Customer acquisition is a hurdle in any industry, which is why many businesses put a great deal of effort into cultivating loyalty among existing clients. The short-term rental sector is no different.
To travelers who have never stayed at your place, you’re just one listing in a sea of thousands, able to differentiate yourself only through your photos and description. To current and previous guests, however, you have far more opportunity to impress and to create lasting connections to your rental that will have them booking again and again.
Returning customers not only take less effort to secure than completely new guests, but they can also be directed to book through your personal website, helping you to avoid OTA fees.
You’re convinced. Earning repeat customers is a worthwhile investment. Now, how to do it?
Here are 5 proven methods of encouraging guests to book your rental again
1. Get to Know Each Other
Unlike hotel guests, travelers booking vacation rentals generally don’t expect to be given keys and left alone. Many hosts create friendly rapports with their guests and even keep in touch with them long after they’ve packed up and left.
Of course, as a property manager responsible for multiple rentals, your freedom to personally interact with guests is more limited than that of hosts with just one or two properties, but there are still measures you can take to get yourself on a first-name basis with your guests. Small gestures like preparing a welcome basket with a personal note, making travel or dining recommendations and checking in occasionally to ensure everything is agreeable can be all it takes for your guests to feel they’ve found a friend in you and can trust you to accommodate them on future trips.
2. Win Your Guests Over by Going the Extra Mile
Since providing guests with top-rate experiences is a sure way to earn positive reviews, this is probably something you’re doing anyway. Still, it’s worth mentioning here, as it’s also a huge incentive for travelers to book your place again down the road.
You can give your guests exactly what they’ve paid for – comfortable beds to sleep in and all the other amenities detailed on your listing page – or you can delight them with small surprises that come together to create the perfect backdrop to any vacation.
As we already said, welcome baskets are a great idea. It shows your customers you take pride in what you do and are personally invested in their experience. Other efforts include stocking your rentals with commonly forgotten items guests will probably need during their stay, preparing your rentals for the specific travelers you’re expecting (Kids? Business professionals?), and utilizing technologies and innovations that make things simpler for your guests, like keyless entry systems and smart thermostats.
3. Be Attentive to Every Guest
You don’t need to wait for your guests to arrive to start impressing them. From the very first inquiry, you should be providing prompt and helpful responses, letting them know you value their time and are available when they need you.
Travelers want to make every moment of their vacation count, which means they don’t want to sit around waiting for assistance when the WiFi goes out or they can’t figure out how to work the oven. Show them that they’ve got your ear every step of the way.
When it comes to vacations, uncertainties are part of the deal. Meeting queries with kindness, compassion and responsiveness, will tell guests there will far fewer when they book with you.
4. Follow Up After Their Stay
If your only communication with guests after their departure is to request a review of your listing, you’re not taking full advantage of the fact that you’ve got the contact details of a potentially hot lead. You should be keeping in touch with all of your guests so that they’ll think of you the next time vacation rolls around.
First and foremost, you’ll want to ask for any personal feedback they may have regarding their stay. This not only gives you helpful insight into how you can improve your accommodation and management approaches, it also demonstrates to guests that you truly care about the quality of your service. The knowledge that their concerns and suggestions were heard and the assurance that they will be addressed should they return to your rental may be all the motivation they need to book with you in the future.
After that, correspondence can be more fun, less business. Don’t bombard customers with emails, of course. Sending holiday greetings and occasional well-wishes is all it takes to remind guests of your vacation home and the wonderful memories they made there.
You’d also do well to alert them of any upcoming events happening near your rentals that might pique their interests – concerts, shows, sports games…anything you think might get them thinking, “Hey… why not?”
5. Offer Discounts That Are Hard to Resist
Among the emails you send to previous guests should definitely be some incentives for them to come back for another visit. These can come in the form of booking discounts that you’ll make clear are exclusive to returning guests or other perks, like coupons to a spa or restaurant you’ve partnered up with.
Another major perk of marketing your rentals this way is that you no longer need the original booking platforms through which your guests found you the first time around. Send them links to your personal booking website and encourage them to book through there so you can avoid OTA fees and pocket more of the profit!
Keep Your Guests Coming Back For More
From the moment you get a guest inquiry, you should be setting yourself up for more than just a one-time-stay and a positive review. If you play your cards right, proving yourself a professional, reliable host from start to finish, you might just win yourself the gift that keeps on giving: customer loyalty.