There’s a fine line between helpful and annoying service and the same goes for communication. Hotels and vacation rentals typically fall in to the “too much” or “is anyone there?” camps. Nailing down the right communication strategy and cadence for your guests can make all the difference, turning what could be an okay experience in to an outstanding one that will get you better reviews. Vacation rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO ask guests to rate “Host Communication” so you want your process to be on point.
We can’t start this discussion without leading with response time. Any efforts you make are useless if you take more than 24 hours to respond to guests BEFORE they arrive - and that’s even a lot. You’re really better with an internal deadline of no more than a few hours. If you miss this step, nothing else matters because people have an immediate need (a question or request) and you want them to know that handling it is a priority for you.
You’ve secured the reservation and your guests arrive in three days. What do you do?
This is the perfect time to reach out with a text or email including an advanced welcome and to reiterate any special requests or arrangements that have been made. You want guests to know that their arrival is anticipated and there’s someone on the other end looking out for them.
Text is actually good for this because it’s an opportunity for you to offer up this communication method if they need anything. This really is the start of the arrival process.
Finally, the before or the day of arrival you’d do well to reach out again saying that you’re looking forward to their visit. You want to keep the lines open.
Your guests have checked in and everything is going well. Do you reach out? Well, there are a couple schools of thought here. Some say you should call them after check in to make sure they’re comfortable in their room (or house). Others say this is getting in to “annoying” territory.
It’s actually a good practice to touch base with your guests after they’ve had a chance to settle in to their room and make sure they have everything they need. After that, leave them be. They’ll get in touch with you if they need anything.
The only exception is if your guests are there for more than three days. At the three day mark, if you’ve not had any contact with them you should be reaching out to make sure everything is going well. A quick check in with them will mean a lot and keeps those crucial communication lines open.
Here’s the important part. Have you ever ended up on an email marketing list? The ones where they just won’t leave you alone, sending email after email, day after day. Don’t be that guy.
We all want reviews. Good reviews… I even wrote a whole piece on NPS scores. But this is serious… if you’re sending a thank you email, trying to get a review and then hit them right away with next seasons special because they’re now in your marketing database, you’ve lost. Tread lightly here because less is more in their eyes.
If you’re going to do a thank you note, include it with your review request, which should be sent right after departure. If they haven’t filled out the review after two days, send reminder email asking for it. You want this feedback because it helps make your offering and service better. But if after two days you’ve still not heard anything, leave it alone because they’re not going to fill it out and you don’t want to annoy them with multiple requests.
I’ll get some pushback on this but you should hold off on any other emails to your guests for a month after they stay. We get bombarded with emails and purchase requests all the time. You don’t want your hotel or vacation rental to be a part of the noise - because if your guests are anything like me, they’ll get annoyed at another email and delete it without giving it another thought, and probably ignore most emails from you going forward… if they don’t just unsubscribe from your list first.
You’ve got to be smart and strategic about how to stand out in a noisy email inbox world. Let your guests know that you’re there when they want you and lay off for a while after they’ve purchased from you. You’ll drive better communication scores and if you’re lucky… they might just pay attention to that marketing email you send later in the year.