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How a magical vacation rental experience creates loyalty

Tyann Marcink, our very own queen of guest experience, recently presented at Short Stay Week, VRMA International, NWVRP, and the Vacation Rental Women’s Summit on: The Magic Fairy Dust of Guest Loyalty. Tyann is a guest experience specialist – she’s hosted vacation rental guests since 2007, and she knows a thing or two about how a stellar hospitality experience translates into an army of loyal guests.

In her presentation, Tyann drew on stories from The Guest Cast, the Touch Stay podcast which explores how hosts can deliver a meaningful experience for their guests. For a deeper dive into lessons from guests, listen to The Guest Cast.

How to provide the best guest experience at your vacation rental property

For a recap of Tyann’s expert advice on enhancing the guest experience, read on!

Craft a memorable vacation rental experience

Tyann kicked off with the very first episode of The Guest Cast, in which she and Andy chatted with Alissa Cincotta (Behind the Shutter magazine) about her unique experience staying at an Italian vineyard property.

The host of her vacation rental took her on a tour of his vineyard, concluding it with a private wine tasting by candlelight in a cave. Alissa’s take-home souvenir from the trip was a small plain bottle of limoncello sealed with red wax that now has a prominent spot in her kitchen so as to remind her of the wonderful experience she had.

The uniqueness and exclusivity of this experience stuck with Alissa, and she remains a loyal fan of her Italian host.

Understand the value of ROE: Return On Experience

Tyann encourages vacation rental professionals to focus on ROE (Return on Experience): a stellar guest experience will result in happy guests, which means repeat bookings and rave recommendations. Adopting a guest-first strategy is good for business.

In recent years, booking sites such as Airbnb and have been taking larger cuts of vacation rental managers and owners’ revenues. At the same time, pandemic restrictions have trapped travellers in one place, giving their imaginations time to run wild as they dreamt of what travel experiences they wanted once restrictions ended. Property owners and managers can do little about booking sites’ policies, but they can deliver what travellers desperately want: a memorable vacation rental experience.

Empower your hospitality team to deliver an exceptional guest experience

Tyann then turned to the second episode of The Guest Cast, in which Rand Fishkin (SparkToro) told us about a time that a hotel valet helped him to avert disaster during a holiday on the Amalfi Coast.

Rand had accidentally hit another car – potentially an expensive mishap. He arrived at his hotel very stressed and with a dent in the side of the rental car. When he returned from dinner, however, there was no dented car to be seen.

This was because, whilst Rand was at dinner, the hotel valet had buffed the dent out himself. He had seen how stressed Rand was and used his initiative and skill to remove the source of the stress.

The management at the hotel had empowered their employees to get creative in providing an outstanding guest experience, and as a result Rand still remembers them to this day.

Implement standard operating procedures in your hospitality business

Tyann used the third episode of The Guest Cast to highlight the necessity of insurance and standard operating procedures. Dave and Deb (aka Planet D) were travelling in a remote part of the Amazon when Dave slipped and broke his back.

A terrifying experience was made slightly better by the fact that their tour company handled the incident so professionally – they had all the systems in place to get Dave safely to a hospital.

Tyann emphasised that, although it may sound boring, having a standard operating procedure in place means that you can cope when things go wrong. This, in turn, builds guests’ trust in you, and makes them far more likely to return.

How strong communications encourage guest loyalty

Tyann focused on episode four of The Guest Cast to illustrate exactly how vacation rental operators shouldn’t be communicating with guests. Wes Melton (CTO of Casago) arrived at a short term rental, only to be greeted by signs threatening a $150 fine for any guest who used Netflix on the property’s television. For Tyann, this screamed of a host who had previously had issues with guests, and had funnelled their frustrations into their communications.

On the flip side, a stay that’s in a downward spiral can be rescued with the right communications. So, how do you get it right?

Guest communication management is sending the right message, at the right time, with the right method

Tyann has previously had a guest arrive at a rental property that had accidentally been missed off the cleaning rota. Not a good start at all, and potentially a recipe for a negative review. Not on Tyann’s watch though – after a humble apology and a complimentary dinner, the guests actually ended up leaving a homemade pie when they departed!

Tyann’s guest communication flow

Tyann noted that most hosts only send three or four communications across the whole span of the guest lifecycle – not nearly enough. Tyann’s motto is “do less by communicating more”. She communicates with her guests fourteen times between booking and arrival. For more detail about when to start and stop your communications, check out our guest communication playbook.

Tyann recommended mixing up your channels of communication, to ensure that you hit every kind of guest. Some will read a comprehensive email detailing the instructions for every appliance in your rental property. Others will just about make it through a text containing arrival instructions. Others won’t look at anything until they’re knocking at the door of the wrong address.

Revisit the communications that you’re sending:

  • are you sending enough of them?
  • are you sending them at the right times?
  • are you sending them through the right channels?

For inspiration, check out Tyann’s guest communication flow.

Enhance your guest communications with a Touch Stay digital guidebook

Tyann’s Touch Stay digital guidebook is a key feature in her communications flow. She sends it out to her guests six times before they arrive!

DISCOVER: the guidebook features that take your guest communications to the next level

Our digital welcome book helps you to meet all of your guests’ needs. From your personal recommendations about the best local food and drink, to essential information about household appliances, everything your guests could want to know is there.

Deep links to specific sections allow you to easily direct your guests straight to the information they need. They feel informed and prepared, and you spend less time answering their questions.

Like the sound of that?


The importance of a (polished) human touch in your guest communications

Finally, Tyann looked at the fifth episode of The Guest Cast, in which John McElligot (York Exponential) remembered his experience of a Tokyo hotel that was run by robots. As a robotics expert, John was intrigued by the idea. When he arrived, however, he realised that something important was missing: the human touch.

You had better excel at what you’re doing, because I can promise you that if you’ve got workers who are lazy or sloppy, the robots are going to beat them. The differentiator has to be your customer service.

- John

Whilst John appreciated the efficiency of the robots, he missed the human interaction. In order to cultivate guest loyalty, you need to meet every need. This means that your customer service has to balance efficiency with human warmth.

The results? Five-star reviews for your vacation rental

Tyann sees guests staying in touch, returning to her vacation rental properties, and even adding extra nights onto their stay.

By providing an exceptional guest experience (which always starts with strong guest communications) you can build your own private army of loyal guests. They’ll leave five-star reviews for you on Airbnb, Vrbo,, and whichever other sites you point them towards.

They’ll also tell friends at brunch, co-workers in the office, and the family at Sunday lunch. Your reputation will grow through word-of-mouth recommendations.

For more vacation rental expertise, head over to Tyann’s personal blog. She’s got nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout!

For a guest communication tool that will take your guest’s experience to the next level, get started with Touch Stay today.