This how-to guide was inspired by a 2019 VRMA Spring Forum panel presentation by Michelle Williams of Atlantic Vacation Homes, Lynn Thurston of Watersound Management, and Sue Jones of HR4VR, moderated by Victoria O’Connell of WeGoLightly.com.
A problem impacting 50% of single travelers
If you’re managing properties that attract business travelers, you probably serve single guests often – and many of them are women. Women frequently feel scared of traveling alone for good reason. One in three women have experienced sexual assault, and travel is anxiety producing, because everything is unknown and new.
As a property manager, you’re probably not doing all you can to make your female travelers feel safe in your units. Unfortunately, this means you’re missing out on delivering a great customer experience for a significant portion of your travelers.
In this post, we cover a few simple and effective ways that you can make your properties more livable for female travelers, which will help you increase repeat bookings and earn more revenue.
Walk a mile in her shoes: How to improve the female customer journey
It’s critical to pay careful attention to how you’re ensuring a safe and secure environment for women guests. If you haven’t thought about this before, here is a how-to guide to approach building in safety precautions.
Before the stay: State your intentions, then follow through
Mentioning that you want to provide a safe and secure environment is an important first step. You can do this even before a customer books with you. This includes:
- Stating your commitment to a safe and secure environment on your website
- Ask guests to text or message you letting you know that they got in safely
- Tell guests that they can contact you if anything doesn’t look right, and that you’ll help
Arrival and safe entry
Remember that as a traveler, everything is new – and newness puts people on high alert. One important aspect of any travel accommodation is helping the guest reach the property, enter safely, and lock the door behind.
Here are a few tips that you should consider that will make arrival safe for your guests:
Make sure the entry is easy to find
- Provide clear instructions on reaching the property, with maps
- Send guest pictures of the entry, pointing out any lockboxes and locks
- Make sure the entry area is well lit. If the property is remote, leave front door light on
- Provide a good spot to put luggage while unlocking the door
- If the neighborhood is not the safest, be explicit and encourage guests to take extra care
Help guests confirm a secure environment
- Use locks that are easy to operate
- Provide window coverings that prevent outsiders from seeing inside the property
- If a guest is arriving at night, leave lights on inside the unit
- If you are renting a room in your home, provide a lock on the bedroom door so the guest can feel more secure while sleeping
- Provide locks on bathroom doors
How your staff can make guests feel more secure
- Ask the guest to text or message and confirm they arrived safely
- Proactively reach out to the guest to check in, if you are using automated locks
- If you greet your guests in person and are hosting a single female traveler, consider sending a female greeter
During the stay
Once a guest has settled in, safety becomes less of a concern. At this point, your guest will focus more on enjoying their stay and doing what they want to do on their trip. Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow that will improve safety for your travelers:
- Check in with guests at least once during their stay
- If there are areas of your town or city that aren’t the safest places for travelers, mention that in your digital guidebook, and suggest what they can do to avoid it
- If you’re renting a room in your home, provide expectations about shared space use
- Do not enter the property / bedroom unless you ask for permission and notify the guest ahead of time
- Never have maintenance workers show up to the property unannounced
- If you’re renting a room in your home, do not linger too long in conversation
Small efforts that make a big impact
These operational improvements may not be drastic, but they can make a significant impact on the travel experience – especially for women. And that’s good for your business. According to Forbes Magazine, 80% of travel spend decisions are made by women. Why not invest in making women feel as comfortable and safe as possible in your vacation rental properties?