At Barefoot, we love to get the perspective of the people that work in the vacation rental management trenches every day. Below, you will find the current musings of someone who works in a long standing, high end, vacation rental company. I think you will all understand the perspective that is offered…
"When someone asks me how things are changing I can barely catch my breath. To say the world of vacation management has changed rapidly since the advent of internet technology is a major understatement. By the time I finish this article, things will have changed even more. The fact is that the way that anyone over 15 has learned to communicate (never mind write) has become out dated. Look at the text messages of any 13 year old – where an entire new world of shorthand is quickly unfolding – where words like great have become gr8. Who has time to spell?
What’s relevant in all of this - in the evolution of the vacation management industry? In all of this there’s a paradox of needs emerging. - A counter-intuitive relationship of sorts - where this rapid transit trip through the valley of the internet seems to be spewing out people who are desperate for some type of human connection.
Hence, enter the 2014 customer. Whether it’s a baby boomer or a generation Y, there’s little divide. They, all of them, still want to be heard. They may be well versed in the internet, and how to search, but after several forays into the vast cosmos of web sites, they get burned out.
In fact, experience seems to suggest that our guests end up overwhelming themselves - whether it be the baby boomers who started out in their early years using pencils, paper and even learning cursive – to the other end of the spectrum - the generation y kids – born in a more rapid era and helicoptered into reliance.
Bottom line, almost no one who calls wants to know anything more about web sites. By the time they’ve called you, they want you to talk to them, nurture them, coddle them, peer under the covers of their lives, talk to them about their kids, or not, love their dogs, disparage pet lovers and, finally, walk them to the door of their dream vacation home. And by then, you had best know enough about them to put them in the cleanest house in the program, or the most luxurious, or the one with the best views, or the most beat up one – the one that reminds them of their childhood visits to the rustic, romantic beach cottages devoid of air conditioning and television but full of memories of childhoods past. Because vacation homes, like slippers, need to be the right fit.
And if they call to complain because things didn’t go all that right, they want the same connection, empathy, a sincere apology, and the time it takes to listen, and let them know they’ve been heard. If they don’t get that, we all know where they go. Right past go, to those dreaded social media sites where they find a welcoming platform and hundreds of “someones” who will listen to them.
In the end, if you look at the vacation industry data in terms of bookings, nothing much changes there. Same highs, same lows, same spikes for everyone. So much so that It seems like the collective world of vacationers reverberates on some sort of psychic, conspiratorial plane – ignoring all of the algorithms and data that managers agonize over from year to year. If you have trouble believing this, just take a look at the stock market.
What’s my conclusion in all of this for 2014? More than ever, ultimately what will make or break our companies is how well we understand human relationships and whether we are smart enough to heed the golden rule."