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Property Manager enhancing Vacation Rental Experiences

As AirBnB, HomeAway, FlipKey and other major booking sites continue to invest billions on market growth, vacation rental inventory continues to surge.

Limitless inventory, streamlined booking engines, and little property differentiation from the guest perspective has us on a path to the commoditization of the vacation rental.  In a commodity market a property manager cannot differentiate themselves through meticulous property maintenance, bookings, and addressing guest issues during the stay.  These core services that were once deemed a competitive advantage, are now the expectation.  

The professional property manager is gently yielding control of the booking and are left with less margin as the players upstream take their cut.

For the professional manager, the booking continues to be an obligatory duty, but it becomes less significant in the value proposition to the owner.  With increasingly more bookings being fulfilled by the major listing sites, this once critical role is relinquishing its dependence on the PM.  As a result, charges plummet and the property manager must shift focus to opportunities that provide value on each side of the booking.

The booking should be thought of as the opportunity to provide value, rather than the value itself.

Major listing sites become the channel, or partner, by which the property manager secures the booking, thus allowing the PM to provide value through the experience.  The narrative needs to be less about the property or booking, and more about the experience they are uniquely qualified to create for ‚Äčthe guest. 

How can the property manager create strategic, personalized, memorable experiences that result in repeat bookings?  How can the management company enhance the guest experience, provide it at a fair price, and turn a profit for the effort?  Plucking additional revenue from a booking is not revolutionary, but it will consume the most valuable asset we have, time.  Economies of scale need to be realized, and this is where technology fits in.

Technology should be used to make our jobs easier, not more complicated.  Technology should also help our team members to become rock stars in their role, not strive to replace them.  With these initiatives in mind, let’s try to envision an application that can:

  • Pull confirmed reservations from the property management system 30-days prior to check-in
  • Queue up an email to the guest communicating that all is coming together for their stay, but asking if there items we could have delivered to the room prior to check-in or experiences we recommend they reserve for their stay.
  • Start with items from the past trips for repeat guests, but offer examples of experiences or items that previous guests at the property have utilized such as bike, umbrella, fishing trip, etc..
  • With one click, the guest can be browsing a complete inventory of rental items and experiences available to them through the property manager.
  • The guest has option to add to and remove items on the reservation up to and during their stay.
  • A credit card transaction is completed as part of the ecommerce checkout process, so there is no need for collections at a later date.
  • The reservation for all items purchased is sent to the property manager, and scheduled for delivery and pick-up to the property.
  • On the day of check-in, the items appear on a truck load report so that they can be included on the delivery truck that will be servicing that area.
  • Each applicable item is delivered to the property along with other items needed at check-in.
  • Upon pickup, the paid invoice with all transaction data is pushed into accounting for records.
  • A follow-up email is scheduled for the guest confirmation to communicate that all items have been received and we would value the opportunity to serve them in the future.

This is an opportunity to not only make the guest’s vacation experience memorable, but also a low cost revenue source for a trip to the property you are already making (i.e. make the beds, drop of essentials).  As the competition is competing on price, the forward thinking property manager is already generating revenues on the experience and positioning for repeat bookings.