The global short-term rental market is projected to hit $170 billion in 2019 and expected to reach $193.89 billion by 2021. That’s a lot of dough to be shared amongst vacation rental property owners.
But with that many bookings coming in, it’s overwhelming to stay responsive and manage all the inquiries and bookings. It’s easy to let chaos ensue and stop focusing on the few guests that bring in the most money. What if, instead of focusing on only filling the funnel with huge amounts of inquiries you focused on converting more existing leads into repeat business?
It’s generally known in the business world that attracting new customers can cost companies five times more than keeping existing customers. Repeat guests are exponentially more valuable. In fact, one study that was reported in VRM Intel magazine reviewed spending patterns across more than 91,000 reservations and showed that repeat guests spend from 13%-29% more than first-timers. From now on, consider every first walk through the door as an opportunity for a lifelong, lucrative guest relationship.
A Skift Research survey recently took a look at repeat guest in more detail, looking for insights into the habits, motivations, preferences, and more of travelers who have returned to vacation destinations they’ve previously visited in the last five years. It’s important to understand what is motivating repeat visitors. What sets them apart from first-timers?
From reading this type of research and pulling from our own experiences, here are four key ideas we’ve pulled together to help you cultivate those valuable repeat guests:
Give Them Something To Do
When returning to a destination, people tend to expand the activities they participate in. Only 27% of repeat tourists said they did the same activities as they did the first time. They want new local destinations, new restaurants to experience. Make sure it’s your job to offer proactively some ideas for repeat guests. Tell them what’s happening around town. Is there a food and wine festival? A fun 5K run? Concerts? Get them excited about the trip BEFORE they get there. Travelers are 73 percent more likely to remember their trip if they feel happy and excited about it before it ever starts.
Make Them Feel at Home . . . But Better
Yes, you want your guests to feel at home . . . but make it special. Make them feel it’s BETTER than their own home. Put in the time to properly stage your home with quality furniture and pleasing art. Offer a clean, “gourmet” kitchen – and don’t skimp on the kitchen supplies! Make sure they can cook, bake, roast, and even use the slow cooker if they want. Supply them all the pots, pans and utensils a quality kitchen should have. After all, one of the biggest values of a vacation rental home is being able to prepare and enjoy meals with family and friends.
Lastly, offer up several luxury items that most people don’t have in their own home. It’s a quality one-time investment and guests will remember having access to small but important modern luxuries such as:
- Nespresso coffee machines
- Hot tub
- Fitness equipment
- Surround sound/home theater
- Ninja or Vitamix blenders
- Ability to interact wirelessly with the leading home control technologies (i.e. Schlage keyless, Remote Lock, Vera, etc.)
- Electronic entry
- Tempurpedic mattresses
Always Be Available
Just because your guests have settled into their vacation home doesn’t mean you can take a vacation too. Always be available to them to answer questions and troubleshoot issues, from basic technology questions to clogged toilets. A responsive and kind host is a key reason renters choose to come back to the same place. Consider yourself their concierge.
Remember the Manners Your Mama Taught You
That’s right. Don’t’ forget to thank them. Send a thank you letter letting them know how much you appreciated their stay. Ask them how you could do better next time if they have any feedback they’d suggest to help improve the place. This behavior not only makes them feel appreciated, but it makes them feel like they have some skin in the game. This is a home they helped create, in a sense. And, furthermore, being listened to (i.e. you installed that Sonos speaker they suggested) makes them feel like a true VIP.
What are some of the ways you pamper returning guests? Leave us a comment and let’s keep the list growing.