How important is guest-host communication for your vacation rental business?
Zaktualizowano: 9 kwi 2019
It's easier to understand the importance of smooth guest-host communication when you put yourself in your guest's shoes.
Imagine you arrive at your vacation rental property late at night. You are having problems opening the door, and your host is not picking up the phone. Worse still, you booked your vacation home through a booking website that does not allow you to contact your host directly. Minutes turn into hours as you break into cold sweat, waiting for the booking app provider to reply to your email... (we wrote about it in our previous post).
This is a nightmare scenario not only for the guest though. As a host, you know how communication issues can ruin your reputation. Loss of profit from repeat bookings, and time wasted on trying to placate irate guests are only immediate consequences. A few situations like that though and bad reviews can drive you out of business.
Bad guest-host communication can also be a serious health and safety concern:
“… I’m very frustrated with Airbnb, as they do ask their Guests to list others travelling in their party — but they don’t give that info to the Airbnb Hosts. I had a neighbour call me that my smoke alarm was going off, but the person who made the Airbnb reservation was in Argentina and not answering her phone. I had no way to reach her boss, who was staying in my home, to verify they’re ok because they didn’t make the reservation…That’s not safe for me, my home, Airbnb’s Guests, nor my neighbours.” — Tina, CA (source: https://medium.com/talking-microcopy-writing-ux/eliminating-communication-boundaries-between-hosts-and-additional-guests-on-airbnb-55508f5215c2)
It doesn't need to be like that though!
Did you know that you can still use mainstream booking websites and have direct guest-host communication? Thanks to guest experience apps it is now possible!
Let's see how you can improve your guest-host communication and why it matters. We will also have a look at how you can use HelloHere to both centralize and automate guest-host communication.
Why direct guest-host communication matters?
Even though most guests now expect instant guest-host communication, many of the top OTAs (Online Travel Agents) or booking apps make it difficult for guests and hosts to communicate directly — due to the risk of their app being eliminated as the middle-man and losing its cut of the deal.
Even when you try to share your phone number or email address, you’ll find that most booking apps just censor the message to ensure that communication is restricted to their platform. Communicating with your guests solely on a third-party platform can thus be much slower than direct communication and results in several issues.
problems finding the property/airport transfer
problems entering the property/checking out
issues with facilities and equipment (turning on/ off the heating/AC; adjusting temperature; turning on water heaters, cookers, and other kitchen appliances; operating the shower; using the sofa bed etc.)
difficulty finding supplies (towels, toilet paper, hairdryer, toiletries, cleaning supplies)
With situations like these, you need to be available practically instantly to ensure that a good guest experience — and thus good review — is retained.
This is where a property dedicated messenger would be a perfect way to keep in touch with guests. There are many guest apps in the market offering similar solutions. Make sure you choose a proper, real time messenger though. Otherwsie you will end up with a limited communication that works only when your guest is actively using an online website.
HelloHere not only makes it easy for you to communicate with your guests directly, but it also utilises automated push notifications - perfect for situations where you can predict trouble in advance.
Automated push notifications - save time and spare yourself the trouble!
Speedy response times are crucial if you want to stay in good standing as a host. But what if you could take it a step further?
What if you could answer the frequently asked questions of your guests before they even ask them? Well, that dream is now a reality thanks to the automated push notifications.
You can set up answers to common questions that you get from your guests so that the app can provide all relevant information at just the right time. Automating guest-host communication not only saves you enormous amounts of time, but also improves the guest experience.
What to share though? There are countless of things that you can share with your guest through the push notification system.
Whether it’s the key code, detailed directions to your property, or suggestions on closeby restaurant on the first day - keep your guests informed, and they will see you as an attentive host. Which is crucial for getting good reviews and returning guests.
Information you should provide through push notifications
Recommended packing list / items guest should bring - before departure
Airport transfer information and offers - around arrival time
Directions to property
Keyless entry code
Where to find food around the property
Teasers how to use certain facilities/ appliances
Teasers what to see around the property
Multi-property communication - send the right message to the right people, or to everyone at once
Maintaining smooth communication if you don't have systems in place may be a challenge with just one property. If you have multiple properties though - it's almost guaranteed to be a struggle.
If you need to send information to an individual - without a proper message management system you may end up sending wrong messages to the wrong guests. It's really easy to mix up a door code or WIFI password but the results can be fatal for guest experience. That's why centralizing guest-host communication is so important in multiple-property businesses.
HelloHere app also shows you which property each message originated from so that you can provide targeted responses to any queries. After all, every property has different key codes, WiFi passwords, and hot water heater operation instructions.
On the other hand, if you need to message all guests at once - e.g. about trip pick-up times, severe weather conditions - copying and pasting messages adds unnecessary work. Luckily, you can centralize guest-host communication in your app for all your properties and lets you send a message to all your properties at once. This saves you time since you won’t have to spend hours sending separate messages to each individual guest.
Last but not least, you can also use these push notifications as a marketing tool. You could send out special promotions or push notifications about must-see local events, and festivals. You could also ask your guests for feedback (especially if things didn’t go as planned) and encourage them to come back – with a special offer, loyalty plan or an invite to a local event! That way, you can use the push notifications to facilitate the return of previous guests.
Using a post-booking guest experience app really can help you improve communications with your guests and:
decrease time spent on communication - by centralizing and automating
decrease the number of issues and complaints
boost guest experience - wow your guests by answering their questions before they even ask them
improve health and safety
maximize profits (with mini-marketing messages encouraging repeat bookings)
This will get you more repeat-bookings, and it will also do wonders for your reputation since nothing looks better than a review stating “I’ve stayed at this place on a few separate occasions and the service is always great.” If you wonder what else can influence your guest’s review check our Ultimate guide.