The Guest Nurture Sequence
Competition is climbing and the heat is on to provide the best experience for your guest. With endless lodging options doing the little things for your guest like checking in with them from time to time can go a long way to build a lasting reputation. So are you doing everything you can to make sure your guests come back again and again?
Nancy McAleer, the original author of this piece, is a co-founder of Florida Rental By Owners, a vacation rental listing website that allows property owners and managers to advertise their real-estate without the fees of Big Box OTAs. Short term rental property owners have noticed an industry trend of incoming travelers seeking hosts that go above and beyond the basics. Nancy recently wrote up an in-depth checklist that she uses, and you can too, that successfully “[nurtures] the guest before check-in.”
The “Ritz-Carlton effect,” a term coined by Nancy, is exceptional customer service that puts the guest in a positive frame of mind before arrival to stand apart from the millions of other listings online.
Why Does This Campaign Work?
In a study that looked at the relationship between happiness and vacations, the report found that people are typically the happiest before they actually go on vacation and are on a “happiness high” up to 8 weeks after returning home. Keeping this study in mind, the “Incoming Guest Nurture campaign” takes place during this time period, before the visit, to take advantage of the “Happiness Vacation High.”
It’s Easy, But It Does Take Time to Create?
The “Incoming Guest Nurture” campaign was meant to be flexible and allow yourself to be creative. Nancy sends her “guests 3 warm-up newsletters with clickable information,” and on the day of arrival she gives them a personal call to make sure that “they are all set for their vacation.” Nancy explains the reasoning behind the phone call is to establish a working relationship with the guest, increase their respect of her rental property and quickly solve guest related issues.
The Incoming Guest Nurture Sequence:
Now that you have a better understanding of your customer bases psyche let's dive into why you are really here reading this article and discuss a detailed guide to nurturing your guests before arrival that you could start implementing today.
Below is a guide to the Nurture Sequence:
Email #1: Send upon booking
List of recommended top 10 restaurants.
Link of local items of interest, such as museums
Links to social media
NoiseAware Extra Zone: In the hospitality industry going the extra step for your guests is key to a thriving business. Asking your guest the reasons why they are coming to your location is a great way to collect data to see trends in seasonality, not to mention so you can plan a memorable experience for your customers. This one question is about establishing a working relationship with your guest and shows that you have their best interests in mind.
You’re ¼ of the way to establishing a working relationship with your guest.
Email #2: Send 1 month before arrival
List of rental amenities
Instructions on how to mail or deliver packages/items to the rental
NoiseAware Extra Zone: Keeping the study from above in mind we would recommend adding a small note about how excited you are that the guest chose you for their stay. This would also be a great place to mention on how you are adding something special to enhance their stay at your rental.
Halfway there! Look you have created a working relationship with your guest!
Email #3: Send 2 weeks before arrival
Link to weather guide
Link to local artist/ events going on
NoiseAware Extra Zone: At this time you can send a possible itinerary that your guest could use while staying at your rental. This may take time at first to do but think of how impressed the customer will be and how well this plays into the “Ritz-Carlton effect.” Another way to leave a positive lasting impression is by adding a note about a small surprise awaiting them upon arrival. (i.e., if it's a birthday leave cookies or a treat!)
By now you have done ¾ of the work! Now it's time for the final touches.
The Goal of the emails:
Set the guest expectations of the rental
Give the Host the opportunity to exceed the expectations
Play to the “Happiness High”
Get the guest to go to her rental website
Get the guest “talking and sharing information about their upcoming vacation with friends and family, increasing referral and repeat bookings”
Step 4: A human phone call on arrival day
Inform guest of maintenance issues that could have possibly risen
Inform guest about the welcome sheet location
Discuss details of the rental that may not be I the welcome sheet
Have welcome basket ready
The host should give personal cell number so guest can contact them if they have a question or an issue arises
NoiseAware Extra Zone: Have the itinerary you created printed out with tips on what time and what day is least crowded to popular destination sites. Include information about the going rates to transportation and different route options with ETAs included.
Now that's how you nurture your guest!
Why The Phone Call Is So Important
Nancy goes into detail about a rental home being severely damaged and how even though the guest did not get exactly what he was promised at booking; however, since the relationship had already been established between Nancy and her guest she was able to manage his expectations by keeping him informed of the situation and made sure that there were no more surprises.
Due to the constant communication between Nancy and her guest, Nancy received a five-star review and a renewed booking.
The Incoming Guest Nurture Sequence is an excellent tool for you to leave a lasting impression on your guests. In a day and age where word of mouth is the most potent form of marketing, it’s of the utmost importance that property managers and owners recognize the trend of guest expecting hotel-style treatment from vacation rental reservations. Nancy referred to it as the “Ritz-Carlton effect” in her article sharing with us the genius behind The Incoming Guest Nurture Sequence.
The Data Behind It All...
Bottom Line: The hospitality industry, like many other industries, must have an online presence to stay relevant in the market.
An interview conducted by Phocuswright asked property owners why guests had chosen their rental, and three-fourths of the respondents said word of mouth and online reviews were the primary reasoning behind a guest chose.
The online B&B market is predicted to grow 6% annually with $3.7 billion in bookings by the year 2020. With the endless lodging options available on sites such as HomeAway and Airbnb, building your online reputation is the only real way to make yourself standout.
While the sequences may take time to create once mastered, you have already built a strong relationship with the guest and have placed them in a positive frame of mind all before they have even experienced their vacation.
So what are you waiting for, start making your emails today!
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