There are vacation rental managers. Then there are “Super Hosts,” the aces in the vacation rental business who always seem to get more bookings and whose businesses keep growing.
The truth is, these Super Hosts don’t have any special mojo. They simply follow best practices that are out there for everyone to see – principles shared widely by our valued partners and the major online booking sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway.
We’ve picked the brains of these leading services, as well as other smart sources, to bring you this brief guide to becoming a Super Host yourself. Take these five guidelines to heart and you can bet on quickly increasing your growth and success!
1. Be accurate and honest in your listings
In the short run, you might win by sugar-coating your property descriptions to get more bookings. But in the long run, you’ll lose: don’t forget that renters will be asked to include the accuracy of your listings in their reviews – and in this business, reviews are everything. Guests who arrive expecting a plush, cozy cabin and instead find a drafty shack will take it out on you in their ratings. Include plenty of photos that accurately portray the lodgings, and be upfront about shortcomings (“the second bedroom looks out onto Main Street so expect some ‘big city sounds’ in that room”). Of course, you don’t want to undersell your properties – just make sure you don’t disappoint guests when they arrive.
2. Keep it clean
This goes without saying, right? Many people consider it the most important feature of a place they rent. Clean, crisp sheets, no hairs in the tub or traces of toothpaste in the sink, no coffee stains on the sofa pillows.
3. Provide your guests with a superior customer service experience
Respond quickly - From questions prior to booking all the way through checkout, it’s vitally important that you (or someone) is around to respond. Pretend you’re a guest who has arrived at the property and there’s a problem getting in. You wouldn’t want to wait six hours at a Denny’s to get a call or text with a solution.
Provide plenty of information - If you provide lots of helpful information in the first place following booking, you’ll avoid potential problems. This would of course include instructions and quirks pertaining to the property, but can also include exact directions to the property from airports and highways, nearby drug stores and other amenities, a person (if available) to call locally in case of an emergency at the property, and other helpful information. This is also your chance to add a human touch – a warm welcome, your wishes for a wonderful stay, your contact information for questions or problems, etc.
Offer tips for local pleasures - Guests who are happy with their vacation as a whole are likely to associate this satisfaction with your property and give you a good review. Besides, don’t you want them to have a great time? Offer suggestions as to your favorite places to eat and things to see and do. Suggest online sources such as TimeOut that provide further recommendations.
The Kigo Guest app is your ally to offer all the above and keep your guests satisfied. It will enable you to provide a highly personalized traveler experience.
4. Boost your rankings in search results
Obviously you want your listings to pop up first when vacationers search. The rankings aren’t random – vacation rental sites use algorithms for ranking just as Google does. Here are the factors considered by HomeAway:
- Ability to book online
- Availability and calendar accuracy
- High bookings acceptance rate
- Recent guest reviews
- Accurate rates
- Precise location of properties
- Number of bedrooms and sleeps
- Type of property specified
- Description of amenities
5. Increase conversions
Once a vacationer is perusing your property, you don’t want to have them move on to another due to something you could have easily avoided. The following are tips on how to effectively convert site visitors into bookings:
- Instant booking. The ability to book instantly rather than wait for a response is becoming increasingly important to vacation property renters.
- Flexible cancellation policy. Travelers prefer properties that are more generous if plans change and they need to cancel.
- More, better reviews. We’ve entered the age of the Review Economy. Nearly everyone reads reviews of products and services before they buy. Ask for reviews one, three and seven days after the stay – and follow the principles above to make them great.
- High-quality photos. Vacationers are rarely able to visit a property in person before they rent. That means photos are everything. Be sure they’re first-class and high-resolution.
- Enticing headlines. A compelling headline can outperform a boring one by two-to-one. You can bet that “Cozy, clean, comfortable cabin nestled among pines” will result in more bookings than “2-BR cabin 2 miles from Little Rock.”
The principles spelled out above have proven to be the most important in getting more bookings, making your renters happy and earning those all-important good reviews. Follow these best practices and you’ll be on your way to becoming a Super Host!