Why Vacation Rental Businesses Should Use a Shared Inbox
You already know that successful vacation rental management means doing your best to exceed customer expectations and provide an outstanding experience at every stay. Whether you’re managing one or two vacation rental properties, or a few hundred, it can be hard to stay on top of communications and property needs.
But your ability to deliver exceptional pre- and post-stay service can set you apart, get your property good reviews, and bring in more new and repeat guests.
The challenge is keeping up with communication—both internally, if you have a housekeeping or maintenance team, and externally—the emails and calls you get from your customers.
The good news? With the right tools and an improved process, it gets easier to be more responsive to the needs of current guests, coordinate with your team, and stay on top of that all-important post-stay guest follow-up.
Join us for a free webinar on How to Be Efficient, Save Time, & Grow Your Vacation Rental Business on Wednesday, May 15th at 11:00 am Pacific Time. Click here to register »
A shared inbox brings messages from all inboxes into one place
A solid guest experience begins long before check-in and continues after checkout. From initial inquiry to post-stay follow up, you’ll have regular email touch points with your guests. Each one is an opportunity to provide good service and build your vacation rental property’s reputation—those crucial 5-star reviews.
If you’re listing your properties on multiple platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, or even your own vacation rental site, you’re probably getting multiple inquiries and questions through a number of different inboxes. So how can you make sure you’re not letting anything slip through the cracks?
With Outpost, you can gather all incoming messages from your vacation rental website, Airbnb, or VRBO in one place. Instead of jumping from app to app and potentially missing a message, you’ll be able to document and organize your back-and-forth all in one place, as well as more efficiently delegate and manage any tasks related to those emails.
Also, if you have a number of general inboxes, like reservations@yourcompany, housekeeping@yourcompany, or help@yourcompany, a shared inbox tool like Outpost can make your life a lot easier. It’s more secure than sharing an email password with multiple people.
Outpost’s shared inbox features stretch beyond just collecting all of your inboxes in one place, though. Assignments, internal notes, templates, routing rules, analytics—read on for how your shared inbox tool can increase customer satisfaction, and make the day-to-day easier and more efficient for your team
Message assignments help delegate responsibility
Good management and leadership come down to the fine art of delegation. Routing emails to an assigned team member helps replies go out faster. Assignments also help you deal with times when someone is out of the office. Instead of their inbox filling up with unmonitored, not-replied-to emails, it’s easy for another team member to step and make sure inquiries and other communications are responded to quickly—and without the security risk of sharing passwords.
Another bonus? Assigning emails to one point person helps you avoid that bane of customer service: the duplicate replies. Each email gets one point of contact, improving response time, increasing efficiency, and cutting the risk of mistakes.
Internal notes make it easy to share important information
Internal notes empower every team member with the assurance that their replies are the best they can be. Even better, all this happens next to your email conversation, rather than within it. Instead of confusing, potentially embarrassing, endlessly forwarded emails, internal notes organize conversations and keep all the side discussion private within the team.
Notes also give team members and managers a place to share additional information or details about the customer and discuss the best way to resolve an issue or any special touches that need to happen before a guest arrives.
Templates make responses more efficient
With a shared inbox tool, you can use templates to easily save, organize, access, and customize responses to frequently asked questions. That way, any team member can keep a consistent voice and message when responding to customers. Since most of the message is ready to go, anyone on your team can reply with just a few clicks.
With templates, you can also maintain easy-to-use lists of property amenities, local attractions, maps, directions, or other details or important information. Since the information is ready to use, you can easily maintain and evolve email responses that help you move a prospect along the booking process, so you can keep momentum and close the sale. Property managers also use templates to help them get to know who’ll be staying at the vacation rental, pluck out specific tips and activity recommendations, pepper testimonials from a list into replies, and anticipate and address typical concerns.
Templates can also help prospects get to know you. Guests know that they are choosing to connect person-to-person instead of going through what might seem like a big faceless brand. Templates can also share some of your story, how you fell in love with the property, and/or why you love renting it out.
For both prospects and guests, leverage template responses that balance providing the right information with a personal touch. Sure, you might need to tweak the email to fit that specific person or situation. But if 90 percent of the email is ready to go, you’ll still save time and can focus on providing stellar service, instead of typing the same message over and over.
Routing rules save time and improve response with automation
The more you can automate in your vacation rental business, the more time you can free up for other more important tasks.
With routing rules, Outpost can do some of your job for you. Instead of manually assigning every email, you can auto-assign emails to specific team members. Simple but repetitive tasks—such as tagging, starring, or archiving—can also be set up under routing rules.
Or, set up specific auto-replies to go out whenever an email comes in—a great way to show upfront responsiveness while your team digs into an email in more detail.
When you add up these little tasks, automating them can restore crucial time to your day, all while improving your team’s customer service at the same time.
Analytics highlight areas for improvement
If your goal is to provide the sort of seamless progression from the initial email inquiry to the booked reservation, to satisfied, 5-star-reviews, analytics are key. Sure, the team may be sailing smoothly with notes, delegation, and templates, but you also need to be able to check response times.
How quickly are replies going out? Are there dead zones where times can be improved? How well is your team handling a bustling queue of reservation requests—or conversely, addressing concerns from a current guest? Real-time analytics help you deal with current situations and plan ahead for future improvements.
Set expectations early so you can exceed them during a guest’s stay
Anytime a potential guest inquires about your vacation rental property, they are taking a chance. If your responses take a long time, lack important information, or don’t build that person’s trust, you will lose that customer’s business to someone who provides better guest service.
At the same time, your property probably already has guests. They need your help and quick reply too. How can you balance both?
Vacation rental property managers like you can indeed have it both ways.
For prospects, the key is to set expectations right away. Make a good impression with timely replies that give the right information, build trust with a personal touch, and reinforce that prospect’s decision to take a chance on you and your vacation property.
Build a reputation as reliable and consistent
Your team’s ability to collaborate well is the bridge to great service. Great service is the foundation for ensuring your positive reputation over the long term.
For current guests, the key is to communicate consistently. Build on the initial trust and good expectations. Plus, a guest who feels they can trust you may be more forgiving if a mistake happens or you hit a snag that delays a reply or solution.
If (and when) an issue arises with a current guest at your vacation property, managing their experience is all about maintaining your timely response rate. Having go-to contacts for repairs, cleaning, and other needs will help you resolve problems faster, as will having the right email template on hand so you can respond quickly.
At least once during the guest’s stay, also reach out to see how things are going. Guests are likely to appreciate that you’re looking out for them. Outpost’s tags can make it easier for your team to look back in time at previous correspondence, so they can add that extra personal touch to their outreach.
Ask for reviews and feedback post-stay
Wowing a guest doesn’t stop at checkout but is instead all about the follow through—and the follow up.
Make sure your templates and post-stay process include a warm post-stay email that does four things:
- Thank the guest for their stay
- Request that they complete a satisfaction survey
- Encourage another booking
- Ask for a review (sometimes vacation property managers will also ask for a review during the in-stay follow up, to try to capitalize on a guest who is having a positive experience)
You can also make a note to send a further follow up email, especially for guests who seem interested in staying at your vacation property again in the future. A follow up might include a quick tidbit about upcoming local events, new restaurants or attractions, or a coupon/discount to your property or somewhere in town they went to during their previous visit.
Maintaining dialogue and occasional warm communication can really set your team apart. That can result in repeat bookings and word-of-mouth referrals that bring more inquiries and reservations to your vacation rental property.
Want to know more about how to exceed guest expectations by streamlining communication?
Delivering great guest service while keeping up your vacation property isn’t easy. That’s why we’re hosting a free, interactive webinar for vacation rental teams:
Vacation Rentals: How to Be Efficient, Save Time, & Grow Your Business
Wednesday, May 15 at 11:00 am Pacific Time
Taking your vacation rental business to the next level can be challenging. You want to scale up your operations to handle an increase in repeat bookings. And you don’t want to lose your warm, personal touch. In this interactive webinar, we’ll show you how vacation rental businesses can use a mix of tools, processes, and reporting to help your team scale up while delivering a great guest experience.
During the webinar, you’ll learn:
- How to keep your growth strategy customer-focused
- Low-hanging efficiencies to help reduce costs while scaling up
- Why openly sharing goals and tracking team performance yields significant results
Great guest service every time
Stellar guest service doesn’t take secret sauce—it just takes streamlined communications, timely responses, and thorough resolution.
Team collaboration is key to great service. A tool like Outpost will help your team improve service, reply to emails promptly, and increase guest satisfaction. Your guests will know that you have their back—and that will make them more likely to give you their next booking.