Tina Villis

Five tips for Success in the Short Term Rental Accommodation Industry #5

Tip 5. MARKETING AND CUSTOMER SERVICE

Achieving success in this industry is far more than jumping on the latest bandwagon and listing in a ‘scattergun’ fashion. Smart owners know exactly what their return is on marketing trends. There is much more to marketing than creating a listing. However, no amount of marketing and advertising can beat the success of word of mouth endorsements. You want your guests to be raving fans – they are walking bill boards for your business.

Listing your property on the various third party booking sites has positives and negatives. You do get more exposure, however it come at a cost either to the owner or the guest. Your website is your very own marketing tool so make sure it is a true reflection of your business. It should be easy to navigate and responsive, so intending customers do not get put off and jump to one of your competitors!

The best web listings and sites have only the best photographs. The old saying ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ is never truer. Fabulous quality photographs taken by a professional photographer tell the story and paint the picture and should be so good that words are not necessary. Bedrooms showing bare mattresses, uneven and crumpled linen on beds, kitchens with dishes and empty beer bottles, outdoor images with junk lying around are not acceptable. Once you are on the internet whether on another site or your own, your property is exposed to the rest of the world.

Keep your branding for your business consistent, that is the same colours, the same fonts, consistent logo imaging. Your signature branding needs to flow through not only your website, but your business card, templates, email signatures, brochures, any advertising, sign boards and so forth.

When managing a short term accommodation business there are two types of customers – guests and property owners. It takes time to build a relationship with a property owner who have entrusted their property to your management. They are often concerned that everything will move forward as planned and may become ultra-sensitive and worry over trivial matters (at the time they do not think they are trivial matters of course). Communication is essential in these early stages & regular updates on their property, guest feedback and reviews are high priority. They also need to feel comfortable to pick up the phone and talk to you. There is so much more meaning in a conversation rather than a black and white email. Understanding their individual requirements is essential, for example, if they would like to use their property from time to time, or would prefer a more regular income and so may like the idea of a longer term guest. Over time, strong trusting relationships are built and through that connection, these owners are great ambassadors for your business and are a great referral resource.

Some guests will seek interacting personally with you, from the initial enquiry, to the ‘meet and greet’, to their departure. Appreciating the different needs of guests and treating them as individuals goes a long way toward having the guests repeat their business with you. Guest love customer service that is responsive and personable.

Responding to guest enquiries is the cornerstone to beating the competition in an overcrowded market. People will remember you and your property if you are quick to respond. If there is a delayed response, guests will have already moved on to another site or listing. Respond to emails within 24 hours, and that means answering enquiries daily. If there are vacancies, rather than email, pick up the phone and you will be surprised how this will increase your booking rates. When the response to an enquiry comes back instantly, it creates a positive perception within guests’ minds, particularly if it is friendly and personal reply rather than canned or generic.

Despite your website, third party booking sites, marketing and promotion material, advertising and social media, it is important to remember that owners and guests are still the greatest ambassadors for your business.

The end of the five tips in the series for creating success in the Short Term Rental Accommodation.

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Accommodating Refined Experiences

Allrealty Pty Ltd is a property management & real estate company operating out of Adelaide, South Australia. Specialising in furnished accommodation, we also operate short-term luxury accommodation management under the banner of Australian Luxury Stays.

Founded, owned & operated by Tina Villis, Allrealty & Australian Luxury Stays manage property across South Australia & around Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Questions about how Allrealty can turn your property into a revenue stream? Contact us today for a friendly discussion.

Tina Villis

Five tips for Success in the Short Term Rental Accommodation Industry #4

TIP 4. KEEP PACE OF INDUSTRY TRENDS

You cannot afford to be stuck the present and be solely focused on the day-to-day. It’s crucial to keep one eye focused on the future, including upcoming movements in the industry. If you are not anticipating the next big thing, you are destined to fall behind. Successful business owners study trends and anticipate what’s coming around the bend. As accommodation rental owners, you need to stay ahead of trends and ride the wave – maximising returns and the sustainability of your business.

There are a plethora of ways to maintain current in the industry: by joining relevant associations, forming local groups, forums on social media, researching on line and reading magazines and books, listening to podcasts and webinars, attending conferences and networking are all excellent ways to learn more about the industry you are in and the trends from overseas which we usually follow.

Some associations and groups worth considering are:

  • Bed & Breakfast Association
  •  Farm Stay
  • Holiday Rental Industry Association
  • Tourism Associations
  • Business Networking Groups
  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • Networking groups with local owners

Our industry is consumed by the huge world-wide online booking agencies and that is all they are, purely bookings only. They are not accommodation managers, and their primary goal is to make bookings and take a commission. Yes, they serve a useful purpose, however the ideal is to have guests making enquiries direct to you or through your own website.

Airbnb is creeping into all parts of the world and the public often refer to our businesses as ‘Airbnb’. One of the main concerns is the public believe that anybody, anywhere can rent out a room. This has hidden risks involved as some homeowners do not understand the need for appropriate insurance cover, are not aware of safety and security issues, and have little understanding on how to vet their guests appropriately. Unfortunately, this affects the credibility of our industry.

There have been court cases in the Eastern states in relation to properties illegally being offered for accommodation (sub-letting) through Airbnb and high court cases involving local councils and governments on the use of high rise apartment buildings being allowed to holiday let. There are moves in some localities where owners are being asked to register with council for approval to run an accommodation business as it is deemed a commercial operation. It would be advisable for all short-term rental operators to accept and endorse the Holiday Rental Industry National Code of Conduct with House Rules to help maintain standards and to sustain self-regulation.

The current consumer market is choosing fully furnished and self-contained accommodation as an increasingly popular alternative to hotel accommodation. Space, comfort, facilities, amenities, cost and the chance to soak up the ambience of the locality are the main reasons for choosing this type of accommodation. The hotel industry has become concerned with this trend and are involved in the investigations into the short term accommodation industry in most states of Australia, pushing for regulation of our sector.

Holiday rental businesses have not been historically known to work closely together, however if this industry continues to come under attack around the world it is imperative that operators work more closely together and unite against regulatory and community adversity. The more universal version is that short term rental professionals the world over need to find each other as a support network both for our individual well-being and the well-being of the greater whole.

Stay posted for TIP 5. MARKETING AND CUSTOMER SERVICE