7 Ways To Increase Repeat Bookings By Developing Guest Relationships

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You must know the old business adage – it costs five times more to gain a new customer than to persuade a current one to spend again. As a holiday rental owner, you’ll find this is as true as in any other sector. It’s all about developing guest relationships. Not only is a satisfied guest more likely to return. Crucially, they’ll write great reviews, and they’ll talk about their positive experience. Who would argue that word-of-mouth isn’t the most cost-effective marketing strategy of all?

Let’s look at the importance of guest relations and how to develop them so that your guests re-book your holiday rental property again and again.

7 ways to establish and maintain good relations with your guests

1. Customer or guest?

Let’s begin by answering a simple question – what is a holiday ‘guest’? Your accountant might refer to them as ‘customers’, but the clever trick is not to make them feel like customers at all. Far better, from the very first contact, to make them feel as though they are literally your ‘guests’ – that you have invited them into your home as you would invite your friends. Get this small, yet significant, step right, and you’ll be halfway to developing guest relationships that are long-lasting and fruitful.

2. Time to get personal

Before developing a relationship with your holiday guests, you need to establish one. This needs to happen at the very beginning – from the very first contact. It could follow an actual booking or a simple enquiry. Either way, the response you give to your potential guest will be key to both your future relationship and to how much they eventually spend with you.

Your booking software will, of course, have an auto-response facility. Your guest will receive an email as soon as they’ve booked. But don’t leave it at that. As soon as you can, call them. Make it a proper conversation. Ask them about their potential stay? Are they celebrating an anniversary? Is it a family reunion? Have they visited the location before? Did they have a good time? How do they plan to spend their time when they visit? Do they have any special interests?

Don’t just fire questions at them. Listen actively to the answers and jot them down. Let’s say they plan to take in a particular gallery, museum or historical site. How impressed will they be if, on their arrival, they find a book, brochure or DVD with information about that very place? Have they expressed an interest in trying out the local food? Make sure you let them have a list of your own personal favourites.

Your aim is to create the best first impression that you possibly can – one that they won’t forget. But that’s just the start …

3. Delight

Delight your guests before they leave home. Give them a call a day or two before they depart, and wish them a safe journey. Ask them if there’s anything special they need on arrival.

4. Impress

Impress your guests when they arrive. Try and arrange for a personal welcome – either from you or an employee or a friendly neighbour. They may well be tired after their journey, so don’t outstay your welcome. Just be there for long enough to show them around and settle them in. You could make them a drink and perhaps present them with a bottle of wine.

Your property must be immaculate in every way. Spotless. The beds need to be large and comfortable with fresh bed linen. There should be plenty of generous-sized towels too. Your property must feel warm and welcoming in every way. Provide a pack of essentials – tea, coffee, milk, biscuits etc. – so your guests don’t have to immediately go shopping after their journey.

Make sure also that they feel comfortable about contacting you during their stay, should there be any problems or in case they have any questions.

5. End with a flourish

Arrange for yourself or someone else to send them on their way. Make sure you show an interest in how their stay has gone and show them how much you value their custom … and their friendship. It’s important at this stage to keep things non-commercial and friendly –  don’t at this stage mention reviews and testimonials. Leave that for when they arrive home.

6. When they arrive home

This is when you need to send an email thanking them for visiting. This is the time to invite them to post online reviews. Make it easy. Include links to the relevant review sites and social media platforms.

Design a survey – using Survey Monkey, for example – in which you can find out what went well during their stay and what didn’t. Consider offering a repeat booking discount as a reward for completing the survey. Once they’ve returned it, respond positively to their feedback and thank them for taking the trouble to complete the survey.

Remember to keep the whole email personal and authentic. Make it more than just a copy/paste template. Include one or two kind, personal comments, ensuring that you come across as genuinely appreciative.

7. Refer a friend incentive

Consider offering your guests a reduction off their next booking if they refer a friend. Just a token discount will be enough to make them feel good about reinforcing the relationship they have with you. You could also offer a loyalty discount for booking direct with you.

Developing guest relationships should be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. By taking these seven simple steps, you’ll massively increase your chances of repeat business. By enthusiastically spreading the word, your guests will become your own marketing team at a fraction of the cost of any other customer acquisition strategy.

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