In any industry, clear and consistent communication is a big part of the business strategy, and it should be no different for vacation rental management. Historically guest communications have been responsive and flexible, and while those are good comms values, it’s not enough. Guest Communications is the foundation for the entire operations of the company. Consistent, proactive, and thorough communications could make or break an experience and, in the long run, your business. We have considered what we believe matters most in strengthening your communications. Here are our 6 tips for your success:
1.Good Brand is Great Business
2.Reinforce Your Brand DNA
4.Texts Sometimes Trump Emails
5.Simplify and Automate
6.Good Comms + Data = Great Leads
Good Brand is Great Business
- Clear—keep your communication simplified and focused without the potential for confusion. People do not like to read. So, consider your first sentence the most important and try to stay as brief as possible.
- Consistent—there is no such thing as redundancy in communications but make sure to use the same language when referring to specifics, again so there is no confusion.
- Character—use a distinctive voice and messaging that will always reflect the brand. If your tone and voice are consistently positive and reflect your brand, guests will recognize the brand instinctively which will lead to positive and personal experiences.
Reinforce your Brand DNA
Aside from the actual communications, other factors will elicit an accurate “gut feeling” about your brand. These factors should be part of your brand DNA and include:
- Personalization—Never underestimate the power of a personalized experience starting with a pre-stay welcome email with details of their booking in the message followed by a welcome note at the property that reflects personalized needs or requests or information on the area. Your character should always be warm, and welcoming and include the name of the guest so as not to seem mechanical. Use the active voice to create energy and speak to the present and future tenses to bring a sense of time and relevance to your message.
- Response Time—By responding promptly to any guest questions or feedback (preferably within an hour), you will present yourself and your brand as a responsive, respectful, and professional company. You will gain positive brand awareness and bookings.
- Flexibility—Even though it can often be challenging in vacation rental management, flexibility can show sincere attention and care to your guest, your partners, and your employees. It can help to inform that brand perception by saying you are always interested in their best interest.
One of the most powerful tools you have in your effort to create an accurate and positive brand perception is your social media marketing. Social media will help your brand to come alive. A strategic social media campaign can bring more brand awareness and generate leads. Staying social can keep you in a conversation with past clients to encourage return business and it can help drive potential customers to your website.
Blogs can further provide brand perception by driving thought leadership and touching on topics your guests might be most compelled by. However, as mentioned above, it is critical to be consistent, clear, and always include the character of the brand to differentiate who you are as a vacation rental management company. Responsiveness is also key in showing your guests and potential guests that you are active and engaged.
Texts Sometimes Win Over Emails
Studies show that SMS is the preferred method of guest communication with open rates as high as 98% and excellent response rates. Text messages are increasingly popular in a variety of industries but particularly in the vacation rental management industry where response times for feedback and questions can be critical. Texts enable property managers to resolve house issues faster with a deeper level of customer care comes confidence and a positive perception of the business.
While texting is not new, there are new tools that can be implemented to save you both time and resources. Simplify, streamline and manage your inbound and outbound text messages for efficient and effective vacation rental management but don’t forget about the personal connections. Remember to use the communications guidelines above particularly to be responsive and personal in your replies.
In an article from VRM Intel, Tyler Adams of Benchmark Management, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and Ashley Kubiszyn of River Ridge Rentals, Breckenridge, Colo., discussed how they use texting to increase efficiencies and build business.
“Too often our staff either couldn’t take a call or had trouble reaching the guest by phone,” Kubiszyn said. “Texting is much easier and more practical. People are used to it.” — VRM Intel
The two say that guests love it and show a personalized touch reflecting consistent and immediate availability. They love the ability to text several guests simultaneously with the text history used to record specific communications related to billing or charge-backs. According to Adams, the response rates to his emails might be 25 percent whereas text response rates are much higher. The volume of communications is up, and guests are more likely to respond. Emergencies are resolved much easier and faster. Entrance codes, service appointments, and other vital information can be texted in real-time and guest response is likely immediate as well.
Adams also suggests that texting has led to better communications with the management staff. Kubiszyn said texting enables her company to solicit Google reviews more easily.
Simplify and Automate
While many guests might prefer SMS text, it is also important to provide a quick and easy way to communicate in other forms. Providing a range of options is a way to cater to all preferences and will make sure nothing is missed. Again, make sure all tools and tactics are simplified and user-friendly.
While we have been stressing personalization, automation can be a key aspect of the guest communication process too. Vacation rental software can automate customized email or text triggers, provide templates for all stages of the booking process, and deliver follow-up messages with reminders to leave a review and welcome them back for a return visit. Automation could save as much as 70% of your time. Combined with a personalized touch in other forms of communications, automation can improve the overall experience and brand perception.
“With our automated text outreach, the guests have at least three opportunities to share any concerns or complaints with us. Before we started using texting, about 10 percent of guests might tell us about a problem they had after they’ve checked out. Now, it’s down to about 1 percent.” Tyler Adams of Benchmark Management
Good Comms + Data = Leads
By this time, you can see that strong communications will strengthen or improve brand perception, but it will also lead to more referrals, reviews, and bookings. However, there is another key aspect of strong communications that will work hard for you, and that is data. Tracking the effectiveness of your communications is vital to understanding what is working and what can be improved upon.
KPI data is the most powerful form of insight you can have to generate more leads. If you are not already familiar, KPI is a key performance indicator or measurement. KPIs evaluate the success of an organization or of a particular activity in which it engages. These metrics will show you more clearly where you are performing well and where you need to improve so, tracking KPIs such as your average response time to an inquiry or your inquiry-to-booking conversion rate can provide insights to better business, more leads, and growth.
LiveRez Puts Data and Automation to Work for You
And speaking of better communications, KPIs, and more leads, LiveRez offers, LiveComms, a powerful CRM tool included in our platform. Inquiries from any listing site, marketing source, or landing page are automatically turned into leads. From there, your staff can guide these prospects through your sales pipeline, tracking all interactions and making it easy to see the status of any given lead in your system. Multiple inboxes mean that your messages are better organized, and easier to find, and you can limit which staff members see which inboxes. Best of all, you can create automation that responds to specific inboxes, saving you time and providing better customer service.
- Manage all your leads from one intuitive dashboard
- Create your own owner and guest communication lifestyle
- Implement automation tools to save time
- Create custom templates for all communications
Since the LiveRez platform includes your reservation system and your CRM, you can create send rules based on vital information that other CRMs can’t access. For example, you can set a rule that automatically delays arrival emails until all paperwork, including signed rental agreements, has been received. If you’re still waiting on paperwork, our system will email a copy to a guest. They can digitally sign the document and email it back, triggering the CRM to log in and send the arrival email. Now, that is automation that will make your job easier.
You can also create emails that automatically pull information from your reservation system. LiveComms can automatically send a rental confirmation that includes the guest’s name, the date of their stay, and their chosen property. Your vacation rental property management business is communicating effectively and creating a better guest experience without having to click a button.
With LiveComms, leads are captured and displayed plainly in our easy-to-use property management software. That includes all listing sites, marketing sources, owner acquisition pages, and any inquiries from your website.
Once you’ve gathered leads, you can visit your CRM Leads List dashboard to see all vital details about open leads. You’ll see the assigned team member, current status, and which property they’re interested in at which time.
With another click, you’ll be able to see a lead’s contact information. Emails and text messages are composed and sent right from the CRM, and replies are likewise recorded and stored within your vacation rental management software.
Once your lead is ready to book, it’s just one more click to make the reservation. Better, more efficient processes lead to higher conversion rates, and LiveComms offers just that so, you have peace of mind and can treat your guests with a personal touch that compliments it all.
If you are interested in maximizing your communications, building a stronger brand and creating more leads, contact us today.