Captivating headlines and persuasively written property descriptions can spark the imagination, pique guest curiosity, and influence booking decisions. They also help potential guests get to know you and the experience they can expect by booking with you.
In short, listing descriptions matter. A lot.
So, what are the fundamentals of a killer vacation rental listing title and description?
Here are 6 “tricks of the trade” that’ll ensure your writing packs a punch and reels in customers from the very first line.
1. Focus on Unique Selling Points
Your unique selling points (USPs) are what separate you from the pack—the main reasons prospective guests should choose your listing instead of the one down the street.
Don’t cram as much detail as possible about every little thing. Instead, carefully choose the most attractive features that really make your rental stand out. No need to lose the important details like the number of beds/baths, whether you supply WiFi, and how many parking spots you have, but remember to give center-stage to those USPs.
The best way to do that is to see what you offer that your competition doesn’t. Do they have, for example, a brand new, upscale kitchen, like you do? Are there flat screen TVs in every bedroom? How about that heated pool with a cabana in the backyard? No? Well, then those are your USPs!
Now don’t forget to mention these USPs everywhere you can. Use them to:
- Craft captivating headlines
- Include them in the opening paragraphs of your description
- Make sure you have pictures of the USPs to go along with the listing
Make your USPs—the things that separate your place from the rest—the heart of your listing. This instantly gives people a unique reason to book with you!
2. Write to Your Audience
To appeal to your audience, you need to speak their language. Get inside their heads and understand what kind of features and amenities they really care about.
Does your vacation rental attract families with young kids? Describe how your sprawling backyard is ideal for games of hide-and-seek and family BBQs. Mention that your game room is perfect for keeping little ones busy when grown-ups want some downtime.
If younger couples and honeymooners are your typical guests, you’ll want to alter the mood and focus.
Describe “cozy nights around the fireside”, “lazy breakfasts in the gourmet kitchen”, and recommend that intimate little restaurant that’s just “a romantic stroll from your front door.”
The words you use and the features you mention should be specifically crafted around the wants and needs of your core demographic.
If you try to be everything for everyone, you'll end up being nothing for no one.
The result of this tailor-made approach? A far more focused, personal listing that speaks your customer’s language.
3. Paint a Picture
How do you make your property listing leap off the screen and inspire someone to book your place? By creating a rich and vivid image in their minds.
The first place to start is to replace tired adjectives like “spectacular” and “outstanding” with specific descriptions that people can actually imagine. Try as much as possible to bring your listing to life by engaging all five senses.
Let’s take a look at an example of a perfectly fine—but perfectly boring—description of a backyard garden:
“Our beautiful garden is a wonderful place to relax and has stunning views of the surrounding area.”
This is fine, but what does that “beautiful garden” actually feel like, sound like, smell like? This description doesn’t really conjure up any of those feelings, right?
How about we try something like this:
“As the sun’s final rays dip over the hills behind the lavender-scented garden, you sink into the webbed hammock and slowly sip a hot cup of jasmine tea.”
Not every single line of the listing needs to be overdone like this. But when you sprinkle your listing with a specific line or two that engage the senses, you’ll create a far more compelling reason for potential guests to book your place.
4. Keep it Honest
It’s tempting to include a “little white lie” to make your listing sound more appealing. For example, the terrace does have a view of the ocean if you strain your neck out far enough, but the listing said the terrace has a “jaw-dropping panoramic view.” Or the outdated kitchen is described as a “classic cooking space with age-worn countertops.”
By all means make your property sound as desirable as possible, just don’t sacrifice honesty in the process.
Guests will quickly realize if you’ve sugar-coated descriptions to make them sound more attractive and will likely feel deceived at best and angry at worst.
Make sure your claims are fair and deal in facts. In the long-term, it’s far better to sell the reality of what your place is like than it is to paper over the cracks. Your guests will appreciate your honesty, and you can avoid those nasty and damaging negative reviews.
5. Be Simple
In today’s world, we’re all used to information being delivered to us immediately and in easily digestible chunks. Short social media updates and snappy list-style blog posts have created a desire for condensed bursts of content.
So when it comes to writing your vacation rental listing, it’s worthwhile to be succinct. Keep sentences short and paragraphs snappy.
Break up text with subheadings and bulleted lists so people can scan and skip to the information they’re looking for.
From a visual perspective, try to include plenty of whitespace to make your listing appear light on the page.
A good rule of thumb is to break up blocks of text longer than 4 lines long.
Create the kind of pace and momentum that keeps the reader engaged to the very last line.
6. Set the Right Tone
It’s important to capture the right tone to engage with your customers. A formal, professional sounding tone might be good for certain industries, but in the vacation rental market, it can come off sounding a bit stuffy and not particularly friendly.
Remember that you’re not just trying to sell your property, you’re selling the experience of being at your place. You want them to think of rest and relaxation, not office cubicles and work emails.
Try to develop a rapport with potential guests by adopting a more conversational, natural tone that feels effortless and relaxed. Picture, for example, running into an old friend you haven’t seen for a while—how would you describe your place?
Finally, avoid stern rules that make guests feel unwelcome. For example, if you don’t want guests to bring their pets, don’t write “Absolutely no pets. No exceptions.” Instead, try something like, “Unfortunately, our place isn’t well-suited for furry friends, so no pets are allowed.”
By injecting your writing with warmth and personality, you’ll create a more intimate and engaging tone of voice that truly resonates.