Part two of our video guide, 2014: The year of the holiday rental, looks at the importance of running your holiday rental like a five-star home-from-home.
Travel experts predict that 2014 will be the year of the holiday rental. Great news for all, except... in many regions, Spain being one, this also comes with changes to industry regulation and the introduction of licences for private holiday rentals. Holiday rentals are being spotlighted in more ways than one and it’s our duty to make the industry shine; at the same time attracting as many customers as possible.
A five-star home-from-home experience
Experienced holiday renters will know what they want from a holiday rental and how to seek it out. But for travellers who are more used to hotel stays, deciding to book a holiday rental for the first time could be daunting, a risk even. A hotel offers consistency - facilities, concierge, in-room services, meals, etc. A holiday rental is an unknown entity, independent and void of the immediate on-hand services they are used to.
Whether you are welcoming back old clients, or inviting first-time renters to your home, you need to remember one thing: A guest expects your holiday home to be even better than their own. Nothing but the best will, or should do.
Think like a hotel: concierge service
Although a holiday rental offers guests an independent experience, it’s still nice to know that there is someone on hand if they need anything. A personal greeting on arrival, checking that they have arrived safely, is a great way to make them feel immediately welcome and at home. If you’re not based close by, we recommend that you task someone with the responsibility of being on hand for your guests’ needs.
Offer to organise taxis, book attractions and recommend the best restaurants and supermarkets in the local area. Leave a welcome pack and make sure that your cupboards are stocked up with dry foods, spices and toilet paper. You can read more about what guests want in our article, What makes a holiday home-from-home.
Creating a five-star home-from-home experience means installing all the creature comforts that a guest is used to at home and making them even more luxurious. When we asked guests what were the little things that made them feel at home in a holiday rental, the majority wanted a comfortable bed, with a mattress topper, quality bed linen and towels and enough towels, and good kitchen equipment. Plus little luxuries, such as good quality soap, shampoos and lotions, will make your home more outstanding. A good tip to save money: invest in quality bathroom toiletries and then refill them each time with less expensive, but still quality products. Remember, this is your business, make sure you offer a first-class service and product. Strive to be a boutique hotel, rather than a Fawlty Towers.
Keep it spotless
One of the first things guests do when they arrive in their accommodation, be it a hotel or holiday rental, is to check for stray hairs or dirty pillow cases. Make sure your holiday home isn’t caught out. Regularly communicate with your cleaning staff. Make sure they are aware of the standards you expect from every clean and are keeping those standards. Give them a check-list, which should be covered for every change-over clean. And make sure you regularly check that the carpets are clean, your home is mold and bug-free and there are no unpleasant smells.
Respond and update
Before a guest has even got to your home, has even booked your home, they will be judging both you and the industry in general, based on their experience in searching, finding and contacting holiday rental businesses. So, when you get an enquiry, respond to it within 24 hours. Or quicker if you can. A recent survey showed that responding to contacts within the first three hours, results in a 50% better chance of securing a booking. It also demonstrates holiday rental booking systems are as efficient, if not more so, as a hotel’s system. And remember: If you don’t respond, your competition will.
Secondly, it doesn’t take long to update your calendar and make your property detail page look professional. Remember, not only are you competing with thousands of other holiday rentals, you are also competing with hotel websites, so your online presence needs to be attractive and up-to-date. We're going to be talking to a rental staging and photography expert soon; watch out for their recommendations on how to maximise your rental website and property details page through good staging and photography.
Guest reviews and guest book feedback are vital to the success of your business. Don’t just sweep negative comments under the carpet. Listen, learn and improve. Answer every comment you receive and if it’s not as positive as you would like, reply in an even and friendly manner. If the criticism is justified, try to improve the issue and then let the guest know that you have listened and made changes.
Ready to launch your business into 2014, the Year of the Holiday Rental? This is your year to shine. Be outstanding and see how your business takes off!
Have you read part one of our guide? What trending in travel marketing and technology for 2014?
Main photo credit: Holiday apartment in Seville ID 14666