If you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling to consistently create engaging content for your property on social media, then you are not alone! It can be challenging to come up with fresh ideas and maintain a consistent posting schedule, but there are strategies to make it easier and more effective.

Direct booking success to me means creating something that is mine through branding my own website and successfully being able to host guests through my own efforts. -Emily Lethgo

My special guest is Emily Lethgo.

In this episode, you will be able to:

Emily Lethgo, a marketing enthusiast and property owner, shares her journey of entering the world of short-term rentals through social media. With a background in business, Emily’s passion for branding and storytelling led her to successfully market her property, leveraging the power of content creation and community building. Her practical insights on using social media for property marketing and the benefits of personal branding in the hospitality industry provide valuable strategies for property owners seeking to enhance their online presence and drive direct bookings. Emily’s unique perspective and experience offer actionable tips for creating engaging content and utilizing hashtags effectively on Instagram, making her a trusted voice in the realm of direct booking success.

Connect with Emily:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emilylethgo/

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@emilylethgo

Website: https://www.hostwithemily.co/thecontentcollective

Use the code DBS to get the special $7 offer

The key moments in this episode are:

00:00:00 – Introduction and Getting Started in Hosting

00:03:45 – Building a Community and Collecting Emails

00:07:21 – Choosing Direct Bookings Over OTAs

00:09:53 – Importance of Content Creation and FOMO Marketing

00:13:57 – Leveraging User-Generated Content for Property Promotion

00:14:26 – Leveraging Social Media Content

00:15:11 – Building Interest and Consistency

00:16:47 – Tailoring Content for Different Platforms

00:21:12 – Maximizing Hashtags for Visibility

FREE GUIDE: 10 Ways to Drive Guests to your Website instead of Airbnb: https://directbookingsuccess.com/10-ways-to-drive-guests-to-your-website-instead-of-airbnb/

Show notes are available at: https://directbookingsuccess.com/podcast/

Follow Jenn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/directbookingsuccess

Join Jenn’s free Facebook group – the Marketing Hub For Hospitality: https://www.facebook.com/groups/marketinghubforhospitality


00:00:00 - Jenn Boyles

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Direct Booking Success Podcast. I'm your host, Jenn Boyles, and today I have Emily Lethgo with me. Hello, Emily.

00:00:12 - Emily Lethgo

Hi. Thank you so much for having me on.

00:00:15 - Jenn Boyles

Oh, I love having you here. This is going to be so great. You're so welcome. Let's start with how you got started hosting. Can you tell us the story?

00:00:25 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah, absolutely. So I got started hosting about a year and a half ago. My background is in marketing and business, and I never dreamed I would be in real estate investing, but it just kind of took a toll. Whenever my husband and I started having a family, I wanted to be a stay at home mom and I, but I still had these dreams to also have a business. And so I tried different business things and nothing really worked out. But what I realized I loved was the marketing side. I loved branding and creating a business and figuring out how to show other people what it was and tell the story of it. And so we actually live about 30 minutes away from the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and there's tons of cabins there. And so we found a property about a year and a half ago and thought about doing the short term rental side of things and getting into hospitality, and I immediately just knew, well, we have to share the story. We have to market it and share the social media side of things and really invite people in to see what we were doing, how we were going to renovate the property and allow them to get to stay there and book a stay one day. And so that's kind of how it unfolded. And then from there, once I was in that world, I was like, I love this. And I want to share and show other people how they can use their property and tell that story using social media and get those direct bookings and not have to only rely on the major online travel agencies.

00:02:07 - Jenn Boyles

Love it. Love it. You're speaking to the choir here, to the choir. Whatever this saying is, it's amazing. So when did you actually start sharing your journey on social media?

00:02:20 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah. So my dad and I, we were the ones that kind of partnered together, and we were looking at properties, and as soon as we closed on the property and it was officially ours, that's when I started sharing everything. But even before then, I was documenting because I just had a feeling like, this is going to work out. We're going to get this property. I had already picked out, you know, color schemes and furniture that we would fill this property with. And so that's something that I always tell people, too, like, make sure you're documenting everything for yourself and you never know, you might be able to share that in the future. And so whenever we closed, that's when I created the Instagram page and the Facebook page. We named the property. And I just slowly started sharing that renovation process. Because it was a full renovation, we had to pretty much gut the whole place and get new everything. So that made it really exciting to share that transformation for people and show those before and afters. And so I took people on that whole journey and let them know, hey, get on our email list if you want to be the first to know when it goes live. And just really telling that whole story,

00:03:31 - Jenn Boyles

I love that. Because I was just gonna ask you, so how did you get the booking started? So you're sharing the renovations, you're taking people through this journey. You're saying to them, hey, if you want your chance to stay here, get on our email list. Very smart. Very smart. And so when did you start taking bookings?

00:03:51 - Emily Lethgo

So let's see, we started this at the end of the year, last year. And I started collecting emails. Since I didn't have the direct booking site up quite yet, I was still trying to figure out our property management software. But I knew Airbnb or one of the major online travel agencies, that would be kind of an easier way just to get started. But I knew ultimately I wanted those direct bookings. I wanted to have my own brand. So I thought, I think this will be easier just to do it from the beginning instead of getting used to the online travel agency and having to figure all that out and kind of backpedal later. So I just immediately started from the get go. I collected emails using an email marketing platform. And simply the first incentive was just, if you want to be the first to know when we go live, just get on our email list. And then I incentivize people by saying, you will get a special discount, a 10% discount if you are on our email list. Make sure to join this email list. You have to, you know, be repetitive and tell people, make sure they know. And then as soon as the direct booking site was available for people that went blasted to that email list and they were ready, they understood what was happening. I had already built that, like, no interest through social media, through content and through email marketing.

00:05:15 - Jenn Boyles

Wonderful, wonderful. Very, very clever. And I know you have a background in marketing, so not everybody is going to think of these clever things to do, but I love that you were basically building a community from day one. A community that would want to come and stay with you so that when you launch the site, the site's open for bookings. There were people ready and wanting to book. It wasn't like you opened up that site hoping bookings were going to come in and there were just crickets, like they were bookings coming in. But can I ask you, why didn't you want to go the easy way? Why didn't you want to rely on the OTAs, the online travel agents from the beginning and then worry about the direct booking stuff later? Why did you want to start that from the beginning?

00:06:08 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah, well, so that actually goes back into my past business experiences and I've done, I've partnered with other companies and I've realized you're like, selling and trying to market for somebody else's vision. And so for me, the Airbnb thing and VRBO, all of them, it felt very similar. It felt like, yes, it might be an easier path initially just to get going, but ultimately you are singing their praises, you're getting, you're giving, you're building their business up and they are taking money out of your, you know, there's fees involved that sometimes people don't realize how much it ends up being. And so I just saw that from past business experience and past things that I know, I just felt like I want to do this on my own. I want to have my own website that I own. I don't want to trust and put all my efforts into somebody else's business. And what if something happens to that business and all my bookings are gone? I just quickly felt I wanted to have my own platform, my own brand that I can funnel people to and attract my own guests and do it my way, basically, and save those fees. I can make my bookings less money for my guests over here. I could save them money that way, have more control, communication, all of those things. So to answer that, I would say it's from my past business experience, knowing partnering with a company versus having your own business is just totally different, different things.

00:07:40 - Jenn Boyles

But you still have listings, don't you?

00:07:43 - Emily Lethgo

Yes. Yes. I stay on Airbnb and Vrbo, and then I primarily focus on all my marketing to drive traffic to the direct booking. But it's also like, why not be on those as well? You know, you can get bookings from them. But ideally, my goal would be to one day have 100% of my bookings, direct booking.

00:08:03 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, no, I think that's great. But also, on the other hand, no one's going to pat you on the back, you know, except for me, maybe me, I think I would be pretty happy if I heard, yeah, 100% book direct because you can do it and there's people out there that do it. But you know, being on the OTAs, they do give you some visibility and some credibility there, too with guests, rightly or wrongly. But it is true, we can't hide from that fact. But I love that you started from day one, even before day one. It sounds like building that brand for your business and getting people interested in it. And it really was social media that drove this for you, wasn't it?

00:08:45 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah. Yeah. And I'll say, too, I always like to share my Airbnb link as well, like right next to my direct booking so they can see the price comparison. But I think that it is important for them to have that credibility to see those reviews on Airbnb and to realize, okay, this is a real site and all of that, and then they can see our direct booking. So I definitely think there's that credibility piece there. And then for social media, it's just, I have fun with social media. I encourage other people, try not to let it stress you out. You can have fun with it. It's a creative outlet, especially all the videos that you can create through your property or even filming yourself or if guests are filming themselves, staying there or using the amenities, that type of thing. But that's been a huge piece of it just to show the property itself, because instead of just looking at professional photography, now people can see the inside and videos of every piece of it and they can actually picture themselves there.

00:09:48 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah. And so let's go back to the beginning here, because we're talking about content. So can you maybe explain what the word content means? What is content?

00:09:59 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah, so when I think of content, I think of short form videos. So, you know, anywhere from 5 seconds to 32nd little clips of your video that can be content. It can also be just, I think, like storytelling, telling the story of your property, of how maybe even how you got to your property, how you purchased it, or the history of the property. Our cabin actually used to be a wedding chapel. And so that was something that I shared with people. We wanted to find more information about it. But even just knowing that it was a wedding chapel was a really neat history piece to share. And then I also like to say that FOMO is the best promo. So if you can kind of create these visuals of people afraid of missing out, that can sometimes be the best marketing promotion because they want to stay there, they are excited and they feel like they're missing out. If they don't book with you.

00:10:58 - Jenn Boyles

I love that. FOMO is the best promo. Oh, my goodness. I might be stealing that.

00:11:03 - Emily Lethgo

Well, it's not. Not mine.

00:11:06 - Jenn Boyles

Oh, is it not? Okay, good.

00:11:06 - Emily Lethgo

No, I'm not sure where I heard that, but I heard that a long time ago and I'm like, that is so true. That's how I feel.

00:11:13 - Jenn Boyles

That is true. Yeah. That's really true. So content really is anything that you're creating. So videos, photographs, you're putting it on social media. The words that you use, content is creating. So what content should we be creating? Now, I hesitate to ask you that, because I think you're going to talk about video, aren't you? That's really where we should be focusing.

00:11:35 - Emily Lethgo

Yes. So I'll go a step further with that, though, from the video. I think what I'm seeing on my side of things and for clients, the best conversion that we're seeing is when you can see people in the videos. And I know that that can be tricky, but, like, for me, when I go to my property, for example, I can make sure that I'm filming me making some coffee or something like that, and you're seeing a person in the kitchen using that coffee pot. That is the best conversion. If you can't figure out a way to get a person in your property in that way, then you, then you definitely want to be using video. It's the best way to convert from social media to either an email list or to your direct booking site. And you know it. For obvious reasons. Just think about yourself and how you want to see a property. Like when you see videos and you see the living room in the kitchen and you can just feel yourself experiencing it better than just a graphic.

00:12:39 - Jenn Boyles

And I guess we're not looking for models. You know, we don't need models in the videos, I would think it's real people we want to see, isn't it?

00:12:47 - Emily Lethgo

Yes, exactly. A lot of times when I go and create content for properties, I'll even bring my kids and just have them, I'm capturing even, not even their faces, just them running in that direction of that property or that view. That alone is. It speaks volumes because then that viewer on social media thinks, oh, my goodness, I could bring my kids to that location and stay there for vacation. So it's really, it doesn't matter about that. In fact, you want just real people looking, you know, in your property to showcase that feeling of, I want to stay there, too. I want to be in that area.

00:13:26 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, yeah. No, I love that I've got a client in Newfoundland, Canada, and they've done the same sort of thing. They're bringing their family together, family and friends, and bringing them together to show that their house can be used for a larger group. And this is why social media is so amazing, because we can play around with all those different things, can't we? It's not a listing. It's not. They don't have to be these clean, you know, almost clinical images where we can bring in that human aspect, don't they?

00:13:57 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah. And there's a lot of creators now on social media that you can hire them for user generated content, and that just means that they would come to your property and people have different prices. Some people would just do it for a free stay so you can kind of find the right fit for you. But they are creators. They're used to doing this, and they will create content of them in your property, featuring your property. It's different from the influencer route of them just sharing it to their audience. They're creating content for you to be able to use on your social media platforms. So that's also a good option. If you're not local to your property or you just want to have maybe a family that fits your avatar, you can find that.

00:14:40 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, I like that idea. If it's just not your thing, if you're just like, oh, I wouldn't even know how to start doing that, you know, to know that there's people out there that can help. So we're talking about video. We're talking about putting people into video. What else is it that is going to convert sort of followers into booked guests?

00:15:01 - Emily Lethgo

It's really just building that, like no interest factor. And so for that, you can do the videos and it's really just being consistent on social media and showing. When people click on, if they find you on Google and they go to your social media, it's not as if you've not posted in six months. It's active, it's there, it's your storefront, essentially. And so I would say just consistency. And that looks different for everybody. For me, even for my property, there's times where I'm posting every day and then there's times where I'm posting once a week, but I'm always just trying to post consistently enough. And so I recommend just finding what that looks like for you. Can you commit to two posts a week, then just try to stick to that consistency?

00:15:47 - Jenn Boyles

Much better than having a burst, burst of energy. But it's hard being consistent is probably the hardest part. Coming up with ideas and what to post. People are. I think they think that that's hard, but once they've cracked that, then it's like, oh, my goodness, it's being consistent.

00:16:04 - Emily Lethgo

Yep. And I love to batch create. And so that just means you could sit down for an hour or two each month and really think about what you want your content to look like for that month and start writing out ideas. You can film and just go ahead and create everything and schedule it into a scheduling tool. And that has helped tremendously for those of us that do feel overwhelmed or are busy doing it, you can just set aside an hour or two each month and just knock it all out at once.

00:16:36 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, no, that is a really good, really good tip. Okay, so we're talking about Instagram mainly here, but what about the other platforms? Should we be doing different content? Like, can I post the same thing across all the platforms, or should I be doing different things on different platforms?

00:16:53 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah. So for beginners and for people that are just stepping into this social media side, I do recommend cross posting. And that just means you can post on Instagram and have it post to TikTok and Facebook and just, it's all the same content. For those of us that might want to take it a little further, platforms do kind of like and prefer different types of content do better on different platforms. So, for example, Facebook is going to be a lot more personal. I've met so many people that you never even knew they had a property. And I always tell them, like, people on your Facebook list would love to book your property just by knowing you. They feel like it's safe because they know you and they want to support you, or they feel like, well, maybe it might be a better deal that way, and maybe you can offer them some sort of friends and family discount if you want to. But I always tell people, like, on Facebook, like, have that in your bio, at least at the bare minimum, because people will see that and they will share that with other people in that area. And so it's definitely more personal than Facebook. You. You want to stay in that personal touch area. And so I like to share about the process. Like, when we were having our cabin on Facebook, I shared about the renovation and just more in that way of Emily sharing to her friends and family from that voice. And so your content can, even your captions can be a little bit different, and it's more of that what you would share on Facebook. Think about your personal Facebook page, and then Instagram can be a little bit more, it's still personal, but it's more of you speaking to a mass, a mass group of people. And so you can speak in a different tone in your captions and things and then your videos, it's kind of just behind the scenes. What we're seeing with social media is people are craving authenticity right now, especially more than ever. And so you think you have to have your makeup done and everything, but actually, people want to see the real, raw you and feel like they can relate to you. So try to take that pressure off of yourself and just show up as your most genuine self, and that will connect people more to you and to want to stay with you at your property. And then TikTok, I always tell people, like, your, your Instagram, your feed is one thing, that's where, that's your main, like, when people see your instagram, that's everything that they can see without tapping into the stories and that feed. I like to keep all about your property, all about the location, very consistent. It doesn't have to be cohesive, but just consistently about your property. And when somebody clicks on it, they're going to see what it's about and why, why should they follow? What kind of education are you giving them about the location? Or what kind of design does your property have that you have something special about your property and just make sure that that's seen pretty quickly on your feed and then your stories is where you can share more about yourself or what, you know, just the behind the scenes and be more chaotic in there. And your stories are kind of what you should be posting on TikTok because that's just going to be as real and raw as it gets. And so that can be posted on TikTok. But I mean, if you're just getting started, I recommend just cross posting. Just post one thing and stream it to all the platforms. That's the easiest way to get started.

00:20:21 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, no, I agree with that because, you know, we're not in this business to be content creators, are we? We're in here to provide hospitality and have guests, and we've got to wear all these different hats. So it's wonderful having you on today to help us sort of dig into creating this content for social media. What about hashtags? What platform should we be using them and how should we be using them? I know I'm a strong follower of hashtag bookdirect, but what else should we be using?

00:20:54 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah, so I like to use it. It's called Metricool and this is how I schedule my content, but it also gives you all the analytics of things. And so when you start to use hashtags, you can actually track and start to see which hashtag is working for you. You can see this in your insights as well. But if you're going to schedule your content like we talked about, batch creating, metro cool kind of does it all for you. And there is a free version, which I love. So that's kind of how I start to use hashtags, based on the location, based on the type of property it is, based on what other people are going to be searching for that would want to stay at your property, and then you want to start tracking it kind of monthly and seeing like, okay, did this hashtag, did it do really well or am I not getting any traction from it? And if those hashtags are performing well, you can keep using those and then maybe start to use some new ones to see if those work. But I like to use them either in the caption or you can in the first comment. Right after you post the first comment, add those hashtags. But I have found that you just want to really make sure that it's relevant to what you're posting. So if you're posting something about the pool as an amenity, you don't want to hashtag just something totally irrelevant to that pool because the algorithm does not like that. So you just want to make sure that it's relevant. Hashtags and things that your future guests are going to be searching for.

00:22:29 - Jenn Boyles

What about putting your hashtags in your actual caption, not at the end, but like in your caption where you're writing and you're talking about it? So you're like, I'm staying at hash smokeymountains, that kind of thing.

00:22:42 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah, I don't love that. I feel like they all need to go below. Just keep those. That's more of your search engine optimization type of thing. It's not really for people to look at or click on. It's more of just telling the algorithm, kind of helping it out to say, this is what I'm talking about. And so you can keep that in the comment or below the caption completely.

00:23:04 - Jenn Boyles

You're so diplomatic because they just drive me nuts. I hate reading it. I just do. I hate it. I'm like, just stick them at the end or in that first, you know, the first comment. Yeah, okay. You're so kind. What about using hashtags on different platforms? I know Instagram is like the big one to use them. But do hashtags work on other platforms?

00:23:26 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah, so you can try them on them all. And again, I guess that's why I love Metricool, because instead of trying to run your insights on all different platforms, you can have it all on one platform through Metricool. And so I'm always like, looking at my hashtags based on all the platforms, but TikTok and Instagram, I really recommend using hashtags still right now. And social media, I mean, it changes all the time. So you kind of have to just stay on those trends or be aware of when you're listening to content about social media. Keep. Keep an eye on when the date was that it was published. Because if you go to YouTube and start searching, like trends or things like that or tips on social media, if it was two years ago, it's not going to be relevant right now, most likely.

00:24:14 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah. No, that's a good thing to think about. Well, it's been wonderful having you on today to talk about content, getting into social media and giving some real strategies and tips for people to follow. Real actionable advice there. But before you go, I do need to ask you, what does direct booking success mean to you?

00:24:34 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah. So direct booking success to me means creating something that is mine through branding my own website and successfully being able to host guests through my own efforts. That's what, that's what it means to me, is like basically having my own little thing that I feel like when I get a booking from a guest that I know found me through my own efforts, it's like that much more special because I feel like I'm going to easily retain that guest. It just feels more personal to me for some reason. So that's kind of my, my version of success is making that hospitality relationship with my guests and having that through my own website.

00:25:18 - Jenn Boyles

Brilliant. Brilliant. I love it, Emily. I really, really do. So I'm going to put your links in the show notes so people could come and have a look, especially on your instagram and like that and TikTok. But you also have a special offer that you want to give, don't you?

00:25:36 - Emily Lethgo

Yeah. So I created, it's called the content collective and it's a membership, so it's $47 a month. But I'm giving you all a code for it's going to be DB and that's going to get you the calendar. It's a content calendar for only $7. And basically what this is is every day I give you a prompt of content for social media, for your property. It's very specific to short term rentals, and it kind of just helps you to know, okay, on Monday, here's an idea. And you don't have to post every day, but at least you'll have content ideas for every single day. I also give you reels ideas and TikTok ideas and trending audio. Everything you need is in this content calendar. And so it just kind of takes the pressure off of you to have to always be thinking of new ideas. I've done all of that work for you, and so I wanted to offer that to people just to have that pressure taken off of their plate.

00:26:36 - Jenn Boyles

That's great. That's really wonderful. Thank you for that. And I'll put the link to sign up and, and the code in the show notes so that people can get that special offer. Thank you, Emily, very much for coming on today.

00:26:50 - Emily Lethgo

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

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