What’s in a name? You’d better care!

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There’s a great name game going on and it’s serious.

This is the great name game:

  • On the one hand, you want to establish your rental name as a brand for loyalty.
  • On the other hand, the mega listing companies want to obliterate your name and reinforce their own brand.

Why your vacation rental needs a distinctive name.

It is how you establish credibility.  You can put it on multiple listing sites, and it will be seen by enquirers in those multiple places.

It is how you can be easily found when you have your own website.  It is the name past loyal guests will remember and search for. It is the name friends of past guests will look for when referred by your guests, and it is the name your own friends and family will look for.

It is the phrase smart renters will search for in Google to book with you direct on your website, so they get a better price and you save on commissions.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a website just now; they are getting simpler, easier, and cheaper. The main thing is to reinforce your brand everywhere until you do have your own website.

They want you lost!

The big listing sites want to own your listing as a confusing commodity so you are lost and enquirers can’t find you elsewhere. They do not want you to establish your brand.

That’s why the likes of Airbnb encourage unsuspecting owners to create descriptive listing titles in 35 characters like “Stylish 2BR with amazing sea views.”

Any returning guests will remember the parent brand, Airbnb, not the confusing “Stylish 2BR with amazing sea views.” The only way returning guests will find you is via the Airbnb parent brand, if you are lucky.  If your name is Red Door, your title can be “Red Door – with amazing sea views.”

You need to plan ahead and early on choose a distinctive name for your VR.

Choosing a name

Your name should be memorable, evocative, and interesting, if possible. My wife and I created Treetops Wye River and Sea Zen as memorable names that start to tell a story and create some interest. Often a noun and a color are memorable, like “Ocean Blue”, or “Red Door.”

So when we were setting up our holiday rental in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond, my wife and I spent a full day (really!) brainstorming an evocative name. We finally settled on “Alto Richmond.” It was memorable, high in the alphabet, and as it means “high” in the romance languages, it was appropriate for a place located in our area of Richmond Hill.

It was simple, memorable, just two syllables, and it resonated with the “hill” theme. It also didn’t conflict with competitors, and although the domain name Alto.com.au was not available, we registered Altorichmond.com.au, which helped our return guests find our website.

If all else fails, you can use the street name. “14 Broad St, chic townhouse” is far better than “2-bedroom chic comfy townhouse.” The street name can also help inquirers find which part of town it’s in.

Your brand name

The choice of name is not trivial. In summary, it should have as many of the following attributes as possible:

  • memorable
  • one or two syllables
  • unique to your area
  • related to your decorative theme if you have one
  • suitable for a website name—is a domain name available?
  • easily pinpointed in a Google search
  • not trademarked by someone else who will sue you!
  • preferably closer to a than z (some lists are still ranked alphabetically).

The battle for memories

Yes, you are in a battle for people’s memories. The online travel agencies want you to confuse your past guests and only recall the OTA name. You want to reinforce your brand name at every opportunity.

As well as the title on the OTA listing, you can also weave it into the first paragraph of description. “At Red Door, a sparkling new house overlooking the sea, you can let your worries float away …” and so on.

So, you use your creativity to emphasize your name in the OTA listings.

You also use your creativity with your guests to emphasize your name with them at every contact:

  • “Thank you for booking Red Door …”
  • “Getting access to Red Door is easy …”
  • “If you have any issues while staying at Red Door, just call me …”
  • “The Red Door information folder …”
  • “Here is your Red Door eating out guide’
  • “Thank you for staying at Red Door …”
  • “Red Door discount for past guests and their friends …”
  • “We hope you can help us by leaving a review for Red Door …”
  • “Welcome again to the Red Door newsletter”


Scam reassurance

If a prospective guest wants to book direct, they may want reassurance that you really exist, and there is no scam involved.  When they see your  name in multiple places, with lots of reviews, you really do exist.  They can relax and book direct with you.

The Bottom line

A name will cost you nothing, but combined with your own website, it will be a very big help in bringing in extra bookings and lower commissions.


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My name is Rex Brown. I live in Australia, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I run two of my holiday rentals here on the coast, and another in inner Melbourne . They are all quite different, but they all run at high occupancy. They are the sandpit that I play in, running constant experiments about what works and what doesn’t.

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