Cyber Monday sale; you don’t want any glitches in your booking software or for those taking phone reservations.

Setting Up Your Integrated Campaigns

Visually compelling calls to action – You now know what your message will be, find some images that best represent your service or product offer, or a picture the season you are promoting.  Finalize the creative for each participating channel. Remember your ad needs to stand out amongst the noise of every other VRM, retailer, and business vying for attention during the sales.

  • Outstanding Image: your best home or condo, amazing view that says, I want to be there!
  • Carousel Ads: Interactive ads attract action and catch the viewers eye
  • Video Ads: Skier / Snowboarders, beach waves, etc. that says, I want to do that!
  • Kids: Images of children still attract attention and helps to portray the message of ‘family’ or ‘togetherness’

Landing Pages – Campaigns need to include a link to an existing page for people to land on, but let’s make this an even better experience directed specifically to your potential buyer. Create a custom landing page which contains the message of your offer, the graphics, Book Now buttons, etc. This page is on your website with full navigation, you just won’t link to it from any other page within the site. When the promotion is over, it’s easy to modify your message that the deal is over, include a link to your vacation rentals page.

Track It – You will need to demonstrate the success of each campaign; which sent the most visitors, which had the highest conversions, total number of bookings, assisted conversions, etc. Use a tool such as Google’s Campaign URL Builder that will create the tracking URL for you, then you use that URL in your ads and social posts for this campaign.

Game On

More Marketing Strategies for Your Roll-Out

  • Pre-Gaming

    For the roll out, teaser ads are great way to start letting people know you intend to participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday for instance. Send an eblast announcing they are the first to be notified (exclusivity sells) of what’s to come.  Don’t give away the offer, just tell them it’s coming, build up their anticipating. Then do the same on your social channels:  Watch for Our Black Friday Deals.

  • The Big Reveal

    Eblast, PPC Ads, Facebook Ads, all channels announce the special offer at the same time and link to your landing page.  Reservationists standing by, chat or messaging systems in place.

    The Big Reveal

  • Count It Down

    Whether your deal is available for a week, a few days or just one day, you can message it with; only 4 days left, only 1 day left, and then only 6 hours left.  You can pre-schedule your Eblast, PPC’s and FB Ads for that. Admittedly, some channels are easier to use and more flexible for this. Integrate all your channels but maybe only do the countdown for one channel, whatever you can handle in this fast pace.

  • Recruit Your Fans

    Owners need this also for properties, get them involved.  Let them know ahead of time that you are participating in these sales. Encourage them to interact with your social channels, spread the word, and provide testimonials about you as a property manager.

    Recruit Your Fans

  • Get a Little Geeky

    Monitor and maneuver your integrated campaign.  Whatever is getting the most conversion or transactions may need a higher budget or other channels manipulated to match the message for a higher lift.

Remember to monitor your email contacts. List fatigue can rise during flash sales so look for an increase in opt-outs or spam reports. The countdowns should go to your most engaged list only. After a few Eblasts have been sent, you may only send it to those who opened the last email.


Check your analytics. Compare with your PMS data, analyze your results. Review the stats for each of the campaigns based on the Campaigns URL. This is also where the custom landing page is helpful, to show how went straight to that page.  Be sure to take notes for next year. Celebrate the win with your Team. Create a blog post telling people it was a success – look for more offers on the Specials Page.

Remember we are not talking about your regular holiday ads or special events that you promote over a longer period of time. This is a hyper competitive flash sale environment. You are out there competing with every other local Small Business Saturday or national brand.  Step up your campaign ideas on the board, have some fun, out maneuver your competition, and dig-in to see if you can beat out last year’s sales for that same period.  Get the entire staff involved in the competition.

Winning at the Pre Holiday Sales