Aktualizacja: 9 kwi 2019
Guest experience is a key factor that influences reviews of your vacation rental property.
But there's so much more to excellent guest experience than just getting 5-star reviews. Great guest experience bumps up your property on OTA's listings. You are also more likely to upsell additional services to your guests (e.g. complementary airport transfers or tours) if you make a great impression on them. First-class customer service also gives you more clients from word-of-mouth referrals. Finally, offering great guest experience encourages your guests to book your property again in the future. In other words, there are plenty of ways how guest experience can affect your bottom line.
How does guest experience affect your rental property profits?
You may wonder, why does guest experience matter so much? Isn't it enough to have a nice property in a great location?
Booking sites ( OTAs or vacation rental listing sites) like Airbnb or Booking.com have made it easy for everyone who has a property in a good location to enter the hospitality business. This also means that the competition has become really fierce, so in order to win your guests' business - you need to wow them with more than just a central location and clean bedsheets.
This is where guest experience comes in.
Imagine you're travelling to a vacation rental property yourself. It's 1 am when you arrive at the airport and you can't find a transfer to your property's location. You take a taxi, get ripped off and feel annoyed by the time you reach your destination.
Not a good start to your dream holiday in a vacation home.
To make matters worse, your vacation rental property is hard to find. Maybe you can’t quite make out the signposts on the dimly lit street and you're getting increasingly nervous. You're trying to call the owner, but he's not picking up.
Then, when you do actually find the house, you can't seem to open the door with the code the owner sent you earlier. Or, you can't open that email without WIFI access.
You start cursing under your breath and wishing you’d just checked into a hotel.
When you finally manage to enter the property, you're tired and frustrated.
Would you be likely to recommend this property to your friends after an experience like this?
Would you be likely to leave the owner a 5-star review, even if the house looks nice?
Of course not.
Would you come back and book the same vacation house again?
If you put yourself in your guests' shoes, it's much easier to understand why guest experience matters so much.
Better reviews = higher search result rankings
5-star reviews and 'Superhost' status are the key factors affecting your listing’s position on vacation rental listing sites, such as in Airbnb's search results. This means your vacation rental property will be more visible to potential guests if your previous clients had a good guest experience.
Also, many users of booking apps filter vacation properties in their selected destination by review score and will book based on the reviews. According to softwareadvice.com, 96% of holidaymakers consult the reviews before booking their vacation property.
Did you consult online reviews of the property before booking?
Therefore, great guest experience directly translates into more bookings.
Great guest experience: more word-of-mouth referrals and repeat bookings
Listing your property on an OTAs may be free, but when your guest actually books a stay through their site, they charge a hefty fee: up to 15% of the booking price!
If you own a few rental properties and need to pay for laundry service, cleaning and property management on top of that, then booking fees can seriously erode your margins.
What can you do to sidestep OTAs booking fees?
Let's face it, most holidaymakers look for vacation rental properties online. However - once you've hosted your guests once and wowed them with your awesome guest experience - you can encourage them to rebook directly in the future and skip the hefty booking fees! Many guests will be very understanding of that once they have gotten to know you and you’ve built a personal relationship.
Guests coming back for family holidays year after year
According to Skift.com, a whopping 73% of Americans return to the same vacation property within five years of their first booking!
Many guests choose vacation property rental rather than hotels because they are travelling with young children and/or pets. Vacation home rental is the perfect solution for family holidays as it offers more privacy and flexibility. Many guests value the opportunity to cook their own food, which is especially important when someone in the family has special dietary requirements (or fussy children – am I right Mom?!). Another reason why vacation property rental is becoming more popular is that it's easier to bring your own sports equipment (bikes, skis, surfing boards etc.) to a vacation house rather than squeezing it into a small hotel room.
Once a family has found that 'perfect spot' - a property that really meets their needs – and made friends with the host and other families visiting that destination, they are likely to come back in the future! I remember my family used to go to the same vacation property host in a seaside resort year after year. As a small child I treated the lady who rented her spare room to us as my 'second grandma', she would even make pancakes for me in the morning (now that's what I call a great guest experience!). We simply couldn't imagine a summer without going there. That's also why building a great relationship with your guests is so important as a host; think of it as building your brand as a vacation property owner.
How to manage direct repeat bookings with post-booking guest experience apps
Of course, if you are only renting a spare room - like the lady from my childhood vacations - it's easy to manage direct bookings. The situation gets more complicated when you're juggling a few properties. You need a robust system - not just pen and paper.
That's where post-booking guest experience apps come into play. Hello Here is a great example of a post-booking guest experience app that allows you to contact your guests directly. You can invite them to rebook your property directly from your website and automate the process using push notifications. The in-app automatic notifications can remind your regular guests to book your property a few months before their usual travel time. That way, they can act as marketing messages for your property, in the same way as a newsletter would (but more tailored and relevant to your guests!). According to Google research, people are more comfortable with booking holiday and in-destination activities on their mobile devices:
Since we all tend to use mobile devices in our everyday lives, why not take advantage of this and let push notifications remind your guests to repeat their booking? You can also use the push notification to offer discounts, or to suggest stays at your property over major festivals or events in your area.
Offer upsells to your guests
Providing great guest experience can also help you to maximise your vacation rental profits by letting you sell additional products or services to your guests. And, you are more likely to succeed at offering 'upsells' to your customers if you make a good impression on them. Once you have wowed them with the guest experience at your property, they will trust that the trips you are offering are equally amazing. There are many things you can sell to your guests in addition to rooms:
Additional services in the property such as late check-out/early check-in, fridge refills, extra towels etc.
Sports equipment rental (bikes, skis, surfing boards etc.)
Trips and sightseeing tours in the area
The sky is the limit! You can easily offer your guests upsells through your guest app!
How to boost your guests' experience?
Now, the big question is, how can you actually improve the vacation experience for your guests?
There are several proven ways to do this.
Remember the horror story from the beginning of our article, about a guest getting lost and not being able to find your house? This happens very often in real life. It has happened to me several times actually - and when I needed to contact the host urgently, I was not able to do that through the booking app. Plus, some booking apps can take up to 24 hours to respond to your urgent requests! Not a great guest experience!
Fortunately, you can put an end to this by using post-booking guest experience apps. Hello Here allows you to message your guests instantly. Also, if you put key information about how to locate the property into the app, it will be available for your guests to access - even offline.
Complimentary airport transfers
Getting ripped off by taxi drivers in a foreign country is an unpleasant but unfortunately common experience for travellers. You can prevent your guests from falling victim to dishonest taxi drivers, however, simply by offering airport transfers as an additional post-booking service. You can resell tickets for public transport at local prices and add a small commission - your guests will save money, arrive at your property smoothly and be delighted with the service!
It goes without saying - nobody likes finding hair from the previous guests (yikes!) in the bathroom sink. What other factors are most important for vacation rental property guests? Read our post 9 things that have the biggest impact on vacation rental guest experience here.
A fully equipped kitchen - complete with all essential kitchen utensils, cutlery and crockery - will be of great appeal to those who want to cook (believe me, there are plenty of families choosing vacation homes over hotel rooms especially for this reason). Throw in some herbs, spices and a few recipes for local dishes to really wow your guests.
There's also nothing more frustrating than not being able to find a bottle opener when you want to enjoy a glass of local wine after a long day of sightseeing!
Poor water pressure in the shower is one of
holidaymakers’ pet peeves. But what else ticks off your guests?
Poor quality towels, not enough toilet paper or a missing hairdryer also feature high on the list of troublesome bathroom frustrations.
To improve guest experience, make sure your bathroom is well-designed (spacious), well- maintained (regularly descaled shower heads, no water leaks, new facilities) and well-equipped (with towels and necessary toiletries).
Do you want to check a full list of what annoys guests the most in bathroom design? Or find a vacation rental bathroom inventory? Read our new blog post here.
Use technology to provide key information about your property
Printed property booklets should be last century. Not only are they costly and need regular updating (and therefore replacement), but they are also not available to your guests when they are out and about. Make all the important info accessible to your guests on their smartphones (with offline functionality) by providing it in your guest experience app.
Provide curated recommendations
Exploring a new city is exciting. Spending hours online researching what to see? Not so much. Spare your guests the hassle by providing curated recommendations: what to see, what to do and what to eat. This will help them make most out of their stay and to really experience local life. Know a must-see attraction or a great restaurant off the beaten track? You can add details to Hello Here's curated recommendations section. Read more about it in our post 9 things that have the biggest impact on vacation rental guest experience here.
Offer additional services
Providing extra services such as late check-out, fridge refills or extra cleaning/linen changes will make your guests feel as pampered as if they were in a 5-star hotel.
As you can see from the analysis above, guest experience is not just a ‘nice to have’ for a vacation rental property business – with a growing competition, it has become a must-have. Guest experience helps not only improve the reviews (which have a direct impact on booking decisions!) and your positioning on listing websites, but also has a direct impact on profits (maximising profits from repeat bookings and upsells).
We hope that the list will help you to impress your guests, keep the reviews peaking and your customers returning again and again! And you - will maximise your rental property profit!
Do you want to learn more about how to improve guest experience, with stats and instructions? Read our next blog post providing a more detailed description of the ways to improve guest experience here.