Responding to Vacation Rental Inquiries: Should You Call or E-mail?

    call your prospective vacation home rentersOne of the most common questions we receive at our vacation rental seminars is about responding to inquiries: should you call or e-mail? In this age of technology where everything seems to have gone electronic, many owners assume that e-mail is the best form of communication with renters. Perhaps it is for some owners (and for some renters), but we happen to think calling is a pretty good idea, too.

    A phone call can allow you to:

    • Screen your guests. Chances are you can learn a lot more about a traveler over the phone than over e-mail. With all the scammers out there, it's best to speak to each and every one of your guests over the phone before accepting a booking. Just keep the conversation light and ask some basic questions to get to know them a bit and make sure they're a good fit for your home.
    • Build a relationship. A phone conversation not only gives you the opportunity to get to know your renters, but it gives them the chance to get to know you as an owner. Use this conversation to share your wealth of knowledge about the area and convey your professionalism in a way that isn't always obvious via e-mail.
    • Show your responsiveness. If a prospective guest sees how quick you are to return their inquiry with a phone call, they're likely to assume that you'll be just as responsive if they were to have any problems during their stay. Building that confidence could make the difference between an inquiry and a booking.
    • Answer questions more directly. Sometimes when a renter sends an inquiry with a handful of questions about your home or area, it's best to just give them a call rather than typing up a bunch of responses. Sure, you can pop an e-mail out in a couple minutes and answer the basic “how much is it” and “are you available” questions, but is that really the best way to communicate all that your home has to offer? Plus, speaking with the guest over the phone can help ensure that you're not misinterpreting the questions and you're giving them the answers they're looking for.
    • Speed up the process (sometimes). Speaking to the guest over the phone might give you a better inkling as to just how serious they are about the booking. And let's face it, you might be at your computer A LOT, but you're probably not there every second of the day. A phone conversation might speed up the process instead of waiting for a slew of back-and-forth e-mails. Just be warned: there are some renters that like to chit-chat and ask a lot of questions. So when you make that phone call, proceed with caution!
    Many owners are concerned with the intrusiveness of a phone call. But if the prospective renter included their phone number on the inquiry, is it really intrusive? Our rationale is that a phone number on the inquiry is inviting a phone call. If they didn't want to speak to you over the phone, they probably wouldn't have given you that phone number, right?

    Some owners choose to respond to inquiries via e-mail and save the phone conversation for when the traveler is ready to book. That's fine too, but it's important to keep in mind the benefits of picking up the phone and calling your prospective guests right away. In the end, you should respond to inquiries in a way that's most convenient for you.

    © Copyright HomeAway, Inc. 2008