11 Ways to Make an Emotional Connection with Your Guests in Your Listing

Establishing an emotional connection with customers is a marketing investment that pays many dividends.

In fact, Anjali Lai reported on research conducted for the Forrester Report in which 83 percent of those polled said they were more likely to purchase from a brand they had an emotional connection with.

Researchers Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas, and Daniel Leemon in 2015 identified 300+ “emotional motivators” that drive consumer behavior. Of the 10 they point to in Harvard Business Review as the most important motivators, not all apply to apply to consumers of short-term rentals – guests – but several do:

  1. “Enjoy a sense of well-being:” The authors note that seeking a “stress-free state without conflicts or threats” is a motivator. Hosts can leverage that motivator by talking about ways guests will avoid stress on their stay, such as, for example, with smooth keyless entry, small or nonexistent list of checkout chores, pet-friendliness so they don’t have to worry about what to do with their pets on vacation. And how about a hot tub to melt away stress?
  2. “Feel a sense of thrill:” Leveraging this one for an STR listing will probably focus on nearby thrilling attractions rather than your place itself, so be sure to let guests know in your listing about opportunities for bicycling, skiing, zip-lining, paddleboarding, skydiving, and any other thrilling nearby opportunities. Include a few photos of thrilling activities.
  3. “Protect the environment:” An increasing number of guests consider environmental factors in their booking decisions. If your market includes guests who are passionate about the environment, you may want to mention your environment-friendly practices. My listing is in eastern Washington, and one of my biggest markets is across the state in the Seattle area, where people have a high level of environmental consciousness. Despite some pressure to get a Keurig coffeemaker, I haven’t done so because I know my Seattle guests won’t like the K-cup waste. I also make sure guests know I have a recycling bin easily accessible.

Here’s how I tap into additional emotional motivators I’ve observed in my own hosting experience, along with examples:

  1. Tell guests what their kids (and pets) will love about their stay. When planning vacations, most parents are hoping for a magical experience for their kids. If families are your target market, inject significant verbiage into your listing describing your kid-friendly amenities – indoor and outdoor games, yard, pool, nearby kid-focused attractions, baby items, and more. A line I’ve used more than once is: “Kiddos and doggos will love romping in the lush, fenced backyard.” Verbiage like this paints an instant picture of happy kids, thus enticing parents to book.
  2. Show you’re a caring host – but don’t go overboard. The desire to be seen, recognized, and cared for is a basic human emotion. Hosts can show they care about guests by, for example, mentioning guest-friendly policies like early check-ins and late checkouts. They might mention extras they provide, like fuel for the BBQ grill, board games, and supplies for infants and toddlers. Just don’t make the listing all about you; some hosts get carried away talking about all the renovations they’ve made and devote more space to patting themselves on the back than providing information that will help guests make a booking decision.
  3. In fact, make guests feel special. This technique works best for hosts who have a narrowly defined target market, such as couples looking for a romantic getaway or passionate outdoor enthusiasts. Make guests in your target market feel unique and special by describing your space as designed just for them, the perfect place to meet their need.
  4. Foreshadow the happy memories their stay will provide. When we think about vacations, especially with family, we’re often thinking about a trip so memorable that the group will fondly reminisce about it for years to come. Use verbiage in your listing that talks about making memories. Use words like “memorable,” “unforgettable,” and “not to be forgotten.” I often center this verbiage around firepits, with wording like this: “In the evening, laugh, tell stories, and make memories around the firepit.” “Memorable” language also works well in STRs with a selfie background: “Celebrate your memories of your wonderful stay here with shots against the selfie wall.”
  5. Create sensory experiences in your listing. Look for opportunities to appeal to the senses by, for example, talking about the aroma of salt air at the beach, the breathtaking view, the sound of a crackling fireplace or burgers sizzling on the grill, the feel of soft blankets.
  6. Tell stories. Stories are far more engaging and memorable than facts and descriptions of features. My primary use of storytelling in the listings I write for clients is using The Space section to tell the story of how guests will experience the space. My article, Airbnb’s ’The Space’ Section: Your Best Opportunity to Captivate Guests by Previewing the Guest Experience, explains more about how I tell these stories.
  7. Use vivid, evocative words, but don’t get carried away. Descriptive words help you paint a picture that appeals to the emotions. The caveat about not getting carried away applies those hosts who use or are tempted to use an artificial-intelligence tool like ChatGPT. While it’s possible to refine one’s skill in crafting prompts for ChatGPT, the output from this tool tends to be overly flowery, loaded with adjectives and overblown language. ChatGPT listings also often fail to give the specific, detailed information guests are really interested in. If vibrant descriptors don’t come easily to you, try mine. Download a list of my favorite words to use in listings.
  8. Get them dreaming. Use phrases that begin with “Imagine…” and “Picture yourself…” I use verbiage like this when writing about the type of elevated cabins found in the Smoky Mountains and Broken Bow. These cabins often have a covered deck with a section that includes a grill, seating, TV, and fireplace, so I’ll often use a sentence like this: “Imagine steaks sizzling on the grill as you gather the group in the warmth of the fireplace to watch the game.”

Keep in mind that photos play a big role in making emotional connections, too. Watch for a future article on that topic. Meanwhile, try you hand at writing your listings to connect with guest emotions – or hire a pro like me to do it for you.

See all my articles on short-term rental listing writing. Need your Airbnb or VRBO listing written or rewritten? Hire Kathy’s Compelling Content, specializing in listing writing. Feel free to PM me; learn more about services and order here. Join the FB group Critique My Airbnb Listing for free critiques and deals on listing-writing services.

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