April 23, 2018
By Billy O’Sullivan, Director of Vacation Rentals
I stayed in my first vacation rental about seventeen years ago when I paid my mailman $100 to stay at his cabin in Big Bear, California for the weekend. This stay gave me the idea to rent out a condo I owned on the Hollywood Sunset Strip, and that was it, I fell in love with vacation rentals. That love has stuck with me for nearly two decades. The vacation rental game has changed considerably since my stay in Big Bear. Businesses have sprouted up all over trying to get a piece of the travel market and entrepreneurs see the huge profits to be had. With all the competition, property owners need to be able to offer guests a vacation experience that rivals what resorts have to offer. With vacation rentals, guests still want an extraordinary vacation experience, but they don’t want to pay more than they would at a hotel. The key to providing this special stay is the human touch only a local vacation rental expert can provide, a property manager with their boots on the ground is required.
What Does the Human Touch Bring to the Vacation Rental Table?
When I was looking at other players in the vacation rental space while preparing to launch the PMI Travel platform I found a lot of booking services supported by large non-local rental companies. With that kind of scale, it can be easy for the personal touch to get lost. Undoubtedly there will be times when a human connection is wanted or needed, and then an owner-manager who's thousands of miles away is helpless. Instead, local property managers who aim for a boutique vibe with professional teams including a property specialist, concierge, handymen, and housekeepers, depending on the size of the manager's portfolio, at the ready will be prepared to provide guests with personalized service at a moment’s notice.
Why is it so important to have a property manager that can give the personal touch and give guests the extraordinary vacation experience? A personal touch is how you compete in the vacation rental market, making sure you keep your property booked and maximize your profit. Here are five things that only a local property manager can offer guests that make a difference in their experience.
Even if guests book instantly online, skilled local managers still have the opportunity to communicate through email, text, or phone call with every guest and find out a few things about them, why they picked the property they chose, and what they want to do on their trip. If managers have the chance to touch base with guests before they book and they aren't dead set on a particular property, they can open traveler’s eyes to a range of options and educate them about the overall area to make sure they match with the right space for their stay.
Provide Locals Only Information to Guests
To achieve the 5-star plus experience for guests, local vacation rental managers like to toss them a pro tip or two about the area. A guidebook attraction or rubber stamped activity is more likely to overrun with other people enjoying the same experience, so local managers look for fresh businesses and unique adventures to send guests on, making their experience within their vacation rental special.
Leverage the Power of Local Relationships
When an unexpected event puts the property at risk of damage, and there’s potential for a bad experience or, worse, a ruined vacation, it's the relationships vacation rental property managers have with the community that make all the difference. Getting a plumber to show up at 2 a.m. when water is all over the place is hard unless they have a stable bond with the professionals in the area who can help you avert disaster.
Prevent Preventable Problems
A local vacation rental management expert will have had a designated professional perform a walkthrough of their locations between guests and check to see if the property has any signs of wear and tear or damage that may cause a problem in the future. Spending a few dollars or hours here and there on preventative maintenance saves more money and time in the long run. More importantly, preventative maintenance ensures that guests don't have to bear the burden of easily resolved issues while they are staying at the property.
Help, Not Sell
One of the best ways local managers can build positive relationships with visitors is by making travelers’ experiences their priority rather than finding ways to make more money. A local property manager whose staff focuses on the guest and guest experience creates a relationship of trust. A vacation rental manager’s goal is to be friendly and sincere enough that the guest is comfortable reaching out when they come back to the area or even calling to inquire about other locations in a larger network of managers. Great connections happen when managers on the ground genuinely care about the property, the guest, and the overall experience.
The Boots-on-the-Ground Local Property Manager Difference
An extraordinary traveler experience and proper care of property require a personal touch that can't exist with A.I. auto-responders or outsourced service. Understanding owners’ needs to protect the value of their property while maximizing income, focusing on the details of guest experience, and building a strong network with community resources is what sets the leaders in vacation rental management apart from the rest.
The vacation rental management industry is at a crossroads with all the big boys in the space trying to take their piece of the pie. Following these suggested strategies will help grow the industry without souring owners into going back to long-term renting. I love traveling and staying in other people's homes; it brings new experiences and a feeling of growth. Hotels just aren't as authentic if you ask me.