To say the vacation rental industry has undergone a shakeup in the last couple of years would be an understatement. Every year we invite property managers to let us in on various aspects of how they run their business and complete an annual survey. Findings from Breezeway’s latest Property Operations Report highlight a significant rise in guest expectations. This was reported by more than half of property managers over the last two years, prompting 31 percent to admit they are now struggling to keep up with delivering in-property service. Providers across the industry have been forced to up their game, with all signs pointing toward a rise in first-time short-term renters—many of whom have been used to staying in hotels—as the trigger to expecting more from their vacation rental stays.
With two of the busiest seasons on record for the vacation rental industry in 2020 and 2021, pressure has been at an all-time high this year for those responsible for keeping up with an unprecedented number of bookings while maintaining seamless service and memorable guest experiences. Managers are embracing the “hospitality professional” moniker more than ever before, unblocking themselves to drive more efficiency and tightening up their operational machinery to provide pristine properties and branded experiences.
So now that the bar has been undeniably raised by guests looking for property cleanliness, brand consistency, and timely service as the sign of a quality vacation rental experience, how can property managers continue to respond to their advantage? And what exactly is the secret to sustaining long-term success when it comes to meeting these new guest demands?
Behind the scenes, employees play critical roles in exceeding standards across the industry, so much so that 25 percent of property managers go as far as to say that staff shortages are the biggest risk to their business this year. With almost half of property managers feeling increasingly stretched when it comes to employing, retaining, and training staff, having strategies in place to keep staff morale and confidence levels high has become a priority, with huge potential for positive ripple effects.
Going the extra mile to show staff appreciation will be fundamental to ironing out the industry pressures this coming season. Motivating and empowering staff as well as equipping them with the right resources, be it technology or training, will allow property managers to increase staff retention rates, alleviate resource pressures, and ultimately strengthen their core operational foundation.
Prioritizing Clear Communication
Despite staff pressures felt industrywide, property managers are seeing results in both keeping their teams working effectively and maintaining guest transparency by prioritizing clear communication. Data from last year proved communication to be a general pain point across the industry, and vacation rental professionals appear to have taken this issue very seriously, as a large proportion of managers are opting to proactively communicate with their guests, almost doubling compared to this time last year. Ninety-two percent of the responders to Breezeway’s report are now reaping the benefits of proactively sharing information and answering questions ahead of guest stays, as well as highlighting updated cleaning and safety procedures for added reassurance.
Consolidation of Technologies
As guest expectations are driving standards up across the board for the vacation rental industry, there is a continual need for tech interventions to help standardize internal processes and ensure the overall guest experience remains consistently positive. While almost half of vacation rental managers are looking to property care and operations software post-pandemic as a way of improving standards, another 51 percent are using a minimum of four tools or platforms to run their vacation rental business. There is a real need for tech consolidation across the board to enable platforms to work efficiently together and managers to be able to run a smooth operational system.
Jeremy Gall is the founder and CEO of Breezeway, a property care and operations platform for hospitality providers.