The short term vacation rental market is much more competitive today as thousands of new listings enter the market and publicly traded hospitality vendors establish greater market presence. A recent report maintains that the global vacation rental market will reach $169.7 billion by 2019. Sophisticated consumers expect to find modern, technology advanced properties with upscale interiors and amenities. Today’s consumers seek clean, stylish properties that appeal to their expectations, and rental investors must keep pace with the hotel hospitality sector in this respect. Here are 5 ways to increase occupancy rates and rental revenue:
- Think like your Customer. As businesses strive to improve their product/services to better serve consumer needs, so should you. Does it have updated artwork, game consoles and smart TV’s? Premium cookware, luxurious bedding and great towels should be standard conveniences. Amenities such as safety features/gear for families with small children, a fire pit with ample seating, pet friendly dishes/pet crate, free Wi-Fi with multiple docking systems, comfortable furniture and updated lighting are additional ways to improve their experience. Engage directly with guests about their preferences. At your weekly company staff meeting, ask your employees to share what they learned about their guests that could benefit future guests.
- Added Value Services. Yes, your management company is outstanding, and so is the next one! Stand out among your peers. What do you offer as an “added value service” to your investor clients who chose YOU to manage their property? Housekeeping, listing information, and property photography services are common offerings among management companies. New services include rate optimization systems, email sales programs and mobile apps that handle everything from changeover cleanings to interior design improvements. Research what is trending in the hospitality industry to determine added value services you can provide to your rental clients.
- Are you an au courant? Vacationers’ book properties based on multiple reasons. Do you know what’s happening in your area and how do you convey this information to your guests? Multiple mobile apps provide resources for local events, gastronomical recommendations and nearby sites to visit among others. Do you have a 10 Best list in every rental? Create your own list or offer a list of mobile apps that offer suggestions for attractions, restaurants, excursions, entertainment, nature and historical sites. Take steps beyond just having local business flyers for the delivery pizza parlor. Provide these resources prior to your guests arriving via email, mobile notification or placed in the unit.
- Understand Analytics. Understand your website and what your conversion rates are. Do the links work? Is your webpage mobile friendly (check here)? What pages do your consumers land on? Can you improve your SEO? Google analytics is a free tool that can be customized to help you track website traffic and create a sales funnel (see this helpful article). Post regularly on social media sites and encourage conversation with your followers. Consider having your website translated into other languages or add a local based marketing video to your website. Hire an intern for the summer to help you learn how to increase your web and social media presence.
- The Gold Standard of Customer Service. The Ritz Carlton is known for this. The Ritz empowers its employees to spend up to $2000 to solve customer problems without asking for a manager. While most VRM companies cannot spend $2000 in this respect, you can and should focus on how to use this same principal. A guest’s first impression of your business is your employees – from the booking to the checkout. In all the interactions with guests, reservation agents, vendors, rental investors and business associates, your company brand and reputation are front and center. Define what you consider as your best practices, communicate them with your employees and encourage their ownership in providing a gold standard of customer service that will bring guests back, time and time again. Loyal, repeat guests are the cornerstone to having a successful foundation for your business.