Nailing your vacation rental photos is crucial, but let’s not forget about the text. Having a punchy, informative yet alluring listing description can be the diference between smashing the bookings and having a sad, lonely property that’s empty most of the year.
To make sure your property isn’t one of the lonely ones, here are seven key copywriting tips to help you write a winning vacation rental listing.
Your property headline is the first weapon you have in the fight to grab attention. Use it wisely — craft a headline that captures the essence of your property, and don’t forget to tweak it and test it to really discover what works.
For more tips on writing a catchy headline, see this post about naming your Airbnb listing.
A potential guest clicks on your listing. Score! Your awesome headline worked! But now your next task: keeping them interested.
Don’t waste your intro text on anything other than what’s most crucial to your listing. Cut to the chase, because a lot of people will stop reading before they make it a quarter of the way down the page. Mention your unique selling points early on — even if you summarise now and expand on them later — so you have a better chance of getting them into the reader’s head.
No-one is going to sit there are pore over every word of your listing like its a Nabokov novel. Make it easy to read, even by those who only want to scan it. This is particularly useful for those who are in the process of shortlisting properties and just want to get an initial overview.
Below is the very first paragraph of a listing description for a gorgeous loft in Georgia. But try reading it quickly:
The opening paragraph is filled with initials, long surnames, incomplete sentences, and dates. The historical significance is a unique selling point, but it’s near impossible to grasp just by scanning.
Similarly the second paragraph is a visual quagmire of quotation marks, full stops and haphazard punctuation. Every time the word “minutes” is shortened to “min.” it has a jarring effect on the eye of the reader because the stop marks cause a break mid-sentence. Simply writing “2 min walk to Dry Bridge flea market” would be a huge improvement visually.
On a related note, your text should be well spaced. Confronting readers with a huge block of text makes it both daunting to look at and harder to take in.
This example from HomeAway could benefit from hitting the ‘Enter’ key a few times:
The list of attractions could be made into an easily-scannable dot point list. The last three points (quite and safe, privileged area, ideal for families…) could all stand alone rather than being chunked with the rest of the text.
Key takeaway: Use spaces to break up your text into short paragraphs of 1-2 sentences each.
Adverbs are words like “really” and “very” that intensify or add to a description. They’re not all evil, but ironically they can actually serve to weaken your copy.
For example: “The flat is very conveniently located in the center of town.” Both “very” and “conveniently” are adverbs. “Very” is redundant and only dilutes the impact of the sentence. You could even argue that “conveniently” is unnecessary as well, since it’s a given that central locations are convenient. One snappy option could simply be: “Stay in the heart of town…”
Try removing the adverbs from a line of text. If the meaning is unchanged, you’re probably better off without them.
Don’t get lazy with your adjectives: instead, use them to paint a picture.
Rather than saying there’s a balcony with an “incredible view”, you could describe it. “Relax on the balcony with a glass of wine as the sunset melts over the blue Aegean sea.” A good description already takes the reader to the location in their mind and fills them with excitement about the experiences they’ll have there.
Here’s an example from an Airbnb listing in Virginia:
Adjectives like “great” and “amazing”, while useful, don’t paint much of a picture. Words like “rustic”, “minimalist”, “cosy” and “enchanted” paint a picture and have emotive pull.
Different audiences benefit from different tones, but in most cases you’ll benefit from coming across as friendly and personal. After all, this is one of things that sets vacation rentals apart from hotels.
Check out this example:
It may not be perfect copywriting, but we immediately get the sense that Zack is young, friendly and approachable. It’s in the tone, the language, and the text emoji at the end. Everything about it feels natural.
Of course you don’t have to use this tone. But using pronouns like “I” or “we” is more personal, while speaking directly to the reader with “you” connects them to the place and experience on offer. Try opting for these pronouns over impersonal or passive descriptions, and don’t be afraid to let a little personality shine through.
So there you have it: 7 key copywriting tips for making your vacation rental listing really shine. Do you have any to add? Let us know in the comments.