There is a military adage that states ‘maneuver without firepower is perilous and firepower without maneuver is pointless.’ Without getting into the subtleties of martial arts and science, the concept is that effort, intention, and resources must come together within the context of a strategy to create success. In the vacation rental management business, we call this coordinating and integrating the front of the house with the back of the house.
Get the Back of the House in Order
Buildings are complex structures. Structural integrity, energy usage, access control, and interior comfort are the result of the program manager knowing what is going on at the property. Since no one can be everywhere at once or have the eyes, ears, and nose to know what is always happening, savvy managers use technology to keep a constant watch. Cameras, sensors, detectors, and other devices can be linked to a property control software system to provide real-time updates into the status of every unit in the portfolio.
But data alone gives an incomplete picture. Adopting another military concept, intelligence is produced by combining information with insight. A modern property management platform will tell you what is going on with the buildings in the context of the operating business. The integration of property updates with operating workflows is what creates efficiency. For example, the fact that unit 407’s air conditioner is blowing hard at 62°F is curious. The Smith family checked out two days ago and no one will be accessing the unit until the plumber completes his work order later this week, so why not automate a more eco-friendly temperature while the unit is vacant to save energy, money, and wear and tear?
In many vacation rental businesses, critical functions like maintenance, front desk, housekeeping, and inspections are managed in isolation as independent silos. Even when theoretically integrated with the use of paper trails and quick updates via phone, text, or email, the right hand usually has little idea as to what the left is doing. If a family decides to extend their stay by one day, how will housekeeping, maintenance, inspections, and even the incoming guest stay informed? A good, unified property management system will automatically update every single interested person and function to make sure that efficiency is gained, and frustrating mishaps are avoided.
Front of the House
When a guest arrives at your property, they want the vacation to begin immediately. Like an iPhone or Android device, that ‘just works,’ without exposing its interior complexity, your property experience needs to operate flawlessly from the guest’s perspective. If your property management platform is properly chosen and configured, it will take the reservation stay information directly from the CRM or third party (e.g. Expedia, Airbnb, VRBO) so there is no risk of transcription errors by retyping.
From the initial point of the booking all the way through departure, a great guest experience will only occur if every department is not only focused but in total sync. Leveraging an enterprise-level unified operations platform such as BeHome247 is the answer to delivering high-quality guest experiences. The alternative is bolting on yet another single-point software solution that is unlikely to add and may indeed detract from efficiency.
Communication Pulls it All Together
Now that the building itself is integrated and operating in sync with the operating workflows of the business, the last piece is to ensure that the guest is kept well informed. Guest experience communication functionality must seamlessly blend with the property control and operations software so guests can best enjoy their vacations with a minimum of human problem solving from your staff.
Before check-in, guests should be reached by email and text to review check-in times, access codes, billing information, and local area information. Further, why not surprise and delight the guest by offering a discounted rate to arrive early or stay an extra night or two, allowing you pack the owner’s calendar and provide a unique value proposition to the guest? Likewise, a guest that has arrived before the stated check-in time can be delighted by an earlier-than-expected unit availability because housekeeping prioritized that space because of being informed.
Like many critical concepts, the building blocks of vacation rental operations excellence are simple to understand and challenging to implement. A modern unified property management platform like BeHome247 gives the property manager the ability to have complete control and visibility over day-to-day operations and communicate effectively with staff and guests alike. Today’s technology allows vacation rental leaders to focus their skills on what they do best by delighting vacations with properties that are pristine and operations that are flawless.