You are not a hotel and that’s why your guests have chosen your vacation rental property – but boy are they demanding! They still expect all or many of the attributes of a hotel but with the added charm and personal flavour of a private home. Once they have chosen your property for its location/amenities/style, they have also left the relative anonymity of the booking platform – and this is where you can shine and make a difference to the hospitality experience! And I don’t mean this from an amenity perspective. Unlike with a hotel there is no standardized pillow offering or bar service. With an interactive guestbook you have an opportunity not only to create your own brand, but also provide reassurance as well as the most precious of all joys embodied in the German term “Vorfreude”: the joy of anticipation. And you can do this with the way you provide information and a truly personalised welcome.
A lot of your guests’ pre-vacation experience depends on solid and positive communications. And that includes not only the details of how to reach your property, but also information about the property, activities and restaurants carefully curated and presented by you. The more personal this welcome is, the more it will be appreciated. You may include a personal video message and for guests from other countries our platform lets your guests choose their language.
Who can resist the pull of a short video? This is the simple premise that youtube’s fortunes are built on and businesses all over the world have built impressive video libraries because it is so much easier and effective to package up a message or a description or instructions visually. Even more so if those videos are entertaining, funny or have emotional appeal.
It is only recently that the vacation rental community has cottoned on and now video is seen as the new frontier where images have previously ruled. Of course!! Videos are the perfect vehicle to showcase a vacation rental property – either as an animated slide-show with images strung together to create greater visual impact or fully-fledged videos featuring all aspects of the property. These range from a video itinerary to a fly-over with a drone and on a more mundane level short instructions on how to re-ignite the boiler or how to use the various remote controls of your entertainment system. These latter ones are certainly more effective than a lengthy write up in a guestbook.
But who is using video and how widespread is this? The reality is that few platforms who promote holiday rentals offer video uploads or are just beginning like homeaway, who allow you to add a URL. While the big players will pave the way on the vacation rental promotional side, there is an opportunity for smart rental owners to differentiate themselves by using video to help their clients acquaint themselves with the property before and during their stay. This is where the video itinerary comes in: It not only helps where a property is difficult to find, it can also serve as an “appetizer” to showcase the drive up to a property. And of course video is very helpful for instructions within the property which you would not upload to Airbnb or other platforms – this type of information is relatively sensitive and therefore the perfect place for this is a digital guestbook. Making your guestbook interactive in this way lends a whole new quality and dimension to the guest experience: by offering short video insights your guests can familiarize themselves with the property and its surroundings and it not only helps them with planning, it also creates a sense of anticipation and reassurance – and helps with to connect emotionally to their holiday.
If you thought this means going on a course to learn how to create professional videos – knock yourself out! But in my own experience, your average smart phone makes it easy to shoot and create sufficiently high quality footage. So have a go, start with a short, simple video, get some feedback from your guests and build a small library from there – the easiest way to present these is of course through the digital guestbook.
Have you wondered how much your holiday home is already exposed through advertising on online platforms?
All those lovely pictures, the inventory, the calendar and of course the map – it would not be too difficult for anyone with criminal intentions to target your home when it is unoccupied – or indeed when it is occupied and your guests are having a day at the playa.
Even more important then to protect the more sensitive information such as detailed directions to the property, your wifi password, access codes and instructions on amenities in the property. As a host and a guest of holiday rentals I have seen this information in various formats: either as part of a very detailed email, more professionally all bundled up in a pdf with images and maps or simply in text form via the online advertising platform’s messaging service.
These delivery methods are quite fragmented and not very effective as the information has to be printed out before departure and is not readily on hand. Once guests arrive there is usually a guestbook with further instructions and recommendations. This whole process could be a lot smoother with a secure link to an interactive Guest & Travel Guide which can be sent to guests before arrival and contains all the information they need before and during their stay. And it can be personalized with photos and videos and updated at any time – not just when the owners are at the property and make edits to a paper-based guidebook. So protect your property from too much online exposure and enhance the guest experience by creating an interactive Guest & Travel Guide!
The Hostissimo logo is inspired by the scallop shell which has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. It is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James in the Cathedral Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Since the Middle Ages many have followed its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat. These days it is mostly popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts.
The scallop shell acted as a metaphor and also had very practical purposes: The grooves in the shell, which meet at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination. The shell is also seen along the trails on posts and signs to guide pilgrims along the way. And it is seen on the pilgrims themselves: Most pilgrims received a shell at the beginning of their journey and either sewed it onto their clothes or wore it around their neck. The scallop shell was also used to drink or eat from.
For the modern traveler and holiday maker the idea of the scallop shell still holds true: While spiritual enlightenment may not be the ultimate goal, expectations are high for the precious few days or weeks off work. Relaxation, recreation and regeneration are high on the wish list and that includes a stress-free journey and very often a “home from home” in a warmer climate or exotic environment. As more and more people opt for holiday homes rather than hotels, they have come to expect exceptional and personalized service and smart hosts have embraced this challenge. Like the grooves of the scallop shell the Hostissimo logo symbolizes the various strands of information or paths that will guide your guests and help them prepare for and enjoy their holiday fully. It is a great tool to manage those guest relations just like the owners of the inns alongside the Camino who still attach the shell to their houses to welcome pilgrims.