“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill.
Make no doubt about it, vacation rental owners are in the business of hospitality. You’re offering guests a homey place to create memorable experiences with their loved ones. But you’re also in a position of power to help others in need because of your hospitality services. Why not get into the spirit of helping others and host a campaign to give back? You’ll stand out to your guests and community as someone who cares. Giving back doesn’t have to be some grandiose affair with a fund thermometer. You can do something simple instead. The end goal should be to make a difference, no matter how small, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.
If you’re not sure where to start, these steps will help you host a campaign to give back:
Step 1: Choose your cause and goals
First, choose your cause. Think about your most common guest demographic. Your cause should resonate with them, as they’re the backbone of your business and campaign. Let them choose your cause on social media with a contest and provide an award! You can also choose a cause that resonates with you, especially if it’s close to your heart. Some ideas:
- Donating linens, food, or funds to animal shelters or wildlife centers.
- Raising funds for rainforests, environmental research, or planting trees.
- Donating food, toys, and goods or monetary donations to homeless shelters.
- Raising funds for cancer research programs and survivors.
- Offering a discounted stay at your vacation rental for violence survivors.
Once you’ve decided on your cause, you’ll need to decide on your goal. We all would like to save the rainforests, end global hunger, and employ everyone, but let’s get back to Earth. You need to create a SMART goal — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. An example: “I want to give 250 tie blankets to animal shelters in two months.”
Step 2: Develop your methods
Now that you have your cause and your goal, look into researching the best methods to reach your most common guest demographic. Do you have a good social media presence? You could run a raffle. How’s your website traffic? Showcase your campaigns on the home page. What about your e-mail list? Look at providing different incentives for those who donate certain amounts. You could also match what they donate and double it.
The other method you’ll need to consider is how you’re going to collect donations. If you’re collecting food, toys, or clothes, look at setting aside a large container with a slot in the vacation rental. For monetary donations, send people to a trackable link online. You could also set up a site for pledges for people who’d like to send checks or packages through the mail. You’re going to want to make it as easy as possible for people to donate and consider multiple methods!
Step 3: Create your messages
Your messages create a voice for your giving back campaign! What’s music without lyrics, right? The messages should capture their attention, interest, desire, and action. Look at implementing statistics, studies, testimonials, and stories. Your copywriter can help you develop what to say. Your messages must align with your target audience, your goal, and your medium. If you’re using email or ads, test a couple of messages at first to evaluate click rate conversions.
Draw them in with an emotion that incites action. Your messages need to tug at their heartstrings or ruffle their feathers. Always make your goal your priority and entice them to complete that goal. Would you like to spread awareness and request them to learn more? Make a pledge to send a package? Click a link to donate what they can? Once you have your messages, come up with a plan for when you’re going to send them via which methods.
Step 4: Collaborate with other businesses
If you’d like to provide different incentives for those that donate, talk to other businesses in the area if they have coupons or promotional items (AKA “swag”). Most businesses will love any opportunity to sponsor a campaign to give back and get the word out about their products and services too! Check with your vendors, investors, tourist offices, restaurants, and nearby shops to see if they’d be interested too. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call.
Reach out to your network on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn if they’d like to help spread the word out about your campaign. Ask neighbors in the area to share your campaign with their networks. Talk to local news publications, online magazines for your area, and bloggers about spreading awareness. If you’re attending any virtual conferences, mention your campaign with members too. We can accomplish much more together than alone!
Step 5: Champion your campaign
Now that you know your cause, your goal, your methods, your message, and your partners, you’re all set to start spinning the wheels of your campaign to give back! With some help and determination, you’re more than capable of achieving more than you think. Remember to pace yourself with a mixture of assertiveness and patience. You want to drive home the point, but you don’t want to scare anybody away with too many messages. Stick to your plan and meet little goals each week. A little each day goes a long way!
While vacation rentals may be a business, it’s also about providing good experiences for others in more ways than one. When you host a campaign to give back, guests and vendors will view you in a more positive light as a person, as a brand, and as a host. You’ll create and build more relationships with your inner and outer community than you never even thought possible. The holidays are the prime time to give back, but others will always be in need, no matter the time of year. Do what you can to make a difference because any donation helps.
What will your campaign be? Reach out to me if you’d like help building your brand!