Marketing is important when it comes to succeeding with your vacation rentals. But the best marketing is always providing a superior experience. If you consistently exceed your guests’ expectations, they will come back, leave great reviews, and encourage their friends and family to rent from you.
As the vacation rental market grows, renters expect more from their stays, often expecting hotel-quality experiences. While it can be hard to provide that experience, there are many things you can do to ensure an experience they’ll rave about to everyone they know. Here are 6 ways to exceed your guests’ expectations.
These days, people expect spotless rentals, just like a hotel. It may seem obvious, but not everyone provides a clean and tidy home. Doing so can give you a simple advantage over your competition. You can do this yourself or hire a cleaner to come after each stay. While tidying up and changing the sheets is easy, deep cleaning like wiping down the fridge, mopping, and cleaning the bathroom might be best left to a pro.
2. Be honest
There’s no point in bending the truth in your listing. Guests will see the place for how it is when they arrive, and disappointment isn’t a great first impression. Be clear and honest. Make sure there can be no misunderstandings by writing detailed descriptions of the property. Don’t say it’s a beachfront property if the place is across the street from the beach. Don’t say you have a fully stocked kitchen if you only have some dishware and a pot and pan.
Set proper expectations, and your guests won’t be disappointed. When you establish realistic expectations, it’s easier to exceed them!
3. There’s no such thing as too much information
People on vacation want everything to be as easy as possible so they can focus on the important stuff: having fun, relaxing, and getting the most out of their trip. If you take the time to educate them about your house and the town, they’ll always be grateful. There are a few things to consider here:
- Give them any info they need about the house. You can type up all of this information, laminate it, and leave it in the foyer for your guests. Tell them how to work the TV, give them the WiFi password with clear instructions on how to troubleshoot it, and let them know about anything out of the ordinary. For example, if your shower is tricky, explain that. There are few things more frustrating than not being able to figure out how to work someone’s shower! Let them know where they can find things like the washing machine, toilet paper, and clean towels. Clearly write out any guidelines or rules you have for the house.
- Give them a primer on the area. What are the best local restaurants? Make sure to include delivery options, and if you can provide some menus it’ll be much appreciated. Are there any secret spots you love, like a hidden beach or an awesome hiking trail? What are the can’t miss tourist spots? If you have suggestions about the best way to experience a tourist spot, people will love that. Tell them what to do and where to go so they will love the area as much as you do.
- Finally, take the time to think about some FAQs and include those with the rest of the information. Even if you cover it in one of the above topics, if it’s really getting asked all the time, you might want to include it in the FAQ so it’s easy to find.
4. All of the amenities!
To truly compete with hotels, you need to have awesome amenities. These days, amenities does not mean a flat screen TV and high speed WiFi. They won’t make any guest go “wow!” it’s just expected. Offering something like Netflix, HBO, or a cable sports package goes above and beyond what most people expect, and we can promise you, it won’t go unnoticed. A BluRay player with a diverse collection of movies will do the same.
And as for other entertainment options, you can’t go wrong with supplying board games and sports equipment (even just a football or soccer ball). If you’re near the beach, have some beach toys, chairs, and towels handy. If you’re in the mountains, snowshoes are always a hit.
These days, many places have a washer and dryer. If your guests tend to stay more than a weekend, or if you’re on the beach (or somewhere people tend to get dirty), you should definitely have one. While it’s becoming more common, it’s still a luxury.
This is the same with a fully-stocked kitchen. Providing one is a one time cost of buying the equipment, and can be a huge advantage. A stocked kitchen means more than just some plates and cookware. In addition to glasses, dishware and silverware, make sure there’s a variety of pots and pans (you don’t need too many, but you need more than one), a coffee maker, and any utensils people may need. If there’s room for an outdoor barbeque, put one in.
You also want a well-stocked pantry. Guests will thank you if they don’t have to go buy ketchup and salt that they use for one meal. A few things to keep in your pantry:
- salt, pepper, and sugar
- baking supplies
- coffee, tea, and hot chocolate
- powdered creamer
- butter (you can keep it in the freezer)
- olive oil
- and snacks that won’t go bad like popcorn and pancake mix
You should also have central AC if it gets above 80º, cozy beds and couches, and sheets with high thread counts. Being comfy goes a long way. Worried about high energy costs? Control your thermostat remotely with Parakeet and you don’t have to sacrifice guest comfort for high utility costs! By the way, if there’s any room to hang a hammock, do that. It doesn’t get much better than chilling in a hammock on vacation. Same goes for a pool and hot tub, though those are obviously a larger commitment.
This should go without saying. The easier you are to reach — both before and during a stay — the more relaxed your guests will be. Make yourself available to answer any questions, and respond to people as soon as possible. Speedy responses are always appreciated, even if the matter isn’t urgent. And if there is a problem, you’ll be able to do damage control before the situation gets any worse. If you nip any and all problems in the bud, guests will be much more forgiving. It’s also nice to offer a variety of ways to reach you. Some people prefer text, some email, and some a simple phone call.
It’s also nice to reach out after a guest’s stay. Ask them how it went, if they have any feedback, and if they’d mind leaving a review. People usually don’t think about leaving a review, but if you ask, most are happy to write one. A quick follow up lets your guests know that you care about their experience, and if you can respond to feedback and incorporate any ideas they have, they’re much more likely to come back.
5. Make everything as easy as possible
People go on vacation to get away from their lives of responsibility, work, chores, and just dealing with stuff in general. But sometimes a vacation can be a lot of work, too. Aim to reduce that work, and your guests will leave happy. Basically, make the entire process of renting and staying at your place as painless as you can.
Making a reservation should be easy, with no back-and-forth conversations about dates and amenities. Have an up-to-date calendar and have a detailed description on your website and third-party sites. As we mentioned, be a fast and empathetic communicator, quickly sorting any issues or concerns your guest may have.
Provide your guest with any information they’d need before arriving at your place, like directions and instructions for how to get into the house. Also, make getting into the house as easy as possible! Having a remote key system and text text to open garage door features are so much better than making a guest meet up with you or someone else to get the key, especially if the guest is arriving late at night. Same goes for leaving. Coordinating with someone to drop off a key is a pain, and an unnecessary one at that.
There are many, many ways to make your guests’ stay a one they will remember, and more importantly, recommend. This is just a start, but it will put you leagues ahead of your competition. Don’t be afraid of putting in extra work upfront. Your business will thank you, just like your guests.