On Florida’s Gulf Coast and around Anna Maria Island, we often get repeat visitors. This is not a destination that visitors want to see once and check off their list of vacation spots not to miss. They come and have a great experience, and then they decide to make this a place that they visit often. Some of the people who come to this area do so every single year, choosing a week or a month or even an entire season to stay and enjoy the warm weather, calm shoreline, and abundant outdoor activities.
So how can you get your guests to choose your vacation rental home as their preferred place to stay over and over again?
It’s worth putting together a strategy. Repeat bookings are the best way to boost your occupancy rates. Average daily rate (ADR) and occupancy are what make you the most money. With occupancy making up half of your revenue equation, you need to get those guests back into your property over and over again.
That’s not the only reason you want repeat bookings, however. For example:
- Repeat bookings enhance your reputation.
- You can build your brand, showcase reviews from repeat guests, and increase the likelihood of new bookings that result from word of mouth.
- Less risk. When you know your guests, you know you won’t have to worry about damage, excessive dirt, or conflicts and disputes.
- There’s more of a chance that your repeat guests will book directly through you or your vacation management company, which saves you the money lost to fees on sites like Airbnb.
Loyalty is always good for business, and when you work with a vacation property management company like ours, you can usually expect to build a better business that includes return guests.
Here’s what we recommend for drumming up extra business with repeat bookings.
Provide Good Guests with Positive Reviews
Establishing a relationship is an important first step in getting your best guests to return to your property.
Make sure communication is open, transparent, and easy. Send messages to guests before they arrive, welcome them once they’re on your property, and check in from time to time to make sure there’s nothing they need. After they’ve checked out, thank them for staying with you.
Self-check in processes are popular. You can allow your short term vacation residents to let themselves into your home with a keypad, a lockbox, or a digital key. That’s great for them and for you. But, you should try to meet your guests if it’s at all possible. Just say hello, offer your services if they need anything, and make sure they have a face to go with the name. This isn’t always possible – we get it. But, if you’re local and available, saying hello is a good way to establish and fortify a great customer relationship.
One of the best things you can do to build that relationship is leave them a review.
Typically, they’ll be asked to review their stay. When they book through a third-party site like Airbnb or VRBO, you’ll also have the opportunity to leave a review for them. Even if they booked directly through you or through your vacation property management company, you can respond to the review they leave for you with some positive and appreciative words. This will give them a good feeling, and if you’re on a large platform like Airbnb, you’ll be telling other property owners that they’re great to have stayed at a property. That will help their own reputation when they’re looking for vacation homes elsewhere, and they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Say something about how easy they were to communicate with, that they were clean and respectful of the property, and that you’d definitely rent to them again.
Keep in Touch with Your Guests
You’ll collect contact information on your guests when they book. If you know that you’d like them to rebook in the future, keep in touch with them. An email address is helpful when you want to send out any updates about your property. Maybe you’ve installed a hot tub or a fire pit in the backyard. Why not send an email to all of your best guests with this news, inviting them to book a stay and come check out the new amenities?
You can also offer discounts this way. Send out an email once or twice a year offering 10 or 15 percent off a booking when they do it directly through you or your vacation management company.
Physical addresses are also a great way to stay in touch. Why not send a holiday card thanking them for their past business and inviting them to stay with you again?
Send information about upcoming events in the area. Offer a rebooking discount when the date of their last booking approaches.
Always personalize your communication. No one wants to feel like they’re on a large and impersonal email that’s going to your entire list. Ask about a pet if they brought a dog. Ask your northern guests if they’ve had a lot of snow this winter. Those personal notes will make a big difference in how your guests see you.
Create a Positive Vacation Rental Experience
The best way, of course, to inspire repeat bookings is to provide an outstanding rental experience that will bring your guests back.
What can you do to ensure the people staying at your vacation rental home are eager to return?
- Make the booking process easy. Working within online platforms is a great way to reach a wider pool of vacation travelers and it also streamlines your booking process. However, it leaves a lot of things out of your control. Consider direct bookings or work with a vacation management company to ensure your guests have an easy time reserving their dates, paying their deposits, and completing the booking process.
- Provide an introduction to the property and the area. Guests don’t like to spend hours trying to figure out the Wi-Fi password or the cable situation. Leave instructions that are clear and easy to follow. Provide recommendations on great restaurants and activities. A local map is also a good idea. Most people are using their digital GPS systems, but having a printed map where they can get an idea of the entire area is helpful.
- Make sure your property is ready for occupancy. When your guests arrive, they want to feel like they’re in a home away from home. Make sure everything is clean and ready. Linens should be fresh and stacked in bathrooms or bedrooms. Consider leaving some welcome snacks as well as coffee, tea, and juice. Guests won’t want to buy their own sugar, salt, oil, and other cooking basics. You’ll want to keep those stocked in your kitchen, and you’ll want to provide enough paper towels and toilet paper.
- Remain responsive. Send a quick email or text to ask if they arrived and settled in okay. If there are questions or problems, respond right away in a manner that’s friendly, hospitable, and professional.
Guests will not return to a property that is unclean, deteriorating, or hosted by an owner who cannot be reached when needed. Focus on your guest experience, and you’ll have no trouble bringing those guests back to your home when they’re in the area next.
Create a Loyalty Program
All of us like to feel special.
When you’re trying to attract repeat guests, let them have some perks and benefits that other guests booking for the first time cannot access. This might be a discount on their entire stay, an 8th night free when they book a full week, or a waived cleaning fee. Whatever you can think of to offer, they’ll appreciate getting a deal, and they’ll be motivated to book again with you rather than looking elsewhere.
You can also provide loyalty rewards for referrals. People who stayed in your property are not only going to leave a review for strangers to read, they’re going to talk with their friends and family members about their vacation. They’ll talk about the home they stayed in, and you want them to rave about it. When they send you a referral, you need to say thank you.
Always Ask for a Review
By collecting reviews, you’ll get an idea of which guests are likely to be repeat customers.
Read what they say, and always respond. You can say thank you for the kind words. You can express appreciation that they were such excellent guests. You can respond to any issues or complaints that were included in their review.
When you track the reviews and the feedback you receive, you can get a clear sense of who may be back and who is not worth pursuing. This will help you assemble your loyalty program and your email list for ongoing communication.
Working with a vacation property management company is another great way to attract repeat bookings. At a company like ours, we have the resources and the technology to stay in touch with your guests and provide an outstanding experience that will bring them back time and time again. If you’d like some help with your vacation rental property, please contact us at Anchor Down Real Estate and Rentals.