A how-to guide for multi-property owners
Companies must be prepared to change to stay on top. COVID showed us that.
It meant our industry had to be agile enough to adapt to changes with speed. Being agile is a skill. Being able to identify and launch new strategies and techniques takes practice. And being able to do this puts us in good stead for the future.
So, as we slowly re-open our industry in many locations across the globe, where will we find inspiration for these next changes? A competitor? An industry expert? I’d suggest looking further afield for ideas. You will find that innovative practices are already in place in other industries, just waiting to inspire you.
In this article, I propose looking at industries outside of ours and adopting ideas that can transform vacation rental businesses if adapted well. I will illustrate this with some real examples to get you started.
The first important question to explore is why you should look outside of holiday rentals. To answer this question, you’d need to know that I’ve worked in 4 distinct industries in my professional career. I’ve consistently been able to take innovations from one industry throughout it and apply them in my next role.
In my experience, other industries do things differently. They have different experiences, are exposed to different problems, and have different perspectives. And this means that they have created some amazing solutions that you can adapt to your business.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
Want to offer smooth guest experiences? Take a look at the Hotel industry
In response to growing competition from the holiday rentals industry, hotels have been swift to make changes. New services incorporate some of the best features from holiday rentals, right up to horizontal movement into offering holiday rentals of their own. The biggest example of this is the new launch of Homes & Villas by Marriott, which provides holiday rentals across the globe.
What can you learn from their way of working? A few years back, I came across the post-check-in automated email being used as standard in the hotel industry. At that time, I hadn’t heard of any property managers sending this highly valuable email.
Hotels are also adept in providing attractive guest referral schemes and loyalty programs. I’ve started seeing these being used very effectively for holiday rentals, ideal for savvy property managers wanting to attract more repeat bookings.
I’d suggest looking at the slick processes that hotels have mastered. Consider how their processes could provide a better experience for your guests.
Want to build better relationships? Check out the Design industry
It’s important to build brand recognition for your company, and building better relationships with your guests and partners is a big part of it. It takes new guests and turns them into advocates for your business. Take a leaf from the book of companies who are leading the way in this regard.
For this, I would suggest spending time on the social media of design companies. I really like how Canva works hard to build strong relationships with its customers. They use tactics like interviews with employees, including the very cool #CanvaChallenge videos, examples of clients’ work, and posts about the environmental issues they are passionate about. They ask questions to encourage interaction and provide design tips to add value. All of this by way of establishing their brand’s persona so that potential customers with similar values find it easy to align with them.
Adobe runs high-impact competitions, design support, client recommendations, tips and fun questions.
As design companies, they are all about imagery, and that’s something that really works well in holiday rentals.
What’s interesting is that they’re not just talking about themselves. They spend the majority of their time talking about their clients and their partners. That’s a technique that property managers can use, too, by collaborating with partners, local companies, and providers and sharing content around them.
Social media has a significant part in building relationships, not only with guests but also with potential partners. By working closely with partners, you’ll add more value for your guests. It’s a win-win.
The final point is looking at the comments. You’ll see that there are conversations, which encourage engagement and can be a great source for insight. So when you share posts, stick around to reply to comments and get involved in conversations.
Looking to step up your sustainability? Try the Furniture industry
Sustainability is important. The tourism industry has its part to play in reducing emissions and supporting its guests to do the same. You can check out Tourism Declares for more information on how others are already making a difference.
If you are looking for inspiration from other industries on greening your vacation rental business, start with Ikea. I’ve singled them out because they are making big changes using a variety of techniques.
To start, they’re changing how they get their electricity and now increasingly using solar panels.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you rush out to buy solar panels (although this could be an option!); an easy change here is to ask your electricity provider to swap you to a sustainable package. The price is usually comparable.
Ikea is also reviewing its suppliers to make its products from ethical materials. In holiday rentals, there are so many opportunities to look at this, from toilet rolls to cleaning products, to the company that hosts your websites.
This is an article all of it’s own and I’ll return to it later.
Want repeat business? Look at the loyalty in the Supermarkets industry
The supermarket industry stands out for its capability to tailor product offers and suggestions for each customer.
Supermarkets haven’t always done this. The introduction of loyalty cards in the 90s created the opportunity to gather individual customer behaviour data on a mass scale. This data means that supermarkets know what your favourite drinks are, when you go shopping, what your budget is, and have infinitely more insights.
Being able to individually tailor offers to your guests and really personalise your message to them will reap really positive results. Collating and using data can help you make a guest feel special when they arrive, remind them that you care about their birthday or other special occasions, and put you in the forefront of their mind when they’re thinking about booking a trip next.
So take a peek at your supermarkets emails, clubcard offers, and loyalty processes for inspiration for your business.
These are just a few examples of other industries that can inspire your next move. There are many other similarly wonderful ideas that you can look at for inspiration to improve your business processes. Heinz is wonderful at entering into conversations with their visitor and using humorous images to encourage engagement with their brand. Dove works really hard on creating personal content with lots of social messages.
So make a start with social media. Have an active look at different companies across a range of industries, and keep your eyes open for great ideas in unusual places. When you find such an idea, dedicate time to consider their ideas by asking questions like:
- Could you modify that technique for you?
- Would that process add value to your guest?
- Could you save money by adjusting your processes?
To finish off this article, my final tip on making changes is this; don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Even mistakes can be useful. They’ll take you down avenues and teach you new skills. So be brave, be adventurous and good luck.