My grandfather Albert always had fish on his walls. He loved fishing and went out to the lakes in Wisconsin as much as he could. Every summer, he and my dad went up to the same rental lodging on Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Together they would catch as many walleyes and muskies as they could lure.
And before you ask — yes, that means the Arctic Circle. (You could walk on a frozen lake on the 4th of July.)
I know this story because of a photograph my grandfather once kept in his house, that now hangs in my parents’ home, of he and another man sitting at a table, both of them smiling. In the photograph’s corner, gold letters spelled out the words: “The Negotiators”. The two men had been sitting down for a long-repeated routine of deciding what the next summer’s price would be for the cottage rental. I can see clearly in my mind the two of them looking into the camera like two philosophers might. They look like friends, don’t they?
Even though the model for rental home negotiations has switched to online listings and transactions, this photograph of my grandfather and his friend is still symbolic of travel traditions and the importance of strong customer relationships.
If this guy could get fisherman back to the Arctic year after year, you can get people to return to your vacation rental anywhere. Here are some tips for ways you can increase your chances of getting guests to return.
What It’s All About
You’ve already built trust with these people and they know what they can expect at your rental home. The ideal way to build strong guest relationships is to make a fantastic impression during a guest’s stay and stay top of mind after they leave.
A Handwritten Note
How often do we ever receive a handwritten note from someone? It’s pretty rare. While automated thank you notes are effective too, a personalized note shows you set aside time to write. However, it demonstrates that they had as much of an impact on you as your rental home had on them.
But perhaps it’s been awhile since you last wrote someone a note on stationary. What are you supposed to say? A handwritten note is the perfect way to create a personal connection. Try making the note about a specific memory you have of them or their time at your lodging. Ask them to write something in a guest book at the end of their trip, and then use the note to respond to the guest book entry.
Re-marketing to past guests with an email newsletter is an easy, efficient and affordable way to remind past guests you’re still in business and would love to see them again. Great things to include in your newsletter are home improvements you’ve made, special offers to past guests, and upcoming events that should be big draws, and special off-season times for a discounted rate so you can continue to get bookings. Like any sale, the email must create incentive to return to your website. Its delivery should be simple, without too many overwhelming graphics, and be proofread to be error-free.
OneRooftop’s automated guest communication tools allow you to set up email templates that can be scheduled to send based on the guest’s check out date. Thus, you can reach out to a guest a few days after their checkout when she may be thinking about booking her next vacation.
Even if you don’t get your past guest to book, perhaps a friend or family member would be interested in coming out for a visit. For this reason, make sure your email is easily sharable on social media.
While the emails you send out should have a great call-to-action, there should be an easy route to unsubscribe from the newsletters. It is important that your guests keep you in the front of their mind only when that’s what they really want.
If email marketing is a major strategy for your business, we recommend finding an email management tool (for example, Mail Chimp) to help you manage messages, automate and personalize emails, send messages at the optimal time, and target the right people in your market. OneRoofotp has a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) built into our software and you can export guest info from OneRooftop to MailChimp.
Now that you have your notes ready to go and your emails ready to send (disclaimer: you should first have permission to send marketing content to your guests) then you are all set to have past guests come again for a visit. Lastly, remember to include a strong call-to-action to drive your past guests to visit your vacation rental website and book again.