Google Maps is the most common navigation tool that exists in present times. It is neat, easy, and accessible. However, if it is that common, then how will it set you apart from your competitors? The answer lies in customization. There are ways of creating custom maps using the in-built tools in Google Maps. These open a completely new expanse of innovation and marketing tools for your Vacation Rental property.
What are some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) you receive from your prospective guests? Well, of course, the first question is always about the price. The second is about availability on a given date. However, right after that, many prospective clients ask about nearby things to do and places to go. Being prepared to answer these quickly gives you a marketing edge.
Custom maps act as a catalog to your Vacation Rental property. You can share them with your guests, prospective guests and also embed them to your website and listings. You may include a varying variety of places of basic services such as emergency, medical and transport services. Further, you may enhance it by adding touring sites, entertainment places, nature escapes, bars, recreational spots, and much more! So, let’s elaborate upon creating a custom map!
What to include in your custom maps?
When it comes to traveling and vacations, the one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate. All your guests and target audience want different things out of their vacation experience. This calls for highly customized maps. You might associate these with a few itineraries. The following drivers should be incorporated in your custom maps:
Target audience: Suppose your guest is a family traveling with children. You should definitely include attractions for kids in your maps. Places such as the nearest amusement or theme park would be a lovely addition. It would show that you care about your guests having the best time while vacationing. If it is a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, make sure you include romantic getaways, restaurants that offer candlelight dinners, beaches, scenic drives, and similar attractions. It is not just a map. It shows the target audience, how special their vacation can become. Put thought and effort into it.
Local uniqueness: Ever heard of Albuquerque? It is famous for its colorful balloon festival. Wouldn’t a custom map of a vacation rental in the Albuquerque be incomplete without those huge hot air balloons? It definitely would be. To find out the best local attractions or events your city is known for. Include them in your custom maps. You can even highlight certain out of the world property features, such as a heated tub or indoor heated pool. Custom Maps give you the freedom of showcasing your property and neighboring areas, so make full use of that.
Touring sites: Museums, historical buildings, lighthouse, and beachfront all of these add to the aesthetic quotient of your maps. These would be on most traveler’s list. So, one map could cater to a lot of people in your target audience. You can’t miss such local attractions on your maps. These might even include nearest national parks, famous monuments, landmarks, statues, best surfing or hiking spots, shopping, and entertainment places, and much more.
Convenience Services: Maps should also be used to guide your audience towards a wonderful experience. You can highlight a few local businesses in your maps. These can include bike or kayak rental places. Not only such inclusions are informative, but they also generate activity ideas. If the person browsing the map hears about a bike renting business, they may start wanting to rent a bike. The guest might have not thought about it before, but having found out about it, it might appeal to them as a fun activity. So, this is also a way of luring your target audience to your city, and in turn, to your property. Once you tell them that such a thing exists, they might want to know more about it. This is an opportunity for you to tell them that you can arrange such tours for them if they choose your property.
Emergency Services: Highlight the nearest hospital, medical store, and emergency services. This will give your target audience an idea about what to do if they need such help. This is a basic necessity so including it will show that you care. The omission of such places might leave your target audience in doubt and can become a reason for not choosing their property.
How to access the map tool and create a custom map?
Let’s start with the basics, the steps to creating the map are the following:
- Go to the google maps
- Click on the three parallel horizontal lines on the top left corner to open the menu
- Click on ‘Your Places’
- Click on the Maps Tab
- Click on the Create Map at the bottom of the page
- This will take you to the page where you can create your own maps by starting at the location of your Vacation Rental property.
Or you may simply click here to reach the same page. However, steps are important because you must know where your custom maps are stored.
Features available in the custom map creator
Naming and Storing Custom Maps: As obvious can it be, you can name your custom maps. It could be something like, “Top restaurants within a 5-mile radius of the property.” This map would naturally show the location of different restaurants, maybe based on the offered cuisines. Maps once created can be stored for later use and updating.
Sharing and embedding: You can share the custom maps with ‘view only’ restricted permission with your guests and prospects. You may embed the same in your listings or website. You may even share the links on social media as part of a marketing campaign.
Layering: This is the most helpful option for creating custom maps. What it does is that it stores the custom locations in different layers. So, if you want to drop a pin to locations of different categories such as restaurants, beaches, museums, nature parks and so on, you can put them in different layers. This eases the process by not having to create different maps for each category of place. You can turn on or off the required layers to not clutter the maps. This is helpful if you have multiple properties. So instead of creating several maps for each property, you may create one or two-layered maps for each property.
Colors and Shapes: You can change the color of the dropped pins. Further, you can also choose different shapes for your pins such as stars, boxes, and so on. This helps in distinguishing important places from others. For example, you might drop a star pin at the location of your vacation rental to make it easier for guests and prospects to locate it. This helps them in returning to the property. Further, you might highlight the most important places using these options. This helps the clients to narrow down their search depending upon the time frame of their vacation.
Directions: You can add walking, driving, or biking directions. This will help the guests understand which mode of transport to use. This prevents them from taking a car to a walking path and getting stuck if the road is too narrow for the vehicle. Think about how every detail counts. The more helpful you are with your maps, the higher the chance of getting a better review from your clients.
Drawing and measuring tools: The tool provides drawing tools on the map to convey to the clients that what route to follow. This helps connect places. Further measuring tool helps in adding distances between places on the map.
All these together, are aimed at adding details to your custom maps. Also, it makes it easier and self-explanatory for your guests and prospective clients. Further, this also saves a lot of your time. People might change; however, places remain the same. So, you won’t have to repeat the same information multiple times. You can politely redirect them to the maps.
You may even add that they should not hesitate to ask for help if they have any doubts about what to do or where to go. Even with the maps, don’t cut back on the personal service. The map is only for reference. Personal assistance is for building relationships.
Use Google Earth for creating 3D Custom Maps
Till now we discussed the 2D custom maps. But how about giving your prospective guests a virtual tour using these custom maps? For this, you may use Google Earth and related tools. You can draw on the map, add photos and videos, customize your view to get a 360-degree experience, and even share stories.
This makes the target audience live the map and gives you a better chance of converting lookers into bookers. With Google Earth, you can get the satellite and the street views, zoom into the site, and experience it as if you were there. However, creating a map on this platform is not easy. You might need professional help which comes at a cost, so you will want to conduct your cost-benefit analysis.
You may find out more about Google Earth by clicking here.
So, now that you know the power of custom maps, we hope you find it useful in attracting your target audience. The best part is that it is completely free and can be easily shared. Simple and perfect are the qualities that make it an attractive marketing tool. Try it out now and see what a difference it creates in your analytics of people viewing your property, and ultimately in your bookings. If you haven’t listed your property on RentalTrader.com, please do so now and experience how we can help you increase your bookings and profits.