At VQuarter, we have made it our most important mission to improve the guest experience for vacation rental companies. We have had the pleasure to interview Adrian Brown, a well-known customer service strategy consultant and speaker with over 30 years of experience in the service industry such as Hotels, Restaurants, Professional service businesses and much more. Today he is a hospitality coach and runs “https://2be2serve.com/”.
We asked Adrian about his predictions for the vacation rental industry, and also how to deliver outstanding customer experiences to your rental guests.
As a whole, how do you predict the vacation rentals market in Europe will evolve over the next five years?
As we continue to see guests seeking a variety of properties, more choice of budget and location, more flexibility and more personalised services, the demand for independent vacation rental properties will continue to increase in the medium term. There is an increasing growth opportunity for distinctive properties across all of the price points but quality is absolutely key. Most properties will fall into three main categories, business short stay, getaway short stay and family or group vacations and these will be distributed across both city and countryside locations.
By 2017, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator – Gartner
How much communication do 21st-century guests want from their property manager during their vacation rental journey?
Every guest is unique and they do want communication. AND the communication has to be beneficial from the guests’ point of view. And they want the communication in the way that serves them. Property managers have to get inside the heads of their guests and see everything from their guests point of view.
Hanging on to “your process” at the expense of your customers’ experience is not the way to go. You need to know what type of communication your guests want, what they need and what will improve their overall experience.
The only way to discover this is through trial and error, so you have to get feedback, measure responses and tailor it to your customer journey.
Remember you are in control of your customer’s journey and your customer’s experience, so your communication has to support the journey and experience you have designed your business to give.
40% of surveyed companies have seen increased revenues by focusing on the customer experience over the past 12 months. – Sitecore
What do you feel is the most effective way to build a long-lasting relationship with guests?
Personalisation will be key to creating long-lasting relationships with guests. The deeper more personal knowledge of WHY your guest chose your property, WHERE they discovered you, HOW they found you will enable property managers and owners to tailor services that directly meet the needs of the specific guests. One-size-fits-all is not a recipe for success in this increasingly digital world.
Collecting customer data across their whole experience, really understanding their motivations and their desired outcomes for their stay is vital.
Everything you do for the guest affects your brand and their experience of your brand will determine the depth of their relationship.
Your perfect guest is the guest who thinks of your brand first. The competition will always be second or lower on their list. This is because they trust that you really understand what they value in a vacation rental property.
The purpose of the relationship between the property manager or owner with the guest has to be “to elicit all of the wants needs, desires and outcomes that the guest has, which can be served by the property experience”.
The purpose of the guest’s relationship with the property manager has to be aligned, “to consume all of the products and services that the experience of the property can offer, to have the best vacation experience possible”.
The dynamic of the relationship with the guest is therefor to deliver on the wants, needs and outcomes desired by the guest to the best possible quality within the scope of the property experience.
60% of surveyed businesses see personalisation as important for improving customer loyalty – Pricewaterhouse Coopers
In the future, which additional services do you feel guests will be looking with their vacation rental?
This is the $64million question, what will the future behold? Whilst there will be many who think that technology will be the key to additional services I actually believe the greatest route will be personalisation and understanding the guests needs at that specific property or group of properties.
The use, or more accurately, reuse of existing technology to interact with the guest, respond quickly to guests wants and needs, help expand the vacation experience and deliver all of this in a timely cost effective and profitable way is the challenge.
Every guest has some form of phone, tablet smart tech so how can we interact effectively with that. Apps, guides, concierge services are all going to be vital to expand the vacation rental experience.
The challenge for property owners will therefore be to train, motivate and engage their staff to deliver consistent standards of service across a varying property portfolio.
The idea of the “distributed hotel”, where properties exist in clusters, will emerge as a market leader. Vacation rental properties designed for the growing elderly population and the more mobile disabled population will also be areas to focus on.
Reviews from past guests are becoming as important as word of mouth in the vacation rentals market. How would you encourage customers to write a review?
Ideally you should not have to ask guests to write reviews. The perfect guests will have had such a marvellous experience they will want to share their experience via their social media platforms anyway.
The challenge for vacation rental properties is to enable guests to share their experiences of that property effectively with their tribe. Understanding how to engage guests with social media and to collect the valuable feedback on the open systems such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat to name a few is vital for creating social proof.
Sharing reviews that have been posted on other platforms, creating “the wonderful things our guests say” pages on websites, are all vital.
AND we should ask guests to contribute their comments and share AND make it really easy for them to do so.
Asking them to post pictures is a great way to do this, or videos. Prizes genuinely given for posts, that could be vouchers off next stay, or relevant in property bonuses are also a great way to engage.
Ultimately though speaking to the guests, asking them for personal face to face feedback, asking if you can share it and attribute it to them is going to win every time.
40% of surveyed companies have seen increased revenues by focusing on the customer experience over the past 12 months.
Would you like to know how to find your perfect customers? Download Adrian’s free cheat sheet “Discover How To Get More Of Your Perfect Customers” to learn how to make your customers your raving fans, and much more!
Statistics are from Sitecore’s latest report on the power of commerce and Content for the retail sector.