Before joining Hostfully, I spent most of my career travelling from one small town to another. It entailed travel 80% of the time, with long stretches of time away from home. Being a millennial, I ditched traditional hospitality offerings like hotels in favor of vacation and short-term rentals. Having first-hand experience as a professional business traveller, I’ll share some of the insights into what makes a vacation rental appealing to folks like my former self. There’s a distinct way to market to business travellers. If it’s done right, it can become a great way to build a reliable repeat business for your short-term rental company.
The upcoming surge in business travelers in vacation rentals
In recent years, the hospitality industry has dramatically changed. Short-term rentals (and their cousins, vacation rentals) have soared in popularity. This trend is set to accelerate, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, short-term rentals were the only destination in town.
So what does this have to do with business travellers? Most of the general population got a taste of what the industry has to offer. That includes business guests who used to associate vacation rentals with leisure and hotels with business. Vacation rentals used to be associated with the gig economy, which carried a sense of “amateurishness” for the business traveller. But thanks to professional hosts and managers, the line between leisure and business hospitality has faded away. There are now hundreds of short-term rental companies that operate at an equal or higher level than most hotels. In 2021 and beyond, it’ll no longer be taboo to have Airbnb or Vrbo as a line on your expense report.
You can have your cake and eat it too
You might think that the marketing strategy for your cozy cabins or family-friendly beach houses can’t attract business travellers. But that’s not true. In fact, with just a few optimizations, you can set yourself up to attract both traditional travellers and families, as well as business guests. One doesn’t have to exclude the other.
Understand the needs of the business traveller
To understand how to create a c
Signs that a business travellers is staying in your short-term rental
How to maximize your odds of retaining a business traveller
Amenities your vacation rental needs to include
Start with super fast wifi
Nothing can ruin a business trip like not being able to do business. So make sure your vacation rental can cater to business travel by having top-of-the-line internet service. It’s incredibly important and the number-one way to make your property business-client friendly.
Your clients fulfill many activities that require good and reliable internet access. This includes sending emails, videoconferencing, streaming Netflix, and most importantly, Facetime calls with the family back home. A reliable, strong internet connection allows them to handle these tasks easily.
Having good internet is more than having a premium Internet Service Provider (ISP). You need to make sure the internet is available everywhere in your property. So make sure your Wi-Fi router achieves that reach. Most ISP’s have high-quality routers available for rent or purchase, and many bundle a router and internet service together to help you save. If you operate a large short-term rental where some spots get weaker signal, ask your ISP if they offer signal booster pods.
To optimize the extra money you spend on fast internet, turn it into a marketing advantage. So go ahead and include that in your listing description. Make it known that your internet is fast enough to handle videocalls, stream a TV show or handle any internet-related task. You’ll be surprised at the impact this will have on your property’s position in Airbnb search results (and consequently your occupancy rates). Not only will you attract business travelers, but you’ll also convert more traditional guests.
Streaming services… or not
This is always up for debate in vacation rental management social media groups. On one hand, you have the detractors who argue that guests can use their own log in information with whatever streaming service they already have. On the flip side, you have hosts and managers who feel offering niche streaming services is crucial in attracting specific demographics (think Disney+ and families).
When it comes to attracting business travelers to your vacation rental property, the debate can go either way. So it’s up to you and the margins you operate on, to determine if spending the extra $15-$50 a month (depending on how many services you want to offer) is worth it. But what most hosts and managers agree on is having the hardware available to the guest – regardless of whether or not you offer complimentary streaming services. That means having a smart TV with which you include detailed instructions on how to connect to it. Alternatively, a much cheaper and simpler alternative is to have an HDMI cable connected to the TV. This way, your business guests can connect a laptop and stream from their devices.
If you offer streaming services in your vacation rental, that’s another marketing feature you should include in your listing description. Some guests will use it, and you’ll increase the odds of converting those travelers into reservations. But even those who don’t use the services will get the impression you’re offering more than just a bed. It’ll help create the impression that your short-term rental is a homely destination.
Offer a desk, or somewhere comfortable for work
Your clients likely want to be able to spread out and organize things the way they want—and having adequate space and office furniture is critical to the creative process and their own personal workflow. To cater to business travelers, you have two options that depend on the size of your rental.
The ideal, and most marketable approach, is to have a large desk and office chair. Why an office chair? Those are expensive, we know. But an office chair is adjustable making guests of all statures comfortable. A desk and office chair combo in a photo also send a subliminal message to the potential guest that the rental will cater to their needs.
But a desk and office chair depend entirely on space. What if your rental just doesn’t have room for this type of furniture.
Your second-best option is a kitchen table. A nice big flat area where your guest can have documents, a laptop and a tablet out at the same time. But as is, a table won’t necessarily cut. They’re usually a few inches higher than a work desk which means they aren’t ergonomically setup for working on a keyboard. Kitchen chairs aren’t adjustable. So what can you do? To get around this challenge, you can include the option of an office chair in your listing description. If the guest needs one, just drop it off before check-in. Alternatively, you can leave one in an empty closet and mention that it’s available in your digital guidebook.
Whether you have a desk or not, there is one cardinal rule you have to respect when it comes to work areas. Make sure there is a power outlet less than 6 feet away from the work area. Your guests will likely need it to plug in their phones or laptop. If the outlet is any further, leave a power cord in the rental and tell your guests that it’s available in your welcome book.
A good coffee machine
Caffeine can make all the difference during the workday. Having a quality coffee maker that won’t burn the roast starts the day off on the right foot and can put anyone in a good mood.
Another option is single-cup brewers such as Keurig for those who prefer something more decadent than traditional black coffee.
Extra phone chargers
A fully charged phone is how business gets done in today’s world. Having extra chargers for all kinds of phones (generally iPhone and a micro USB will be enough) can really add that extra little bit of care to the property and make your clients feel like you’ve got them covered in any situation.