“Vacation rental managers have historically taken a reactionary approach to in-stay communication: leave the guest alone and be ready to respond when needed. Today, this is no longer the case, and 68% of managers are differentiating their business by strengthening their guest communication programs. SMS messaging tools are increasingly popular, and empower professionals to resolve in-house issues and deliver deeper client service.”
– Jeremy Gall, Founder & CEO of Breezeway
It’s not often that one solution can combine cost and time savings with ease and convenience for staff and guests. The onset of text communications has been a joy for all concerned during vacation home rental stays.
Tyler Adams of Benchmark Management, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and Ashley Kubiszyn of River Ridge Rentals, Breckenridge, Colo., discussed what it’s been like for their teams during Breezeway’s Elevate Operations Conference hosted virtually March 10-11.
“Too often our staff either couldn’t take a call or had trouble reaching the guest by phone,” Kubiszyn said. “Texting is much easier and more practical. People are used to it. We don’t have to spend time doing anymore phone logs. Guests love it, they tell, ‘It’s great that you are so available.’ ”
Kubiszyn said text messages are more personal and are customizable, compared to push emails.
“You can use emojis, images and engage in funny conversations,” she said. “I can be texting with four guests separately at once. The volume of communication is way up compared to email and phone, but it’s so much more efficient. I don’t have to take notes; and the text history can be used to prove certain communications such as things related to charge-backs.”
She said her properties don’t always send response-required texts, “but we still get ‘Got it’ and ‘Thanks’ among the responses, so that’s nice.”
Adams said the response rates to his emails might be 25 percent; and text response rates are much higher.
“We can text entrance codes to guests to make it easier for them, and so their first impression of the property goes that much better,” Adams said. “The texting system can be automated, where we might only need to push a few buttons to segment which group will receive it, based on things like check-in, check-out or service order updates. Guests are more likely to respond; they don’t have to wait on hold to speak to a staff member for a simple piece of information.
He also uses a text task tab that helps his team track the progress of service orders.
“This is particularly good when the guest is outside of the home,” he said. “It lets them know when someone is coming, and when the task has been completed. Pre-pandemic, it really wasn’t as big a deal that service orders were done when guests were not home, but now, it provides peace of mind and can avoid a 15-minute call needed to explain and set it all up. And, all the information about the service call is in the workflow (sort of a paper trail) about the visit.”
Adams said there is no ideal number of texts such as X times per day or X times per visit.
“What’s important is that the content includes valuable information for the guest to keep them in the know,” he said.
Texting also has led to more feedback being received by the management staff.
“With our automated text outreach, the guests have at least three opportunities to share any concerns or complaints with us,” Adams said. “Before we started using texting, about 10 percent of guests might tell us about a problem they had after they’ve checked out. Now, it’s down to about 1 percent.”
Kubiszyn said texting enables her company to solicit for Google reviews more easily.
“We’ve been in business for 15 years and maybe had seven or eight reviews,” she said. “Getting reviews is difficult. Now we have more than 100. This helps our SEO and is driving more business for us by guests and other owners who want to work with us.”