With the cost of living on the rise the whole world over, it is the luxury industries that are facing the biggest squeeze. This is when any small issues within your vacation rental business that went previously unnoticed could come under scrutiny and be brought into sharp focus for all of the wrong reasons. Getting ahead of this situation could mean the difference between your business getting the vacation bookings you need – or missing out entirely.
So, in order to iron out those little wrinkles and free up your time so that you can focus on enhancing your vacation business, you should look to adapt your business and use modern methods to increase its smooth running and efficiency on every level.
Learn to Delegate
Although it may be difficult, one of the best tools that you can learn in your business is how to delegate. This is mainly because it frees up your time, which is time that could be spent elsewhere or concentrating on more profitable angles for your business to take. However, in order to do this effectively, there are some fundamental points that you are going to have to address.
Recruit and empower from within
It is likely – at least at first – that you are going to have to trust your workers to perform certain tasks. Expecting a newbie to come in and know what to do may not be acceptable to you, even if they have worked elsewhere performing a similar working role. So, the best thing that you can do is empower those that already work for you and offer promotion.
Of course, you will then have to recruit to fill the void below, but by constantly promoting from within your business, you will end up with a team of managers that have worked from the bottom up and know your business inside out, as well as have your complete confidence to perform the roles that you are expecting them to.
Allow employees more access
Of course, you are going to have to allow your employees – or at least certain ones – more access to your data files in order to manage the part of the business that they are supposed to be in charge of. You can do this by user provisioning.
The beauty of this is that it will provide your business with a method of altering access as and when it is needed throughout the employment of your worker right the way through to their offboarding, where their access will be closed. This will tie up any loose ends and will reduce the likelihood of a cybercriminal gaining access through a redundant account or access code.
Train and write procedures
Naturally, you will want to keep control over certain areas of your business, and if you have built it up from scratch, you will want all of your employees to work to your exact standards. The easiest and best method of doing this is to supply training for all new recruits and also for those that have obtained promotion.
Alongside the training, you should also take the time to write up procedures so that every action is performed in the same method and order as the one you used. This will keep your business working in the approved manner while presenting your customers with a fluid experience of your business regardless of which of your employees are performing the service or whether it is you yourself.
Outsource different areas of your business
Although when you started out with your vacation rental business, you may have thought that you could potentially do everything yourself, you will find that it is far easier to outsource areas of your business and get professionals involved with certain areas.
For instance, cleaning is hard work even for those that love the job. Having a team of professional cleaners come in every time one of your rental properties is empty to give it a deep clean before your new guests arrive is not only professional but shows that you pay attention to the happiness and welfare of those using your properties for their vacations.
Vacations are a part of life that everyone looks forward to, and the destination and accommodation play a large part in how the vacation is perceived. If the location is dismal, then time can be spent either in the accommodation or further afield; if the accommodation is unkept, unclean, and uninviting, it can put a larger dampener on all the other vacation aspects put together.
Of course, next to cleaning is the maintenance of the property. Having a qualified and reliable maintenance company on speed dial is a must, especially if they are local to your rental property.
This will certainly save you the time and expense of driving here, there, and everywhere to sort out issues with your properties should there be faults relayed to you from your guests. While having a professional, knowledgeable, and experienced maintenance person carry out repairs will install confidence in your guests and see that the job is done correctly and efficiently the first time.
When you are running a business and have employees, it is important to be able to manage them properly. It is likely that your business doesn’t have a full in-house HR department, and this is perfectly OK, as you will be able to enlist the services of an outsourced company to take care of this part of your business for you. They will also be able to ensure that your business is and stays compliant with the laws and regulations that it must, as well as provide your employees with an excellent employee experience while they are working for your business.
You will most certainly find it cheaper, and it will make it easier to budget when paying for your HR services monthly for the time that is spent working on your business’s behalf rather than paying for a team of HR staff to work office hours.
In order to get as many vacation bookings as possible, you are probably going to need your own website while also working with other major vacation companies online. You can, of course, rely on their SEO services to sell your vacation opportunities to potential customers, but you will have to be aware that your property(s) is not going to be the only one on their sites, and you will have a lot of competition. So, it will be beneficial to pay close attention to your own website and promote it as often as you can. Building your own online profile is a must, and you will not be able to do this effectively without SEO practices.
Of course, you can do this yourself, but it is less than advisable as you may see all of your profits being spent without an increase in bookings or interest in your properties. The most cost-effective way of going about SEO is to hire the services of an established and experienced SEO agency that will be able to grow the awareness of your vacation properties online and help drive targeted traffic to your website to make reservations and bookings.
You are also going to want to think about your advertising solutions that might not be covered by SEO services, such as your pay-per-click campaigns. Although you could use the keywords supplied to you by your SEO provider, you may find that you do not really need anything quite so niche. You could, in fact, go for slightly more obvious keywords and get a good response.
However, rather than performing this hit-or-miss action yourself, which could work out to be highly expensive if you are using the wrong keywords, you may find it far better, easier, and less expensive to get an advertising agency involved to perform this task for you.
Automate areas of your business
After you have removed yourself from the physical aspects of your business and the areas that can be outsourced to professionals to complete on your behalf, you have the ability to look at areas that can be fully automated. This will free up your time even more and make sure that every customer receives exactly the same treatment as the last and that they all have a perfect and professional user experience of your business.
As touched on slightly above, you are going to want to have multiple sites to place your vacation property on. This is so that your properties are seen by the most people and are, therefore, more likely to receive bookings throughout the main vacation season as well as out-of-season bookings.
Trying to manage these sites freehand is a daunting task and opens you up to making all kinds of errors and mistakes, while automating them will mean that you are less likely to double book vacations and will provide your guests with a much more professional and streamlined experience of your business.
You will also need to keep control of your booking processes, such as thanking your customer and providing them with directions to your property and key collection instructions. These do not tend to come out at the same time as the receipt for the vacation and are instead left closer to the vacation time period.
Forgetting these important details could have your guests stressing or panicking about it, which could lead to friction within the build-up to their vacation. You will want them to have the best experience that they possibly can so that they will want to revisit your properties, rent out another one – if you have them in multiple locations – or recommend your vacation services to others.
Quality CRM software will be able to do this for you as well as keep records of your customers so that you will be able to either provide them with special offers – should they wish as well as help build that all-important customer relationship.
You should ensure to provide after-visit care for all of your customers; again, this may be easier with quality CRM software as you will be able to schedule emails to prompt feedback and reviews of your properties and the experiences your customers have had of your business. Feedback and reviews are very important to every kind of business and none more so than the vacation industry.
Potential customers will often read the feedback or reviews of past customers before deciding to book a vacation accommodation, so it is essential for your business that those you gain are good and helpful to future guests. Of course, if you have less than positive feedback or reviews, then you should address the issues raised and make sure that future guests do not have the same or similar experiences.
So, a few final thoughts
Making your rental business as profitable and efficient as possible is essential in the current financial climate, and there are several steps you need to take to achieve this. Delegating to employees can be hard, especially when you want them to treat your business as something more than just a job. Putting procedures in place will ensure that nothing gets forgotten, and promoting from within will ensure that you know your employees well before having to trust them fully and provide them with additional access to areas of your business that is reserved for just a few individuals.
In this, you should also be prepared to outsource certain areas of your business in order to provide the best experience for your workers and your vacationing guests alike. Professional cleaners and maintenance companies will ensure that your properties are ready for all of your guests, whereas HR companies will ensure that your employees are well looked after while your business conforms. SEO and advertising agencies will be able to provide you with additional methods of gaining more traffic to your websites and should therefore result in more bookings for your business.
Automating your business will undoubtedly free up more time, but more importantly, it should ensure that it runs smoothly and that no part of the process, including advertising on multiple websites, booking vacations, receiving directions and key collection, and gaining feedback and reviews, are forgotten.