Archives For Customer Service

"Money Girl" on flickr, by Tax Credits (CC BY 2.0)While not every vacation rental owner accepts them yet, online reservations are gaining traction in the vacation rental industry. That means processing payments online is important, but choosing a vendor that fits your specific needs takes time and research..

PayPal has been a trailblazer in e-commerce for more than a decade, and for many businesses it’s the easy choice: a proven and familiar name in a space that’s new and still rapidly evolving.

Despite PayPal’s position as a leader, it’s a platform created to appeal to many different industries – and it may or may not be the right solution for your business. Over the past couple of years, the e-commerce space has been flooded with new options, and some might fit your needs better.

If you’re looking at online payment options, here are questions to ask a potential vendor. Continue Reading…

"Travel bag" on flickr, by Monterey Public Library (CC BY 2.0)There’s no question that online marketing matters when promoting your vacation rental; Google’s report, “The Traveler’s Road to Decision,” found that the vast majority of business and leisure travelers plan their trips online using search engines, websites, online agencies and other channels to get information and make reservations.

However, it seems that many travelers still prefer a good printed guidebook.

According to the “World Travel Market 2013 Industry Report,” more than half of UK travelers (59%) referenced a printed guidebook during their travels this summer.

Personal recommendations and other online resources still rank high. However, in the middle of the move to digital, it’s a good reminder not to forget the folks who prefer paper. Continue Reading…

Review Part 1 || Guest post by Tyler Gillespie

In a recent post on his blog, Tyler Gillespie of VacationRentalBusiness.net challenged vacation rental owners to “hotelize” their businesses. In this three-part series for MyVR, he explains why it matters, how to do it, and what you can do to bring your guest services to the next level. This is part two of three.Families have started to make the switch from hotels to vacation rentals, and why not? Vacation rentals have a lot going for them!

Unfortunately, we also have one big self-defeating problem: Inconsistency. That’s why I believe that a key part of your focus – this year and in future – should be on streamlining operations to become more professional. Much like a hotel.

Whether you manage your rental business on a part or full-time basis, here is my advice to kickstart the “hotelization” of your vacation rental property by zeroing in on the things that will keep your business running smoothly. Continue Reading…

Guest post by Tyler Gillespie

In a recent post on his blog, Tyler Gillespie of VacationRentalBusiness.net challenged vacation rental owners to “hotelize” their businesses. In this three-part series for MyVR, he explains why it matters, how to do it, and what you can do to bring your guest services to the next level. This is part one of three.I have worked directly with many hotels over the years and, as a result, I have a unique perspective on the different items and services that are offered to clients in the exclusive, high-end marketplace that is Aspen, Colorado.

In my opinion, in order to have a truly successful vacation rental business now and in the future, vacation rental owners should focus primarily on two things:

  1. The Customer Experience and
  2. Treating Your Property Like a Business

Pay close attention! These are two areas hotels excel in, and you always want to make sure your property stays competitive. Continue Reading…

"Caution Tape" on flickr, by Picture Perfect Pose (CC BY 2.0)Not every vacation rental owner has a tale to share about The Nightmare Guest – but plenty do. While most guests come and go with few if any issues, owners occasionally find themselves facing some level of destruction or disruption.

Bad situations don’t need to be monumental, either. Finding out someone was puffing away in your non-smoking house, or that Fluffy made a mess on the carpet that nobody mentioned, can just as easily raise your expenses and blood pressure.

Even if you’ve never had a problem, building more hands-on customer service into your management process can help stave off problems in future and create a more positive experience for great guests who are excited to visit.

Continue Reading…

People travel because they want to experience life, and a significant number of people travel to celebrate it: more than 7 in 10 leisure travelers have gone on vacation to celebrate a milestone like an anniversary, birthday or wedding.

What are your vacation rental guests celebrating during their stay, and what are you doing to make their visit memorable? The MMGY Global /Harrison Group 2012 Portrait of American Travelers found that more than nine in 10 travelers agree, “The memories I get from my vacations make the trip worth it.”

Welcome baskets are thoughtful gifts that take a bit of effort to coordinate but make a great first impression. Plus, they can be customized to suit the occasion.

Helping your guests celebrate these milestones doesn’t have to be so hands on, however. In fact, you may be able to do some activities once and practically forget about them while others will take just a few minutes when it’s appropriate.

"After the Party", by Derek Lee on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Continue Reading…

"Z Stage Build" by MakerBot Industries on flickr (CC BY 2.0)Always be selling, the old business mantra goes — as true for vacation rental owners as it is for the hardware store up the street.

While you have a finite amount of “product” to sell, not an endless supply of widgets, nothing is stagnant these days — and definitely not the vacation rental industry.

How can you keep your marketing plan evolving so you’re left tweaking, and not scrambling, as things change?

Your network needs care and feeding

I think the number one thing you can do to maintain a healthy marketing strategy is to look after the people who’ve either stayed with you in the past or wanted to.

It’s cheaper and easier to hold onto your existing fans than to attract and keep new ones. But a lot of vacation rental owners sink all their energy into attracting new guests. After all, some trips are once in a lifetime, or at least once in a decade — why would they come back? Continue Reading…

"Mobile Internet Device, Beijing", by Cory M. Grenier on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Making big travel plans on small screens is becoming “the norm” as people increasingly pull out a smartphone or tablet to research — even book — their vacation time.

Four in five travelers say they travel with their mobile phones, relying on their devices to serve as personal tour guide — not just checking email but also taking photos, accessing maps, and locating nearby attractions.

The growth of mobile has been significant over the past few years, doubling among business travelers and more than quadrupling among leisure travelers.

And they’re not just looking: an increasing number of travelers want to complete their transaction on the same day. Just since last year, the number of people making reservations via a mobile device jumped to one in three — a trend that’s just as popular in the under 35 crowd as among those 55+ plus.

Continue Reading…

Location matters and features are important. But when your vacation rental and the competition are on relatively equal footing, it’s your ability to respond and deliver great customer service that can win not just one particular booking, but future referrals as well.

“I believe the #1 reason travelers choose vacation rentals over traditional hotels is personality,” Matt Landau wrote on the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog — and other owners agree.

Competitive markets and five-star reviews

Unit #1002, The Whaler - Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Ora Scott, Maui real estate photographer

The Whaler – Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Ora Scott, Maui real estate photographer

Robert Schaffhauser owns a vacation rental unit in The Whaler, an oceanfront condo building along Kaanapali Beach on the Hawaiian island of Maui — an area consistently listed as one of the top travel destinations in the U.S.

There’s no question that there’s a lot of competition, not just among vacation rentals but other types of accommodation, too.

The Whaler has an agent that looks after rental administration: arranging reservation details, collecting rent, overall property management and additional marketing. This makes it easier for Schaffhauser to focus on his own efforts.

Topping his own list of priorities: Customer Service. “Good customer service increases the probability that someone will return, and it makes it easy to get a five-star review,” he noted.

Continue Reading…

"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? Continue Reading…