Email Tips To Help Set Your Vacation Rental Apart

Amy Sept —  August 3, 2013

"I knew I had a lot of emails, but...", photo from Flickr by Jeff TurnerBetween the years of use and sheer volume we deal with on a regular basis, it’s easy to get complacent when it comes to email correspondence for your vacation rental.

Don’t make this mistake!

Big businesses are looking for more ways to customize and personalize their websites and email marketing, but in the travel sector, vacation rentals have an edge: a more individual and uncommon experience is inherent in the industry.

For most rental owners, email is the first point of contact. It’s up to you to capture a traveler’s interest and, ultimately, their business.

Do your email messages meet the same high standards as your rental property, or do they fall short?

Respond quickly

In the era of the “book it now” button, timing matters — and, as the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. According to HomeAway, response time is the “number one thing that travelers would like to see improved in the vacation rental experience”.

Improving your response time is an easy and effective way to increase your bookings — but that’s not the only reason. Whether or not you’re quick to hit the “reply” button could become one more factor for travelers to judge before they ever send you an inquiry.

If you’ve used popular rental site Airbnb, you’ll know that this is already in play: Every listing includes the host’s response rate as well as their response time (ie “within a few hours”, or “within a day”).

Rethink your email signature

Email tip: "Did you know: You can also set signatures for emails you send from smartphones and tablets! Check with your manufacturer for instructions."An email signature is such a regular part of email correspondence that it’s easy to set it and forget it.

When was the last time you turned a critical eye to those last few lines of your messages?

An email signature has two main roles: to identify who you are, and to tell people the best way to get in touch with you.

How you do that is entirely up to you, but here are a few tips:

  • Include your name as well as the name of your vacation rental.
  • List the most efficient way for people to contact you; this is likely your phone number, but could include another channel like Skype. If it’s not a quick and easy way to reach you, however, don’t list it.
  • Avoid using an image or logo as part of your signature; it may look good on your computer screen, but you can’t control how it will show up on other people’s computers.
  • Stick to one or two links that best represent your rental property, like your custom website. It can be tempting to include every link to your property, but this can be confusing for guests who won’t know which link to choose.

You may choose to include your vacation rental’s street address, or to promote upcoming deals or other announcements. Whatever information you decide to include, the key is to keep your signature short, simple and relevant.

Write person to person

It’s true that it can come across as disingenuous — and maybe even a bit creepy — when a big company uses your name and information to make their email more personal, as if they have a long-standing relationship with you.

However, your guests aren’t dealing with one of the big conglomerates, they’ve contacted you!

Keep your emails friendly and professional, with all the niceties you would use in person:

  • personalize your messages to your guests, addressing them by name
  • use salutations to open and end your messages, and
  • include “please” or “thank you” when making requests.

After years of writing correspondence, this reminder may seem pretty elementary. However, thoughtful communication is something we often take for granted as we increasingly use shorter and more casual messages with our friends and family.

Do you have an email trick that’s worked well to support your business? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Amy Sept

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Writer and marketing pro Amy Sept is a regular contributor to the MyVR blog, to help answer your vacation rental marketing questions. Say hello via Twitter or Google+.
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3 responses to Email Tips To Help Set Your Vacation Rental Apart

  1. Your suggestions are on target, although I would and do include links in my responses. My calendar is an imbedded link as are photo albums of our various apartments. Do some inquires not see or relate to the embedded links? Yes. Is that a issue of concern? No. It just lets the informed email user gather more information without emailing or calling to achieve answers to their potential questions. I do include our logo on our signature and will now rethink this because of your information.

    I used “canned” responses on gmail and these are great time savers that I regularly add additional information to add answers to specific questions in the inquiry and to personalize even more my response. I always try to answer quickly and have my smart phone notify me with a chime when a new email is received. When I don’t have availability or would not accept the type of rental being requested, I try to suggest other accommodations in our area they might try. I am always amazed at the number of future rentals we receive because of the helpful courtesy we supplied on a reservation we could not fill.

    The gmail canned responses are also very helpful in confirming reservations and supplying additional information to the future guest to allow them arrive informed and ready to take in your area and enjoy their holiday vacation. In addition a nice email thanking them for their stay and asking for input on how you can improve a future stay or requesting input on any issues that may need to be addressed regarding their accommodation. If you have installed a loyalty program this is a great time to mention it again and to even ask for a review.

    Of recent we are looking hard and deep on improving our responses. We know “smart phones” are not always used by smart people and we need to solve this. We do get follow up emails with questions that were answered in depth in our original response. They might read this on a desk top, lap top or even a tablet, but on smart phones it may be ignored completely. Thinking about changing our format to important bullet points with an answer and allowing the inquirer to drill down further on the bullet points for in depth information below. Mobile devices are now a majority of our inquiries and followups. This change in devices needs a change in response layout.

  2. I completely agree with all the tips discussed here. It will always be best to respond immediately so we customers will know and wwe will be able to set every little detail that we need and to come up with a better plan. Writing person to person is another thing. Emails or responses should be personalized based on the person’s queries.

  3. Jonathan Murray
    Jonathan Murray August 12, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Thanks for the nice comments.

    Paul, your style sounds a bit like my own. I’ve got a little bit of a balance between auto-replies and link-outs to key info, and highly personalized replies.

    On the links, I agree that when I include too much info, then info seems to get lost. So, link-outs to info seems to help so they can click to drill down, but only if they want to, and I save a lot of text.

    On the auto-replies, the way I see it, the less time I spend on inquiries that I can’t convert, the more time I can spend giving a personalized reply and experience to those I can. That said, I also take a long term view. So, I don’t want to blow off or not respond to inquiries that I can’t convert. I just want to manage my most limited resource (time) and set up the proper work flows for different types of requests. I also only have one property that I manage, so there’s less of an opportunity to cross-sell within my inventory. But, I try to help because it’s the right thing to do, and there’s always the chance of a booking down the road, or even a referral.