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.
Response rate vs. response time
Response rate is the percentage of inquiries you respond to. Needless to say, that should be 100%! 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). Too often we hear from vacationers that they have sent multiple inquiries and not received a response.
Response time is the time it takes you to respond to the initial inquiry. And the sooner the better. Vacationers are looking for instant results. They’re busy and want to learn what their options are in order to make a decision as soon as possible. The longer you take to respond, the less likely they’ll wait around to hear from you and instead will pursue other options.
Quotes from vacationers:
“I did not book through you as the responsiveness of owners on the site was atrocious!”
“I inquired about a couple of properties and never heard back from them. Some listings didn’t have an accurate availability calendar. This was disappointing.”
“You must insist that owners update their calendars! I stopped using your site because I would inquire about a house that was supposedly available only to find out— sometimes three days later—that it was not. It was very disheartening.”
Our new Email Inquiry Process
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. Initial inquiries will now be sent to you from an email address that is a “unique” address per inquiry (****@message.weneedavacation.com).
You can either hit “Reply” to the email through your email provider, or you can use the “Reply to Vacationer” link in the email (or in the Text Message Alert, if you receive them) to log in and reply through your listing. In all these cases, your replies will be captured on the “Email Inquiry History” page on your account.
You can view and track all your email inquiries there as well as your responses to them.
Although the vacationer’s email address will not be visible on the Inquiry Email you receive, it will still be available to you on your Email Inquiry History page. So, at any point after your initial response, you can communicate directly with the vacationer. And if the vacationer provided a phone number, you will still have access to it and can reply by phone.
If you do not reply to an inquiry by email, or you do so by emailing the vacationer directly using their email address (i.e., not through the system), your Response will not be captured on your Email Inquiry History page.
Not only will you not have record of it on your account, but the system will not know that you have responded to the inquiry. Thus, you will need to go to your Email Inquiry History page and click “Yes” next to the “Already responded?” button.
The link to your Email Inquiry History page is under the Guest Tracking section of your Homeowner Center. If you have any inquiries you have not responded to (or have not let us know that you have), they will be noted to the right of the link like this:
Regardless of how you send an email response to a vacationer, you will be able to include attachments such a lease.
In the future
At present, we are tracking only Response Rates, i.e., whether or not you respond to your inquiries. But in the future, we will also be tracking Response Times. Here are some other enhancements we plan to add:
- Automatically generating reminder emails from us if you haven’t responded to an inquiry within a certain time frame – or haven’t let us know that you have.
- Including Response Rates and Times on the Listing Quality Audit, which is visible to your eyes only from your Homeowner Center.
- Including Response Rates and Times on your listing for vacationers to see.
- Including Response Rates and Times in a listing ranking process.
What do you need to do now?
As mentioned, you can respond to your email inquiries just as you have in the past, either by replying to it directly in your email account or by using the “Reply to Vacationer” link in the Inquiry email or the link in your Text Alert. Both of those will direct you to the Email Inquiry History page in your account, where you can respond.
If you don’t respond to an inquiry in one of those ways, you will need to log in to your Email Inquiry History page and indicate that you have responded. Note: if you don’t, your Response Rate and Time will be affected.
The most important thing for you to do is to respond to every inquiry just as quickly as you can, and keep your calendar date stamp as up to date as possible. Read more about Successfully Converting Inquiries to Bookings.