Who doesn’t love repeat guests?
They ease empty calendar anxiety. They’re more likely to #BookDirect, giving you greater control over the booking. They refer your property to friends and family. And they bring peace of mind: you know what to expect from them and, in turn, they know what to expect from your property.
So, how do you turn the Smith family’s one-time vacation at your rental into an annual Smith family reunion?
Wow Them with Five-Star Hospitality
A clean, well-organized and welcoming space is a must for attracting repeat guests.
To achieve this, make sure your rental feels like home. That means you should:
- Keep your own personal items to a minimum (or at least stow them out of the way in a locked owner’s closet).
- Invest in furnishings and linens that are as comfortable as what you have in your own home.
- Be generous when it comes to stocking your rental. Kitchens should include all cooking utensils and bathrooms should feature hotel-like amenities like small shampoos and soaps. (Take a peek at our room-by-room host checklist to make sure you’re properly stocked!)
- Go above and beyond with extras like a bottle of local wine, some artisan chocolates or another locally inspired snack. These make an impression and keeps you top-of-mind when it comes time for guests to book their next trip.
- Clean to a standard that would satisfy even your pickiest guest, and do a deep clean at least twice a year.
Create an Email List to Keep in Touch
The travel industry is ripe for successful email marketing campaigns because travelers—we hope!—have created happy memories at your property and appreciate the nostalgic reminder.
If you don’t already, collect your guest’s email addresses and send occasional, non-salesy pieces of communication. Topics for successful email newsletters include:
- Updates at your property. Installed a new fireplace? Show it off! Wildflowers in full bloom? Remind guests of the natural beauty of your place with a colorful photo.
- Guides to events in your destination. If your area has a popular yearly event, like a wine tasting weekend or 4th of July festival, give past guests an insider’s perspective with a guide to help them navigate the event. Bonus points if you offer an incentive for them to book with you, like free event passes.
- Storytelling. Our brains are wired to respond to stories. Engage guests with a story of a local doing something extraordinary, or even a story from your own life (recent travels, welcoming a new grandchild, etc.). It may sound unorthodox, but vacation rentals are an unorthodox industry! Personal connections are powerful currency.
- Deals and specials. More on this below. but you can also use your mailing list to market special deals and specials.
How do you collect email addresses? We’ve seen several strategies succeed, from leaving a piece of paper at the rental requesting guest emails, to requiring that guests join the mailing list before they can join their WiFi network (sneaky!).
However you get guest’s emails, do make sure that they opt-in to your email marketing. That way you’re sure to reach folks who are engaged with your business and keep it all above-board.
Offer Special Incentives for Past Guests
Some vacation rental owners/managers employ the strategy of asking their guests outright if they plan to come back to that destination. If the answer is yes, they will offer guests a 10% (or more) discount on the spot.
You can also create a deeper strategy and copy the model behind hotel loyalty programs. Frame it as a special club, and offer discounts and other perks for referrals and repeat stays—like free airport pickups, for example.
One more tip: encourage social media follows from your past guests, too. That way, you can slide into their newsfeed with those nostalgic images and updates we mentioned earlier.
Of course, the above strategies work best if your destination itself often attracts repeat guests. Those with properties in once-in-a-lifetime destinations, like Alaska or Hawaii, may struggle a bit more than those in, say, the Outer Banks of North Carolina. But that’s not always the case!
Get a guest to fall in love with your rental—and your area—and they may be compelled to come back, no matter how far they have to travel to get there.
Managing Director, aBundle