Breezeway had the pleasure of catching up with Annette Grant and Sarah Karakaian of Thanks for Visiting to discuss the rise of experiential offerings and how these extra touches can impact the guest experience.
Breezeway: As we know from your podcast, website, social media presence, and overall essence, the two of you share a belief that the short-term rental industry “needs hosts to be more hospitable”. How would you define this kind of hospitality?
TFV: By the very definition found in Webster's Dictionary, hospitality simply means the generous and friendly treatment of guests or visitors. It truly is that simple. And it’s our mission to bring Hosts back to that simple concept.
Breezeway: With short-term rentals becoming a more mainstream and preferred reservation type, many professional managers are looking to elevate their guest offerings to create more memorable and “hospitable” experiences. In what ways have you expanded your offerings at your own rental properties, and what are some ways professional managers can do the same and in turn expand their business?
TFV: The best way to expand your business is to do a lot of listening. Find out what your travelers are craving. What problems can you solve for them?
Most of our rentals are in an urban market and we have guests staying longer. So, we are offering services such as mid-stay cleaning services, filling the fridge before arrival, & finding out what we can do to make their stay more tailored to their needs. One of our favorite new guest touch points is to call each guest prior to their arrival. This might seem simple in theory, but in the urban market this is rare. We’ve found, especially in today’s uncertain atmosphere, that this simple 5 minute or less phone call has made a huge impact on smooth check-ins, getting guest information, like their email address, and asking them more questions regarding their stay so we can find ways to surprise and delight them. If we’ve learned anything over the past year and a half, it’s that guests stay with who they know, like, and trust. What a better way to build trust then to personally reach out, say “Hello”, and start their guest experience days before they’re even due to arrive.
Breezeway: What are the most unique and interesting experiential options have you seen in the field or offered to your own guests?
TFV: In our Hosting Business Mastery Membership one of our members actually sends a welcome package via USPS with a gift that is specifically branded to her property, a handwritten note, several brochures of the local attractions and businesses, and the most direct way to contact the host.
We love how simple, effective, easy to repeat yet personalized this outreach is! We also know Hosts in Colorado who have guests who come to town for all the amazing hiking and outdoor adventures there are right outside their door. In the past 6 months, they offered complimentary, tailormade adventures for their guests!
We love how creative hosts can be! Experiential offerings don’t necessarily have to dig into profits. Again, it’s all about being generous, in one way or another, and friendly.
Breezeway: How do you communicate these options to your guests? Do you use smart tools or software?
TFV: The previous examples don’t necessarily need technology to communicate these offerings to guests. However, leveraging simple email campaigns is a fantastic way to communicate with guests before they stay with you and it’s a great way to stay in touch and remind past guests how great their stay with you was! You can, of course, also use your website or engaging copy in your listings on your preferred OTAs!
Breezeway: Why do you think implementing increased service options is so important in the vacation rental industry? Is this a result of guest expectations, or the maturation of the industry?
TFV: We think increased service options are important in the vacation rental industry as we are in direct competition with resorts and hotels that offer a myriad of experiences and amenities —and all under the same roof!
And, if you think about it, don’t we all love being surprised and delighted —especially when we’re traveling. Treating your guests like you would want to be treated when traveling is always a safe bet. If you think about times when you traveled that you were truly impressed by service, tap into that memory and come up with an idea that’s all your own that will have your guests talking about their stay with you for years to come.
For more information on our friends Annette and Sarah, visit thanksforvisting.me