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Offering personalized suggestions for restaurants, activities and sightseeing is a big part of the service that Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals provides guests who rent houses along Maryland's scenic Eastern Shore. "That insider information is the value added you get from us," says company co-founder Debbie Lipscomb, a long-time area resident. Given the labor-intensive nature of compiling detailed, up-to-date guides, Debbie wanted a more efficient way to deliver information to renters. Here's how RueBaRue helped her create customized online guides that save precious time and give guests the trip-enhancing information they want.
Begun in 2004, Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals offers 60 properties, from cottages and luxury properties to multi-family houses that sleep 28, in and around the atmospheric Chesapeake Bay towns of St. Michaels, Oxford, Cambridge, Chestertown and Tilghman Island.
Though the area is a flourishing drive-to dstination known for water sports, art galleries, biking trails and spectacular seafood, it's comprised largely of small businesses and unheralded attractions that renters can have a hard time finding, especially first timers. "There aren't billboards saying do this and see that," says Debbie. "A big part of our job is to give our renters ideas for things to do and guide them to those that fit them best."
With properties scattered throughout multiple towns as well as rural areas, general guides to the region didn't give perspective renters a good sense of how long it takes to get to places like the nearest cafe, grocery store or kayak rental from their house. "It's helpful to know these distances so people can make choices when they're deciding to rent," says Debbie.
"We're always looking for ways to distinguish ourselves from someone who is just renting out their property. RueBaRue helps us do that."
Additionally, keeping Eastern Shore's website guides up to date was time consuming as was gathering material for marketing tools like the company newsletter and blog.
Pairing RueBaRue's Guest Experience Platform with her local expertise, Debbie was able to create individualized guides for each property and post them on Eastern Shore's website. Viewers who click Activities for a specific house see a curated list of things to do, restaurants and essentials like the nearest grocery store and pharmacy along with pertinent information, the distance in miles and a map showing their relation to the property. "This really gives our guests a good way to see where they are in relation to the major attractions," says Debbie.
A pleasing detail is the platform's appearance. "RueBaRue is great about adding logos and custom colors so the guide looks like it's coming from us. It's a nice touch," Debbie says.
"RueBaRue is easy to use once you get the hang of it."
Moving beyond the website, Debbie plans to use the platform with marketing tools like Eastern Shore's emails and blog. "RueBaRue helps you create out content quickly," says Debbie. "For example, if I want to do a blog post about pizza, I can write a fun paragraph about how we're famous for our crab cakes but also have great pizza. Then I can put together a RueBaRue guide to pizza places and embed it in the article. It's quick because I don't have to do things like copy phone numbers and link to websites."
Debbie gives RueBaRue high marks for being easy to install, its ability to automatically update information and the help it provides renters in choosing a property and having a true local experience during their stay. But the unexpected bonus is the platform's versatility. Debbie expects she will discover new ways to utilize RueBaRue down the road. One possibility is using the platform to deal with unexpected questions from guests. As Debbie explains, "If a renter says her kids want informal meals and asks about the nearest fast food place, we can put that information together quickly and shoot it to them. We can cater to a broad range of guests because we can easily send them whatever they're looking for."