Most people don’t really understand online and AI automation. They don’t even realize that most of what goes into managing rentals and vacation properties can be automated easily and inexpensively. They believe that automation is something which is reserved for larger businesses, something which is too expensive to implement, and generally out of reach of smaller hosts and hospitality managers. However, given how deeply every aspect of hosting is integrated with online services (It’s 2019 after all - everything is online), automation can save you tons of time. From handling guest engagement to proactively giving them tips and advice, to pushing them towards leaving positive reviews, automation can handle it all.
In an attempt to keep this blog post as concise as possible, I’ll stick to listing out a number of the common events which happen during almost every rental period, and the ways we were able to automate them and save time.
Pre Check-In Engagement: Guests need information before they check in. While a lot of this is in the listing itself, each unit has different types of locks, key locations, and quirks. Most hosts end up manually sending a number of text messages and emails before guests check in, and while this isn’t a huge hassle, it’s annoying to have to remember to schedule these things. Especially if you’re sending a few emails before they arrive, i.e. two days before, a day before, and a few hours before check-in.
As an early stage startup, we’re always adding new features, and one of the biggest things we’ve added and are perfecting is our integration with the AirBnN platform and the creation/automated sending of pre-arrival texts and emails. Hosts and managers can set up a sequence of messages and emails within Home Service, and we automatically send guests texts and emails before they check in, telling them how to get into the unit, what they need to know before they arrive, and quick first things they can do close to the unit to get a good sense of the area. The percentage of guests who actually go back to the listing and the AirBnB app to find this type of information is miniscule, so giving it to them proactively is almost a necessity. Automating it, therefore, saves you time! If you’d like to add more detailed instructions, pictures, and any additional media, you only have to do it once, and we take care of the rest.
In-Stay Question Answering: Every rental is different, every city is different, and all the details in between are different. As such, guests tend to have questions - lots of them, many of which can’t be preemptively answered by hosts while they’re helping guests check in or before they arrive. Therefore, it’s only natural for guests to message managers and hosts and get support for the things they need.
Each of these interactions, engagements, conversations, and communications takes up time. By enabling guests to interact with almost all of the information they’d ever need directly by chatting with the Home Service AI through their phone or the smart devices in the unit, hosts can completely automate most of the time-consuming things which happen during a guests stay. Managers with multiple properties have told us that they’ve been saving around 3 hours per week using Home Service!
Soliciting Feedback and Useful Information: Social proof is critical to growing a vacation rental business. What your guests say about you directly impacts how many bookings you have, the average price of a booking, and the rate at which you’re booked throughout the year. Many rentals are seasonal, but people travel all the time. That means that top-rated and most reviewed rentals in all price ranges are full almost all of the time. This volume and quality of feedback means that in the off seasons, when the majority of other units are empty, yours will be consistently occupied. People will travel year-round, and it’s important to be competitive not just in peak periods, but in off periods as well.
The increase in engagement and data collection can measurably drive 5-star reviews. For AirBnB, hosts need to maintain this high average if they don’t want to get kicked from the platform or de-ranked. Home Service AI and engagement automation can lead to 12-15% more top notch reviews and ensure you stay competitive at all times.
Guiding Curated Experiences: Guests are expecting more and more in terms of guided experiences when they’re staying in vacation rentals - it’s a big part of the appeal when compared to standard hotels and more classic experiences. By guiding the hosts in the process of creating a collection of curated content, and leveraging data on what other people are doing and enjoying, we can proactively give guests suggestions and ideas on what to do and see. This contributes immensely to the regularity of 5-star reviews, and is proven to be a very competitive way to get more guests, and higher paying ones at that.
Vacation rental automation has the potential to save hosts tons of time and money, and to drive the types of experiences and events which guests love and which they will talk about, write about, and review. Business realities state that hosts should maximize occupancy rates, nightly prices, and minimize regular upkeep and time spent. If there’s a way to do all that, in addition to providing a better experience for guests, isn’t that a no-brainer?