Will Tech Take the Hospitality Out of Hosting?

Don’t roll up your welcome mat just yet.

Recent studies in the Journal of Travel Research found that “having an authentic unique experience” and “getting advice from manager or a local” were two of the top five reasons why many tourists stay in vacation rentals.

Like cars, flights and everything else in the on-demand industry, travelers want to book vacation rentals with no friction. That means no calls, no email exchanges, no requests, no cash/checks and no hassle.

From the payment processing and check-in email, to the “thank you” message and review request, modern vacation rental technology like Futurestay can and should automate every step of a booking.

But it can’t automate the guest’s experience — only you can create that.

Every second you spend copy-and-pasting emails or updating multiple calendars is one less opportunity you’ll have to offer a local suggestion or stock the fridge with a bottle of (affordable yet thoughtful) wine.

Your guest wants your knowledge and a unique experience; a hand-typed invoice email isn’t going to deliver it.

Arthur C. Clarke famously wrote that, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But the best business technology isn’t breathtaking, it’s invisibly working behind-the-scenes to turn complex tasks into completed ones.

Leave the manual work to technology and focus on your goals: growing your vacation rental business and delivering amazing guest experiences.

Source: S. Phillip Kennard, Co-Founder and CEO, Futurestay

How has the term “guest experience” evolved over the past decade?

When you talk about guest experience, you’re talking about how your guest is not going to a hotel, they’re going to your home. When you go into an apartment, it feels like a home. I don’t think people understand that concept a lot of times. Property managers are trying too hard to impress people without trying to make people comfortable.

I think property owners, especially in the vacation rental sector, need to understand that comfort and amenities are two different things and that amenities are less important than comfort. For example, it’s a necessity for me to have an outlet next to my bed so that I can charge my phone and feel comfortable without having to get up. If I rent out a vacation property and I have a welcome bottle of champagne on the kitchen counter when I walk in, but I don’t have an outlet next to my bed, that’s what I’m going to remember — I’m not going to remember that bottle of champagne. The difference between comfort and amenities really needs to be understood and appreciated.

How can the everyday home owner turn their property into a full-service hotel experience for renters?

If you want to make your vacation rental unit feel more like a hotel, that’s where top-notch amenities come into play. You need to keep in mind the amenities that you typically like may not be what your guests want or need. Make sure the essentials are present and quality: clean sheets, bedding and pillows, towels and shower amenities. Old and clean is fine, new and dirty is no good and old and dirty is no good.

Once you have the proper essentials, you can make any room or vacation area feel special. Property managers tend to overthink it a lot of times and worry about so much more than the key touch-points, spending too much money trying to impress people. You impress people is by understanding how to make them feel comfortable and content on vacation.

For this growing trend in hospitality, how can property owners leverage their rental properties and market them as a unique alternative to hotels for prospective guests?

First thing you need to focus on is price. It’s common for a lot of property owners and managers to base pricing off of the amount of space and amenities their vacation rentals have to offer. They think, “I have a house, three bedrooms, a pool and a laundry room, so I can charge $500 dollars a night.” But if the Hilton down the street is charging $250 a night and people don’t need all the space your rental property has, they won’t care.

Price must come before anything else, so despite how much bigger your property is, if you’re trying to beat out the competition of hotels in the area, the price in terms of the size of your property shouldn’t translate.

In terms of marketing your vacation properties on third-party listing sites, these sites spend thousands of dollars on advertising and everybody goes to them to search for vacation rentals, so as a property owner you have to be able to work with them and understand how their promotions work all the way down to how your property is listed. Once you partner with these sites to promote your property, having reviews through these listing platforms are critical for the success of your business. You can’t walk away from the biggest marketing platforms in the world, as they’ll make you so much more revenue in the long-term if you know how to effectively use them.