Great experiences are the cornerstone to driving new and repeat guests. Creating memories are what a vacation is all about. Because not all guests are the same, property managers must find ways to curate a wide selection of activities to fulfill their expectations. To help you provide the best experiences possible, and get the credit you deserve, here are some recommended tips for connecting modern vacationers with the best local activities.
Technology has transformed vacations. With just a smartphone, guests can now plan a vacation in seconds. Quality customer service no longer begins when guests check in. It starts when they dream of sitting on a golden beach or skiing from the top of a mountain, and that dream is sustained throughout every experience along the way. It’s important to use modern tools and maintain your voice. Every email you send and every photo you post on social media gives potential guests an impression of what it’s like to stay with you.
As big players continue to enter the travel industry, brand recognition is more challenging than ever. Online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Expedia and Airbnb, are targeting every vacation aspect, paying special attention to experiences. Separating your company from the crowd requires being visible throughout the vacation cycle and providing real value to your guests. To see how you can strengthen these connections, let’s take a close look at the different phases of the vacation cycle.
During the dreaming phase, guests may not even know where they want to go yet. While they are sitting on a cold bus, they imagine someplace warm, and they look at their phone. To connect with guests during the dreaming phase, try the following:
- Be inspiring.
- Reach out with messaging that highlights the current weather at your destination.
- Encourage past guests to share their experiences and tag your brand on social media.
- Post photos of people having fun together.
- Create content about top activities in your area.
- Don’t be sales driven; help your guests imagine all the experiences they might have.
Planning is different from dreaming. When people plan, they search for useful information. This is where you want to begin to get credit for their experiences. By connecting guests with the top activity providers in each area, PMs can:
- Differentiate themselves from the crowd.
- Demonstrate all that their areas have to offer.
- Highlight new and exciting experiences.
If your company is the resource for activities, you—not or Airbnb—will be associated with the amazing memories. Be sure reservationists are familiar with the area and can provide expert advice.
Booking is the most difficult, yet most important phase of the vacation cycle. To secure bookings, you must be relevant and professional. While guests are searching for properties, they expect the highest level of technology, including the following:
- A mobile-friendly website
- Accurate property photos and descriptions
- Properties updated with features such as Nest Thermostats, Alexa, and smart TVs
- Floor plans using tools like TruPlace, an interactive floor plan tool that allows guests to see the properties on a deeper level and gain confidence in their decision to book
- “Free to guest” activities that drive value. It’s not all about price. Make sure guests understand your value proposition
Your guests have booked. They are excited about their upcoming vacation. Now is the time to get everything right. During the pre-arrival phase, it’s important to ensure the following:
- Be both inspirational and informative.
- Encourage guests to begin planning their activities and view your past guests’ posts on social media.
- Make their vacation Instagramable.
- Set up fun photo opportunities at check-in to ensure guests are posting to social media about your brand.
- Present information with a personal voice.
- Be sure guests are aware of important details, in addition to making your pre-arrival emails fun and exciting.
After all the planning and anticipation, this is the ultimate moment, the actual vacation. First impressions matter. Think about how small treats and welcome baskets at check-in can make a big difference.
- Add a memorable touch, like personal notes and area guides.
- Check that the property is equipped with paper towels and other vacation essentials.
- Ensure the activities program is easily accessible for guests.
- Monitor guests’ feedback and ensure you are sending them to the best experiences in the area.
For example, at Xplorie we are always searching for new and exciting activities in our markets. When the family theme park Anakeesta opened in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, featuring the first “chondola” in the United States (imagine a gondola combined with a chairlift), we created a partnership right away. Connecting your guests with the newest local activities shows that you’re engaged with your destination and excited to share your expertise.
On occasion, things go wrong. The air conditioning may break or you may not be able to honor an early check-in. These are the keys to solving these issues:
- Have a system in place, rather than searching for a manger to solve every problem.
- Make the system simple, allowing any level employee to resolve the issue in minutes,
- Present solutions that let guests know you care.
- Design the system to protect earned rent for you and the property owner.
Guest issues are an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive and create a loyal guest. The key to resolving such issues is to exceed guests’ expectations. For example, offer guests a high dollar value experience, such as a round of golf or a family dolphin tour. A positive experience usually outweighs the negative and leaves a long-lasting positive impression.
When your guests leave, the first thing they will think is, “How can I go back?” To embrace this phase of the vacation, ensure you do the following:
- Follow up right away.
- Ask your guests for feedback.
- Use personalized data, such as the activities they enjoyed, to send them special, targeted offers.
- Send emails with messaging that reminds them of anniversaries, such as “Last year you were deep sea fishing in Florida.”
- Add photo contests to encourage guests to share their memories on social media.
- Allow the vacation to come full circle.
To ensure guests have a great experience, Xplorie works with property managers and local activity providers to connect travelers with top experiences across the United States. We understand that genuine connections are essential for long-lasting success. We believe there’s no substitute for the real thing, so reservationists at Xplorie partners are encouraged to experience their area’s activities for free (provided by Xplorie).
and our Xplorie Extras program helps to resolve customer service issues right away, leaving guests happy and your earned rent intact.
Xplorie has helped property managers provide free activities for over twenty-five years, and we’re still finding new ways to engage with guests. In the past two years, we’ve expanded to over fifty of the nation’s hottest vacation rental markets. Even as technology transforms vacations, one thing remains the same: the importance of genuine connections.