The more homeowners understand about today’s vacationers, the more successful they are in their rental business. Thanks in large part to technology, vacationers are accustomed to almost instant gratification – and it behooves homeowners to manage their rentals accordingly. In her Blog post The NOW Customer, Julia Luce aptly defines today’s short-term rental vacationer.
Who is the NOW Customer?
According to Luce, they are “consumers who seek speed, results, and an emotional connection from the brands they frequent.” They are always “on” and don’t tolerate “try again later.” Their expectations have risen dramatically due to on-demand technology and the incredibly fast results provided by companies like Amazon and Netflix.
Vacationers are your customers. How can you best respond to their demands?
Time is of the essence
Like all of us, vacationers are busy! When they set aside time to research their vacation rental, they want to get results quickly, not take hours, days, or weeks to make decisions and get things settled.
- Responding to inquiries: It starts with their initial inquiry to you. How quickly do you respond? Keep in mind that yours is likely not the only listing they are inquiring about. The sooner you respond, the greater the likelihood of converting that inquiry into a booking. Read our post about Response Time Matters!
- All your communications with vacationers: And it’s not just the initial inquiry – being promptly responsive to all of their communications is important. We have heard complaints from vacationers that the homeowner was very responsive at first but less so once the booking was confirmed. How would that make you feel? Read more about the Importance of Good Communication, especially during the pandemic.
- Conveying the lease: Instead of sending your lease through the mail, you can email it to your guests and ask that they print, sign, scan, and email it back to you. And then you do the same so that they have a signed copy. This really expedites the process. If you have a DocuSign account, that provides a great option, too.
- Providing online payment options: Another way to accelerate and facilitate the booking process is to offer online payment options. Read more about the Benefits of Offering Online Payment Options and Online Payment Options for Your Guests. Not only are online payments very popular with vacationers, but they provide many advantages to homeowners as well. They are safe, quick, easy, and trackable online.
- Returning security deposits: Even after your guests leave, don’t forget to return their security deposits as quickly as possible. Even if they sent you a check, offer to return the funds via Venmo or some other quick and easy online option. The longer your guests have to wait for their security deposits, the more anxious they get. And what started out as a great relationship can quickly sour.
- Requesting guest reviews: Your request for a guest review should also be sent very soon after their departure and the return of their security deposit. Read more about the need to Strike While the Iron’s Hot.
It’s also about professionalism
While speed and responsiveness are paramount, it’s also important to provide your guests with a frictionless experience. One way to assure that is to use templates, when appropriate, for:
- responding to inquiries
- sending additional information about your home or activities in your area
- sending instructions to enter your home
- returning security deposits
- requesting guest reviews
It’s also helpful to use a good, reliable booking management system to keep you organized, prevent double bookings, track documents and payments, and note special situations or requests. Read more about how to use our Booking Management system to start Managing Your Bookings with Ease.
The importance of that personal connection
In addition to speed and efficiency, vacationers also prefer to engage with the homeowner or manager and to experience a personal connection. According to Luce, “Customers who feel an emotional connection with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend that brand 26% more than the average.”
Give your guests that emotional connection to your home and to you. Read more about Personalizing your Rental Business. Provide some information about yourself on the About the Owner page on your listing. Either there or when you’re communicating with them, let them know about the history of your home or your history with it. In general, try to connect with your guests on a personal level.
Here are some tips about how to provide your guests with a really fun, relaxing time in your home, Perfecting your Guests’ Experience.
The key to today’s successful rental management
Managing a short-term vacation rental has always been a service business, requiring top-notch customer service to your guests. But today’s vacationer, the NOW vacationer, also demands immediate responses to their questions, a more professional approach to the booking and general communications from you, and even a personal connection if possible.
I too believe in speedy communications, but the more quality communications exchanged the better. As a fraud investigator I always prepare for the worst (renter possible). If there is a law suit to follow, for any reason, I need to document who is renting my home. I ask for a home phone, personal Email address, actual physical home address, not a PO box, and most importantly payment by personal check. I’m not a worry wort, but I believe in the accurate documenting of pertinent information. I know there has been conversation regarding the receipt of the down payment prior to sending out the lease, I do both at the same time by snail mail and this has worked easily and efficiently for the past 10 years. And then, of course, make sure the check clears before returning the signed lease to the renter. Nothing is carved in stone until I am completely satisfied with my future tenants.
My other comment today is the fact that all of my renters are booking unusually so very early this year and I am leery that many will be changing their minds, for any reason, prior to occupancy resulting in the possibilities of empty weeks. I would be interested to learn how my fears pan out.
Good luck everybody.