When the couple celebrating their 20-year anniversary first arrived at their vacation rental in Maui, they were already filled with great anticipation. The booking and check-in process was smooth, and they were just hoping the vacation rental they picked (after a thorough search) would meet expectations.
Not only were their expectations met, but they were exceeded immediately when they entered the front door. They were met with a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean and discovered amenities everywhere they looked, in every corner of the home.
Then, waiting for them on the kitchen island was a “Happy Anniversary” welcome basket with local delicacies, and a couple of gifts they could take home with them.
They received a text message from the property manager they booked through to check on them and provide some recommendations for romantic dinner spots and sightseeing spots.
Next, they found a QR code that took them to a guestbook with even more great ideas for activities and local favorite bars and restaurants.
Their vacation was off to a perfect start.
This is what our industry is all about. Whether you work for a property management software company like me, an integrated software solution, or a property management company, we all share the same goal: to give our guests an experience they will remember forever.
When we accomplish this goal, we increase our repeat guests, we boost our reputation, and we maximize our revenue. It is a win all around.
Personal Contact Is Paramount
When you talk to veteran property managers and industry experts, one quickly realizes just how passionate we are about this topic. We are not only suppliers, but travelers.
We all see common ground in making sure there is personal contact throughout the traveler’s journey.
Jennifer Mucha is the president of and founded Arrived – Your Vacation Rental Destination in 2004 and knows the importance of the guest experience upon arrival.
“Checking in with the guest with a quick text right after arrival to make sure they arrived OK and ask if they have any questions. It is huge. It gives them the opportunity to have 100 percent satisfaction and makes them feel welcome.”
Mucha added to find out their communication preference in case they prefer an email or phone call.
“Examples are anticipation touches, like extra consumables, signs/labels on light switches, music playing on arrival, welcoming or hospitable touches, like handwritten notes, welcome gifts, local hookups, and departure touches, like food donation bags, thank-you letters from local causes, parting gifts.”
He believes all these can help make the guest feel like they are well cared for.
Know Your Guest—Do Not Forget the Tea Kettles
A great guest experience is much more than personal contact. The slightest oversight can undermine the best of stays.
Alex Zemianek, the founder and owner of JZ Vacation Rentals, relays a story that represents this idea.
“Six years ago, we received three 4-star reviews across Airbnb with guests complaining about homes not supplying tea kettles. This shocked me that everything else in the consumer journey could go well but missing an amenity could cause a lower rating not once but three times.”
JZ used this experience as an a-ha moment and put together an extensive checklist based on guest expectations, to ensure consistency across properties.
In addition to the attention to detail, property managers can get information from the guest during the reservation process or the stay to find an opportunity to go the extra mile.
He cites an example of when one of their maintenance techs was at a property completing a service call and overheard there was a birthday for one of the children in the party being celebrated. The tech went to the store and surprised them with balloons and an ice cream cake.
“There is nothing that replaces personal contact. Anything you can do to get in front of your guests to make a meaningful connection will be time well spent.”
Cafferty often discusses this very topic on his podcast with Sarah Bradford, Sarah and T.
Implementing Technology, the Right Way
Property managers know the importance of the right tech stack built around a solid PMS and often rely upon these technologies to enhance the guest experience in a variety of ways.
RueBaRue is one of many guest experience platforms in the VR industry that elevates the guest communication process.
Founder and CEO Nars Krishnamachari cites several rapidly adopted trends that improve efficiency for PMS, which include smart locks for self-check-ins, the use of text messaging to disseminate information conveniently to the guest, and digital guestbooks to provide all the information in one place.
This is not just about using the technology to automate some of the cumbersome aspects of a guest’s journey from search to checkout. It is about freeing up your staff to execute personal contact strategies.
Technology can also help determine a guest’s preferences before the stay to add another layer of delight.
Alex Zemianek and JZ Rentals are looking at custom solutions for alcohol, pillow, and scent preferences for guests.
“Scent is the most powerful sense that consumers remember whether good or bad, so we’re testing smart diffusers in a couple homes that will, in my opinion, lift our brand to a higher quality standard and satisfaction.”
JZ is also rolling out an e-commerce solution to allow guests to purchase items via QR code.
We Are Not Just Suppliers; We Are Travelers
The beauty of our industry is that we are not just the team that collectively supplies guests with the ultimate travel experience, but we are travelers ourselves and can use our experiences to improve our solutions.
Krishnamachari relays an experience that made an impression on him.
“I stayed in a vacation rental that had a starter kit with eggs, locally made bread and cookies from a local bakery. It also had coffee and some creamers. We’d arrived in the evening, and having it meant we didn’t have to rush to the grocery store for a snack or to get something for breakfast. A neat little welcome gift.”
Landau is an extensive traveler whose ideas are fueled by his passion for the best stay.
“I stay in a lot of vacation rental properties, and little touches (they are like a mist in the air that you cannot quite put a finger on) tend to make all the difference, no matter the price point or style of the property.”
Landau believes it is the little gestures that will be the new focus of marketing to maximize repeat travelers.
We are an industry that is still learning and evolving quickly.
We are a passionate industry that becomes consumed with the idea of pleasing every guest.
We do this with our attention to detail—from customized and thoughtful personal contact to processes that ensure consistency across homes, and finally to using technology to ensure convenience in booking, check-in, and overall enhanced guest experience.
We do this with the little things.
Our reward is more than just repeat guests and additional revenue. Our reward is gifting our clients’ experiences they can cherish forever in spectacular stays in the world’s most beautiful locations.
Together, we make a big impact.
Michael Norde started with Streamline in 2017 after two decades of running his own video production business. At Streamline, Norde splits his time managing integration partnerships and client and partner marketing. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, golfing, and watching sports.