There are several small grocery shops on my street. All of them have very similar assortment of products and prices, however, only one of them, the shop on the corner has a long line of people every time I pass by. Many ask themselves, why is that? The answer is very simple. It all comes down to an excellent customer service. Owners of this lovely place know the names of each customer, are extremely nice and always have smiles on their faces. Why should I go next door, if here they know exactly what I want to buy and will make my day by having a nice chat with me?
I always repeat to people that no matter how many competitors their business has, they will always be on top of everyone else as long as they provide their clients with the best service there can be. It may sound as cliché, but I believe it’s true what they say that “good customer service is the bread and butter of any business“.
So, once you already got your bookings for the season, your job is to make sure your clients will absolutely love your vacation rental and will want to come back. As your “first buyers” come, you only have one chance to make a good impression on them. How to build a database of loyal customers who will return to your vacation rental?
In our business the key is in details and providing guests with an additional service that they cannot get anywhere else. Little touches can make a huge difference and distinguish your property from your competition. Here are some details that can make your vacation home stand out above others:
- Warm welcome. Be at your vacation home when your guests arrive. Help them with the luggage and show them around. It would be nice if you knew their names so that you can greet them personally. If you cannot welcome your guests personally, have someone you trust to do it or leave a hand written welcome note.
- Be their home away from home. Make sure all the appliances are working well (coffee maker, BBQ, TV etc) and offer as much as you can to keep their packing of the car to a minimum ( e. x.: pillows, bedding, towels). Offer a fully-equipped kitchen with spices and condiments, your guests might want to cook something sophisticated at times.
- Offer Extras. Be prepared for every kind of weather. Raining? Prepare board games, puzzles, books and DVD movies. Leave a bag of microwave popcorn in the kitchen as well. Time for the beach? Chairs, soft drinks in the fridge and beach towels are some ideas. Let your guests know what you offer.
- Show them around. Make a list of things to do in your area and share this information with your guests. Be sure to have itinerary of any special events happening in your area that your guests might want to take part in. Also, provide them with restaurant recommendations, maps and transportation information.
- Cater to all kinds of guests. Guests with children and large families? Be prepared and offer high chairs for kids, a cradle, even beach toys as well as big picnic tables with extra chairs for family meals.
- Go an extra mile. Keep a register of all your guests and send them a nice message before the next season starts. There is large room for creativity here. You can offer special promotions and discounts as well as send your guests Christmas wishes.
How can you know your guests enjoyed their stay and found everything perfect? At the end of their stay, it’s an ideal time to ask for feedback. (Although I think a guestbook is the subject of a separate post, I will just mention it.) If you do not have a guest book yet, make sure you start one and have guests write down their experiences. It’s a good thing to make it easily accessible for guests to leave comments at anytime and not to pressure anyone. If they are satisfied, you will hear about it for sure. Make sure to let your guests know their review might be posted online to help other travelers.
Finally, when you send your guests away happy, they will most likely pass positive feedback along to others and WILL come back next year. Although great customer service is supposed to be part of every business, it is really hard to come across unrivalled services these days! The clue is wanting to go that extra mile. Can you?