Case Study

Automatic triggers and events for guest communication and self-check-in

How a full-service vacation rental management company automated guest communications, saved time, and boosted its bottom-line.

Keith Freedman is the owner of HostWell, a San Francisco-based vacation rental management company (VRMC).  HostWell provides full management services for stress-free rental revenue, including dedicated cleaning staff, price optimization, linen services, and guest communications.

HostWell sets itself apart from other VRMCs by focusing on the little things that make a big impact on the guest experience. One of these little things is keeping the human touch throughout the guest’s stay – even when managing a large portfolio.

Before Hostfully

Check-in instructions sent to guests manually

For years, HostWell used to send check-in instructions manually. Contrary to other VRMCs that may have sent generic check-in information, HostWell tailored each guest communication to include the check-in date and time, and the names of the guest and property owner (instead of using HostWell company name.) As Keith points out, “In personalizing the messaging by including the owner’s name, we noticed guests take better care of the property throughout the stay. It’s an easy way to protect our clients’ properties.”
While that level of customization helped the guest feel more comfortable and protected the investor’s property, it came with a drawback. Customizing each message took time. On top of that, the possibility of an error slipping in was always lurking around. To get around this challenge, HostWell used templates. But even that included a fair amount of copy/pasting and attention to detail:
HostWell’s guest check-in message process before Hostfully:
Booking
Open Templates
Edit Templates + copy content
Open Vacation Rental App
Paste Content

After Hostfully

Eliminate repetitive manual tasks (and errors)

Eventually, HostWell grew to a point where it needed property management software to continue scaling. On top of multi-channel distribution, a central calendar, and integrations, Keith knew any software solution he chose needed to include automated messaging. While using their templates saved time, it wasn’t feasible in the long run if HostWell chose to scale.
When Keith signed on with Hostfully and got all the properties imported, he worked on a better system for guest check-in. Keith started with one Hostfully digital guidebook per property. It was a convenient way to send house rules, check-in and check-out information, and local recommendations to guests. And because each Hostfully digital guidebook has a custom URL, Keith was able to include a handy link in his new automated messaging.
Keith then created his automatic triggers and custom fields. Through trial and error, HostWell found that sending check-in information three days prior to guest arrival was optimal. As Keith puts it, “any time before that, guests lose the instructions. They’ll ask for them closer to check-in, which means more work for us down the road.”
HostWell’s automated check-in process had to take into account guest and host information, reservation dates, text to include the guidebook URL and a time trigger. With this process in place, HostWell could now free up its staff’s time to focus on other aspects of the guest experience, day-to-day operations, or scaling the business. And those last-minute bookings that had an employee drop what they were doing? Automation took care of that as well. Visually, here’s what an automated message looks like:
Hi [guest name], thanks for booking [host name]’s [listing name]. On [check-in date] you can check-in at any time after [check-in time]. The access code to the front door is 1234. You can find driving directions, how to use the lock, local recommendations and check-out information by following [guidebook URL]
🕐
Waits 72 hours before
check-in to send

With this process in place, HostWell could now free up its staff’s time to focus on other aspects of the guest experience, day-to-day operations, or scaling the business. And those last-minute bookings that had an employee drop what they were doing? Automation took care of that as well.

Here’s what Keith had to say: “sometimes a guest books a property and immediately asks for check-in information. Since the check-in is under the three-day trigger, Hostfully sends the information right away. The guest is impressed that someone on our end was behind the screen, but in fact, it was Hostfully all along.”

Bonus

Automation leads to better reviews and higher daily rates

Saving time and energy was Keith’s original intent for automating the guest check-in. What he didn’t expect was a boost in 5-star reviews. By sending check-in information three days prior to check-in (rather than when the booking takes place), using the guest and host names, and sending polished digital guidebooks, guests feel welcome and secure that the property is managed by an industry professional. Seeing that guests appreciated the personalized communication, Keith added another automatic message. This one set to one day before check-out with property-specific instructions.
he result surprised everyone: “Some guests started leaving reviews, noting how the host was attentive and communicative throughout the entire stay. When we’d check which HostWell employee was responsible for helping get such a positive review, we were surprised to find out that no human had communicated with the guest. It was Hostfully’s automated messaging all along!” By acquiring more 5-star reviews, HostWell was able to justify boosting the average daily rate for some of its properties. In other words, with one tweak in HostWell’s processes, and without investing in decor or new amenities, Keith managed to increase HostWell’s bottom-line using features from the Hostfully PMP.

The Hostfully advantage

Hostfully’s industry-leading property management platform (PMP) is built from the ground up to help vacation, and short-term rental owners and managers streamline their processes and increase their bottom-line. On top of automated messaging and triggers, here are some of the other features Hostfully clients like Keith use to manage and scale their operations:
  • Multi-channel distribution: increase your marketing reach and generate more revenue
  • Digital guidebooks: boost the guest experience, cut down on communications, and upsell products and services for extra income
  • Pre-built direct booking site: generate your own bookings and gain independence from listing sites
  • Central messaging hub: easily manage guest communications on one interface
  • Booking pipeline: follow-up on leads and increase conversions
  • Integrations: connect other vacation rental software like turnover and cleaning, dynamic pricing, and credit card processing
  • Payments processing: easily collect payments from direct bookings or from upsold services and products to guests  
  • Property management data: make informed decisions based on data
  • Owner financial reports: save time and effort in preparing owner reports
  • Open API: keep using your custom software but also gain the benefits of the Hostfully PMP