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 changed. Guests don’t just use short-term rentals (and their cousins, vacation rentals) for travel, tourism, and leisure. Some use short-term rentals for business travel. Others use them as a workspace to crunch a few hours in the morning, and spend the rest of the day on leisure travel. A term that some have coined “leisure”.
What caused this? You guessed it: the Pandemic.
Many business travelers couldn’t book hotels in early-March 2020. They got a taste of vacation rentals since that was the only game in town. In terms of business: it’s no longer faux-pas 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.
Rethink your listing descriptions
The easiest way to attract business travellers is to tell them your properties will suit their needs. To do this, there are two key updates you have to do to your listings:
- Include work-friendly keywords in the title: Quiet, spacious, calm, etc. Those are keywords that work well with vacationers and remote workers.
- Front-load the listing text field: Include a line like “Perfect for a quiet vacation, relaxing, or working remotely” early in the text field. The goal here is convince the business traveller that the space will let them get their work done.
For the rest of the listing, follow the best-practices:
- Check all the amenities that apply to the property.
- Write an engaging listing description.
- Provide professional pictures and use the description field.
Amenities your vacation rental needs to include
Don’t think of regular vacation rental guests vs business travellers when looking at your amenities and listing description. Business travellers simply have extra requirements when booking a property. Luckily, those requirements can be fulfilled without huge upgrades to your current amenities.
Start with super-fast wifi
If business travellers book your vacation rentals, they’ll need fast and reliable wifi to perform their work. So make sure your vacation rental can cater to business travel by having top-of-the-line internet service.
That said, the devil is in details.
Having good internet is more than paying for a premium package with an 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 of the time, an ISP will offer a cheap router when setting up internet in a property. Reach won’t be as far-reaching. Worse, these cheap routers struggle when too many devices connect to them. To get around that, ask your ISP to upgrade the router. If that’s not available, you can buy a good and reliable router yourself.
Update your listing description: To optimize the extra money you spend on fast internet, turn it into a marketing advantage. Include the fact that you have great wifi in your listing description. If you also list on Airbnb, make sure you perform the wifi speed test. Then go ahead and post your wifi speed in your listing description. 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. A 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.
Whichever option you choose, you should include detailed instructions on setting up streaming. This is where a digital guidebook comes in handy. You can leave images, and step-by-step instructions very easily. Your guests will appreciate the guidebooks, and that’ll boost your odds of getting more positive reviews.
Bonus: 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 proper desk and office chair. Why an office chair? They’re 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 sends a subliminal message to the potential guest that the rental will cater to their business travel needs.
What if there isn’t a space for a desk?
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.
How does this attract business travellers? Simply buying a coffee machine won’t cut it. What you need to do is include pictures of it in your listing description. Maybe even include a picture of it in your photo reel. As a welcome package, include cups or pods. It’s not a huge expense, but it’ll increase the guest’s experience. It’s also best-practice since some guests may not use that coffee machine. Alternatively, you could offer a few pods for free and upsell a sleeve or two (Hostfully Guidebooks give you the chance to offer upsells to guests).
Other things you can do for business guests
Now that you’ve loaded business-friendly amenities into your properties and tweaked your listing descriptions, it’s time to boost the guest experience. For business travel, it’s as easy as upsells.
Here are three items you should consider offering your guests as extras:
- Extra phone chargers
- Power converters
It doesn’t take much to attract business travelers to a vacation rental property. Just make a few of your amenities more noticeable in the listings and offer a few add-ons to the guest’s stay.