In the saturated space of a booming vacation rental market, guest experience can be the deciding factor that makes or breaks your business.
A lot has changed in the last few years. From a global pandemic that brought the world screeching to a halt, to the rise of digital nomads, the vacation rental space has evolved from renting a spare room to a hospitality business in its own right.
With so many options available to travellers, and guest expectations higher than ever, there’s never been a better time for hosts and property managers to focus on creating the best guest experience possible. We’ll get into the details of why guest experience is important, what factors make for a good guest experience, and why 2023 is the year to make guest experience the number one priority for your vacation rental business.
Why Guest Experience Is Important
Guest experience has been a buzzword in the hospitality industry since… forever. With short-term vacation rentals increasingly becoming the accommodation of choice for travellers, it was only a matter of time before the hospitality practices championed by hotels made their way into the vacation rental space.
Guest experience can be overarchingly defined as the events and interactions that leave an impression on a guest during their stay. This catch-all term refers to everything: from the appearance of your property listing, the booking process, check-in, check-out, along with every sight, smell, and feeling they have during their stay.
The global vacation rental market is only expected to get bigger, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 5.3% from 2022 to 2030. The growth is expected to come from a rise in spending on travel and vacations, especially among millennials.
Millennials are going to be very important to the travel and hospitality industry in the years to come. While they continue to place value on experiences and travel, they are now also benefitting from more disposable income as they get older. According to statistics, millennials make up 40% of people who book holidays online – and they’re not booking hotels.
This means that a market which may have previously catered to the baby boomers, one of the largest generations in history, will have to shift as boomers retire and age out of the equation… to put it delicately.
Tips for Creating The Best Guest Experience
1. Quick Responses & Clear Communication
Providing clear, timely, and responsive communication before, during, and after the stay is crucial for creating an exceptional guest experience. Guests value prompt response times to their inquiries and appreciate being kept informed about any changes or special requests they may have.
By maintaining open lines of communication, you can establish trust and build a positive relationship with your guests. Responding to inquiries in a timely manner shows that you prioritize their needs and are committed to delivering excellent customer service. Keeping guests updated on any changes or accommodations ensures that they feel valued and well-informed, contributing to their overall satisfaction and enjoyment of their stay.
Enso Connect plays a significant role in maintaining fast and clear communication for vacation rentals and boutique hotels. By offering automated messaging that seamlessly integrates with the Property Management System (PMS), Enso Connect ensures that every guest receives timely and accurate information. This automation proves invaluable in delivering essential details like check-in instructions, booking confirmations, and guest follow-ups. By eliminating the need for manual communication, Enso Connect streamlines the process, minimizing the risk of errors or delays. This efficient system guarantees that guests receive the right information at the right time, enhancing their overall experience and reducing any potential confusion or frustration.
”"In February Of 2019, I Went To Mont-Tremblant For A Weekend Ski-Trip With Some Friends.
When We Arrived At The Airbnb The Key Was Frozen Under The Doormat. We Had To Use Lighters To Unfreeze It And Get In! Once We Got In, We Were Immediately Confused By The Heating System, And The Host Was Not Responding To Any Of Our Questions. When We Checked Out, We Asked The Landlord For Further Instructions And Still No Answers.
Almost A Week Later I Received A Message From The Host Saying The Heating System Was Turned Off And A Window Was Left Open Leading To Frozen Pipes In The Kitchen. This Whole Situation Could Have Been Avoided With Smart Devices, Better Communication, And A True Home Owner Mindset."
Francois Gouelo, co-founder and CEO of Enso Connect
2. Personalized Service
Providing personalized service plays an important role in creating a memorable guest experience. Tailoring the experience to meet the individual needs and preferences of guests demonstrates your attentiveness and commitment to the guests’ experience.
Here are a few examples of how to give personalized service:
- Collect Guest Preferences: Gather information about guests’ preferences and special requirements before their arrival. This could include dietary restrictions, room preferences, preferred amenities, or any specific requests. Use this information to customize their experience accordingly.
- Welcome Surprises: Add a personal touch by surprising guests with small gestures that align with their preferences or a special occasions. For example, if a guest is celebrating a special occasion, you can arrange for a complimentary bottle of champagne or a personalized note to acknowledge the event and nail the guests first impression. A five star experience is created with all of the small details.
- Tailored Recommendations: Provide customized recommendations for local attractions, dining options, or activities based on guests’ interests and preferences. This could involve suggesting off-the-beaten-path experiences, arranging unique tours, or sharing insider tips about hidden gems in the area.
- Provide Michelin Star Service: Providing Michelin-star-like service to guests involves delivering exceptional hospitality experiences that are reminiscent of renowned luxury establishments.
”“At the Laundry Rooms our team members are all former Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton luxury hotel employees. We’re accustomed to providing an extremely high level of service. We do it with 10% of the staff of a conventional hotel. Enso Connect plays a significant part in that.”
Matthew Opferkuch, CEO and Founder of The Laundry Rooms
3. Smooth Check-in Process
Ensuring a smooth and hassle-free check-in process is essential to providing a positive guest experience. The check-in experience sets the tone for the entire stay, and guests appreciate clear communication and intuitive procedures.
Enso Connect can be a valuable tool in enhancing the check-in process through its automated messaging and the use of the Boarding Pass feature. By leveraging automated messaging, Enso Connect can send guests check-in instructions, booking confirmations, and any necessary information before their arrival. This eliminates the need for manual communication, reduces most negative experiences, and ensures that guests have all the details they need in a timely manner.
Additionally, the Boarding Pass feature in Enso Connect provides check-in instructions using photos, making the process even more intuitive and user-friendly.
Guests desiring a squeaky-clean vacation rental should come as no surprise, but it’s important to note how these standards have changed. The COVID-19 pandemic brought new public awareness to sanitization practices, and this has become the standard for what guests expect in a short-term vacation rental. Anyone that managed a vacation property during the pandemic knows that cleanliness was often the difference between a positive experience or recieving negative feedback from the guest.
A thorough cleaning with top-notch safety practices is essential to meet this expectation. Don’t be afraid to outline your cleaning procedures and standards in your vacation listing. This can go the extra mile to put a guest’s mind at ease and increase trust in your listing.
Here are three tips for improving cleanliness to provide guests with an excellent experience:
- Thorough Cleaning Protocols: Implement rigorous cleaning protocols that cover all areas of the property, including guest rooms, common areas, bathrooms, and kitchen facilities. Develop a checklist to ensure that every surface is cleaned, sanitized, and free from dust, stains, or odors. Pay attention to frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, and handles.
- Professional Housekeeping Services: Consider employing professional housekeeping services to ensure consistent and high-quality cleaning standards. Trained and experienced professionals can efficiently clean and maintain the property, using proper cleaning products and techniques. Regular inspections and training sessions can further ensure that cleanliness is prioritized and maintained.
- Attention to Detail: Focus on the little details that can make a significant difference in guests’ perception of cleanliness. Pay attention to often overlooked areas such as corners, baseboards, window sills, and under furniture. Use fresh and clean linens, towels, and bedding for each guest. Regularly inspect and maintain appliances, fixtures, and amenities to ensure they are functioning properly and look well-maintained.
5. Offer Modern Amenities
In modern vacation rentals, offering certain amenities can greatly enhance the guest experience. Most modern amenities are so common nowadays, that guests expect them even in the most rural and remote areas.
Here are some recommended amenities that can elevate any vacation rental:
- Fast and Reliable Wi-Fi: A strong and high-speed internet connection is essential for guests who rely on connectivity for work, entertainment, or staying connected with loved ones.
- Smart TVs with Easy-to-Use Remotes: Providing smart TVs with user-friendly remotes allows guests to access popular streaming platforms and enjoy their favorite shows or movies during their stay.
- Well-Stocked Kitchen: Ensure the kitchen is well-equipped with basic essentials like salt, pepper, cooking oil, and other commonly used spices and condiments. This allows guests to prepare meals comfortably during their stay.
- High-Quality Bedding and Linens: Invest in comfortable and high-quality bedding, including pillows, mattresses, and linens, to provide guests with a good night’s sleep.
- Essential Toiletries: Offer a selection of essential toiletries such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Consider environmentally friendly options and refillable dispensers to reduce waste.
- Washer and Dryer: Having a washer and dryer available for guest use is convenient for longer stays or for guests who prefer to pack light.
- Air Conditioning and Heating: Ensure the property is equipped with proper temperature control, allowing guests to adjust the climate to their comfort.
- Outdoor Spaces: If possible, provide outdoor spaces like a patio, balcony, or garden where guests can relax and enjoy the surroundings.
- Safety Measures: Install smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers to prioritize guest safety.
- Secure Locks and Keyless Entry: Consider using keyless entry systems or secure locks for convenience and peace of mind.
6. Provide a Digital Guide Book
Digital guidebooks have become increasingly popular in enhancing the guest experience by providing comprehensive and easily accessible information. These digital guides can be accessed via smartphones, tablets, or in-room tablets, allowing guests to quickly find answers to their questions and navigate their surroundings with ease.
Digital guidebooks offer a wide range of benefits, including:
- local recommendations for dining, attractions, and activities, which help guests make the most of their stay.
- they can also include driving directions, public transportation options, and maps to help guests navigate the area.
- these guides can provide specific instructions on how to operate various amenities in the rental, such as adjusting the heat, using appliances like the oven or washing machine, or accessing entertainment systems.
- Additionally, digital guidebooks can include safety instructions and emergency contacts, ensuring that guests have crucial information at their fingertips in case of any unexpected situations.
Enso Connect’s boarding pass offers the industry’s best digital guidebook, providing guests with comprehensive and user-friendly information. From check-in instructions to local recommendations and amenity instructions, the digital guidebook enhances the guest experience by offering a convenient and accessible resource during their stay.
7. Make Local Recommendations
Local recommendations play a crucial role in enhancing a guest’s experience, particularly when they are unfamiliar with the region. When guests are visiting a new area, they may not be aware of the exciting activities and attractions available. By providing thoughtful and tailored recommendations, vacation rentals can ensure that guests make the most of their stay and discover the best the region has to offer.
By offering these recommendations, vacation rentals not only prevent guests from getting bored but also demonstrate their commitment to ensuring a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. Positive experiences with local attractions can leave a lasting impression on guests and contribute to their overall satisfaction with the property.
Using Enso Connect’s Boarding Pass you can configure local service providers in your area and guests can easily find more information about the activity provider.
”"We are doing everything to help our guests enjoy the lake life and immerse them in the local experiences. Enso Connect allows us to do this at scale! This area has a rich tapestry of culinary, arts and crafts hidden gems, created with love by our locals. After having ‘a taste’ of the local life, our guests fall in love with the area and keep coming back."
Taylor Scott, Owner of McGowan Scott Properties
8. Provide Something Unexpected
Surprising guests with unexpected offerings is an excellent way to elevate the guest experience. Going beyond their expectations can leave a lasting impression and create a memorable stay.
These unexpected gestures can range from;
- simple treats like chocolates on the pillows, a common practice in the hotel industry.
- providing additional amenities like a pinball machine or golf simulator for entertainment.
- or a “movie night gift basket” with popcorn and sweets.
These unexpected gestures demonstrate thoughtfulness and attentiveness to guests’ enjoyment, making them feel valued and creating a positive impression of the property. By offering something extra, vacation rentals can create a memorable and special experience for their guests.
”"When guests check-in to The Après suite in Whistler, they're pleasantly surprised to find two local craft beers and a postcard that says, 'Welcome to The Après, the first round's on us.' This unexpected touch has garnered tremendous positive feedback from our guests, enhancing their experience and leaving a lasting impression."
Connor Griffiths, CEO & Co-Founder of Lifty Life Hospitality
9. Prevent Maintenance Issues Before They Occur
Preventing maintenance issues before they occur is a proactive approach that significantly improves the guest experience.
One recommended practice is conducting a home inspection on each property. This relatively affordable investment, typically ranging from $300 to $600, provides a comprehensive report detailing potential issues that could arise. Armed with this information, property owners can proactively address and resolve maintenance issues during the slow season, avoiding disruptions or inconveniences when guests are present.
Another best practice is implementing a pest control plan to safeguard the property against rodents and unwanted pests. Regular inspections and preventative measures help ensure a pest-free environment for guests, minimizing the chances of encountering any unpleasant surprises during their stay.
By taking these preventive measures, vacation rentals can maintain a high standard of quality, providing a smooth and trouble-free experience for their guests.
10. Transition to Eco-Friendly Products
Transitioning to using more eco-friendly products is indeed a fantastic tip for creating an exceptional guest experience while catering to the growing number of eco-conscious travelers. Guests are thrilled to see sustainable practices and eco-friendly products being utilized in vacation rentals and boutique hotels.
Switching to eco-friendly alternatives for bathroom essentials like shampoos, conditioners, body washes, and soaps not only reduces the environmental impact but also demonstrates a commitment to sustainability. Additionally, offering eco-friendly bathroom essentials such as recycled or bamboo toilet paper, biodegradable makeup wipes, and refillable toiletry dispensers adds an extra touch of eco-consciousness that guests appreciate. These small yet impactful changes contribute to a greener and more responsible guest experience, aligning with the values and expectations of eco-conscious travelers.
”“Over the six years we’ve been conducting this research, it’s been inspiring to see awareness of the importance of sustainable travel consistently grow, both with our customers and now with our partners. The good intentions are there on all sides, but there is still a lot of work to be done to make sustainable travel an easy choice for everyone. The more sustainable practices we can help our partners to identify and implement, the more we can experiment with how best to highlight this information to customers and ultimately make sustainability a transparent and easily identifiable part of their travel decision-making process. A small change like eliminating single-use plastics or switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs might seem insignificant in isolation, but multiplied by millions of travelers and properties around the world, these small steps all start to add up to a much bigger potential positive impact.”
Marianne Gybels, Director of Sustainability for Booking.com
How Enso Connect Can Help
Streamline the management of your vacation rental and create a seamless experience for your guests. Enso Connect can help by personalizing and simplifying guest interactions at all stages of the customer journey. Take advantage of dozens of integrations to manage check-in and communication while creating upsells to maximize your profits and enhance your guest’s experience. Learn more or book a demo today!