Marketing and running a vacation rental can be very easy- if you know a few tricks of the trade.

One of the biggest tools in the arsenal of a vacation rental owner is the commonplace Gmail account. Shocked? Most people are.

Google, who owns Gmail, has created a lot of free tools to make your life easier. You’ve probably used Google for searching for things. But, did you know they own YouTube? And, since YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, behind Google, they own the top 2 search engines- worldwide.

You need a Gmail Account to unlock all the goodies that Google offers.

To post free videos about your place, you’ll want a YouTube account. Don’t worry, these don’t have to be fancy, but you do want to make use of the description and the keyword phrases. People can find your videos and you don’t have to spend a penny.

Perhaps my favorite is Google Photos. Not only does It back up and store all your photos and videos, it creates collages and movies on its own. Don’t like the movies they come up with? Choose your own photos and create your own. It’s super simple and very effective, and you can post on Facebook and YouTube.

Once you start getting inquiries, you’ll yourself answering some variation of the same few questions. You can put them in a FAQ section of your website, but because people don’t read every world, you can save them in Google Docs. Craft an excellent response, then just copy and paste into your reply to a future guest. Updating is easy- it saves the work for you, so you never lose anything.

And, while having a isn’t the most professional email, you can have up to 5 other emails per account that run in and out of your single Gmail account. My [email protected] email address comes through Gmail.

Within Gmail you can set up a signature line. Depending on my email address, it will say,

Warmest Regards,

Beth Carson

Starfish Blue, Fiji Vacation Rental, Owner

Vacation Rental Travels Magazine, Editor

See how the words are clickable, but it doesn’t say, “http://www…”  ? That’s something you can set up in Gmail. It’s a one and done- the kind of things that make me happy.

HomeAway, FlipKey, and Airbnb are all ranking owners on response time. The owners who answer within a few days and have a 80% response rate are now at the bottom of the heap. Not only is it good business to respond quickly, as it makes the process so much easier for travelers, it will affect your ranking. How can Gmail help with that? Well, consider them your secretary.

You can respond instantly when you set up an “out of office” reply, telling potential guests you’ll answer them personally very shortly, but in the meantime, that your calendar is up to date, and what their next step should be- maybe check out 3 dive sites, look at a certain website for great airfare? This, you can set up for free.

The last one we’ll discuss is Google AdWords. To open an account, you’ll need a Gmail account, and likely they will ask you to input a credit card- but don’t worry,  you don’t have to use it.

I do research in Google AdWords about things people are searching for. This informs how I’ll write a blog post or a page on my website. The research is really fun, too, and you don’t have to pay a dime.