In an effort to track and improve homeowners’ response time to inquiries, we have implemented a few changes to our Vacationer Inquiry System on WeNeedaVacation.com. Rest assured, you still have immediate access to the name and email address of the inquiring vacationer, but the initial inquiry email you get from us will look a little different.
What changes did you make to the process?
The inquiry email you receive from vacationers is now being sent from an email address unique to each inquiry. Inquiries used to come from inquiry@WeNeedaVacation.com. They now come from the @message.weneedavacation.com domain.
Where is the vacationer’s email address?
Although the vacationer email address will no longer be displayed in the initial email inquiry, you can still view it on your Email Inquiry History or Inquiry Response pages.
The other change we made is one that will allow you to see your full email correspondence with a vacationer in your Email Inquiry History. Homeowners have often requested that they be able to maintain a complete correspondence thread with vacationers.
Why did you make the change to the inquiry process?
We receive numerous complaints from vacationers indicating that they are not hearing back from owners promptly, and, in some cases, not at all. Delays in response, or lack of a response altogether, cause vacationers to lose trust in your listings and our website. The new system also allows homeowners to track all their inquiries and responses more quickly and easily.
This enhancement will allow for the Inquiry Response Rate and Response Time for each owner to be calculated. Sometime within the next few months, it is expected that this information WILL be displayed for vacationers to view to help set expectations about when they will hear back from the homeowner.
What is the difference between Response Rate and Response Time?
Response Rate is the percentage of inquiries you respond to. The goal is to achieve a 100% response rate. Every inquiry should receive a response, even if your home is booked or the inquiry is inappropriate (e.g., your listing says you don’t consider pets, and they ask anyway).
Response Time is the time it takes you to respond to the initial inquiry. Vacationers are looking for quick results. The longer you take to respond, the less likely they’ll wait around to hear from you and instead will pursue other options.
Why is Response Time so important?
In the ever-evolving vacation rental industry, owner responsiveness has become one of the most crucial factors in successful renting. The sooner you respond to an inquiry, the better your chance of securing the booking. And remember that a vacationer may be inquiring about not only your home but several others as well.
In our recent Vacationer Survey, the number one criticism vacationers voiced, by far, is that homeowners are not responsive enough to their inquiries. Currently, only 58% of homeowner responses are under 4 hours and 70% under 10 hours.
Are you filtering out the vacationer’s contact information?
Certainly not. You are still in control of the communications with your guests. We will not be filtering out any contact information or requiring that responses only be sent through our platform. All of the information provided to us by vacationers is still passed along to you in its entirety.
How do I now reply to a vacationer’s inquiry?
There are several ways to reply:
• Reply the way you would to any email by hitting “Reply.” Your reply will go through our Inquiry system, capturing it on your Email Inquiry History page before forwarding it to the vacationer’s email address.
• Use the “Reply to Vacationer” link in the email to access the Inquiry Response form. The Response Form will require you to log in if you are not already.
• Use the “Reply to Vacationer” link in the Text Message Alert, if you receive Text Alerts. This will direct you to the Inquiry Response Form, where you can reply from there. (Read more about Using text alerts .)
In all of the above cases, your replies will be captured on the Email Inquiry History page linked to from the Vacationer Tracking section of your Homeowner Center.
What happens if I email or call the vacationer privately rather than go through your system?
You can reply to an inquiry privately via email or phone call. But if you don’t respond to an inquiry in one of the ways above, the system will not know that you have responded. Thus, you will need to go to your Email Inquiry History page and click “Yes” next to the “Already responded?” button.
There is a number in a circle next to the Email Inquiry History link on my Homeowner Center page. What does it mean?
If you have any inquiries you have not responded to (or you have not let us know that you have), they will be noted to the right of the link like this:
How can I avoid having my inquiries go into my Spam/Junk or Promotions folder?
On occasion, emails may get sent to spam/junk folders. To avoid this, be sure to add @message.weneedavacation.com and @weneedavacation.com to your Safe Senders list or Safe Domains.
If you use Gmail, inquiries may get redirected into your “Promotions” folder. If so, you can drag any inquiries you’ve already received from your Promotions folder into your Primary Inbox. And when you do, for a few brief seconds, you should see this message:
If you click Yes, future inquiries from us should appear normally in your Inbox.
Also in Gmail, a Filter may be the equivalent as shown in this screenshot:
How can I make replying easier for myself?
To facilitate your response process, prepare a document with more details about your home, along with answers to the most common questions you receive from prospective guests. Then when you get an inquiry, you can quickly copy and paste the language, modifying it to suit the inquiry. And if you find that you’re being asked the same questions over and over again, you might enhance your property listing description.
Can vacationers see my Response Time?
Not yet. Soon you will be able to see your Response Time, but in the near future, vacationers will see it, too.
Does my Response Time affect my listing’s rank in the search?
Not at this time, but it will be factored into the search ranking in May or June of 2021.
In the Email Inquiry History, what do “Expand all” and “Collapse all” do?
You can click on “Expand all” or “Collapse all” to view or hide all of your email correspondence with each vacationer. Or, just click on the arrow to the left of the name to view the correspondence with just that one vacationer.
In the Email Inquiry History, what does “Archive” mean?
After you’ve responded, you can “Archive” any inquiries you don’t want to see any more. This will remove them from your visible list of inquiries. To make them visible again, check the “Show archived” box.
Can I still attach a lease or other documents to my reply?
Yes, you can include attachments such as a lease to your inquiry replies. But you would need to do so by replying to the email directly and including an attachment as you normally would to an email. You can also use a storage service (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive) and then share the public URL to the file with your guests. Currently, there is not a way to include an attachment when replying through the Owner Response Form.
Do I need to respond to every inquiry, even if it’s not appropriate?
Yes! Each inquiry deserves a response. If your home is inappropriate for them (e.g., they have too many people in their party or want to bring their pet), tell them that so that they can move on to other listings. They have taken the time to submit the inquiry. Give them the courtesy of a quick response.
If your home is already booked for the week inquired about, use it as a marketing opportunity for a future booking. Invite the vacationer to reach out to you again in the future – or perhaps they could be convinced to select a different week that is available.
What if I get a duplicate inquiry?
We have a process to identify and exclude duplicate inquiries from your Response Rate/Time. If you see one that is not flagged as a duplicate, then feel free to contact us.
What’s the most important thing that I should keep in mind?
Respond to every inquiry just as quickly as you can. And keep your calendar date stamp as up to date as possible. Both of these are vital to your marketing success. Read more about Successfully Converting Inquiries to Bookings.