Managing a vacation rental property can be one of the most rewarding experiences and one of the most challenging especially when it comes to property maintenance and updates. But if you have a thorough and responsive strategy developed and the right partners in place, your job as a property manager does not have to be hard.
Customer Experience Can Hurt and Help
As a property manager, both the homeowner and the guest are your livelihood. Everything from clear and consistent communications, ease of engagement, and responsiveness will have a direct impact on how your guest perceives the business and on whether they stay with you again.
One small issue or miscommunication can harm how the customer perceives the experience, and it will probably be reflected in their review which, in turn, will impact business.
When it comes to property maintenance, the only thing that will sustain a positive perception and quality of service is to be proactive and thorough. Get in front of potential maintenance issues and update the property in alignment with customer reviews and feedback. Above all, make sure you are building your updates or large maintenance projects into your calendar and your budget so there are no surprises during the downtime.
If you are using a system like LiveRez, we can help. With LiveScore you can craft specific questions that allow you to discover maintenance issues and improvements that would enhance the guest experience. For example, asking the question “Were the mattresses comfortable?” can help determine if they need to be replaced.
The information from LiveScore reviews can also help in communicating the need for improvements or upgrades to owners. With the reviews, owners are hearing about the issues from guests and not just the property manager.
Finally, the LiveScore report within LiveRez allows managers to take a wider look at guest comments and make companywide changes. One partner reviewed their surveys for the year and discovered an overwhelming request for Keurig coffeemakers in the properties. They were then able to bulk purchase the Keurig’s and resell them to the owners with a small profit margin. A win-win for everyone!
How to mine Guest Reviews to Encourage Updates
So, if your guest perception is a direct link to how successful your property is, how do you make sure that perception is positive and how are your actions reflected in their reviews?
If you are the property owner then it is a little easier to address guest reviews but if you are managing someone else’s home, it can get challenging. However, the key is leveraging customer reviews to inform maintenance and updating strategies. If you can show the need as they are shown in customer reviews, your perception will be elevated, and your position will grow. If you listen to your guest reviews, you will know when to renovate.
Competitive Edge in Vacation Rentals is in Guest Reviews
A good review is based on the highest quality of service and the best customer engagement. By planning ahead and reading the best customer reviews, you can give the people what they want before they even know they want it.
The top 5 things vacation rental customers want might surprise you.
1. Smart home and easy access to Wi-Fi: Customers want convenience, and it starts with tech.
2. Appliances: Great Kitchen Dynamics, Washer, and Dryer
TripAdvisor recently surveyed thousands of people and found that nearly 70% find vacation rental properties better when they have access to a washer and dryer.
3. Curb Appeal: Exterior painting, details, and landscaping. Customers want the wow factor.
4. Outdoor Living: An outdoor grill and firepit and furniture are almost required for the summertime rentals.
5. Pool and Privacy: If you can offer these things, customers will rave.
A recent survey showed that over 80% of vacation rental guests said that a private pool was important when choosing a rental property.
Also, if you include the updates in your customer communications, they will see actionable follow-through based on customer feedback.
Customer reviews and requests not only influence property management updating or renovation but also guide maintenance priorities.
Property Maintenance Checklists
There is a lot to managing a vacation rental and depending on how close you are to the property (physically and conscientiously), the visuals may become invisible. The only way to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks is to make a checklist from the inside out starting with what makes the home tick.
Infrastructure: Security and Safety
- Inspect electrical systems and outlets
- Make sure fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors are all functional and that the first aid kit is complete
- Check security systems, cameras, locks, alarms, and motion sensor lights
- Check for damage to the exterior and interior roof.
- Update or repair wood floors that might be a hazard.
- Double-check plumbing fixtures and appliances for potential problems.
- Check pathways and stairs for damage or safety hazards.
- Check sprinklers when the seasons dictate.
- Trim trees and bushes that are overgrown or growing too near structures.
- Check for water damage, plumbing issues, malfunctioning appliances, or pests.
- Check to see if light bulbs need to be replaced especially near stairways.
- Make sure all technology is working properly and Wi-Fi can be accessed.
- Make sure door and window locks work.
- Change filters in air conditioner, ventilation systems, dryer, and furnace.
Curb Appeal: Façade and Landscaping
- Clean out rain gutters.
- Plant seasonally, and maintain landscaping
- Touch up exterior paint, add a new coat, or repaint.
- Treat for pests around the structure or landscaping.
- Deep clean pool, hot tub, barbecue, and patio furniture or firepit
- Check for damage to the exterior roof, chimney, and gutters.
- Trim trees and bushes that are obstructing the house, or walkways.
Replace or Repair: Exterior and Interior
- Replacing damaged or cracked windows
- Inspecting and tightening the screws on doorknobs and cabinet handles
- Conditioning leather furniture, cleaning and repairing fabric furniture, and refinishing wood furniture
- Replacing any plumbing fixture that appears loose or worn out and checking the water pressure and drainage for any issues
- Check for loose or sticky items, like drawers that don’t open properly or screws that need to be tightened on hardware and doorknobs.
- Replace or refill toiletries and pantry items
- Change seasonal decor.
- Repair or replace worn or damaged furniture items.
- Check kitchen accessories and replace missing utensils or worn pots and pans, etc.
- Check and replace worn towels, linens, and bedding.
- Replace batteries in remotes.
These checklists will help to stay on top of things. Some of them may be daily or weekly checks and others may be yearly but make sure you have it built into a schedule, your customer calendars if there is any disruption, and most certainly your budget.
LiveRez can also help with what seems like a never-ending list of to-dos. With LiveManager, our operations management system, we make managing housekeeping, maintenance, and operations easy and seamless. You can create work orders and assign tasks based on specific processes or internal rules. LiveManager also allows you to schedule routine maintenance items, so they do not get overlooked or forgotten. LiveManager goes beyond just maintenance tasks – it’s a quick way to assign administrative tasks to your in-office staff as well.
Discover how LiveRez can help reduce your everyday to-do list.
Hiring a Partner Not Just a Vendor
Utilizing technology to keep up with maintenance schedules and budgets is smart but when it comes to the tangible work to be done, there are other considerations that tech can’t always solve.
Whether you need an emergency HVAC contractor in the dead of winter, an arborist for a downed tree, or a consistent cleaner, finding a trusting, efficient, and thorough partner for your vacation rental will take an investment in both time and money. Building an honest relationship with your partners should be a priority and two things should not be overlooked.
- Communications: Clear and consistent communication is vital in maintaining a trusting relationship with your local vendors. If you are hiring a contract cleaning service or a local property manager, clear communications on expectations and systems are paramount to your success. A strong and honest relationship will enable a mutual engagement that is comfortable, thorough, and responsive.
- Compensation: Your partners are a key aspect of your success as a property manager. To manage the highest quality of cleaning and maintenance, respectful and competitive compensation should be met. Fair compensation will go a long way in loyalty and true partnership.
If you are a property manager focused on thorough maintenance needs or looking to overhaul your property, there are considerations to be aware of and a plan to follow. If you are proactive, utilize the best software systems, hire a great team and listen to your customers, you will not only succeed but you are guaranteed to grow.