Introducing Mobile Hospitality Manager
Like many owners, I manage a vacation rental and hold down a full time job. I do my best to be proactive about sending information to my customers, but since I book 30-40 weekend stays each year, I have a lot to manage.
Not only do I manage all of the inquiries and booking requests, but I also send a series of emails to each guest with the address, door and gate codes, recommendations and house rules. On average I send five emails per booking. Whew! It’s a lot of work. But not anymore!
Today, HomeAway is releasing the branded version of the Mobile Hospitality Manager, formerly known as “GladOwner.” We acquired Glad to Have You in March, and we’ve been working hard to get this tool to our customers as quickly as possible.
Mobile Hospitality Manager provides a great guest experience by presenting key information to my guests (directions, access instructions, all of the great info that I’ve gathered on my property and the surrounding area) automatically over the course of a stay.
My favorite part is that the system sends emails from me to my guests depending on the dates of the stay. For example, a few days before the guest arrives, they get my welcome email with tips and how to access the property. On check-out days, the system sends them a thank you with reminders about how to leave the house. Auto-magically!
This kind of automation saves me a huge amount of time and since every email can be customized, I can give my guests a great experience with a personal touch.
But the best part of solution is the mobile app which guests use. I have the usual “binder of info in my property, but the mobile app makes it easier for the traveler to carry all the info about the house and the destination in their pocket (how to use the espresso machine and the hot tub are my top requests!). The guests use of the app has really reduced the amount of time I spend answering questions like “where is the pool cover key?” or “can you recommend a good winery?”
The feedback from my guests has been outstanding and many folks have been mentioning the app in their reviews.
There are a few hidden gems and details that are worth calling out that I’ve learned from using the app:
- The Mobile Hospitality Manager is manageable in the HomeAway mobile app
- HomeAway sends an invitation to the app for all ReservationManager and online bookings, but for other bookings (like that repeat guest or your best friend) you need to create a reservation on the calendar and make sure it has a valid email address so that your guest can receive the invitation.
- Make sure you put lockbox instructions, door codes, etc. into the app.
- The more info you put into the app, the better the experience for your guests. If you don’t add content, HomeAway auto populates the app with info from your listing and makes recommendations based on the location of your property.
- If you are already using Glad to Have You, then you can easily export your content for import into the new HomeAway Hospitality Manager.
- The app changes for the travelers over the course of a stay. For example, I might give my guest access to the application well in advance of a booking, but the app won’t provide the address and keycode info until 14 days before the stay. And on the day of arrival, the application presents “check-in instructions” and “find my rental” right at the guests’ fingertips. At checkout time, the check-out instructions appear at the top of the app’s view.
- You don’t have to guess what the traveler is seeing in the app; you can preview their experience at any time through the “My Guests” tab in the Manager.
- I use the “My Guests” view all the time - it tells me when travelers are arriving and what emails are being sent to them as well as the all-important “edit rental access” button and the switch which allows guests to see “access my rental,” “find my rental,” and “driving directions.”
With smartphone (Android and iOS) penetration somewhere between 70-80%, it’s a good bet that at least one of your guests has a smartphone. And in a recent survey, more than 70% of travelers prefered to access information about their vacation rental stay from a mobile device. If multiple guests in the party, they can each access the app. Think about your own travel experience: we all use our smartphones when travelling for maps and email - so now your house can have an app!
We are excited to put this into your hands, and so we’ll be rolling it out over the course of August for HomeAway and VRBO customers. Try a mock reservation for yourself to see how it works - we think you and your guests will love it!
Enjoy and as always, keep your ideas and feedback coming!
HomeAway Chief Product Officer