The business world has changed a lot since the coronavirus outbreak, especially for those operating in the travel industry. Even if you’re a vacation rental host who’s managed to take advantage of domestic travel during the pandemic, the way you interact and greet your guests has probably changed quite a bit, too. We’re talking about remote hosting.
While remote hosting isn’t new, it’s certainly become more common as a safety precaution during the pandemic.
So, in this article, we’re exploring some of the ways that you can better manage your vacation rental property remotely. We’ve even asked our Touch Stay Rock Stars (a group of vacation rental experts who use Touch Stay) for their advice too. Read on for a list of actionable tips that will keep your guests happy, even if they don’t have the pleasure of meeting you in person.
Leave a welcome gift for your guests’ arrival
You know as well as us that there’s nothing better than an unexpected gift. Leaving a little something for your guests will do wonders for your relationship – even if you never actually meet!
Our Touch Stay Rock Stars have some great ideas about the kind of gifts you can leave for your guests, including gifts that help you show off the delicacies of the local area.
I surprise guests with a box of cookies from a local vendor. She puts them in the home for me pre-arrival.
We provide a welcome basket with local wine, local nougat and gifts for children.
Welcome gifts are also a great opportunity to include a personal note to your guest:
We include a handwritten note along with a basket of welcoming treats for guests to enjoy upon arrival.
This kind of personal touch can help solidify a more human connection between you and your guests. Remember to include their name in the note to make it as personal to them as possible – it’s these touches that help make your guests’ experience a memorable one! (And, that will help you get those 5* reviews!)
Make everything personal to your guests
Following on from above, it’s important to make things as personal as possible during your guests’ stay. Obviously, when we say personalise everything, take it with a grain of salt (perhaps you don’t need to embroider their initials onto their towels!) – but do make a big effort!
Think about it like this: we’re all personal creatures at heart, and want to feel individual and special. The last thing we want to feel like is one of many. So, in a situation where you can’t be there to give your guests that personal touch in person, it’s important to find creative ways to do this remotely.
Here’s a great idea from a Touch Stay Rock Star:
We have a digital picture frame that says “Welcome and the guests name” and then it rotates through pics of the local area.
There are other practical ways to make your guests’ stay personal too. Here’s one idea from a Rock Star:
We use the last 4 digits of our guests’ phone number for the door code so it’s easy for them to remember.
You can expand on this idea to combine personalisation with easy accessibility. For example:
- Name the WIFI with their surname so it’s easy for them to find
- Use their first name as the wifi password
Be serious about clear communication
Luckily for you, we’re all now living in a world where remote communication is very much the norm, so your guests shouldn’t be too put off by receiving text messages or WhatsApps. This has opened up a very direct and personal way of keeping in touch with your guests to check how things are going with their trip.
Our remote host Rock Stars swear by strong text communication:
I’ve found that you can develop amazing rapport with guests just by having great communication through text/app and being very responsive. Friendly written communication isn’t easy for everybody, but I find it to be the most essential skill when hosting remotely.
Communication by text is key!! I like to ensure my guests know I’m here if they need anything.
We always send a text on day 2 checking they had a cosy and comfortable night, and that they have everything they need.
But, there are other ways to ensure regular written communication aside from text messages. You, yourself, might prefer to keep business out of your personal messages.
This is where emails are great, and they can also feel a little less invasive for your guests too. You can even schedule these with an email platform (Touch Stay offers this functionality – find out more here) meaning you can send personalised emails at key moments of their trip without having to remember to send them in real time.
For example, you can schedule up to three emails ahead of arrival, drip feeding your guests with all the information they need ahead of their trip without having to actually send a single email yourself.
Some of our Rock Stars do exactly this:
I use a scheduling service so I can plan emails in advance. Then, I send only the absolute essentials in a text.
Treat your guests to breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially ahead of a day spent exploring and galavanting. So, why not treat your guests to brekky as part of their stay? Many 5* reviews come from these little acts of generosity, and can go a long way in making your guests feel looked after and pampered. (Think about it – it’s just one step away from breakfast in bed!)
Lots of our Touch Stay Rock Star’s include breakfast for their guests:
We provide a basket with the guest’s first morning’s breakfast and a hand-written note thanking them for staying and hope they enjoy the brekky.
Remember – you don’t have to provide an elaborate breakfast for your guests. It can be something as simple as a loaf of local bread and a pot of local jam – something that’s affordable on your side, but is guaranteed to make your guests smile.
Make all your information digitally accessible
The digital age was already fully upon us, but since the pandemic arrived, digital accessibility has become even more crucial for running a business remotely. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to make digital accessibility a priority in your remote vacation rental management strategy.
So, how can you make your vacation rental more digitally accessible to your guests?
Include a digital guest book for your guests
A digital guest book is exactly what it sounds like – a digital version of a traditional welcome guest book. It’s what we make here at Touch Stay, and it’s been proven to improve guests’ holiday experience. Just read some of the reviews from guests who have used a Touch Stay guide.
It includes things like information about the property, check-in and check-out procedures, and things to do in the local area. It can be accessed from any device at any time and even works offline (perfect if your rental property sits off the grid!)
It’s really useful for remote hosting. Our Touch Stay Rock Stars swear by it when managing their rental properties at a distance:
I send our Touch Stay welcome guide as soon as they book, so they can begin learning about the area and our home.
A week before arrival I send the digital welcome book.
Read more about our digital guest books, and you’ll soon understand the value they’ll add to your vacation rental business – whether you operate remotely or not. You can see an example digital guestbook here.
Use QR codes
QR codes are another great way to help digitise your guests’ experience. They work really well to help your guests gain quick access to your Touch Stay guest books without having to to provide a link.
Offer contactless check-in
If you’re not able to meet your guests when they arrive, you can still make their check-in process easy and flexible by offering a contactless check-in.
Contactless check-in means your guests don’t need to meet anyone in order to gain access to the property. This is useful from a safety point of view in times of COVID, but it also allows them to arrive in their own time – without the worry of meeting someone at a specific time (which is also useful for you or your staff!)
Contactless check-in can be done in a number of ways. For example, W-Fi door locks, access codes, electronic locks or lockboxes.
A lot of our Touch Stay Rock Stars rely on contactless check-in for remote property management:
I always include the online welcome book and keyless entry
We have a lockbox on the door for self check-in.
In fact, some vacation rental hosts have been doing this even before the pandemic:
Our STR is a self check-in property and always will be regardless of the COVID situation, and is advertised as such. Some people actually prefer self check-in and don’t want to be greeted. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true.
If you need more guidance in this area, we’ve actually written a whole article about all the tools you can use for contactless check-in.
Build an amazing team on the ground
Last but not least, remote hosting will still need some people-power. Porch.com recently covered how to perform a rental inspection that inspired our best practices and reminded us that the right team is key! You’ll need to build a reliable team who can be there in person to help support your guests on the ground. This will include people for things like:
- You can also ask your housekeepers to add personalisation to their service, and help you with writing notes and providing gift baskets/breakfast.
- Plumbers, electricians, general handy-people for emergencies
- Locksmiths for issues with locks/access to the property
Again, a lot of our Touch Stay Rock Stars make a big effort to build a strong team around them when hosting remotely:
We do have helpers near the property should an emergency arise. Our laundry lady does the reset and leaves a handwritten welcome note for incoming guests, along with all the makings for s’mores.
Touch Stay – making your guests happier
At Touch Stay, we want to help you keep your guests happy, even if you’re not around in person to do so. After all, happy guests equal five star reviews – and five star reviews equal more business for you!
Our dynamic digital welcome book is designed to help you meet all your guests’ needs from a distance, answering frequently asked questions and providing all the information they need in one, easy to access place. It does all this while being easy to personalise to your brand and guests. When it comes to long distance vacation property management, there’s no better tool.
And unlike other digital guidebooks on the market, Touch Stay stores all your content in one single online location. All you need to do is share the link with your guests and they’ll have access straight away – no sign in or downloads needed.
Try it free today! Start your 14-day free trial and see how we can help you better manage your holiday home remotely.