During a recent conversation with several holiday rental owners, we were shocked to learn that repeat renters only account for about 10% of their bookings. It doesnt take a marketing whiz to tell you it's much more difficult to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one. With just a little bit of extra effort, you have the chance to turn a one-time renter into a loyal, repeat guest for years to come. Besides, renting to past guests who treated your home with care means your screening is already done, making the booking even simpler for you.
Create a One-of-a-Kind Experience
Your guests have plenty of holiday accommodations to choose from, so it's up to you to make their experience so special that they want to return again in the future. Besides all the typical items with which you equip your home, consider the extras that might make your guests' stays more memorable. You want to reinforce that they chose the right place for their holiday, and it never hurts to remind them of your property's name, listing ID or website address so they can find you again in the future.
Small tokens Give a small gift like a bottle of wine, mints on the pillows, a delivery of fresh flowers or fresh fruit (which your housekeeper might be able to help with), a handwritten welcome note, a magnet with your home's name or logo, or a picture frame so they can display the memories from their trip.
Local Attraction Book While your guests are at your home, you should also have a thorough local attraction book on hand. Nothing can ruin a holiday faster than boredom, so make sure they have plenty of options for activities and dining.
Contact Previous Renters
Encouraging bookings from past guests should be pretty straightforward as long as you make sure their stay goes smoothly and you keep in touch. It may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many holiday rental owners deposit the rental check and never think of a renter again. Keep organized records and files so you can remain in contact with previous renters.
Holiday Cards One easy way to remind a past renter about your holiday home is to send them a holiday card or postcard with a picture of your home on the front.
Special Offers If you ask guests for their birthdates or anniversaries at the time of booking or check-in, keep these dates in your calendar. Then you can set up reminders to send cards when these dates are approaching, offering a 10% discount for birthday or anniversary trips.
Quarterly Newsletters Keep your past renters abreast of the changes to your property, new amenities, reduced prices, special offers or just the goings-on in your town. You can create an email newsletter or go old-fashioned and mail a physical one. Either way, it will keep your property on their radar.
Prevent Problems Before They Happen
One of the simplest ways to encourage repeat renters is to prevent problems. Of course there might be things that are simply out of your control, so be sure to address any issues that do come up as quickly as possible. And as you gain experience with your holiday rental, these out-of-the-blue problems may become preventable in the future.
Set clear expectations. Remember to always be truthful when describing your home. It can be easy for enthusiastic owners to get carried away describing a home they love; just be sure to set appropriate expectations so you're not dealing with disappointed guests post-arrival.
Employ preventative maintenance. Make sure to go through your annual maintenance checklist and take care of any preventative tasks you've been putting off. This can help thwart potential problems before they occur.
Ensure cleanliness. One of the most common guest complaints relates to overall cleanliness. Nobody wants to see hair on the floor or dusty ceiling fans. So be sure to set strict check-in and checkout times, maintain good communication with your housekeeper, and provide your housekeeper with a detailed cleaning checklist to set clear cleaning expectations.
Address problems immediately. If something is not to your guests' satisfaction, try to address it right away. You should also do your best to fulfill reasonable requests. If, for example, your guests thought your home included a hair dryer, you might tell them to just pick one up and you'll reimburse them later.
Disclose all costs. And, of course, remember to outline all costs upfront. Nothing will more quickly incite a renter's wrath than hidden fees and charges after they've booked.
Repeat renters do much more than simply return to your home– they can prove to be a rich source of advertising. In this day and age, we are increasingly skeptical of any sort of hype or sales pitch, so having a renter's personal seal of approval can be just as valuable as the advertising you do online.
© Copyright HomeAway, Inc. 2011