The following is a guest post from Stewart Dunlop of Fieldboom.
Just hearing the word conjures up warm and fuzzy feelings of freedom, carelessness, and overall satisfaction.
When we think of their next vacation, we look forward to a brief time in our lives in which everything goes according to plan, allowing us to relax and enjoy our free time with our loved ones.
As a vacation rental provider, it’s up to you to ensure your guests’ experiences live up to their expectations – and then some.
But doing so isn’t as difficult as it sounds. In this article, we’ll discuss a number of things you can do before, during, and after your guests’ stay to ensure their next vacation is one they won’t soon forget.
Note: We’re working under the assumption that you’ll have already covered the basics for your vacation rental (i.e., good listing, nice photos, amenities work properly, etc.). Without the essentials in place, doing any of the following won’t likely make much of a difference.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are nine things you can do to truly “wow” your guests and make their dream vacation a reality.
Provide as much information as possible
One of the main things to keep in mind is that your guests are typically going to be staying in an unfamiliar house in an unfamiliar area while on vacation.
To help alleviate any nervousness or uncertainty in your guests, you want to provide them with as much information about the property and the surrounding area as you can.
Hostfully’s Guidebook platform allows you to create an online database of important information your guests should know.
Typically, you’ll want to provide directions and links to local restaurants, bars, and recreational spots, as well as emergency phone numbers for the local area. You also might include instructions for appliances and utilities around the house (e.g., how to set the thermostat to a specific temperature).
The goal here is, quite simply, to make your guests truly feel at home while vacationing in a brand new area.
Set your expectations
Your guests are, to put it frankly, just that: your guests.
In other words, while staying on your vacation property, they’ll need to follow your guidelines. It’s up to you to inform them of those expectations. Politely of course.
Additionally, they’ll need to follow city ordinances and laws that they might not be familiar with, as well. As we mentioned above, they might not realize they can’t park on the street overnight – so it’s up to you to bring this to their attention.
When setting these expectations, focus their attention on what they can do, rather than what they can’t. For example, rather than stipulating that they “can’t have guests stay overnight,” tell them they “can have guests stay until 10:00pm.”
The point of all this isn’t to be an overly-strict enforcer; it’s simply to provide guidelines for your guests to live up to in a way that allows them to get the most out of your property while not overstepping their bounds.
Provide for their expectations
Going along with the above sentiment, you also want to remain flexible in order to provide for your guests as best you can.
If extenuating and unavoidable circumstances arise, you certainly should feel free to waive certain expectations of your own – as long as it won’t cause any harm to your property or your neighbors’ comfort. For example, if your guest’s friend’s car breaks down, you don’t want your guest to have to worry about getting kicked out for breaking your stipulated curfew rule.
Essentially, just be as empathetic as possible to your guests’ individual circumstances. It will go a long way in personalizing their overall vacation experience.
Streamline the logistics
No matter how you approach it, going on vacation takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work for your guests. From signing leases and making payments to checking in and out of their rental spot, your guests have a lot to do before – and after – they kick back and relax for the week.
It’s up to you, then, to ensure that these processes go as smoothly as possible. If they prefer a specific payment method, work with them. If they would rather sign a physical document than an electronic one, pay for their postage. Make sure they have everything they need to get in and out of the rental (e.g., keys, pass codes, etc.) throughout their stay.
Remember; the easier it is for them to get what they need from you, the sooner they’ll be able to enjoy themselves.
Ensure your vacation rental is picture perfect
This likely goes without saying, but your rental property should be absolutely spotless and clean when your guests arrive.
But this doesn’t mean you simply need to “tidy up” before your guests arrive. Rather, you should go above and beyond when preparing your rental.
A good way to think about it is you should include something that appeals to all five senses, such as:
- Decorations, color, and lighting to fit the vacation mood
- Air fresheners to lighten the scent of the home
- Newly-washed blankets and towels
- A white noise machine playing applicable sounds
- A simple mint on your guests’ pillows
These simple additions can be all it takes for a guest’s experience to go from “good enough” to “absolutely incredible.”
Stock up on the basics
When staying at a rental home, most guests understand they’ll need to do some food shopping over the course of the week.
But, you can certainly help them out a bit by providing the essentials that most people use on a daily basis. Food-wise, you might ensure your rental pantry is stocked with salt, pepper, instant coffee, tea, and any other easily-forgettable items. You’ll also want to stock your rental home with dish soap, sponges, and paper towels, as well.
(For more suggestions, check out this guide from Nolo.com)
To really “wow” your guests, you might also consider leaving snacks of some kind, as well as bottles of water, as well. Nothing major – just enough to keep them satiated before they hit the grocery store.
Add a little extra something
Along with the last point, you should always try to include a little extra gift for your guests that both:
- Meets a unique need or preference
- Relates to the local area in some way
For example, if you’re playing host to a young married couple, you might choose to leave a small bottle of wine purchased from a local vineyard. If, on the other hand, you’re playing host to a family of four, you might provide a collection of beach toys for the kiddos to enjoy.
Not only will this “little extra something” enhance your guests’ stay and prove your commitment to their satisfaction, but it also can act as a keepsake – which, in turn, will allow them to remember their experience for a long time to come.
No matter how well you’ve prepared your property for your guests, something will almost certainly come up that will require your guests to get in touch with you at some point throughout their stay.
While you shouldn’t feel the need to be “on call” at all times, you definitely do want your guests to be able to, at the very least, leave a message for you and be confident that you’ll be in touch sooner than later.
Not only should you be reachable via email, phone, and/or text, but you should also try to physically check in with your guests should the need arise. If doing so isn’t logistically possible, you may want to enlist the help of a friend, relative, or neighbor to check in in your stead.
Stay in touch
Lastly, as your guests’ vacation comes to a close, you should try to maintain a relationship with them as best you can, as doing so can benefit you in a number of ways.
First of all, by following up with your guests, you can get a feel for how their overall experience went. You might consider reaching out with a customer satisfaction survey detailing specific aspects of their stay – in turn allowing you to focus on improving shortcomings and missed opportunities on your part.
When you send out your survey, you might also choose to provide incentives for them to fill them out, as well. For example, you might give those who respond a discounted rate the next time they choose to rent from you. Or, if you own multiple properties, you could offer them a discount at a different spot that perhaps might better fit their needs.
Remember: your duty isn’t just to provide your guests with a place to stay; it’s to provide an outstanding overall experience. By keeping in touch with them even after their stay has ended, you’ll help keep the memories of their vacation alive for a long time to come.