Before you can make improvements to your rental property, you first need to identify areas where change is actually required. Perhaps your process to check in isn’t as smooth as it can be. Maybe previous guests have complained about the level of security?
Guest reviews can be a valuable source of information, but sometimes you need the help of vacation rental experts. Here are the main areas where other stakeholders in the vacation rental industry suggest owners should focus. By implementing the following 10 practical vacation rental tips, owners can look forward to higher occupancy rates and ultimately make more money.
The check-in process helps to set the tone for the rest of the stay. To help ensure that your guests can enjoy a seamless experience right from the start, it’s strongly recommended that you automate this process. Not only will guests find it more convenient, but it will also help you to save time.
From lockboxes to electronic locks to key exchange services, there are various approaches that you can explore. Whichever strategy you decide to take, make sure that the instructions are clearly communicated to your guests. Depending on how complex this process is, you can also use photos or even a short video to illustrate the steps. Also, you’ll need to remember to change any security code after each checkout.
While allowing guests to check themselves in is the better route to take nowadays, some guests might desire a more personal touch. In this case, a detailed welcome book (either shared as a hard copy or in digital format) can be a wonderful alternative to an in-person tour of the property. Not only can you use it to introduce yourself, but here you’ll also share key information like your passwords, instructions for checking in, and other instructions for how to use different appliances and systems.
Other valuable information that you can share in your welcome book include:
You can also take it one step further and write a welcome letter to accompany your welcome book. A note can help your guest to feel right at home.
To make it even more personal, consider a handwritten note over an email. You can also add their name and a few suggestions that will suit the purpose of their trip. For example, if you know it’s a family traveling with young children, recommending a morning outing to the local zoo will make much more sense than a list of your favorite fine-dining restaurants.
A welcome gift is also popular and shows your guests that you’re caring, thoughtful, and willing to go the extra mile to make their stay more memorable. It doesn’t have to be expensive and premium toiletries, a coffee mug, or a box of chocolates will do.
Just like with other types of industries, if you try to be an attractive option to the masses, you’ll appeal to a few. Instead, it’s better to focus on a specific niche.
From business travelers to digital nomads to couples to families with young children, there are different types of guests that you can target. Each of these guest types has its own unique needs and expectations. Families traveling with young children (or large groups), for example, will value a large backyard. On the other hand, couples will prefer privacy over space.
Let your property and amenities guide you when selecting a target audience. If your listing is a condo, it will be nearly impossible to appeal to large groups, while a business traveler is unlikely to book a four-bedroom house tucked away in a quiet suburb.
Then, adjust your tone and marketing strategy accordingly. If you’re targeting business travelers, advertising on Instagram is probably not going to be as cost-effective as sending out email newsletters.
Reviews are deal-breakers. They’re much more than the sum of those few words. Along with a property description and high-quality photos, guest reviews are one of the main elements of your listing that interested guests look at closely.
While they’re crucial, receiving the occasional negative review isn’t the end of your business. As a matter of fact, boasting only five-star reviews can have the opposite effect. Instead of serving as social proof, it can make travelers doubt the accuracy of your listing.
Considering how critical guest reviews are, make it part of your hosting routine to encourage each and every guest to leave a review after their stay. You can do this by, for example, reminding them to leave a review when you send a follow-up message to find out more about their stay.
Not only should you take the time to request reviews, but also set time aside to respond to these reviews. Some reviews will call for a more substantial reply, while simply thanking your guests for booking your place will be enough for others. In both situations, your reply will help to show that you’re a caring host committed to creating a positive experience.
Guests need to feel safe. The last thing you want is for your guests’ trip to be ruined by an incident.
Not only can a state-of-the-art home security system help to keep your guests safe, but it can also keep your property protected when it’s unoccupied. As a matter of fact, your vacation rental insurance provider will most likely have a minimum set of requirements.
Investing in motion sensors, burglar bars, and alarms becomes even more important when your property is located in an area that doesn’t enjoy high occupancy levels all-year round or for hosts planning to manage it remotely. In the case of the latter, investing in a smart security system that you can sync with your smartphone will make the most sense.
Even when you’ve installed the latest tech in and around your property, you’ll still need the help of service providers. You’ll, for example, need a cleaner, gardener, and property manager. These employees will help you to take care of routine operations.
It’s also a good idea to have the contact number of a handyman, electrician, and plumber. While you won’t need the services of these contractors as often, emergencies do happen. When there’s, for example, a leak you’ll need to have a reliable contractor that you can count on.
Also, remember that just like your guests, these third-party service providers deserve to be treated with respect. It will be impossible to maintain your vacation rental property without the help of this network.
For those service providers that you’ll be working with on a regular basis, like your cleaning crew, it’s also strongly recommended that you draw up a contract. This will help to ensure that communication remains clear and your property remains protected. Also, should there be some type of dispute down the line, you’ll be only too grateful to have a contract that you can consult.
A vacation rental site like Airbnb attracts significant traffic. However, if you want to be successful in the vacation rental industry, you’ll also need to look beyond these travel sites.
From social media to email, there are various other channels that you can use to spread the word about your properties. You can also consider creating your very own vacation rental site. Not only can your own business website attract more bookings, but it can also help you to save money. The service fees that sites like Airbnb, Booking.com, and Vrbo charge can quickly add up to a pretty penny.
Here are a few other fresh ideas that you can include in your marketing strategy for your vacation rental:
Just like in the business world, vacation rental owners will also need to identify and get to know their competitors. This is especially important when deciding on your nightly rate.
What do similar listings in your neighborhood offer and how much do they charge? Travelers aren’t necessarily interested in renting the cheapest available holiday rental. Let your competitors guide you when it comes to setting your nightly rate and upgrading your property. In short, you need to find a way to offer more value than your competitors, whether that’s by lowering your price slightly or upgrading your amenities.
That said, while you might be vying over the same potential guest, make time to network with other vacation rental owners. By being willing to share your own knowledge with your peers either in-person or online, you’ll also learn new vacation rental tips that can come in useful down the line.
One of the main reasons behind short-term rentals’ popularity is that they generally offer a unique experience that a hotel room lacks. That said, there’s no shortage of short-term rentals and travelers have virtually infinite options.
In addition to offering the expected amenities such as Wi-Fi, also make sure to pay attention to the finer touches. Similarly to guest reviews, these seemingly small details can make a massive difference.
Here are a couple of easy-to-implement ideas that can help you to create a memorable guest experience and offer an element of luxury:
If after reading these vacation rental tips you feel overwhelmed by the workload involved in running a successful short-term rental business, this tip is especially for you. There are several vacation rental software solutions available on the market that can help you to streamline your operations by automating many of the routine tasks.
Even if you plan on appointing a full-time property manager to take care of the day-to-day operations, you’ll need a touch of automation. Not only will it free up time that you can then dedicate to other key areas, but it will also help to reduce the chances of human error creeping in. Without a solid software solution to sync your calendars automatically, double bookings become a very real possibility.
As a matter of fact, a solution like iGMS will also be able to help you implement a number of the tips mentioned above like automating the check-in and guest reviews. What’s more, it can also help you to communicate with your cleaning and maintenance crew more efficiently and generate direct bookings via its website builder.
Just like your property needs technology to help deliver a first-class guest experience, host and property managers can also benefit from some tech help. Whether you have a private room, an apartment, or multiple vacation homes, signing up for vacation rental software can make a valuable contribution in various ways.
Here are a few of the other ways in which iGMS can help to reduce the workload:
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