How Can Vacation Rental Managers Earn Travelers’ Trust?
Is the market for vacation rentals going to continue to grow? Or has it reached its peak?
Phocuswright reports that the percentage of travelers interested in sharing economy accommodations – which includes traditional vacation rentals – was down substantially this year. 41% of travelers expressed interest in 2017, but only 33% are interested in 2018.
The reason 67% of travelers want to stick with hotels instead of vacation rentals? For fully half of them, it’s because they don’t believe the quality of vacation rentals matches that of hotels.
That’s a trust issue. And it’s one that vacation rental managers and owners can fix.
Why Travelers Don’t Trust Vacation Rentals
At the moment, there’s no set standard or requirement to list your property on Airbnb or VRBO. There’s no standard anywhere you advertise a property, in fact. No individual property manager is working to adhere to a set of standards in the way that an independently-owned hotel can aspire to a 1-star rating with AAA.
Travelers know that the quality of the vacation rental’s customer service, amenities, and general appearance are entirely in the hands of the host. And they don’t trust reviews to give them an accurate idea of what to expect.
Nor should they. As we’ve detailed in our post advocating for vacation rental ratings, reviews are an insufficient way to determine the quality of a vacation rental. Reviews tell you that other guests have enjoyed staying in this vacation rental, but they can’t tell you whether those guests’ expectations match your own.
Travelers don’t like that vacation rentals leave them feeling uncertain. They know that when they arrive at a 3-star hotel, they’ll be met with freshly-laundered, matching linens, attractive if predictable decor, and all the amenities they’re accustomed to: a coffee maker, little bottles of soap and shampoo, an empty closet with hangers awaiting their clothes.
Will a vacation rental have all of these amenities? It’s hard to say. Listings usually include the availability of major amenities like stoves, washers and dryers, and air conditioning, but everything else is unpredictable. It depends on the host.
Which means travelers are left guessing about what will be provided and what they will need to provide for themselves. They don’t know if the service will be attentive to their needs or largely absent. They don’t know what kind of experience they’re signing up for.
So they go for the predictable. They go for a hotel.
What Can Vacation Rental Managers and Owners Do?
In the absence of an existing ratings body that can determine whether or not a property lives up to a 2-star or 3-star standard, vacation rental managers and owners should work to set their own standards and be sure their guests know in advance what those standards are.
In addition to listing all of your major amenities accurately, include a section on your listing that describes your personal standard for bringing a property to a “guest-ready” standard.
Major concerns your guests want to know about in advance include:
- Ease of entry. Everyone has heard stories about guests locked out in the middle of the night, the host not answering the phone, Airbnb unable to help. Explain to your guests how you ensure they will be able to access the property and what policies you have in place in case the normal method of entry doesn’t work for any reason.
- Kitchen amenities. Will there be salt and pepper? Butter and oil? A spice rack? A cheese grater? Guests are often kept guessing, and laying out exactly what you stock in each property’s kitchen will let them plan for what is and is not included.
- Bathroom amenities. Will you provide soap and shampoo? Is it individually wrapped? How many towels are stocked, and what sizes are they? Are there any additional amenities like cotton swabs and a first-aid kit? Help your guests rest assured they won’t discover at 6 am that there’s no shampoo for their shower before the big meeting.
- Cleanliness. A property can look great in photos, but smell of neglect when the guest arrives. Explain the thoroughness of your cleaning process and assure them that you have safeguards in place to ensure there are no errors in scheduling or performance that will lead to them arriving to an unclean property. (Like using Properly, for example!)
Show your guests that you’ve thought of their concerns in advance and that you uphold high standards across all of your properties. Each house may be different, but those standards remain the same.
And once they see your standards laid out in black and white, guests will be assured to note that your standards for a well-run vacation rental match their own.
That increase in trust will go a long way toward boosting the number of people willing to give vacation rentals a try for the first time.
Properly ensures that your cleaning service is delivering to your high standard every time. You can track the cleaning process in real time and receive verification photos as every room is finished, so when you tell your guest the property is ready for their arrival, you know for a fact it’s picture perfect. Click here to learn more.[:]