How to Encourage Repeat Guests and Bookings for Your Vacation Home
15 June 2023 - 9 mins
15 June 2023 - 9 mins
Attracting new holidaymakers to your vacation rental is certainly no straightforward task. From marketing to advertising, providing first class customer service and nurturing relationships, not to mention potential booking platform commissions… there’s a lot of time and hard work that goes into landing new guests.
So when you’ve got a new customer – you want to retain them, right!?
Repeat guests and bookings are cheaper and less time consuming for property owners. Guests are already familiar with the local area (and your property) and you know exactly how to make them feel welcome. They can also be encouraged to book subsequent stays directly, helping avoid pricey OTA fees.
Aside from the bookings boon to your business, there’s something magical about securing repeat guests. You’ll have the pleasure of knowing guests enjoyed their stay at your property so much, they’re returning time and time again.
So, if you want to increase customer loyalty for your holiday home… here’s how to do it.
Acquiring new customers is a challenge in any industry, not least for vacation rentals.
Before a guest has stayed at your property, you’re just another listing amongst hundreds of others. After this however, you’re part of their cherished holiday memories…
Repeat renters are easier to market to, as they already know your property. They’re a “self-selected” group, comfortable with your prices, house rules and keen to explore the area.
What’s more, repeat guests are likely to spend more the second time round, as your property is now trusted, tried and tested.
Indeed, any marketing professional will tell you it costs less to retain existing customers than attract new ones. You’ve already done the hard work by securing their booking and providing a fantastic holiday experience – so now it’s time to build on this.
With this in mind, here’s ten ideas for encouraging repeat bookings for your holiday home.
Email marketing is one of the most effective methods for cultivating customer loyalty. When guests stay at your property, encourage them to leave their email address and opt-in to future communications.
Think carefully about how often to keep in touch by email. You don’t want to bombard guests, but do want to keep things fresh. As part of these updates, you could include interesting local blog posts, any improvements you’ve made to the property and special offers.
Yes, printed marketing materials can still be incredibly worthwhile!
As well as staying in touch via email, get some high-quality postcards or business cards printed that guests can physically keep.
This will serve as a reminder of your property – as well as the means to stay in touch via phone, website links (or Rentalsystems page), email and social media.
Include your social accounts on any printed materials and email campaigns. Consider things like a photo competition (for instance fun family holiday snaps) that guests can tag you in to win a repeat stay. This will not only build trust in your business, but encourage social follows and interaction.
Invite your renters to follow your accounts when you correspond with them, and when they do, be sure to engage with them
So, your guest had a fabulous visit, but hasn’t left their email and forgot to pick up a card. What next?
Someone that rented from you two, three or more years ago probably won't have kept the card they picked up, but will want to be able to track you down again… how?
Make sure your property is easy to find online, so guests can search for your vacation rental themselves. Audit your direct booking options (your personal website or Rentalsystems listing, and your property's social media profiles) and work on improving their discoverability.
Repeat guests really are special… so make sure they know you appreciate their business.
When sending out emails or social media posts, offer exclusive discounts for repeat direct bookings. You should have a little financial leeway with direct bookings since you’ll avoid third party commissions.
Incentives you offer could include complimentary activities, concessions for local attractions or spa days (building links with other local businesses), special welcome packs or free nights for repeat customers.
Providing a first-class customer experience should be your number one priority, and as you know this should be before, during and after your renters have stayed. Allow them to connect with you properly, provide a personal service, and you will be at the forefront of their minds when they are next looking to book a break.
Try to find out as much as possible about your guests. For instance, are they a young family or a couple looking for a romantic break? Are they looking for arts and culture, relaxation or restaurant recommendations?
Discover what your customers want, and help them get the most out of their stay with local suggestions and tips. Guests prize unique and memorable vacation experiences, and they’ll appreciate the extra effort.
Did we mention memorable experiences? If you can make a stay truly unforgettable, you’ve already gone most of the way to securing customer loyalty.
“Surprise and delight” touches, for instance personalized greetings and gifts (fresh flowers, family-friendly puzzles, personal care packs or local food and wine) help set the tone and set your property apart from the crowd.
Think about what makes your vacation rental unique (whether that’s a stunning natural location, local history or beautiful interior design) and reinforce this in customers’ minds. For instance, if you own a beach-side property, a “borrowing library” full of buckets and spades, fishing nets, bodyboards would make a lovely extra touch.
Whilst email and social media are great, there’s nothing like receiving a hand-written note in the post.
If guests have consented to future contact, why not send a thank you card or even a Christmas greeting? December is a particularly good time to get in touch with past renters and jog their memories, as time spent with family over the holiday period is often used to discuss the next big getaway, and many bookings are made following this in January and February.
As well as reminding customers about your vacation rental, it creates a personal connection. Something as simple as addressing your customers by name helps build rapport, relationships and loyalty.
It's important that you actively seek out customer feedback.
Following-up on stays shows guests you care about their experience and appreciate their input, as well as helping you to understand key areas you need to improve.
Should any negative reviews arise, be sure to respond publicly and follow-up privately – as well as act on any feedback. This is a great opportunity to keep communication ongoing, and let guests know about any improvements you’ve made to the property.
Encouraging repeat bookings doesn’t start after guests have stayed at your property – it begins from the moment they decide to book!
The booking experience needs to be quick, smooth and straightforward, with clear pricing structures and booking procedures. Assess your own processes (from a customer perspective) and make sure you’re making a great first impression.
If you have a direct booking site, you can embed booking tools, such as those offered by Rentalsystems, for exactly this, so customers enjoy a seamless experience from the start.
Still looking for more ideas on encouraging repeat bookings for your holiday home?
Explore the Rentalsystems direct booking Facebook group and join the discussion with fellow vacation rental owners. It’s a unique community, allowing you to connect with other property owners and generate repeat guests and direct bookings for your holiday home.