In the vacation home investment business, reputation is critical. As a new investor, your reputation is something that develops over time. The most effective way to establish a reputation that keeps on growing is to provide a consistently high level of quality across the board, from the very first booking.
Many short term property investors are so busy focusing on increasing bookings and profit that they can sometimes fail to take into account the importance that reputation plays in attracting more guests. If you provide your guests with only the bare minimum, you can reasonably expect them to rate you to the bare minimum. If you never strive to improve your property, marketing efforts and overall service, instead assuming that guests will book simply because vacation homes in your area are in high demand, you will never develop a reputation. Not a good one, anyway!
How do you go about establishing the right sort of reputation? And, what can you do to keep your vacation home investment top of guests’ minds?
How to Establish a Reputation for Your Vacation Home Investment
Before we get onto sharing our tips, it helps to understand exactly what is meant by reputation. The dictionary definition describes reputation as the estimation in which a person or thing is held, by the community or the public. Quite simply, it is how your or your property is seen by the outside world. A poor reputation could include frequently negative reviews about dismal service, lack of maintenance or an ugly apartment or villa. A good reputation could include glowing reviews and recommendations from happy guests who have enjoyed their stay, just about every time they make a booking. Guests are far more likely to book accommodation that has a strong reputation than they are accommodation that does not have much of a reputation.
Some of the ways that you can help to foster a good reputation for your vacation home investment include the following:
1/ Provide a consistent experience for guests.
Without fail, the single most important factor in rentals that have a good reputation is the level of service that they provide to guests. If you take the time to welcome guests on arrival, answer queries politely and helpfully (and promptly), deal with guests in a way that is friendly and engaging, and generally make them feel at home, your guests will very likely have a positive experience during their stay. The keyword here is consistent however. Going out of your way to impress one set of guests, and then not bothering to provide the next set of guests with decent service is not the same as providing every single person with the best possible experience.
2/ Encourage and promote guest reviews.
Reviews are the lifeblood of the vacation home investment business. Prospective guests are often swayed by reviews, which can work in your favour… or to your disadvantage. Bad service, poor facilities and rental scams are just some of the things that can lead to angry, negative reviews. If left online, you will have no way of removing these – especially if they are on private social media profiles or consumer complaints boards. You can encourage guest reviews by first ensuring that your guests have a memorably stay for all the right reasons, and then politely asking them if they would mind leaving a review. Once you have amassed plenty of reviews, you can then promote them far and wide, on social media, your website and anywhere else appropriated.
3/ Go over and beyond expectation.
Think about an experience you have had where an accommodation host, restaurant or hospitality service has impressed you beyond any expectation. Chances are high that you shared the experience with your friends and family. You may have recommended that service provider to everyone you spoke to, and may continue to do so, even years afterward. Now think about how you can go beyond the call of duty to impress your guests. Perhaps it is a personalised guide to your city. Maybe it is custom welcome pack that includes extras for the kids. It could be a fridge stocked full of your guests’ favourite foods, a concierge team that bends over backwards to help guests plan their vacations. Unexpected touches leave lasting impressions, which in turn all contribute towards your reputation.
4/ Work towards improving your tourism grading.
Tourism gradings are an internationally recognised ranking factor that helps guests find the very best places to stay. A number of things are considered by grading councils, from the facilities to the service. Find out how you can improve your tourism grading, and then work hard towards obtaining a 5-star rating. At the very least, this will help you continue to provide your guests with a high quality accommodation option, even if you don’t quite get all 5 stars. This is a worthy long-term goal to aspire to that can do great things for growing your reputation.
5/ Invest in an experienced vacation rental manager.
Wondering how to tick off most of the points above? Working with an experienced vacation rental manager is easily one of the simplest ways to grow your reputation without doing all the work. A good manager will provide everything from professional photography to marketing, day to day management, guest concierge, bookings management and more. Properties managed under an established manager’s portfolio have the added benefit of an established reputation. This is great news for new investors who have not yet had the time or experience to build standing in the industry, but it’s also good for investors who wish to rebrand a purchased vacation investment that has a poor rating, as well as those who have been around for years but want to improve their reach.
If that sounds like something you’d like to explore, Totalstay is here to help. We provide bespoke vacation rental management services in Cape Town, working with some of the city’s top apartments, villas and aparthotels. From promotion to management, bookings, guest services and so much more, we take the stress out of management, leaving you free to enjoy the fruits of your investment. To learn more about our unique approach to vacation home investment, simply contact us today to arrange an evaluation of your property.