It’s often said that communication is key. When your guest first reaches out to you about renting your property, the method, tone and urgency in which communicate with them will determine whether they choose to book with you or not. It’s a crucial time to show off your guest communications skills. Successful ‘rentalpreneurs’ must be prompt, polite and people-oriented.
In my life as an Airbnb rentalpreneur, I find a large portion of my day-to-day activity is spent responding to incoming reservation requests. Due to the international nature of the online vacation rental market, these requests will come at all times of the day and night. Owners should be prepared to answer all incoming messages quickly. Responsiveness is critical to confirming a reservation before they move on to the next host.
Unlike hotel reservations that can be quickly made online, with vacation rentals, there is often a lengthy dialogue with guests prior to booking. Potential guests know the value of contacting several hosts to improve their chances of booking a place. Responsiveness is—and always will be— the most effective way to confirm bookings.
1) Personalize Your Responses
When receiving an inquiry, get personal with your response. If they mention they have kids, for example, refer to how your place is child friendly. An owner finding common ground with their guests is very important. One way to do that is to review the guest profile and highlight anything you may have in common in your email correspondence. This not only lets you get a better picture of who they are, but also lets you speak directly to how your property meets their needs. After all, guests are communicating with a human, not a robot.
2) Create a Sense of Urgency
Close each deal quickly by creating a sense of urgency. Most hosts receive some version of the email, “Is your place still available?” A simple response of “Yes!” might seem satisfactory, but you can shift the balance of power in the negotiation by instead responding, “It is at the moment. I’ve been communicating with someone else today who is interested, but they haven’t confirmed the reservation yet.” This creates a definite sense of urgency while the same time reducing the possibility of them asking for a discount.
3) Provide Clear Guidelines
Be clear in your house guidelines so there are no misunderstandings or false expectations. For example, guests are often annoyed when owners state they are pet-friendly or pets-considered, but after going through the trouble of contacting the owner they find out that only certain types of pet or pet sizes are allowed. Be equally transparent and straightforward when you’re communicating about your total costs (ie. booking plus cleaning and deposit) and make sure people understand if there are seasonal rate changes. Don’t forget to update your booking calendar across the multiple sites where you host your property so the available dates are clearly communicated.
4) Create an FAQ
Make a list of all guest questions you receive and peridodically update your house guide to address them. During their stay, if any questions arise, answer them quickly and to the best of your ability. Feel free to go into detail about how the property amenities work, while making sure the guests know multiple ways of how to get in contact with you.The guests will feel heard and appreciate that you’re going above and beyond to make them feel at ease in their new surroundings. You also will be working to maintain a positive vacation rental brand.
5) Initiate Contact Pre- and Post-Stay
Contact guests immediately after check-in and check-out. Many guests experience easy-to-solve problems within the first hour of their stay. By reaching out to them shortly after check-in, these issues can be immediately resolved. After a guests checks out, wish them safe travels and emphasize what a pleasure it was hosting them. These simple touches will leave a lasting impression and ensure fabulous reviews, all contributing to higher vacation property revenue and your success as a rentalpreneur.
This article was written by Scott Shatford, a vacation rental industry expert and founder of airdna.co, an analytics service for property owners.