A vacation rental property manager has many processes and tasks to manage. Sometimes, caught up with getting branding, pricing, marketing, etc right, it can be easy to forget the most important aspect of operating an Airbnb: The guest experience. Learn how to understand your guests’ total experience of booking and completing their stay with you and how you can improve your Airbnb guest journey every step of the way.
Your guest journey is the sum total of the experience of the guest with your Airbnb property. It begins when they are searching for an Airbnb and come across your listing and ends with them leaving a review of their stay with you.
Basically, it is all the interactions and events that leave an impression on your guests.
The experience that each and every guest has with you is very important and for many reasons. An excellent guest journey:
Is the foundation of your business offering / product that you are selling
Leads to good reviews. Good reviews lead to higher Airbnb search rankings and the ability to ask for a higher rate
Guests are more likely to return and keep returning
Increases the value of your brand
Improves organic exposure through guest recommendations and referrals
A better product and more good reviews make it easier and more effective to market your vacation rental
Gives your Airbnb a competitive advantage
It impacts the profits you can make and ultimately the success of your Airbnb business
To create an amazing journey for your guests you must first understand your customer’s journey with your vacation rental business. This begins when they first encounter your listing online and ends when they leave you a review or even further along as they continue to share their experience of staying in your Airbnb.
If you’ve worked on your Airbnb SEO, ranking high enough that you are not beyond the point guests have decided not to look at any more pages, and your price, availability, and other amenities match their search filters, you land on your potential guests’ radar. They now make a decision based on the attractiveness of your listing and how they stack up against your competition.
Make sure the thumbnail image and headline of your listing that show up on search are attractive enough to stand out from the competition and make a potential guest click.
The listing description must be accurate, appealing, and not too long. Bullet points can be a useful way to list your property’s features without rambling into too many paragraphs.
Use standout photographs that showcase all the features of your property in their best light. It is recommended you hire a professional Airbnb photographer to do so.
Your star rating is crucial to any guest making the decision to book or not.
Reviews can make or break the success of your Airbnb. Reviews are how guests decide if they can trust the experience that you are promising.
This stage begins once a guest has made a decision to book or consider booking and up until they arrive at your Airbnb vacation rental. It is mainly composed of communication, their making inquiries and you responding appropriately and without delay with information. Many hosts tend to overlook this stage and the impression it leaves on guests.
Make sure you respond to all booking inquiries and fast. If you are to refuse a booking for any reason, do it politely, apologetically, and without falling afoul of Airbnb’s policies.
Respond to confirmation of booking with sincerity and enthusiasm. Let guests know you are looking forward to their staying with you. Send them your house rules and rental agreement if you require one.
Follow up with information that your guests will need to check in without delay or stress.
Automating your guest messaging is the easiest way to communicate with your guests and to ensure you make a good impression.
This stage covers the period once a guest arrives at your property and checks in and up until they check out and leave. Whether you operate completely remotely, welcome guests in person, or use a hybrid model in managing and interacting with your guests, it is the most important stage and can potentially make up for any issues in the previous stage.
If you use self check in, make sure you provide clear instructions on how guests can check in. Older guests in particular can have difficulty checking in using smart locks. If you welcome guests in-person, be there when they arrive and get them checked in without too much of a fuss or delay.
Provide a fantastic experience throughout your guests’ stay. Don’t forget to check in mid stay so you can correct any issues your guests may be having.
The end of a trip can be a stressful experience. Make sure the check out process is as easy and free of stress as possible.
Your guest’s journey doesn’t end once your guest leaves. It extends to after they’ve got back home, potentially review your Airbnb, and share their guest experience with family and friends.
Follow up your guests leaving with a post-check out message. This can be a good time to ask them to leave you a review.
Review your guests so they are further encouraged to review you in return.
Leisure guests in particular are likely to share their travel experience with friends and family. A good experience will earn you good impressions on social media and word of mouth.
Unlike hotel rooms, vacation rentals are not clones of each other but have very distinctive offerings. In turn, guests come in different types. To create the best journey, you will have to take into consideration the traveler segment you are catering to. For example, a college student will have different requirements and expectations to those traveling with pets.
Guests choose Airbnb vacation rentals because they accommodate greater flexibility than most hotels. From check-in and check-out times to cancellation policies and even in-stay requests, guests prefer a host who is more flexible and willing to accommodate their needs.
We live in a world that prizes convenience. From how to use the appliances in your property to smart technology that eliminates tasks like switching lights on and off and keeping track of keys, adjustable lighting, and super fast wifi, guests will appreciate the added convenience and thank you for it.
Make sure you stay in touch with your guests, providing them with the information they need and getting ahead of any concerns that can lead to bad experiences and reviews.
Use the type of traveler and each traveler’s individual personality and preferences to personalize their experience. For example, families may appreciate board games and books during their stay while a group of female travelers would prefer a gift basket of cosmetics.
The best way to improve your guests’ experience is to ask them for their feedback. Create a positive cycle of learning and improving as you go along.
A leading PMS like Hostaway will enable you to automate most of your vacation rental tasks and processes, from cleaning to communicating. This will save you massive amounts of time and energy so you can focus on ensuring your guest journey is exceptional.