Aktualizacja: 9 kwi 2019
Booking apps have made it easy for everyone to become a vacation rental host. However, in the face of growing competition, you need more than just the perfect location to achieve success. This is why great guest experience has become a must-do, rather than a nice-to-have. Read on to find out what 9 factors have the biggest impact on vacation property guest experience, and what pitfalls to avoid.
The importance of guest experience
Imagine the following situation: you're going on holiday abroad, you have rented a beautiful sea-front villa in Spain for your entire family - and it's all yours! Of course, you're really excited about the trip.
The plane lands at 1 am 80 miles away from your property’s location. You can't find a local airport transfer and you're trying to call the host, but he's not picking up. Your hands begin to sweat as you get into the taxi, not really knowing the language or where you’re going. And of course, the taxi driver rips you off.
After arriving at the property address, you can't find the house for a good 20 minutes. You're getting more and more frustrated. When you've finally found it, the door code for the electronic lock doesn't work. Great. You sigh in desperation and try calling the host a few more times, in vain. Finally, you get enough phone signal to check your email, and see that the door code there is different from the one provided in the text message. The second door code finally works.
By now, it’s 3 am. You're tired and frustrated. On top of that, you're starving. But you didn’t see any open restaurants around at that time, and there's no food in the fridge. You go to the bathroom to discover...there's no toilet paper. What the hell?! This is the last time you're renting a vacation property!
You curse under your breath wishing you had booked a hotel instead. This is what bad guest experience looks like.
As we explained in our previous post <link>, guest experience has a significant impact on vacation rental property bottom line. In the face of fierce competition, guest experience can be make-or-break for your vacation rental business. Here are the main factors that have the biggest impact on vacation rental property guest experience. Fortunately, you can easily improve on them to boost your reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat bookings.
1. 24/7 Communication with the host
Vacation rental properties, unlike hotels, usually do not have a 24/7 reception desk. As a host you hardly ever get to welcome your guests in person. This may cause you some problems, from late-night check-in through to undiscovered technical problems in the property (e.g. AC or heating not working) or other unforeseen emergencies.
There is nothing that ruins guest experience more than not being able to reach the host when there is a problem with the property.
The most frequent problems that ruin the experience of vacation rental property guests – and which are easily solvable with better communication! – include:
Late arrival times
Inability to find an airport transfer
Difficulty locating the property
Problems with finding the keys/ opening the doors
Maintenance issues in the property
Problems finding supplies (towels, hair-dryer, toilet roll, extra blankets etc.)
Looking for local recommendations
Health & safety concerns
So, how can you fix these issues and improve communication with your guests? Offer a 24/7 live messenger through a post-booking app. Welcome your guests in the app by including a warm welcome and few words about yourself and the company. Stay in touch with your guests and respond to any issues that may arise during the trip and stay. Many guests (particularly millennials) prefer texting to calling. Plus, WIFI is usually easier to find these days, more reliable and cheaper than international phone calls.
2. All important information in one place
Another way to communicate with your customers is by providing all the important information about the property in a post-booking guest app.
Printed property booklets should be ancient history by now. Not only are they costly (and need regular updating – hence costly replacement), but also are not available to your guests when they are exploring the area. Yes, some guests still appreciate them, but most prefer to use modern technology. You can now provide all the important info to your guests on their smartphones (with offline functionality) by publishing it in the guest experience app .
Hello Here provides all the necessary information to your guests. You can include manuals with how-to videos of all appliances that may confuse your guests. For example:
How to program the air conditioning or thermostat
How to use remote controls for TVs or audio system
How to operate kitchen appliances
Moreover – there are automated, scheduled push notifications – so you can share a relevant piece of info to your guests (e.g. the door code) exactly when and where they need it. You can preset and automate the messages with details such as directions to the property, door codes, WIFI passwords, or information about local restaurants that open late right when they need it. This is how you can wow your guests with great customer care and save time on answering the same questions over and over again. Win-win.
3. Complimentary airport transfers
As a local, you know the best and cheapest way to get from the airport to your property depending on arrival time. Knowing your guests’ ETA in advance, you can offer them different airport transfer options as a complimentary service. It's the most intuitive upsell you can offer and many guests will be relieved it is available. After all, few holidaymakers are keen to test their foreign language skills at three in the morning.
4. Impeccable Cleanliness
Cleanliness complaints are one of the most frequent causes of guest dissatisfaction. There's nothing that ruins guest experience more than finding that the bedsheets have not been changed after the previous inhabitants, and there's no one to around to change them.
The most frequent cleanliness problems, according to Evolve Vacation Rental, are:
unmade beds/dirty bedsheets
hair on the sinks, in the shower, and on the bathroom floor (gross!)
leftovers in the fridge
rubbish that has not been taken away
Make sure your cleaning staff remove all traces of the previous guests. These are really bare essentials, after all, your next guests really don't want to know what your previous guests cooked, or what their hair colour was!
According to SFC Europe's blog, other housekeeping and cleanliness complaints that ruin vacation rental property profits include:
Rubbish under the bed
Hair on the floor
Poor quality furniture
Smudges and fingerprints on mirrors and windows
Damp patches on the ceilings/walls
Not enough supplies (toilet paper, soap etc.)
Regular cleans that prevent the above complaints are an obvious must but remember that once every few weeks, you should also order a deep cleans including:
Dry cleaning of carpets,
Washing the curtains,
Descaling shower heads
Deep-cleaning of the fridge and all kitchen utensils and devices
5. It looks just like in the pictures!
Up-to-date listings are extremely important for maintaining high levels of trust and great guest experience. There's nothing more disappointing than arriving at the property and finding it looks nothing like the pictures!
If you make any changes to the design, decoration or furnishing of your property, make sure you update your listing with new, professional photos.
6. Everything works
Well-maintained facilities are another factor that has a big impact on guest experience. There is nothing more annoying to find the hairdryer isn't working when you're going out for a show in half an hour. Make sure you do regular checks on all the fixtures and appliances:
Check the taps are working
Check the cooker, fridge and all kitchen devices (e.g. the toaster)
Make sure the hairdryer works, is fast and safe
Ensure good water pressure in the shower - this is one of holidaymakers’ pet peeves!
Run safety checks on sockets and fuses
Replace any broken lightbulbs
Check door locks and hinges
Oil any squeaking hinges
Make sure the windows open and close properly
The TV and intercom work properly
The AC and heating are working properly, the thermostats allow the guests to adjust the temperature easily - make sure you include any necessary instructions on how to do it in your guest app
The internet router is working, and the WIFI connection speed is fast.
7. Enough supplies
When you're hosting a family of five you need to prepare more towels, toilet paper, toiletries (soap, shampoo) and other supplies than when you're hosting a couple. Many vacation rental property owners forget this crucial fact. Running out of toilet paper in the middle of the night can really ruin guest experience, so make sure you provide enough supplies for your guests.
To provide five-star guest experience, don't forget about:
extra towels - make sure they are really spotless and of great quality (absorb water well).
a range of toiletries - supply shampoo, soap, toothpaste or even new toothbrushes - this small gesture can make your holidaymakers feel like they are staying in a great hotel, let alone a vacation rental property.
Many people, especially with children, choose vacation rental properties rather than hotels because of the opportunity to cook their own food. If anyone in your family has serious food allergies or special dietary requirements, then you know what I'm talking about. Maybe you eat only kosher or halal food, are on a special diet for health reasons, or one of your kids is a fussy eater.
In any case: if you're going to cook on your holidays, you need a well-equipped kitchen.
As a vacation holiday property host, you can cater to this need by making sure your kitchen is well-supplied with all the necessary kitchen appliances and utensils. You can also wow your guests by providing herbs, spices and recipes for local food!
In any case, it's good to make sure:
You have a proper cooker, oven and microwave that work
There are all the pots, pans, spatulas and other utensils you would use in your own kitchen
You have a complete set of cutlery and crockery
You have convenience kitchen devices – a toaster is a must, but you could also impress your guests with a blender (complete with healthy smoothie recipes - especially made with local fruit!) or a juicer.
The kitchen is well-designed - there is enough table-top space, the drawers open smoothly, and there is room to move around
Make sure the fridge is big enough and has a freezer with ice-cubes
Don't forget about corkscrew and bottle opener! There's nothing more frustrating than buying a nice bottle of local wine and not being able to open it
Well-designed, maintained and equipped bathroom
We have already mentioned a lot about bathrooms in the 'cleanliness' and 'enough supplies' sections, but there is another factor that influences guest experience when it comes to bathrooms: the design.
Make sure the bathroom is spacious enough – having the showerhead over the toilet seat is a no-go!
Providing both the shower and a bathtub will cater to a five-star guest experience
Refresh the design every few years
Provide anti-slip mats and bathroom runners
Floor heating in winter and towel dryers are becoming more and more expected
Provide all the toiletries located conveniently in places where you need them
Make sure you have air fresheners and good ventilation
8. Curated recommendations
Booking holidays abroad is really exciting - but spending hours online looking for what to see and do? Not so much. Spare your guests the hassle and deliver a great guest experience by providing curated recommendations on:
What to see and do around the property
Major tourist attractions and sights (including ticket prices and opening times) at the destination
Best local restaurants and bars - with price ranges and opening times
Where to get food late at night
Your favourite spots for gigs and live music
Where to shop for food, clothes and souvenirs
Any festivals or events happening during your guests' stay
You can easily update and manage your recommendations in the 'curated recommendations' section of Hello Here app.
9. Additional services
Last but not least, another major factor influencing guest experience is the ability to book additional services directly from the vacation property host. Holidaymakers usually don't want to search for bike rental or worry about the check-out times. In the era of convenience, everyone prefers to have everything in one place. To cater to this trend, offer your guests additional services such as:
Late check-out/early check-in
Sports equipment rental (bikes, surfing boards, skis etc.)
Local produce basket
Fridge & bar refill etc.
There are plenty of factors affecting guest experience, but if you get the above 9 points right, we're sure you'll receive the oh-so-important 5-star reviews!
Guest experience doesn’t just happen. The bottom line is you should plan it and execute it carefully and deliberately. HelloHere will help you design the content so your guests have all the important information at their fingertips, even with no internet connection (almost magic!).
After all, we build relationships on communication. So - make sure that you communicate in a way that is easy, relevant and adds real value.
Good luck! And if you want to check how guest experience translates into maximising vacation rental profits then check out our previous blog post about it here