It goes without saying that every property owner wants to have repeat business for their short-term rental.
Why? Well, it’s obvious when you think about it. Repeat business means less work attracting and assessing potential tenants, less time spent on administrative correspondence, and less vacancies at your property throughout the year.
So how do you go about improving the re-booking rate of your short-term rental? What can you do to get satisfied customers to return while also increasing the market value of your property?
The good news is there are three easy ways you can help generate repeat bookings, to not only boost your income, but also drive personal recommendations for your rental. As a host, you have the ability to stand out from your competition simply by providing irresistible incentives and returning a little love to your guests.
Let’s take a look…
1. Make your listing shine
There’s always bound to be competition when you list your short-term rental on property booking sites – so list it as attractively as possible. Also, list it on as many sites as you can, even the less popular ones. What you are doing here is maximising your odds of finding new tenants and standing out from the crowd.
The first thing that you’ll need is a great headline and cover photo. When renters are scrolling through their list of search results, those are the first two things that they’ll see. Your photo should be a professionally-styled shot that looks inviting enough to make people click on your listing. Your header should be short, concise, catchy and intriguing. It shouldn’t give everything away upfront – just enough to arouse curiosity and reflect the unique experience that you have to offer.
When it comes to getting repeat bookings, the main benefit of creating a distinctive listing or paying for a professional photo shoot is that it becomes easy for existing tenants to find you again. Also, when they recommend your place to friends, family or colleagues, they have a great-looking link to back up the praises they’re singing.
While your listing should never change at its core, don’t be afraid to add thoughtful seasonal extras such as a romantic fireside wine hamper in the depths of winter, or free vouchers to neighbourhood yoga classes in spring. During the festive season, change your main photo to one that shows a Christmas tree in focus, or offer a fully-decorated ‘Santa’ room for a special price. People are more likely to return if they think they’re getting a familiar but uniquely customised experience every time.
2. Nail your marketing strategy
By getting the word out there on social media channels or through email newsletters, as well as posting about your property’s availability on multiple sites, you’re bound to reach a much wider audience than if you just concentrate on a few popular sites.
Your marketing strategy should have a two-fold approach: you want to appeal to new tenants and also create a lasting relationship with existing tenants. What most people, regardless of their walk of life, are looking for when they search for a short-term rental is that elusive ‘home away from home’ feeling. The main reason they return to a short-term rental again and again is because it delivers on this count.
As a host, you can befriend your potential and existing guests in one easy move simply by providing warm, engaging updates as part of your marketing strategy. Create a monthly email newsletter which past and potential guests can sign up to for to receive news about local events, rental discounts and residential developments. This will make them feel like they have a figurative stake in your property’s affairs, plus former guests will love seeing the property through changing seasons. Familiarity breeds nostalgia, and by posting about local and lesser-known events, you will also promote the sense of exclusivity that comes with your rental experience.
Social media can also help you cultivate lasting relationships with guests as well as provide a space for them to post about their positive experiences. It’s a great platform for you to get to know your guests before, during and after their stay, and to give them an idea of what you’re like as a host. A well-maintained fan page or account will help you stay in the forefront of a guest’s mind every time they’re planning a trip away.
3. Reward return guests
A great tactic for getting return bookings at your rental property is to offer some compelling incentives. Take a careful look at your competition – what are similar properties priced at? Consider offering special discounts and other incentives for return guests to show how happy you are to see them again.
You could go for a 10% or 15% discount on bookings for repeat visitors, or show you appreciate them with other rewards such as a complimentary wine hamper on their third stay or a free breakfast service every morning when they stay with you a second time.
These sort of gestures go a long way in people’s minds and give you a distinct edge over the competition. Think about how much more likely coffee drinkers are to return to a particular cafe if they have a coffee coupon card that entitles them to a free beverage every fifth order. Providing special incentives to return guests operates on exactly the same principle.
People like to be treated like royalty, and love to be treated to special extra touches or complimentary services. Advertise that you go the extra mile for your returning guests and make sure you actually do so – this is how you win loyalty and keep your property booked out all year round.
If you’re worried about losing money through offering discounts, know that it pays dividends in positive reviews. People will be much more likely to take a punt on your place if reviews that previous guests have written are glowing and abundant. Ask your repeat guests to reward you in return by writing you a review or recommendation – chances are they’ll feel flattered and happily do so. The majority of consumers today rely on online reviews when it comes to places to stay, places to eat, places to visit and places to shop, so having positive reviews about your rental from repeat guests is extraordinarily valuable for future business.
Using the above tips, you’ll be able to improve the re-booking rate of your property with ease. As a host, standing out from the crowd just takes a little extra care and consideration, and a willingness to return the love down the line. In return, you’ll enjoy a steady income and the warm sense of satisfaction that comes with a successful short-term rental.