As guest expectations increase, attention to detail throughout the guest experience journey must match those expectations as property managers strive for 5-star reviews after every stay.
At the International VRMA conference this fall, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel with three industry experts who shared some of their takes on how simple adjustments to the guest journey can significantly impact the guest experience. I've shared some key takeaways below, along with some results from a Breezeway survey of 100 vacation rental property managers and hosts in October 2023.
1. Make it easy to book on your website
Sounds obvious, right? Shockingly, many people aren’t doing this. Your website must have chat and be mobile-friendly, making it easy for guests to contact you with questions or book the property.
2. Wave your professional flag and communicate your brand!
Sharing information about how to contact your team, access the property, local etiquette, and educating guests on how to have a great experience (like what flags on the beach represent) showcases your professionalism. Ensuring the guest understands you’re a local company and involved in the community distinguishes you from large OTAs and drives loyalty.
Pro tip: Use Breezeway Guide, a custom mobile-first Welcome Book to delight and support guests throughout the entire stay. From parking information to access codes, you choose the information and set your brand standards.
3. Cleanliness is (still) a priority.
No one wants to check into a messy property, but ensuring every guest arrives at a spotless property can be difficult to manage, especially when staff retention is challenging.
Staff retention vs guest expectations is challenging - it is harder to retain employees while guests' expectations are rising. A recent survey conducted by Breezeway indicates that more than 61% of respondents are seeing an increase in guest expectations around cleanliness.
Scalable processes and inspections are one way to combat this. Property managers and hosts are turning to smart technology, like digital checklists and automated task management, to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
4. Surprise and delight guests.
Guests always appreciate a welcome gift, but it doesn’t have to be pricey. From locally sourced coffee, bottled water, or welcome beers and a hand-written welcome note, guests will appreciate the thought upon arriving at their property. Arguably more pricey, some may say the most effective welcome gift includes your company brand so they can take it with them and help remember who they booked with, things like reusable shopping bags or water bottles, postcards, chapsticks, and coozies are just a few popular items.
Overwhelmingly, though, how you respond when issues arise will supersede any gifts you leave at arrival. Professional, timely, and consistent communication is key when issues arise. In most instances, there are quick solutions and most situations can be handled quickly; but others require more difficult conversations. On average most companies are responding very quickly to guest messages, with more than 40% responding in under 5 minutes during normal business hours and an additional 49% in under 1 hour.
5. AI is here to stay, but we’re still learning how it will be most useful in vacation rentals.
While our survey results don’t support this, it was clear from most conversations that AI is here to stay and we’re seeing it with the utilization of Breezeway’s Suggested Replies functionality in the Breezeway messaging tool. Most managers are using AI in some form every day, whether that’s to generate content ideas (social media, blog, or newsletter), respond to reviews (removing emotion and varying language), write robust property descriptions, read images, highlight their service offerings to property owners or manage unruly guests. Tools like ChatGPT are making our lives easier and replacing menial tasks to give us more time to focus on higher-value work.
See how Breezeway can help you drive more 5-star guest reviews!