First, lets start with some interesting industry facts and predictions:
Arthur Frommer's #1 travel prediction for 2011 was that "A Greatly Increased Use of Apartments and Vacation Homes in Place of Standard Hotels". (ref. Arthur Frommer's Blog, Dec 2010)
New York Times foresees vacation rentals piling up on luxuries and advertising as "hotels" (ref. New York Times - Travel, Dec 2010).
So, how can vacation rental businesses take advantage of this magnificent moment in the history of vacation rentals and convert their business into luxury boutique hotels? Please read below to find some tips and recommendations from Rentalo.com; the leading site for travelers to find short term accommodations. Ideally, the goal of every vacation rental business owner who wants to have their rental booked 52 weeks is to make their guests feel like they are staying in a luxurious hotel rather than a rental place where they have to bring their own pillows and toothbrushes.
"Going beyond the ordinary and paying attention to the small details is what makes the difference"says Natalia Richards, co-owner of Casa Castellana, a luxurious bed and breakfast in San Juan, Puerto Rico. "Travelers like to be pampered, and feel like they are totally taken care of".
In practical terms, here are some affordable tips and ideas to help you go the extra mile and make your guests feel special:
#1 - Make yourself available to your guests 24x7. From the time they pay the deposit, throughout their stay, and until their departure, be available. You may not be able to afford paying your staff to provide 24x7 concierge services to your guests, but consider this as a "cost of being in the hospitality business".
#2 - Think about perks you can offer that would be meaningful to your guests. Sometimes it takes a $5 dollar bottle of wine to create a life-lasting impression on your guests. Maybe you can afford more elaborate perks such as a red phone line to a concierge service desk.
#3 - Expand on amenities - Some businesses go around and team up with local restaurants and gyms to facilitate discounts and special services to their guests. Remember, you are not limited to what your specific property has to offer, you can think out-of-the-box.
#4 - Suggest places to visit and eat - Build a list of your favorite things to do in the area where your rental property is located, print a few copies, and leave them in your unit(s). You may also offer special tips e.g. If you go to x restaurant, ask for "x" dish, it's my favorite!
#5 - Build a list of local businesses & discounts -- For example, in ski destinations, guests need to rent ski equipment, so why not go around some shops and get some special deals and discounts for your guests? You can do the same with local restaurants, museums, parks, etc. .
The key to providing first-class service in the hospitality business lies in applying a very old yet important principle: to serve your guests as you would like to be served. Some business owners excel at this and their guests reviews show it. Others may need to make some changes to take advantage of 2011's predictions and consumer's expectations. At Rentalo, we hope that our listing owners can apply these helpful tips to their businesses and contribute to this great year for the hospitality business. As a service provider in this industry, Rentalo is looking forward to see its clients take their business to a higher level of service and make them successful.