I’ve been in the CPG and food industry since 2011, when I first launched Norm’s Farms, an elderberry supplements business. I’ve also been an Airbnb Superhost since 2014, when I first started renting out my home on a part-time basis. In 2018, I got my second home and in 2019 launched The Brighthouse, a furnished rentals business based in San Francisco. I’ve since hosted over a thousand guests and have noticed an important trend that leads me to write this post: Guests care a lot about the products they find in vacation rental homes. Today’s travelers also view their stay as an opportunity to discover and try new products, and if they like the products they find, they will often buy them. In today’s post, we’ll cover how to get your products featured in vacation rentals in order to drive awareness and purchase from targeted audiences.
Note: Originally published on August 15, 2020. The current publication date reflects the last time the list was updated. Thanks to all who write in with additions or suggestions!
What Kinds of Products are Appropriate for Vacation Homes?
Today’s rentals are expected to be stocked with items like toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, and body lotion. Kitchens are expected to include items like coffee, tea, sugar, coffee creamer, salt, pepper, olive oil, and other basic breakfast and cooking items. The bedroom creates an opportunity to feature luxurious sheets, pillows, duvet covers, bed frames, and other sleeping and relaxation essentials. And these are just the obvious items; in theory, everything within the home could be for sale and creates a product placement opportunity.
How to Get Your Products Featured in Vacation Rentals
While you could try to connect with hosts directly (not a bad idea, particularly if a host manages several homes or manages a property that shares your exact target audience), there are a couple of marketplaces that recently sprung up that connect hosts and consumer goods.
Product Placement Marketplaces
Google searches find the following marketplaces for product placement in vacation homes. Know of any others? Let us know. It’s currently a nascent space with a lot of potential.
Glimpse (backed by Y Combinator)
Launched this year, Glimpse boasts 1500 properties at the time of this writing and has successfully connected hosts with products like Apotheke, Liquid Death, Italic, Caldrea, and Hydrant. Some products are provided for free while others are offered at a discount (i.e., 50% off). Most products offer hosts a commission for any sales they drive back to the brand. (You can sign up as a host or brand here).
Less focused on commissions and affiliate links than Glimpse, Showplace helps brands place products in homes and runs social campaigns to help drive awareness and click-throughs back to the brand. They’ve worked with CPG brands like Koe Kombucha, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Voss, and Nutpods. (Apply to be host or brand here.)
Spree (no longer active)
Spree connects hosts and brands in a similar way to Glimpse and Showplace, but takes product placement and its related marketing opportunity a step further by putting a wireless router in the host’s home, which enables Spree to collect email addresses in order to measure impressions and enable online retargeting. (8/21 Update: Spree is no longer working on this business.)
Connecting with Property Managers to Get Your Products Featured in Vacation Rentals
Larger property managers have a predictable and steady need for certain products like coffee, hand soap, and laundry detergent. Sonder, for instance, has selected Metropolitan Coffee to provide a morning cup-of-joe for guests. Landing prefers Target’s Everspring brand for its hand and kitchen soap, while Open Air Homes partners with Public Goods for most of its consumable goods. Companies like this have a consistent need for consumable home goods. They represent a solid partnership opportunity, and it may be worth reaching out directly.
At The Brighthouse, we are selective and curate goods for our home as well, and go so far as to feature a shop on our website where customers can (and do!) purchase the goods they like after their stay. I can’t keep track of how many times I’ve been asked where I got my sheets, the leather poof in the living room, or the marble high top dining table. It was these inquiries that led me to list items from my home for sale on my website in the first place. I’d be happy to work with well aligned home and CPG brands to feature and sell your products on my site as well; get in touch.
Thinking About ROI
The marketplaces mentioned above have methods of measuring engagement and sales baked into their process. Showplace requires hosts to post to social channels using campaign-specific hashtags, enabling marketing managers to track engagement. Glimpse provides hosts with unique links to share with their guests upon check-in and check-out, helping to drive traffic and potential sales back to brands’ websites. And Spree gathers email addresses, enabling marketing teams to do retarget guests online or conduct email marketing campaigns, where managers can measure engagement and sales as a result of product placement.
You’ll want to determine your own metrics for measuring success. Don’t be afraid to get creative and ask well-aligned hosts to take extra steps like writing blog posts, featuring your products in their shops (if they have them), adding placards or signage to promote your product in place, or featuring your product in their newsletter if they have one.
Why Product Placement in Homes?
Getting your products highlighted and place for in-home trial in vacation rentals is a form of partnership marketing, a topic we covered in 2018. Partnership marketing is one of the most effective ways to market your business and outperforms more traditional tactics like email marketing, trade shows, and downloadable website content. Part of what makes partnership marketing so effective is that you get access to another business’s audience — in this case, the guests who have booked stays in vacation homes.
I spoke with Justin Miller, Founder of Showplace, to learn more. (He previously founded Pillow, which he sold to Expedia in 2018.) Justin explained that one of the things that they found at Pillow was that brands were consistently interested in placing products, but that there was no good way to manage the process — so he decided to build it himself. Justin explains that product placement in short term rentals is productive for two main reasons.
First, product marketers have the ability to create true experiential sampling. Guest who arrive to a vacation home are relaxed and arrive in an open mind-set. When they try something new in the home and live with it for a couple of days, “you’re really creating a halo effect,” he says. “For instance, the association of a Nespresso coffee maker with your vacation.” In other words, guests are likely to have really positive feelings about Nespresso if they work up on vacation and started the day with Nespresso. They might even feel so good about it that they decide to bring that feeling of vacation into the home by purchasing a Nespresso for themselves after the trip.
An Alternative to Event Sampling
The second reason product marketers should think seriously about placing products in vacation homes is more contextual. Due to Covid-19, event marketing is no longer a viable strategy for helping consumers to discover and trial your products. Justin explains that the conversations he has with brands today indicates that they have a lot of inventory for event sampling, but since those events aren’t happening, this is a great and viable way to not only utilize that inventory, but also to reach consumers at a time and place when they are open and excited to discover new brands.
Think placing your product in a vacation home or several might be a good marketing tactic to explore for your business? Now that you know how to get your products featured in vacation rentals, sign up as a brand on one or all of the marketplaces mentioned above, or get in touch with me if you’re interested in having your products featured at The Brighthouse.