Agency Management Vacation Rental Marketing I’m super excited because as I write this, it’s only 10 days till I fly to Dallas for the first ever Podcast Movement Conference. This looks to be an amazing event showcasing some of the top experts in podcasting with keynote presentations, topic specific sessions and a range of panels featuring podcasters who are making a difference in this medium……myself included. I will be speaking on the Social Media panel and will be sharing some great information on how to promote a podcast via different social media platforms. Since the start of this year, I’ve been publishing a new episode of The Vacation Rental Success podcast every Wednesday and have interviewed most of the leading experts in the VR industry including Antonio Bortolotti (Vacation Rental World Summit), Alan Egan (Google Plus), Tyann Marcinck (Photography), Beth Carson (Author) and Matt Landau (Vacation Rental Marketing Blog), and many more. Collectively there have been just under 20,000 downloads of the show with each episode getting around 500 – 700 downloads. (as of the posting of this article) Why Podcast? If you’ve been a reader of my blog for any length of time, you will have noticed I’ve moved towards podcasting in favour of blog posts. Although I still post regularly and will shortly be including transcriptions of the podcast, this is the medium I really enjoy working with. I guess it’s because I listen to a lot of podcast shows myself, when driving, gardening, running and working out, and walking the dog, and I learn so much from them. Podcasting has changed so much in the past few years. The days of tinny-sounding recordings have been replaced with high quality radio-like audio and the range of topics is outstanding. There is now a podcast on just about every subject you can think of, but the one category that is grossly underserviced by the podcasting industry is travel. This means the opportunity to get into your prospects ears are huge, and with some creativity, an individual owner or property management company can capture the market as the local expert in their area. Voice in the ears is better than eyes on the page For years vacation rental experts and gurus have been encouraging you to write a blog that showcases your local knowledge, suggesting you post on things to do, places to go and activities in your area. I’m not saying you should stop doing this – the blog remains a value added feature on your website that encourages site visitors to stick around and find out more. However, the podcast medium opens up your reach to a whole new audience – the vast group of audio listeners. Think about it. How often do you come across a blog post, maybe bookmark it to come back to later, and then it disappears in the mass of other ‘interesting stuff to read when I have the time’? Deciding to subscribe to a podcast has a different methodology which is more focused. Someone finds a show they want to listen to, downloads some episodes, and then when they get into the car, strap on the backpack or set off for a run, they will deliberately choose one to listen to. If it’s good and holds the attention, they will listen to more, and perhaps subscribe to the show so that each episode is downloaded automatically as soon as it’s published. It’s an intimate relationship with the listener too, which can create deeper engagement. You are in their ears for 15, 30, 45 minutes or even more, talking directly to them. A podcast listener gets to know you well from the first episode, whereas it can take a long time to connect to a reader of a blog post. What is driving the growth of podcasting? An interesting article in Forbes in 2013 explores the growth of the medium and why the author feels that “maybe—just maybe—the medium may be on the cusp of finally reaching its potential”. “According to Rob Walch, Vice President of Podcast Relations at podcast hosting company Libsyn, the biggest reason for the growth of podcast consumption is today’s smartphones. And it’s those apps, the easy to use software on mobile phones, combined with instant streaming, that’s really made a difference.” I understand this totally. I spend 10 minutes every few days on my iPad checking out new shows and episodes from the ones I listen to most. I can upload, delete, change settings etc, and any changes immediately sync to my iPhone so if I start listening on one device, I can continue where I left off on the other. When I get in my car I just say “Bluetooth Audio” and it connects to the iPhone and my chosen podcast for the journey and away we go. We’ve come a long way from tinny MP3 recordings. Allen Pike reports in The Rise and Fall of Podcasting (another 2013 post) that Edison Research measured a 65% increase in the number of monthly American podcast listeners between 2010 and 2012 and says “That is some spectalur growth for a format that isn’t the Next Big Thing” And those figures just go to 2012. Given the massive growth in shows being published on iTunes, the development of new apps and new players in the hosting market such as Soundcloud, it feels like this train is just gaining momentum. The Vacation Rental Business and Podcasting How can we get on this bandwagon? To start with, the travel industry is grossly underserviced by the podcasting industry, which is good for us as there are huge opportunities to climb on board and create a highly successful show. The first thing is to set aside the core business – that of renting out our properties – and turn to the task of becoming the local expert; sharing the knowledge of the region or locale, and becoming the go-to place for vacation planning or dreaming. Where better to go than to someone who is already doing this as Bruce Fisher does on the Hawaii-Aloha podcast. This is how describes it on his web site: Each episode is 12 – 30 minutes in length and generally addresses one topic. A few examples: My Favourite Quaint Little Towns on Maui Walking Paths on Oahu Winter Weather in Hawaii Accompanied by a colourful website that complements the podcast, Bruce creates show notes that include images and text. So, an episode called “Must Do on Molokai and Lanai” has a post that says this: ”Lanai and Molokai, the two lesser-known islands off the coast of Maui. While they are the least visited of the islands in Hawaii (that are publicly accessible), Lanai and Molokai both offer an incredible experience that is hard to match elsewhere. So today we’re giving you our top picks for the must-do’s of Lanai and Molokai, should you ever decide to travel there.” It’s easy to get an idea of what you could podcast about, and understand how a show like this could become a ‘must listen’ for anyone contemplating a visit. Now, stop a moment and brainstorm 20 topics you could talk about for 15 minutes or so. I’d like to bet that was an easy task. If so, you are well on your way to creating your own podcast show. Part Two of this series will explain how to start a podcast, the equipment you will need, the cost involved (minimal), and where to find the best tutorials and training sessions. Stay tuned and you’ll be up and running in no time!