Hotels are becoming less popular among the largest group of travelers in the U.S.—millennials and Gen Zers—who are instead choosing the services of short-term rentals. To compete with big name hotels, short-term rental owners can take advantage of all-in-one digital solutions that can streamline housekeeping, revenue management, and other day-to-day activities.
The hospitality industry has witnessed a huge change during the past decade. Hotels, which used to be the only choice people had while traveling, no longer dominate the field. The standardized design and service of hotels lacks flexibility, customization, and the so-called element of surprise. It has become less popular especially among the millennials and Gen Zers who travel the most in the U.S.
Meanwhile, a new business model has been making big waves in the industry: short-term rental. It fulfills guests’ needs without sacrificing style or personalized experience. With flexible check-in and check-out time, travelers can plan their trips without considering time limitations. With different indoor designs, there is the element of surprise as well as the comfort of home. The hospitality industry has been redefined. Because of the potential opportunities, more and more people are trying to enter this constantly expanding market.
However, there are some problems that short-term rental operators have to deal with in order to survive in this competitive market. Though hotels are less popular, a lot of people, especially business travelers, still choose to stay there. And it’s hard for small businesses to compete with big brand names. In addition, people have concerns about safety and professional service when it comes to short-term rentals. To deal with the issues, the market has been embracing digital technologies over the years, starting with property management systems (PMS), along with the integration of third-party solutions to help owners operate housekeeping, distribution, revenue management, and other day-to-day activities. Although these systems are helpful, new solutions popping up in every direction can be confusing, and combining different solutions adds unnecessary complexity.
What these owners need is a more efficient tool so that they can dedicate themselves to customer experience instead of wasting time on managing different platforms. An all-in-one system can simplify everything for short-term rental operators. The idea of this system is that it consolidates all the disparate components of hospitality technology into one single system that’s easy and efficient to use. This integrated tech solution is supposed to deliver an elevated experience that eliminates problems, cuts costs, drives revenue, and wins the hearts and minds of today’s travelers.
Compete With Big Hotels
Hotels are famous for their professional service. They have a lot of offerings that short-term rentals can never achieve because, behind the scenes, there’s a huge team to back them up. And this team includes hundreds, if not thousands, of employees from different departments. So, for small businesses to compete with big brand names, they need to take another approach. The weakness of hotels is that they are overly standardized, and guests cannot get customized experiences. For short-term rental operators, most of their time should be spent exploring guests’ specific needs and expectations that hotels can never fulfill.
With the help of a comprehensive technology system that automatically manages everything, such as unified review tracking, artificial intelligence pricing software, housekeeping, and maintenance app integration, owners are freed from dealing with all the time-consuming technical issues and instead can focus on strategic activities, like growing their portfolios or planning new ways to engage guests.
This all-in-one system should not be limited to software. A combination of software and hardware plays a crucial part in the competition. Automated locks and private door codes for secure room entry can ease people’s concerns regarding safety; smart thermostats and room temperature controls on the mobile app give guests a taste of professional service; and noise and occupancy unit monitors ensure the living quality (keep in mind, the noise and occupancy problem is one of the issues that bother guests the most in short-term rental). With the system as a solution to all the problems and personalized experience as an add-on, short-term rental businesses have the ability to take some market share from those big hotels.
Win Over Customers
Consumer demand for convenience is transforming commercial enterprises across the board because digital native consumers (millennials and Gen Zers) dominate today’s marketplace with an estimated $3 trillion in spending power. The key to win over the hearts of customers in today’s hospitality market is through simplicity. Property owners and operators can’t afford to risk any inconvenience that can directly cause customer dissatisfaction. That’s when an integrated technology solution comes into play.
A good all-in-one system should deliver a fully automated and consistent experience. From the guest’s perspective, a contactless experience is a better experience because there’s no waiting in line, no paperwork, no lost keys, and no unpleasant encounters with unprofessional front desk staff. Everything a guest needs for a great travel experience is ready and accessible on their smartphone app with a single click.
Some may worry about the lack of in-person service in the fully electronic experience, but that’s not the case. While guests enjoy complete control over their stays, owners and operators can choose to get as involved with the guest experience as they want to be, with the added flexibility of having someone available 24/7 if a person is needed.
Automating the operations of a property leads to reductions in operating costs. Creating a contactless experience for guests, for example, including keyless entry, online access to concierge services and support, and online guest screening and billing greatly reduces the need for staff at the front desk and in the back office. Even costs for contracted services, such as cleaning and maintenance, can be greatly reduced by using an automated system that only requires service when a guest asks for it.
If the all-in-one system has other capabilities, such as revenue or reputation management, then it can do more than just cost savings. By tracking the online reviews and instantly monitoring revenue on an easy-to-use platform, owners can quickly target problems and make adjustments accordingly. Ultimately, better reviews lead to greater revenue. By cutting costs and raising revenue, short-term rental operators can therefore effectively maximize their profits.
Luca Zambello is the co-founder and CEO of Jurny, the hospitality tech company powering operations and modern guest experiences for top independent hotel brands, vacation, and short-term rental properties.