A few weeks ago, my husband and I stayed at the Hotel Marlowe in Boston. While I would choose a vacation rental over a hotel in almost every situation, it was nice to feel a bit pampered. And pampered we were. In fact, they made us feel downright special. It got me thinking about how beneficial it is for vacation rental homeowners offer some of this pampering in an easy and inexpensive way. The new trend in hospitality is personalization, making an emotional connection, helping the guest feel comfortable, welcome and special. Why? Because treating someone this way leads to return visits, excellent reviews, friends telling friends, and even blog posts!
Here’s the story. First, the Marlowe emailed me a week before our stay and asked if we were celebrating anything and if there was a picture of someone or something special that we would like to email them. They would have this picture waiting for us so that we felt very much at home. Wow. So, I sent a picture from our wedding and told them it was our 15th anniversary. They wrote back offering congratulations, and, sure enough, the picture was waiting – 8.5 x 11 printed on nice paper. I imagine it took 3 minutes to print and cost less than a dollar, but boy, were we impressed!
They also upgraded our room and sent us champagne and chocolates with a personal note again acknowledging our anniversary.
Then they sent me a survey a couple of days after the weekend asking how the stay was. Survey took me 5 minutes. Usually I ignore surveys like this, but because they were so great, I took the time. Then, I received a personalized response back, inviting me to return. At the least, I’ll recommend this hotel to friends, and I’ve widely shared our story.
While some of this does not fit the vacation rental business, the overall message is that excellent customer service and personalization goes a very long way. We are constantly reading weneedavacation.com 4 and 5 star guest reviews where there is an overpowering appreciation for the homes that provide “those little extras.”
Here is a list of ideas we think vacation rental homeowners could offer in order to go above and beyond. There is a “pay back”, so think of these as an investment in money and happiness.
- Send a Cape Cod or Islands friendly postcard to your guests a few weeks before their stay.
- Or send them our Vacation Planner Guide book, a Chamber book, map, menus from your town.
- Provide a welcome gift. Something small like saltwater taffy, cranberry soap, Cape Cod coffee mug, bottle of wine, a beach bucket and shovel for the kids. Include a personal welcome note.
- Ask about whether this is a special occasion. Try the picture idea if you are nearby, or think of another creative way to acknowledge their celebration. Birthday?
- Call them 24 hours into their vacation to check in, asking if you can do anything to make their stay easy and fun. This is a great opportunity for them to tell you about a small concern like “how do you work the TV remotes?” or “where is the lobster pot?” before those concerns grow over time.
After their trip, if you feel they had a super time, send them an email to thank them, invite them back, and ask for feedback. Our Guest Review Request feature offers you a generic email template that you can (and should) personalize.
Finally, keep this in mind. The vacation rental industry is changing. Love it or hate it, it is reality. There are more choices of homes to rent, and vacationers are being offered more amenities and special treatment. That is not all bad. Staying in a vacation rental is often a more personal accommodation choice because you are in someone’s home. We love that about vacation rentals. But it’s important for homeowners to do everything you can to distinguish yourself from your competition and provide your tenants the highest level of enjoyment possible.
Have you rented a home lately? How would you like to be treated?
We have written similar blog posts that will also provide you with ideas and encouragement: