PODCAST: Breaking Down The Latest HomeAway Changes With Our Friend Amy Hinote of VRM Intel

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It’s been a week since HomeAway announced some major updates to their channel causing a pretty emotional reaction among LiveRez partners. (ICYMI: See their latest online booking and guest communication updates.)

So, what’s really happening here? And, what does it mean for the future of the industry? We reached outside the LiveRez network to help connect the dots.

In our latest podcast, Amy Hinote, founder and editor of VRM Intel, joins us to talk misconceptions about listings sites, what you can expect to see next and how there might just be a silver lining in all of this.

Next Steps

As promised in the podcast, stay tuned for more tips, tricks and resources for talking to your owners about the role that listing sites play in your marketing strategy.

But, before you talk to your owners, take a good hard look at where exactly your bookings are coming from. What will it take for you to step up your game, build your brand and increase your direct bookings? These resources will help you get started:

Asked and Answered: Am I Too Dependant on Listing Sites? – VRM Intel
9 Simple Hacks to Get More Direct Bookings – LiveRez Blog
Listing Site Independence – Matt Landau, Vacation Rental Marketing Blog

What do you think?

Is there a misconception about the dominance of listing sites? Or, are they really going to be the most prevalent channel for booking vacation rentals in the future? Weigh in below!

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more.

At LiveRez, we take our partnership with each and every one of our property managers seriously. We believe in the power of community and teamwork, and, together with our partners, we win as a team.

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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9 Things You Can Do Today to Cut Down on Unnecessary Guest Questions

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Okay, we’re all friends here. Let’s keep it real.

Some days, you’re on it. You have time to greet your guests when they arrive and you tackle guest requests left and right. Heck, you even have time to post the #perfect pic on your new company Instagram account.

But, when busy season hits, all bets are off. When it’s all you can do to get your guests in and out in a somewhat organized fashion, the flood of calls and emails from guests with yet another question about the WiFi password can just about send you over the edge.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. We reached out to some property manager all-stars to discover their secrets for mitigating the seemingly endless guest phone calls. Here’s what they had to say.

BEAT YOUR GUESTS TO THE PUNCH

The guest experience starts before they step foot in the home. Make a personal call to your guests a day or two before arrival to make sure they have received the arrival instructions and answer any last-minute questions. – Matthew Tesdall, Family Time Vacation Rentals

You know your guests will have questions when they first arrive, so why wait for them to call? Reach out an hour or so after they check in. This way you can address any questions right up front. – Emily Carrico, Seabrook Cottage Rentals

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Don’t have the staff to make post-arrival calls? Consider keeping the line of communication open via email. Set up a CRM message to automatically send out one day after they arrive to see if there is anything you can do or if there are issues that need to be taken care of. –  Matthew Tesdall, Family Time Vacation Rentals

Regardless of how you communicate with guests, what’s important is to identify any issues right at the beginning of the stay. Exceeding guest expectations right off the bat really helps to give guests the experience of staying in a professionally managed home. Show them the difference! – Mark Tolan, Seaside Vacation Homes

ELIMINATE COMMON QUESTIONS

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Question #1: “How do you work this dang TV?”

Ask housekeeping to turn the TV on to a music channel before the guests arrive, so you know it’s already set to the right input. – David Angotti, SmokyMountains.com

Take a picture of the TV/DVD player remotes. Then, create a custom instructional sheet with the photos and step-by-step operational instructions that can be placed on the coffee table in front of the TV. – Justin Ford, On the Water in Maine

Question #2: “What’s the WiFi password?”

Send the WiFi password in a pre-arrival email using the new CRM WiFi macro, so they have it handy when they check-in. – Debbie Lipscomb, Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals

Set your WiFi passwords so they’re the same for all units. This way your team can answer WiFi password questions quickly. You can also provide the internet service’s contact information, so the guest can try calling them first if there’s an issue. – Justin Ford, On the Water in Maine

Question #3: “When is the garbage truck/lawn service/etc. coming?”

They’re angry when the grass is long. And, they’re angry when the lawn service shows up… What can you do? The best way to handle this is to overcommunicate about when things like garbage pick-up, lawn care or pool service crews will be coming by the house. – Debbie Lipscomb, Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals

BONUS: Having trouble identifying your common issues? Have a debrief meeting with your team after each rental season to pick their brains on what guests were asking most often about and brainstorm ways to tweak your processes moving forward. – Debbie Lipscomb, Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals

What about you? What creative strategies have you implemented to make your guest communication seamless? Let us know in the comments!

Learn More About LiveRez

LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more.

At LiveRez, we take our partnership with each and every one of our property managers seriously. We believe in the power of community and teamwork, and, together with our partners, we win as a team.

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

Did you like this post?Please consider “liking” it and sharing it on your social media channels via the buttons below. You can also follow us and get notifications of all new posts via the “Follow” button Follow Us in the bottom right-hand part of the screen.

10 Tips for Tackling the Busy Summer Season

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Memorial Day is fast approaching, so you know what that means… The crazy summer season is just about here! This time of year usually finds me ramping up my workout schedule (and wondering what the heck I was thinking waiting until May to start getting into summer shape). Anyone in the same boat? Just me? Okay, moving along.

This time of year also finds property managers scrambling to get ready for the busy summer vacation season, which makes it the perfect time to whip your business into summer shape, too! We put our heads together with a few LiveRez partners to come up with the top 10 things you can be doing right now to help ensure your summer season is smooth sailing.

  1. Tackle your to-do list. When your summer calendar is packed with back-to-back reservations, it can be tough to find time to take care of property updates. Bradie Beagley-Reiner from Bluewater Vacation Homes likes to use this time to tackle that list of upgrades they haven’t gotten around to just yet.
  2. Deep clean. Your properties are about to get some summer love from countless vacationers. Before the masses roll into town, ask your cleaning team to spend a little extra time scrubbing and polishing to make sure all of your properties are ready to take on the busy season.
  3. Spend some time outside. More than likely, it’s been a while since the patios, pools and other outdoor spaces have been utilized by your guests. Don’t wait for your guests to tell you the grill is busted or the lawn furniture has seen better days. Be proactive!
  4. Make it personal. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget about those little personal touches that make you stand out! CJ Stam from Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals recommends increasing that personal touch by sending a company branded postcard out to every booking.
  5. Send good summer vibes. Take some time to consider how you can start your guests’ summer vacations out on the right foot. From pool toys and beach towels to kites and sunscreen, providing thoughtful summer-focused amenities is a great way to show guests how much you care about their vacation. The little details make a big difference!
  6. Refresh your welcome book. Flip through your current welcome book, and take note of ways you could make it more focused on summer activities. This might include things like a special section about the best patio dining, your favorite places to take a picnic, local beach rental shops, etc.
  7. Freshen up your website. Your website is an important part of your business, so don’t forget to give it a little touch of summer, as well! First, be sure to remove any expired winter specials. Then, consider replacing any wintery photos of your area with more summery ones. Lastly, take a look at your local area guide to make sure your summer activity recommendations are front and center.
  8. Simplify your business processes. A busy summer booking calendar will likely mean less time for you to accomplish your day-to-day business tasks. Brainstorm ways you can simplify your business processes to free up time that you can spend taking care of your guests. For you, this could mean finally getting your CRM system set up to automatically send out emails that you’re currently wasting time sending manually. Or, signing up for eSignature, to cut down on the time you spend mailing out rental agreements.
  9. Get your staff pumped up for the season. You’re going to need your team firing on all cylinders this season, so Bradie from Bluewater Vacation Homes makes sure they’re trained and equipped to take it on! If you need to bring on more people, don’t wait until you’re desperate. Take the time to find the right person before things get super busy.
  10. Breathe. You got this!

How do you get ready for the crazy summer season? We want to know! Share your summer hacks in the comments section below.