When running vacation rentals, it’s so important to optimize your operations so things run smoothly for both your guests and back-of-house. Choosing automation for certain steps of the process, like initial communication, booking, transfers and even home appliances, can help you gain precious time and give added value to your guests. As we are currently in a global pandemic and staffing is limited, it’s more important now than ever to find hacks and automations that will help your property management business run like clockwork.
So, whether you’re running a large vacation rental property and are looking to lighten the load, or you’re looking for tips for your Airbnb business, we’ve got you covered with these 5 automation tricks to help optimize recurring tasks, increase efficiency and minimize costs.
1. Automate guest communication
Guest communication is one of the most important aspects of vacation rentals, but it’s also one of the most time-consuming. If you’re also using platforms like Airbnb for your property management, great customer service is so important. Airbnb takes into account response rate when awarding owners with Superhost status, so automating this aspect of your business could get you a higher rank and more bookings.
What if we tell you that you could automate 90% of your guest communication using services such as Guesty. Automated communication technology has come so far that they can now sort messages according to urgency, create personalised sign-offs and even leave positive reviews for your guests after their stay. However, if utilizing a vacation rental software is a little too high-tech for you, there are some simple options that can help you automate guest communication and save time.
Creating message templates for some of the major stages in the booking process is a great option. You can have general responses for initial enquiries, FAQs, booking confirmation and even check-out review correspondence ready to go. You can then choose to send these messages manually or import them into an email CRM that will send auto-response emails to your guest depending on their action or stage in booking. Automated emails are a great way to give useful information about the property after a guest has booked, thank a guest for staying with you and request a review if that guest enjoyed their stay.
2. Self-check-in any time
Automating your check-in process is one of the biggest tips for your Airbnb or vacation rental business. Having check-in automation will save you lots of time on the key hand-off and will allow your guests the freedom to check in easily as soon as they arrive. You won’t have to worry about arranging meetings, schedule conflicts or late arrivals again. There are lots of different ways to add check-in automation, such as physical lock-boxes, keypad locks, smart locks and key exchange services.
One of the easiest ways to automate the process is by adding a lock-box or keypad-lock outside your property. In both cases, you will need to send your guest an individual code so they can either open the door by punching in the digits to the keypad or by using them to open the lock-box containing the physical key. Adding a lockbox to your property is quick, easy and requires the least amount of time or monetary investment. However, there are slightly more secure ways to automate your guest’s check-in.
Using smart-locks is the newest and most technologically advanced way to add check-in automation to your vacation rental. Brands such as Lynx allow your guests to open the door of your property using just their smartphone. This is also one of the most secure locks as you can manage exactly who has access to your property based on their phone. However, this option does require a higher monetary investment and needs your guest to have a smartphone with sufficient battery.
Your final option doesn’t require any technology at all. With key exchange services like KeyNest or Keycafe, your guests can pop into a local cafe or store and be given the keys by a member of staff. There are thousands of secure key exchange places to choose from and many can fully integrate with your PMS.
3. Smart-home automation
Automating your vacation rental’s appliances is one of the best ways to save money on utilities and give added value to your guests during their stay. Turning on lights, heating or air-conditioning just before guests arrive gives a welcoming, homely feel to their stay and with smart home technology, you can do it with one click on your smartphone or tablet. This means that you don’t even need to be near your property to manage your guest’s experience.
Adding automatic timers or sensors to lights and heating can also save you money as guests don’t need to remember to switch things off when they leave for the day or checkout. Automation of your vacation property doesn’t need to be expensive. With devices such as Google Home and Alexa with programs like SmartThings, you can upgrade to a smart home easily and control it all with your smartphone.
4. Friendly transfer automation
Using a world-renowned, 5-star transfer service like Welcome Pickups for Vacation Rentals can help you automate your guest’s transfers while increasing your earnings per apartment. Not only will your guests have direct access to a personalized page, making them feel comfortable and familiarised, but they will also get to enjoy a seamless transfer to your property, giving added value to their overall experience with you. Taking the time to make phone calls, schedule taxi companies and organise private transfers can eat away at your day and create an operational disaster for you and your team. That’s why Welcome Pickups have created an all-in-one app to automate and manage everything regarding the arrival process of your guests, in one easy to access place. As Welcome Pickups will also provide you with accurate airport pickup and arrival to the property times, it makes the check-in process much smoother.
5. Secure luggage storage
One of the most difficult things for small vacation renters to manage is luggage storage. However, issues with early arrivals, late check-outs and other turnover problems are a thing of the past with pre-booked luggage storage. Companies such as Stasher offer secure places for your guests to store their luggage before and after their stay, so they can continue enjoying the last moments of their vacation or begin exploring before they officially check-in. Automating luggage storage saves you time from dealing with countless requests, gives more incentive to your guests to book with you, and gives added value to their stay, which only leads to happier guests and glowing reviews.
As a property manager, your daily life can be extremely hectic and stressful. However, with these 5 tips, you can make automating your property management business a breeze, allowing you to optimize your operations, increase guest satisfaction, make more money and save time for other important tasks.