Running a vacation rental is no different from any other business activity. If you do it well you are likely to succeed and create an income from it; if you go at it half-heartedly, you may begin to wonder why you haven’t got the bookings and why your neighbour has.
There are some property owners who have just ‘got it’. Their vacation homes are always booked and they have consistent 5* reviews. Their guests rave about their stay at the places and share everything about it among their social networks. They probably have repeat guests that book every year – and sometimes twice a year – and you wonder how on earth they do that.
It is because they have discovered the formula for creating happy guests, not only during the period of the vacation but before and after as well. They are 100% committed to customer service and improving what they offer.
And the payback is clear in the bookings they get. If you want to do the same there are 7 key things you must do and here they are:
1. Treat it like a business
This does not mean you have to register your vacation home as a business although many owners do this. It means you have to act as though it is a business. You must have:
An operational plan – to manage communications with guests, ensure the place is prepared and maintained for them, and to deal with any issues that arise.
A marketing strategy – to ensure your message gets out to as many people as possible via your listings, your website and in your email marketing system
A philosophy of hospitality – that is embodied in every communication, in the welcome they receive and the follow-up you make. The best owners never use the term ‘renters’ – they treat their guests like the valued clients they are and ensure every part of their experience is second to none.
2. Respond promptly and personally
Five Star owners know the importance of a quick response. They understand how travelers book and the necessity for a prompt reply before the person goes onto the next option. They use every opportunity to create a relationship with their prospective guests because they know that even if they don’t book now, they may do to another time. Every email and every call is an opportunity to connect with a future guest.
3. Offer additional information
Visitors to your listing often don’t know what they want. They think they just want accommodation but often they need guidance on whether your place is the right one for them. Owners who are on the ball and send additional information showing their local expertise make a great impression on the guests. Things like:
- Noticing that the guests mentioned fishing and sending an information sheet on types of fish, the best lures and bait and whereto get a fishing licence.
- Picking up from an email that a guest has an anniversary while they are staying, and suggesting the best restaurants.
- Checking that guests flying in from overseas have some reminders on the driving laws they may not be familiar with.
4. Respond to issues quickly
Things happen during a vacation – the water pump stops working or the fridge doesn’t cool; there’s a dripping tap or a light bulb out. Some issues are clearly more important than others in an owner’s eyes, but to a guest even the tiniest of issues can mar an otherwise perfect vacation. Top class owners appreciate this and deal with every issue, large or small, promptly and effectively. They don’t ever think that guests can put up with the dripping tap or without the bedside lamp – they do something about it.
5. Think of everything
The best review you can get is when a guest says ‘You thought of everything – there was not a single thing missed’. To be 5* you need to have that mentality; always striving to improve and make the experience the absolute best it can be. Great owners ask the question of their guests at the end of every stay:
‘Was there anything we missed that would have made your stay even more perfect?” – and then they act on the feedback and let the guests know the outcome.
6. Always go the extra mile
Going the extra mile means being one step ahead of your guests, anticipating their needs and over-delivering in every way. Doing this requires a solid commitment to customer service and hospitality, and really believing in providing the best to every traveler, regardless of the rental rate or size of the property. It could be as simple as delivering a rented generator during a power outage, or calling to let guests know that the northern lights are expected in their area and they should go outside and watch.
For 5* owners, delivering extra-special service is second nature and they do it because they are in the business of creating dream vacations. For that, they…and you…will be rewarded with more business, and ultimately that is why we do this.