Short Term Rentals: A New Marketing Channel

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At its core, ApartmentJet is a marketing platform.

That means we don’t necessarily think of short term rentals as a new type of business model. Instead, we think of them as a new type of marketing channel.

This is an important distinction, because it can affect your short term rental strategy and how you measure success.

Multifamily housing has a number of traditional marketing channels: the listing sites like Apartments.com, the infamous anomaly known as Craigslist, and newer players like Zillow and Zumper. They all serve active apartment shoppers, and their cost models are fairly predictable.

But there’s a new kid on the block, an upstart unlike the others, brimming with a younger demographic and untapped marketing potential. That new kid on the block is — yes, you already know the answer so don’t be afraid — AirBnB.

Short term sites like AirBnB serve millions of traditional vacationers and corporate travelers, but they’re also frequented by a much more selective type of guest, the tricky-to-categorize “millennial” traveler. Data suggests millennials are a migrant group. They’re uninterested in settling into one place for too long. They crave diverse experiences, and as a result they want to keep leases short to increase their exposure to new opportunities. They may be less likely to sign a twelve month lease, but they will stay for a weekend or extended stay, and they’ll be motivated to write glowing social reviews after a great experience.*

Of course, regardless of which category they fall into, people who visit for a weekend may not be looking for a new home today. That’s okay. Almost everyone is likely to seek a new home at some point in the future. So let’s call them passive apartment shoppers.

The passive apartment shopper is difficult to reach. The return on marketing spend is not always apparent, and brand awareness campaigns can be tricky to measure.

Short term rentals offer a solution, because they allow you to tap into this off-cycle demographic in new ways. Guests will find you on AirBnB, stay at your community, and be introduced to your brand.  They’ll experience firsthand the personality and amenities you offer. Onsite staff can provide local knowledge and market to guests directly using some of these clever ideas.

Your marketing teams will benefit from constant brand feedback (via short term stay reviews), a new pool of long term leads, and a potentially huge source of referrals.

If that’s not enough, short term rentals generate immediate revenue with minimal cost. As vacancies increase, properties need creative ways to maximize operating income. A vacancy monetization strategy that also includes back-filling gaps between long term leases with short term rentals can help improve cap rates and property values. It can also keep onsite staff engaged and excited by the prospect of improved NOI.

With revenue in mind, we created event based pricing tools to optimize your return from this new channel at times of peak demand.

Here’s an example. One of our existing client communities sits near a college campus, where demand for weekend accommodations is high during football season.  Using our event based pricing tools, the property booked guests months in advance of football weekends, at nightly rates as high or higher than average monthly rents.  Each passive apartment shopper who stays at the property for a football weekend may choose to sign a lease in the future, or may be a parent of a student who will sign a lease in the future, or may refer a friend who signs a lease in the future.

Leads, referrals, and optimized revenue. It’s like marketer’s dream.

So consider viewing short term rentals the way we do: as a marketing channel. Don’t rely exclusively on the static nature of traditional listing sites. And don’t sit on a vacant unit. Put it to work.  Furnish it. Market it with ApartmentJet. Reach passive apartment shoppers, build a pipeline of leads and referrals, use event based pricing tools to capitalize on any influx of short term demand to supplement your long term lease revenue and backfill empty units.

Most importantly, take advantage of this unique channel to introduce your communities and brand to a new and younger demographic. Contact us for an ApartmentJet demo today!

* We didn’t make up that stuff about millenials. We’re paraphrasing some of the research in Leigh Gallager’s book, The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions…and Created Plenty of Controversy.

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ApartmentJet

ApartmentJet is a web-based platform to help multifamily property owners and management companies take advantage of the growing market for short-term rentals.

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