Unleashing the Power of Heritage Travel and Film Fans: A Guide for Vacation Rental Managers and Airbnb Hosts

Uvika Wahi

Updated on:

heritage travel marketing for vacation rentals

In recent years, heritage travel has captured the imagination of vacationers worldwide, driven by a combination of popular television shows, such as “Bridgerton” and “The Crown,” and a growing desire to connect with one’s family history. This burgeoning trend has given rise to unique vacation rentals that offer a blend of history, culture, and entertainment, catering to the specific interests of these discerning travelers. In this article, we will delve into the rise of heritage travel, examining the key factors behind this phenomenon and how vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can capitalize on it. Through a case study of Storied Collection, a successful heritage travel platform, and additional examples of pop culture and family history-inspired accommodations, we will provide valuable insights and advice for those looking to benefit from this niche market.

Actionable advice for vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts

  • Take advantage of the growing trends in heritage travel and filming location tourism by offering tailored accommodations and experiences for these niche markets.
  • Research your property’s connections to popular films or television shows and highlight this in your marketing materials. Collaborate with local historians, genealogists, or heritage organizations to offer unique, tailored experiences such as tours of nearby filming locations, genealogy workshops, or immersive cultural experiences.
  • Highlight local historical attractions in your listing and consider offering guided tours or other experiences that allow guests to dive deeper into the area’s culture. Create themed packages centered around popular television shows, movies, or local history to attract heritage travelers.
  • Optimize your marketing efforts by emphasizing the unique aspects of your property that cater to heritage travelers and fans of popular films and TV shows. Use high-quality images and engaging descriptions on all online listings and platforms to attract potential guests.
  • Offer exceptional customer service, including customized itineraries, assistance with genealogical research, or sharing local stories related to your property or the surrounding area. Keep an eye on popular culture and heritage travel trends to identify new opportunities for your property.

Capitalizing on the Rise of Heritage Travel for Vacation Rental Managers and Airbnb Hosts

A. The appeal of heritage travel

Heritage travel attracts individuals seeking an authentic, culturally rich experience, allowing them to connect with their roots or explore the history of a particular destination. This type of travel often leads to more profound, memorable experiences as it enables visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about the people, events, and traditions that have shaped the places they visit. As a vacation rental manager or Airbnb host, offering heritage-focused accommodations and experiences can help you cater to this growing market segment.

B. Influence of television shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown”

Popular television shows, such as “Bridgerton” and “The Crown,” have significantly driven the heritage travel trend. These shows captivate audiences by showcasing historical settings, often featuring grand estates, lavish costumes, and intricate, compelling storylines.

As a result, viewers are inspired to explore the real-life locations where these shows are set or filmed, seeking an immersive experience that brings them closer to the characters and stories they love. Capitalizing on this interest, you can highlight any connections your vacation rental has to popular shows or movies or even offer themed experiences, such as guided tours or historically accurate amenities.

C. The impact of genealogy and family history research

The growing interest in genealogy and family history research has also contributed to the rise of heritage travel. Many individuals use resources like ancestry websites, DNA tests, and historical records to uncover their family’s past and trace their roots to specific locations. This newfound knowledge often sparks a desire to visit these places, connect with distant relatives, and walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.

As a vacation rental manager or Airbnb host, you can cater to this market by offering accommodations in areas with historical significance or by providing resources and experiences that help guests connect with their heritage. This may include partnering with local historians or genealogy experts, providing access to historical records, or curating experiences highlighting local history and customs.

D. The role of social media and digital platforms

Social media and digital platforms have played a significant role in popularizing heritage travel by making it easier for individuals to share their experiences, access information about their ancestry, and discover unique travel destinations. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are filled with captivating images and stories from travelers exploring their heritage or visiting filming locations of their favorite shows.

These platforms inspire others to embark on their heritage journeys and provide a valuable marketing channel for vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts. By creating engaging content that showcases your property’s historical and cultural significance or highlights connections to popular shows and films, you can attract the attention of potential guests interested in heritage travel.

In conclusion, the rise of heritage travel presents a unique opportunity for vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts to capitalize on this growing trend by understanding the appeal of heritage travel, leveraging the influence of popular television shows, recognizing the impact of genealogy research, and utilizing social media and digital platforms. By offering accommodations and experiences that resonate with heritage travelers, you can set your property apart and create lasting memories for your guests.

Attracting Guests by Leveraging Popular Television and Movie Filming Locations

In addition to heritage travel, there is a growing interest in visiting iconic filming locations from popular television shows and movies. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can capitalize on this trend by emphasizing their proximity to these sites or offering themed experiences that cater to fans of these productions.

A. The allure of iconic filming sites

Iconic filming sites hold a special allure for fans of popular television shows and movies. Visiting these locations allows travelers to immerse themselves in the world of their favorite characters, bringing the stories they love to life. As a result, these destinations often become bucket-list items for dedicated fans, and vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can attract guests by highlighting their property’s connection to these sites or offering unique experiences related to these productions.

B. Examples of popular destinations

Dubrovnik for Game of Thrones:

The ancient city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, served as the filming location for King’s Landing in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. Fans flock to Dubrovnik to explore its historic streets, walk the city walls, and visit the various locations featured in the show. The area’s vacation rentals and Airbnb hosts can offer Game of Thrones-themed tours or accommodations that celebrate the show’s connection to the city.

New Zealand for Lord of the Rings:

New Zealand’s breathtaking landscapes served as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies. Fans travel to various locations across the country, including Hobbiton, Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom), and the picturesque landscapes of the South Island. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts in New Zealand can offer themed accommodations, guided tours, or experiences that immerse guests in the world of Middle-Earth.

Highclere Castle for Downton Abbey:

Highclere Castle, located in Hampshire, England, is the primary filming location for the popular television series Downton Abbey. Fans of the show visit the castle to explore its grand rooms, walk the manicured gardens, and experience life as an aristocrat in the early 20th century. The area’s vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can offer Downton Abbey-themed packages, historical experiences, or accommodations that evoke the show’s atmosphere.

Atlanta, Georgia for The Walking Dead:

Atlanta, Georgia, and its surrounding areas have been the primary filming locations for the popular AMC series The Walking Dead. Fans visit various sites throughout the region, including the fictional town of Woodbury, the prison, and other key locations from the show. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts in the Atlanta area can offer themed accommodations, guided tours, or experiences that cater to fans of The Walking Dead.

C. The impact on local tourism

The popularity of these television shows and movies can significantly impact local tourism, as fans travel from all over the world to visit these iconic filming locations. This influx of visitors benefits vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts and stimulates the local economy by increasing demand for restaurants, shops, and other tourist attractions. By embracing this trend and catering to fans’ interests, vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can capitalize.

Exploring Diverse Heritage Travel Examples: Opportunities for Vacation Rental Managers and Airbnb Hosts

Heritage travel encompasses a wide range of diverse experiences as individuals from various cultural backgrounds seek to reconnect with their ancestral roots. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can capitalize on this trend by understanding the unique needs and interests of different heritage traveler groups and offering accommodations and experiences that cater to these preferences.

A. Irish Americans visiting Ireland

Many Irish Americans feel a strong connection to their ancestral homeland and travel to Ireland to explore their roots. Key destinations may include County Cork, where many Irish immigrants originated, or the cities of Dublin and Galway, which offer rich cultural experiences. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can appeal to Irish-American travelers by offering accommodations near historical sites or providing resources for exploring their family history, such as access to local genealogical archives or connections with local historians.

B. African Americans exploring their roots in Africa

For African Americans, visiting Africa to explore their roots is a popular and transformative experience. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can cater to this niche market by providing information on local historical and cultural attractions, collaborating with local guides or cultural organizations, and offering personalized services such as genealogy research or cultural immersion experiences. By tapping into this growing market, hosts can create memorable guest experiences and differentiate themselves from competitors. Popular destinations for heritage travel among African Americans include Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa.

C. Chinese Americans discovering ancestral homes in China

Chinese Americans often travel to China to visit their ancestral homes and explore their heritage. Key destinations may include major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, as well as smaller towns and villages where their ancestors once lived. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can cater to Chinese-American travelers by offering accommodations in these areas and providing resources for exploring their family history, such as local genealogical resources, historical sites, and connections to local historians or cultural experts.

D. Italian Americans reconnecting with their heritage in Italy

Italian Americans often travel to Italy to reconnect with their heritage and explore its rich culture and history. Popular destinations include Rome, Florence, and Venice, as well as smaller towns and villages where their ancestors originated. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can appeal to Italian-American travelers by offering accommodations near historical sites, providing information about local cultural events and experiences, and assisting with genealogical research or connecting them with local historians.

E. Native Americans visiting tribal lands and historical sites

Native Americans may explore their heritage by visiting tribal lands and historical sites throughout the United States. This can include reservations, national parks, or cultural centers that celebrate and preserve Native American history and culture. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can cater to Native American travelers by offering accommodations near these sites and providing information about local cultural events, educational resources, and opportunities for visitors to learn about and engage with Native American heritage.

F. Jewish Americans exploring their heritage in Eastern Europe

Jewish Americans often travel to Eastern Europe to explore their heritage and learn about the history of their ancestors. Popular destinations include cities like Warsaw, Kraków, and Budapest, as well as smaller towns and villages once home to thriving Jewish communities. Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can cater to Jewish-American travelers by offering accommodations near historical sites, such as synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, and museums, as well as providing information about local cultural events, educational resources, and connections to local historians or experts in Jewish history.

In conclusion, heritage travel presents a unique opportunity for vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts to cater to diverse traveler groups seeking to connect with their ancestral roots. By understanding these travelers’ specific interests and needs and offering accommodations and experiences that cater to their preferences, vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can capitalize on this growing trend and create memorable experiences for their guests.

Strategies for Rental Managers and Airbnb Hosts to Capitalize on Filming Location Trends and Heritage Travel

Vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can capitalize on the growing trends of heritage travel and filming location tourism by understanding the unique preferences of these traveler groups and offering tailored accommodations and experiences. Here are some key strategies to help you make the most of these niche markets:

Research and showcase connections to popular films and TV shows

Invest time researching your property’s connections to popular films or television shows, and prominently showcase this information in your marketing materials. For example, if your property or the surrounding area has been used as a filming location, highlight this aspect to attract fans of the specific film or series.

Research the history of your property and surrounding area to identify any connections to popular television shows, movies, or historical events.

Research the history of their property and surrounding area to identify connections to popular television shows, movies, or historical events. By understanding the unique stories and cultural significance of their property and surrounding area, hosts can offer tailored experiences and accommodations that appeal to niche markets and set themselves apart from competitors. This research can also provide valuable content for marketing efforts, including website copy, social media posts, and blog articles highlighting the property’s historical and cultural appeal and surrounding area.

Highlight your property’s historical or cultural significance

Be knowledgeable about your area’s local historical and cultural attractions, particularly those that may interest heritage travelers. Provide information about these sites in your listing, and consider offering guided tours or other experiences that allow guests to dive deeper into the history and culture of the area.

Collaborate with local experts, genealogists, and resources

Build connections with local historians, genealogists, or cultural organizations to help your guests explore their heritage or better understand the significance of local filming locations. Offer their services or resources as part of your accommodation package or as an optional add-on for guests.

Create themed experiences and packages

Curate themed experiences or packages catering to the specific interests of heritage travelers or popular films and TV shows fans. This could include tours of nearby filming locations, genealogy workshops, or immersive cultural experiences that allow guests to engage with the local history and traditions. Providing these unique offerings can set your property apart from competitors and create memorable experiences for your guests.

Optimize your marketing efforts

In your marketing efforts, emphasize the unique aspects of your property that cater to heritage travelers and fans of popular films and TV shows. Use high-quality images and engaging descriptions to highlight your property’s historical connections, proximity to filming locations, and any themed experiences or packages you offer. Share these details on your website, social media platforms, and vacation rental listings to attract potential guests.

Offer personalized and exceptional customer service

Provide personalized and exceptional customer service to create memorable experiences for your guests. This can include offering customized itineraries, assisting with genealogical research, or sharing local stories and legends related to your property or the surrounding area. Going the extra mile for your guests can create lasting connections and encourage repeat visits and positive reviews.

Stay updated on trends and new opportunities

Keep an eye on popular culture and heritage travel trends to identify new opportunities for your property. As new films and TV shows are released or recent heritage travel trends emerge, be proactive in adapting your offerings and marketing materials to cater to these new audiences.

By implementing these strategies, vacation rental managers and Airbnb hosts can capitalize on the growing popularity of heritage travel and filming location tourism. By catering to the unique preferences of these traveler groups and offering tailored accommodations and experiences, you can differentiate your property from competitors, attract a niche market, and ultimately boost your occupancy rates and revenue.

Case Study: How Storied Collection leverages heritage travel and pop culture

Storied Collection offers a collection of historic castles, estates, and chateaux hotels in the United Kingdom and Ireland. With a portfolio of 40 properties, Storied Collection aims to build the finest historic castle and estate hotel collection while empowering members through community. Established by Justin Hauge, Michael Goldin, and Rob Paterson, the average age of its properties is 366 years old, and with the support of seasoned hospitality veterans on its advisory team, Storied Collection offers members exclusive access to a globally recognized brand that can enhance their marketing power. This article explores Storied Collection’s unique approach to marketing heritage properties and attracting guests interested in pop culture and family history. We also discuss the importance of crafting and retelling compelling stories that pique interest and offer a world of opportunities for hosts and managers to showcase the unique features of their properties.

Storied Collection: Origins

Storied Collection Historic Castle Hotels

Established by Justin Hauge, Michael Goldin and Rob Paterson, Storied Collection is a soft-brand collection of historic castles, estates and chateaux hotels across the United Kingdom and Ireland. With 40 properties in its collection, Storied offers members exclusive access to a globally recognized brand that can help enhance their marketing power.

The average age of its properties is 366 years old – that’s 14,655 years of combined history – and with support from seasoned hospitality veterans from Ritz Carlton, Hilton and Design Hotels on its Advisory Team, Storied Collection aims to build the finest historic castle and estate hotel collection while empowering members through community.

Harnessing Pop Culture and Family Heritage for marketing niche rentals: What does it take?

Dunskey Estate Great Hall by Storied Collection
Dunskey Estate Great Hall // Storied Collection

The unique challenge for heritage properties, points out Storied Collection managing director Michael Goldin, is attempting to stand out among the mass of listings marketed by big booking platforms. Michael feels that Online Travel Agents (OTAs) such as Booking.com commoditize inventory to such a degree that there is no scope left to delve into the intricate history of heritage properties. This is why Storied Collection was formed: to tell incredible stories and show off the beauty of these properties in a way that can’t be accomplished through mass OTA marketing efforts.

To do this, Storied Collection has hand-picked each member of its exclusive use collection and personally visited each property; their historian researching interesting events as well as the surnames associated with the property. Each must be a former residence and possess strong visual appeal

From there, they integrate the needs of each property (technology, content, videography, etc.) into their current marketing plans while also leveraging vivid imagery, ties to family lineage, or “as seen on” famous TV shows or movies – all excellent ways to inspire guests from multigenerational travel groups, high net-worth individuals, film shoots and events alike. Highlighting the rich history or unique details of places like Dunskey Estate in Portpatrick or Cluny Castle in Aberdeenshire simply cannot be done easily with large OTAs such as Airbnb.

Catering to the Pop Culture and Family History Audience: What do they want?

When it comes to selecting a unique vacation rental, travelers interested in pop culture and family history look for properties that can offer an emotional connection. This could be through a famous show or movie they know – such as The Crown, Downton Abbey or Bridgerton – or through direct ties to their own family heritage. Guests will remember the stories associated with a particular manor house or castle more than its name itself; this is why it is so important for hosts and managers to enhance their properties in order to offer a deeper narrative for their visitors.

The Gold Standard of what Storied Collection is trying to accomplish is connecting people with their heritage. They have received countless stories of guests finding personal connections to one of their properties. For instance, Michael shares, they had one guest at one of the Scottish properties so overcome with emotion that she cried when she arrived at the property. They’ve had a few others proudly claim ‘they’re home!’ upon arrival. 

Fenton Tower, Storied Collection
Fenton Tower, Storied Collection / Photograph by Phil Wilkinson

Michael’s personal connection to Fenton Tower allows him to relate to our guests’ experiences. When he first stepped into the walls, he couldn’t help but think about all the things that had to happen between his ancestors living in the property to him standing there more than 500 years later.

One of the continued themes of guest satisfaction actually comes from meeting the property owners. 75% of their member properties have an owner living on the property. At first glance, you might think guests don’t like that, but Michael reveals that it’s quite the contrary- guests love being able to see these heritage homeowners and hear the stories of the estate directly from the source.

Crafting and re-telling compelling stories that pique interest

Crafting captivating tales highlighting the unique features of your property, you can create an exciting point of interest for travelers to seek these properties out. One of the most unique features of heritage properties is, of course, the story. Storied Collection leverages these stories by connecting them to what travelers are interested in at the time.

An example of this is their round-up of the most haunted hotels in the UK. The world is full of mysterious places, and there’s always something to explore. The hotels listed in this article have a long history of paranormal activity, such as Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire, said to be haunted by the spirit of Jasper Tudor, former Duke of Bedford and uncle of Henry VII, and Princess Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII.

A world of opportunities for hosts and managers

Properties that pay homage to their heritage can attract a great deal of attention. In the United States, genealogical research is the second most popular hobby after gardening. Having the property’s heritage clearly written out with full names, birthdays, spouses, etc all help in people find a familial tie. 

For pop culture, Michael recommends investing in press stays, inviting cast members, and social media influencers, etc to help spread the word about ties to en vogue pop culture.


Conclusion

By tapping into these growing trends and tailoring your offerings to the needs of heritage travelers and fans of popular films and TV shows, you can create memorable experiences for your guests, foster lasting connections, and ultimately enhance the success of your vacation rental business. Embracing the potential of these niche markets will help you stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving vacation rental industry and ensure that your property remains a sought-after destination for discerning travelers seeking unique and meaningful experiences.

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