without investment > Elevating Your Short-Term Rental Business: Crafting an Exceptional Guest Experience
Elevating Your Short-Term Rental Business: Crafting an Exceptional Guest Experience
In recent years, the boundary separating vacation rentals from traditional hotel and resort accommodations has blurred considerably.
When someone asks me about my line of work, I no longer respond with “Airbnb,” “vacation rentals (VRs),” or “short-term rentals” (STRs). Instead, I proudly declare, “I’m in hospitality.”
Whether you are a seasoned player in the industry or contemplating entry into the realms of VRs, STRs, or midterm rentals (MTRs), it’s imperative to recognize that you are, indeed, part of the hospitality industry.
While Airbnb has often been termed “the hotel killer,” the concept of accommodations like vacation rentals has existed for a substantial duration—it’s merely the modus operandi of booking and listing that has undergone transformation.
When I embarked on my journey in vacation rentals almost seven years ago, the available resources on the subject were sparse.
Therefore, to optimize my vacation rentals, I delved deep into literature focused on hotels and resorts.
It might sound unconventional, but I procured university textbooks that delved into hotel and resort management and optimization.
I even ventured into Disney’s insights on creating memorable experiences, irrespective of the industry—a surprisingly rich source of wisdom.
In the current economic climate, which may appear somewhat uncertain for STRs, it is paramount to view your STRs/VRs/MTRs as not just properties on a platform but as fully-fledged businesses.
As the industry continues to evolve, bracing for an influx of new properties, your objective should be to position yourself and your company as premier providers of hospitality in your locale.
At present, despite being in the off-season for my hospitality business amid an economic correction, my properties consistently maintain occupancy rates of 85% or higher, with substantial bookings worth tens of thousands pouring in every week.
Here’s a compilation of my insights, drawn from the wealth of knowledge gleaned from over 25 books on hospitality, hotels, and resorts. This blog article will be divided into a three-part series, with the first part focusing on the guest experience.
Learning from Disney: The Art of Guest Experience
My initial foray into understanding hospitality led me to a book penned by Disney, aptly titled “Be Our Guest.”
You might wonder, “Disney!?” Yet, surprisingly, Disney offers some of the most comprehensive training in hospitality through the Disney Institute.
One of the fascinating lessons from Disney revolves around engaging all five senses to craft an unforgettable guest experience.
Consider how to stimulate the five senses within your properties, both indoors and outdoors.
Reflect on the initial scent that greets guests as they step into your property. We opt for air fresheners that resonate with the local environment.
Bonus tip: Walt Disney firmly believed in having a captivating centerpiece for every property.
When one thinks of Disney, the iconic image that often springs to mind is Cinderella’s castle.
Following a similar train of thought, explore various avenues to infuse uniqueness into your property—what we like to call “Instagrammability.”
This could range from introducing distinctive accent walls in your rooms to architecturally shaping the entire property.
I’ve witnessed hosts incorporating murals, both indoors and outdoors, to enhance the overall guest experience.
Furthermore, consider incorporating an Instagram handle or social media account for your company within the property itself, encouraging guests to share their experiences.
This is a strategy widely employed by hotels and resorts. After all, the most compelling advocates for your properties are your former guests, and establishing a robust social media presence facilitates precisely that.
Marketing Like a Pro: Expanding Beyond One Platform
For the past two years, I’ve consistently emphasized the need to diversify beyond a single platform.
If your property is exclusively listed on one platform, such as Airbnb, it could be cause for concern.
This isn’t a critique of Airbnb per se, but rather a recognition of the vulnerability that arises from relying solely on one specific platform, subject to its algorithmic changes.
Now, let’s hark back to the world of hotels and resorts for insights. Recently, my wife and I planned a trip to Tulum Beach in Mexico via Expedia.
Upon checking into the resort, as is customary, we provided our contact information to access Wi-Fi.
Subsequently, we began receiving periodic emails from the resort, encouraging us to book directly through their website. These emails also featured links to their social media accounts.
This experience prompted me to contemplate how we could implement a similar strategy in our business. Fortunately, I came across a service known as StayFi, which I’ve discussed previously. StayFi essentially transforms your internet service into an email capture tool.
Through StayFi, we collect emails from our guests while they stay with us. Subsequently, we initiate seasonal email campaigns directed at these guests through the platform.
The emails and associated marketing materials are pre-designed, streamlining the process.
We employ this service in conjunction with a direct booking site. Guests discover our properties on online travel agencies like Airbnb, VRBO, or Booking.com.
After booking and experiencing their stay, we capture their email via StayFi. We then commence a series of seasonal emails, directing them to our direct booking site.
This approach empowers you with full control over your guests’ experience, sans intermediaries.
Moreover, it enables the creation of a valuable business asset, should you ever contemplate selling your entire portfolio.
In our case, we’ve acquired properties in the past that came with substantial email lists of previous guests, which we incorporated into our database and utilized to initiate direct booking campaigns.
In my earnest belief, the future of STRs and VRs lies in delivering distinctive accommodations—properties that guests take pride in staying at and eagerly share on their social media platforms.
With this perspective, I contend that a treasure trove of insights awaits discovery within the annals of hotel and resort management, especially in the realms of guest experience, operations, and financial management.
Ultimately, it all falls under the overarching umbrella of providing exceptional hospitality to individuals residing in your properties.
I genuinely invite you to share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.
This journey has been a labor of love for me since I embarked on my vacation rental venture seven years ago, and I value your opinions and experiences.