It used to be a challenge to get people to consider vacation rentals. They weren’t on the radar. There were few customers booking with a handful of managers through their own websites, over the phone and through adverts. The industry was limited to a small pockets of owners and managers and way to use a second home in the off-season. These were holidays homes and villas and they survived quietly for a numbers of years, some professional, some working as a side project. Guests would often swear by them to friends but they never managed the cultural impact of other types of accommodation.
But then came the online avalanche.
In the late 2000s the major listing sites arrived. The listing process became easy. Anyone with a house or a room could now compete with property managers on portal sites. It was the start of the Wild West for property management. As Airbnb and other portals built their reputations, the idea of a vacation rental become more appealing to the mass market. It was easy, individual, cheap and had cache as a cultural movement. Then began the contest to see who could make their listings stand out and draw in new bookings. There were so many new guests looking to book that it managed to sustain itself into a rickety industry of varying quality.
Standards were wildly inconsistent. Professional property managers crashed headlong into a wave of part-time renters with low prices. Booking a vacation rental had an air of rolling the dice when it came to your vacation. One trip you might be lucky enough to book with a professional property manager, another you end up with an amature, or even worse a scam. But, the guests kept coming.
This purple patch burnt brightly, but it ran out swiftly. The Yukon gold rush ended as supply caught up with demand. Customers matured and learned to spot a low quality listing from a mile away. Managers started to run out of customer base and the competition caught up in terms of creating credible listings. Guests are now spread very thinly across a huge number of property managers.
How can you stay ahead in this cut-throat market?
We could write about building your site, social media, getting the right photos on your listings - but these are just the new basics. If you want to be in the real top tier of property managers, you now need to offer more to the experience than how guests find you. Rather than learning small tips on improving your listings, property managers need to rethink their entire approach.
The new challenge is not to try to reach the highest amount of potential bookers - but to have the biggest impact on the guests that stay with you. The focus is now on service and experience. As prices start to run more parallel with hotels your guests need a reason to choose your property over any others.
Anticipation, planning, booking, experience and sharing are what make up a vacation. For too long the focus has been on bookings and nothing else. A structure to give your guests a more personalised service at every stage is now more lucrative and has a better return on investment than attempting to reach a higher number of single-stay customers.
The process of building your business becomes slower but your foundation is stronger. Your business is growing into a sustainable, free-standing enterprise that is not shackled to any third-party company. The foundation of your business is now your guests, rather than your ranking on listing sites or search engines. You take the power back. Your business is now focused on the revenue over the lifetime of a guest rather than the number of guests that come through your door. You encourage repeat business and turn each guest into an advocate. The rise of mass listings made managers lose focus on the power of a guest recommendation and simple word of mouth. The best review from a stranger is still never to be more influential than the recommendation of a trusted friend.
Guest experience will make or break property management businesses. The businesses that are going to emerge from the wreckage of the great property management avalanche are the ones that can build a methodology to provide high level service and outstanding experiences for every guest, on every booking.
Vreasy provides property managers with a system to manage their bookings, market their properties and generate new sources of income through exciting guest services. It’s the first of its kind, and the only system to provide total control as well as the ultimate guest experience. Learn more about Vreasy at www.vreasy.com.