In order to grow their business while also adapting to the new normal, property management companies need to implement new technology and streamline operations in order to achieve organizational efficiency. In response to this, Guesty hosted an online event with our users to address the pain points commonly associated with short-term rentals and discuss the solutions that play a major role in helping them automate operations, save time and achieve peak productivity.
During this event, Guesty’s own Omer Rabin, Managing Director of Americas — along with Alex Allison, Founder & CEO of D. Alexander; Richard Marshall, Founder at The Nox Group; and Joseph Binestock, Director of Sales, Americas at Guesty — discussed how to ace guest communication, support flexible inventory models, and offer contact-free stays all while meeting new travel patterns and guest expectations amid COVID-19.
Omer kicked off the event by introducing the tools property management companies have implemented to provide contact free-stays and limit human interaction during this time including self check-in / check-out technology, keyless entry services, tech to manage cleaning staff remotely, and automated messaging tools. Omer then showcased data Guesty collected from reservations made across multiple booking channels, including Airbnb and Booking.com, pointing to the short-term rentals community being poised for growth, best highlighted by the increase in global bookings month over month. In fact in August of this year, we saw a 10% increase in new reservations globally compared to August 2019, and a 15% increase in the US specifically.
Joseph then followed by demonstrating some of the top Guesty features that have helped property management companies increase revenue and maintain business stability during this time. He explained how our users have relied on our auto messaging tools via the Unified Inbox and 24/7 Guest Communication Services to communicate any changes they have made in light of COVID-19. He then went on to showcase Guesty’s Pre-Stay tools, a suite of features — check-in form, rental agreements, authority reporting, and auto-messaging — that automate operations while collecting all the information and documents you need to protect your properties. Joseph then introduced the tools Guesty recently released to support extended stays, helping our users incorporate flexible inventory into their portfolio as travellers continue to book longer stays worldwide.
Up next, Alex shared how his company, D. Alexander, adjusted their marketing and operations in response to COVID-19, allowing them to gain almost 100% occupancy over the past 5 months. D. Alexander is a hospitality company with primary markets located across Florida, Tennessee and Arizona; due to the pandemic, the company pivoted their offering to focus on extended stays through the launch of their Destination Isolation program. As such, they focused heavily on drive-to remote destinations, family and group travel, and work-from-home accommodations. Alex also mentioned how his company turned to new tech solutions that support flexible inventory models and guest communication, such as Guesty’s pre-stay tools, to help grow his business.
Wrapping up the discussion, Richard presented the key steps Nox Rentals, a luxury, boutique property management company based in Cape Town, has taken in response to COVID-19. This included updating the company branding and messaging to reflect its stringent cleaning procedures and extended stay accommodations to curating a domestic marketing campaign through social media influencers. Richard also spoke about practical tips as to how his property management company was able to come out stronger during this difficult time by focusing their efforts on delivering exceptional customer service and tracking customer satisfaction through their net promoter score system. He then explained how Guesty’s auto-messaging and reporting tools have helped his company streamline operations by automating tasks and optimizing communication with his team, cleaning staff and guests.
Following the presentation, we addressed questions that had been submitted by our audience in a Q&A session. Here are some highlights (edited for clarity):
Q: What is the first action item a property management company should add to their “to-do” list when trying to adjust to the new normal?
Alex (D.Alexander): I recommend listening to your customers and investing in flexible technology that meets new guest expectations in the marketplace.
Richard (Nox Group): The first thing I recommend doing is putting yourself in the position of your guests, thinking deeply about what has changed for them. I’d then take into account what actions your company can take to address those needs and concerns from a guest’s perspective.
Joseph (Guesty): Property management companies need to be flexible and support the changes that have surfaced throughout the guest journey in light of COVID-19. Many aspects of the guest journey have changed tremendously, from initial inquiry to check-out, presenting new challenges along the way. It’s crucial to address these issues promptly and maintain the customer relationship now more than ever.
Q: Have you seen any new trends or traveler personas in the market post-COVID-19?
Alex (D.Alexander): Although the trends have been consistent within our markets, the patterns in which they happen are different. For instance, our booking lead time used to be 100+ days and now they are weeks or even a few days prior to the stay. As a result, we had to adjust our internal operations to align with these last-minute bookings as well as different lengths of accommodation from short-term stays to longer term stays.
Q: How have Guesty’s automation tools complemented your guest communication strategy?
Richard (Nox Group): We have been able to keep all our communications and inquiries consistent and centralized using the Unified Inbox. Thanks to these automation tools, we have been able to use the time saved to look into previous projects that were held on the back-burner to improve our business and ensure we’re prepared when things eventually get back to normal.
Q: Where do you think our industry will be 6 months from now and what technology do you plan to leverage moving forward?
Richard (Nox Group): I believe that in 6 months we will be over the crisis and hopefully travel will return to what it once was. I expect the vacation rental category will benefit from the COVID situation and attract those wanting to travel. There will be an interesting shift in terms of people traveling not only for leisure purposes but rather looking for flexible spaces they can work and live in remotely. In terms of technology, we plan to leverage distribution channels and flexible inventory management.
Alex (D.Alexander): The next 6 months and the year ahead will offer us all an amazing opportunity. This will be a pivotal moment for the home, hospitality, hotel, and overall travel sector as COVID amplified our place in the world as a community. Moving forward we’re going to focus on expanding our internal operations and ensuring organizational efficiency throughout our initiatives. We will also be tending to our existing customers by implementing technology that allows us to continue delivering outstanding guest experience.
To learn more about the many ways Guesty can help streamline your business, we invite you to a free one-on-one demo with one of our experts. Thank you everyone for joining and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events!