Luxury travel accommodation used to be the mainstay of hotels but vacation rental platforms including Airbnb have made significant inroads into the segment, offering all the luxury services of five star hotels plus the privacy and seclusion of an entire property and grounds to call their own. Celebrities such as Beyonce and Lady Gaga have made their penchant for luxury vacation rental properties known, providing additional exposure and making the category far more attractive.
Top 8 Tips to Attract Luxury Travelers
While many properties may claim luxuriousness in their offering, peppering their descriptions with the word, a claim alone does not a luxury Airbnb make. According to Paolo Gheis, a renowned luxury rentals consultant, the secret to the success of a luxury vacation rental is positioning it as something special, because what is special is desired and what is desired is bought without discounts or promotions.
But what makes a vacation rental special?
Whether it’s travel or clothing or cars, exclusivity is a key factor in determining the luxuriousness of any commodity or service. For luxury travelers to recognize your vacation rental as a luxury Airbnb, they need to feel it is unique, superior, and only available to a few.
Wealthy travelers willing to spend top dollar on their accommodation are notorious about maintaining their privacy. Celebrities and other famous faces in particular don’t want their identities or locations revealed. Thus, ensuring confidentiality of any and all details is crucial.
Luxury guests also expect their host and staff to be available to them as soon as they need anything even though they also expect the freedom and privacy of not having you around at the same time. This is a fine balance that the most storied luxury hotels have managed but can be harder to pull off in a one-off property. Digital tools are a great way to ensure this.
No question about it, your luxury vacation rental must be fully equipped with top of the line furniture and appliances, upmarket toiletries, super high thread count sheets, a fully stocked kitchen, and an interior designed by a professional. If you find yourself quibbling over how many towels your guests went through in a day, the luxury Airbnb game might not be for you.
Personalization is the name of the game for luxury vacation rental accommodation. Many high-end guests work with a trip designer which will provide you with information to customize your guests’ stay. This can range from food restrictions such as gluten-free or kosher to organic cotton bed sheets and even vegan toiletries. Other requirements may revolve around how they plan to experience their vacation and will require connections to live local musicians for special events, guides, or yoga instructors.
Luxury guests associate their vacations with specific experiences and to be a successful luxury Airbnb it is imperative that you provide a curated and holistic experience that also befits your property and location. It is imperative that the experience is tailored to fit each guest’s personality and requirements without losing the theme of the experience itself.
Airbnb Luxe was launched after Airbnb acquired Luxury Retreats, a collection of extraordinary homes offering an exceptional standard of service, in 2017. Today Airbnb Luxe functions as the luxury home vertical of Airbnb. Every Airbnb Luxe booking provides the traveler access to a dedicated Trip Designer who will work with them to tailor their stay to meet their unique requirements.
To qualify as an Airbnb Luxe property, homes must pass a 300-point inspection. Airbnb Luxe homes are usually staffed and offer a variety of services such as childcare, personal chef, security, and massage therapists as standard or on-request offerings.
Hiring a professional photographer is usually recommended to any Airbnb host. To attract luxury travelers however you need to hire the best. There’s no room for error, everything must be perfect. It is ideal that your photographer works in conjunction with your interior designer in order to ensure the property is shown in its best light, literally and metaphorically.
Videography, particularly using a drone to provide an aerial view of the property and its surrounding locale the guest can expect to luxuriate in and the privacy in which they can do so, can also go a long way in convincing the luxury guest to book.
Luxury travelers are guests looking to spend a lot. Providing a virtual tour of your property will not only allow them to see themselves enjoying total bliss in your vacation rental but also convince them of the value of your offering.
Wealthy guests are looking for new and unique experiences. By creating a narrative around your property, its theme, and the overall experience that you provide through your luxury vacation rental, you allow luxury travelers to aspire to stay at your Airbnb, making it far more attractive and valuable.
While luxury travelers will work with their assigned trip designer to relay their expectations, it doesn’t hurt for you to also play a part in this process. By understanding the guests, you can suggest and organize activities that will delight and even surprise them, making your luxury property even more attractive.
While an A-list celebrity is unlikely to location check your property by name for fear of having the paparazzi invading their privacy, luxury influencers who are followed by both celebs and other wealthy people alike, have no problem capturing and sharing their experience with millions of followers. Put their influence to maximum use. Offering a free stay is usually the most budget friendly way to get them to agree though this will also depend on the level of influence the influencer commands. The more influence they command the harder and pricier it will be.
Unlike regular travelers who overwhelmingly refer online to gauge the value of hotels, Airbnbs, and other vacation rentals that they are considering staying at, luxury travelers prefer to refer to curated publications like the Conde Nast Traveler and Vogue. Getting your property featured on them is a great way to gain exposure and attract luxury travelers.
Previously relegated to hotels alone, exclusive travel clubs and curated collections like Mr & Mrs Smith and Secret Escapes are increasingly featuring vacation rental properties as well. Getting listed on such exclusive lists not only acts as a badge of verification for the stay-experience that you claim to provide but can also bring in luxury travelers who use these clubs to choose their stays.
Providing an exceptional welcome book that can act as a tasteful and useful user guide is essential, particularly for luxury guests who may prefer to do it themselves. Make sure the presentation is fantastic. Your welcome book could be a tablet that includes a virtual tour where guests are provided instructions on how to use each appliance when they click on it. Or it could be provided by Alexa programmed to answer their questions in a specific fashion.
Hiring the right people is even more important when operating a luxury vacation rental. If you want to ensure you provide an outstanding service that keeps picky luxury guests coming back, leaving you good reviews, and recommending you to their other wealthy friends, you need to create an excellent team that knows how to serve luxury guests.
Just like with regular travelers, luxury travelers also tend to filter properties by amenities. Infinity pools, swim-up bars, home theater systems, beach clubs, and golf course access are par for the course. Other amenities that could lead a luxury traveler to choose your listing over a competitor include childcare, security, personal chef, butler, concierge, bartender, and spa services.
Listings on Airbnb Luxe are rated on 6 values: Cleanliness, accuracy, communication, location, check-in, and value. Because luxury travelers tend to stay much longer and cleaning between guests also takes longer, the number of reviews left for your listing will be far less than the ordinary Airbnb listing. Asking a luxury guest to leave a review can also be challenging, ultimately leaving you at risk of having your rating drop considerably with just one bad review. Furthermore, bad reviews can get your vacation rental delisted from platforms. Thus, getting great reviews for every stay is far more important for luxury vacation rentals.
A regular Airbnb customer may be forgiving of a broken toaster if you turn up on the day and fix it for them so they can have fresh toast the next day. A luxury traveler with their high expectations on the other hand will not react the same way and could write off your vacation rental completely. What’s more, making sure you’ve perfected even the smallest detail to their liking is crucial for ensuring you provide a 5-star experience and receive 5-star reviews..
To ensure the exclusivity of your luxury vacation rental, it is important that you don’t list on too many channels. However this does not mean you should confine yourself to Airbnb Luxe alone.
Make sure you are strategic about what luxury rental platforms you choose to list on. Some options include:
The London-based curating platform of the top 1% of vacation homes, Plum Guide has been known as a Michelin guide for vacation rental properties. Homes are evaluated based on 150-point criteria and must pass a four-stage Plum test which includes a visit by an independent critic.
Plum hosts are charged 3% of the total accommodation charge of every booking. A one-time fee of £300 is also deducted at the first booking.
Homes & Villas by Marriott International
Backed by the established global brand that is Marriott, Homes & Villas provides listings exposure to Bonvoy loyalty members and Marriott’s own exclusive distribution channels. Every host is provided a dedicated account manager and access to discounts on inventory. Homes & Villas however only work with property managers and property management companies, who must undergo a stringent vetting process.
Homes & Villas charges a standard commission of 15% on nightly rates and cleaning fees minus taxes.