If you’re like most vacation rental hosts, you’re continuously improving your properties to enhance guest experience. After all, a better experience leads to higher star ratings, which eventually translates to quicker bookings and more earnings. Just like any industry, the vacation rental one is continuously changing. And while reading blogs like this one are great ways to get inspiration on what to do next, sometimes staying ahead of the curve is more effective than catching up. By looking into the future, hosts can get a sense of what’s on the horizon and implement changes gradually. By no means ground-breaking, the following trends are ones we see smaller operators in the vacation rental space ignoring.
#1: Expect more growth but also more competitionAccording to a forecast performed by Technavio, the vacation rental industry is expected to grow at a rate of 7.07% per year until 2021. Great right? More growth means more opportunity for multi-property owners. Not so fast. In every booming market, there’s always a behemoth wanting a more significant share. So in the coming years, expect to see large companies continue to expand their rental portfolio—including Google. But how can single-property hosts or small entrepreneurs thrive in an increasingly competitive environment? The answer is simple: added-value only a small operation can provide, and pay attention to, notably:
- Focusing on a personalized boutique experience, and;
- Offering guests the chance to live a genuinely local experience.
#2: The new traveler generation wants eco-friendly optionsYounger generations have a clear and outspoken concern for the environment. Luckily, an eco-friendly home appeals to millennials without taking away from older guests. Not to mention, energy-efficiency helps reduce your heating and cooling costs. Transforming a property into an eco-friendly one doesn’t necessarily require substantial changes or large-scale renovations. Here are a few you options hosts can quickly implement:
- Make your home more energy-efficient: DIY projects are cheap, easy to get done quickly, and sometimes come with tax breaks.
- Use eco-friendly products: these days there are so many options that clean as well as the industrial alternative and cost just about the same.
- Provide intuitive options for recycling: all it takes is a few extra bins.
- Changing to low-flush toilets: many municipalities offer tax breaks that cover the hardware and labor costs associated with this improvement.
- Switching to LED bulbs: these new lighting options have come down in price in recent years. Whenever an old lightbulb dies, just put in a newer one! This is an expense hosts won’t even feel.
#3: Young travelers expect technology and connectivityIt used to be the case that you’d meet your guest at the rental property, hand over the keys, and provide a walkthrough. Those days are long gone. Guests are now comfortable with no interactions if the check-in process is simple, and communication with the hosts is seamless and responsive. To cater to this new trend, hosts can take advantage of technological tools such as:
- The Airbnb self-check-in process: just provide easy and straightforward instructions at check-in.
- Property Management Systems (PMSs): tools like Hostfully’s PMS streamline communications by centralizing communications across all listing platforms. Hosts can even set up automated messages that send guests critical information right when they book. No more dropped instructions!
- Digital guidebooks: Instead of providing local recommendations verbally during check-in, hosts can offer a polished and branded local area guide to their guests. All guests need to do is click on a link!
- Convenience through technology: Platforms such as LuggageHero allow hosts and managers to offer the convenience of storage so guests can explore locations baggage free.
#4: Voice is creeping its way into hospitalityIn winter 2018, National Public Radio and Edison Research found that 21% of U.S. residents 18-years-old and over own a smart speaker device. To put that into perspective, that’s 53 million people! So what does that mean for property owners? Here’s just one example of how voice will change the vacation rental industry. Hostfully recently entered into a partnership with Virtual Concierge Service (VCS), and through voice-enabled devices, guests will be able to access information about the property, including:
- Checkout time
- WiFi passwords
- Local recommendations
- Nearby attractions
- Emergency phone numbers
- Specific instructions on the devices around the property
- Upcoming events
#5: Anything and everything digital needs to be mobile-friendlyTravelers now rarely leave their home without a smartphone in hand. Given the convenience mobile devices add to daily life, hosts can take advantage of this trend and integrate it into the vacation rental. One aspect of a vacation rental that can easily be made mobile-friendly is the guidebook. Hosts now have a better option than leaving house rules and local recommendations on the coffee table or on a pinboard. Companies like ours offer hosts a platform where they can create fully custom digital guidebooks. All guests need to do is click on a link, and everything is downloaded to their phone. No need for another app and the check-in instructions can be sent to the guests ahead of time.
#6: Guests like the option of buying items from within their rentalAs hotels have shown, upselling items from within the room is a great way to boost earnings. This trend is slowly making headway into the vacation rental industry. For hosts and property managers, this trend is a great way to boost earnings by:
- Improving the odds of return customers: the items guests bring back home will remind them of the rental daily. If they return to the area in the future, they’ll be more likely to rebook at that property.
- Adding a new income stream to your business.
- Late checkouts
- Early check-ins
- Mid-stay cleanings
- Airport transfers
- Children’s equipment rental (strollers, high chairs)