I was speaking with some potential clients at the VRMA conference in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago and one of them mentioned that they only get about 15% of their business from repeat guests (sometimes called unicorns). I was shocked to hear that. This then sparked my curiosity and I started to ask vacation rental managers what percentage of their business come from repeat guests. More times than not it seemed that the managers I spoke with all felt that they were missing opportunities by not focusing more on the guests that had already stayed with them.
There are varying statistics and studies out there stating that acquiring a new customer costs five to ten times more than retaining an existing customer. I also was speaking with some of our marketing portal partners (HomeAway, LeisureLink, BookingPal) and every single one of them acknowledged that if a reservation is made through their portal; that guest is now the property of the Property Manager. Adding to this they all went on to state that if the guest experience was good to great that a PM has the best chance to get repeat business from that client
I am sure that 99.9% of Property Managers know that their best chance of booking reservations is through repeat business. Couple that with the fact that if you provide an amazing experience, the guest is more likely to come back. There are many strategies to engage and market to your client base and I wanted to offer four ideas that have been in play for a while now.
- Follow up with guest during or after their stay. The goal would be to send some sort of follow up (thank you or survey) and hope to capitalize on their experience while it is fresh in their mind. The advice would be not to make your follow up salesy or promotional, but genuine and hoping to get some sort of response. The idea of sending a survey during their stay could help to take care of any sort of issue that may come up while they are still there. Ask for more information about the Barefoot survey tool and/or partner integrations that provide this functionality.
- Keep in touch with guests after their stay. Do you have a blog or a newsletter? What about automatic emails that can be sent based off of a guests preference or profile. Maybe there are new things happening in your community that may be of interest to a guest now familiar with your destination (a new attraction or events that are coming up). Stay in touch by providing relevant content. If you want some additional ideas on this, reach out to Barefoot's sales or support team.
- Reward your guests for staying with you. We all love getting deals with whatever we are buying. Offering specials and "freebies" to your repeat guests is a great way to make them feel special and like they are part of a club. One idea I heard about was a property manager offering 2 free nights at the end of a guests stay because they saw that there was a two day gap before the next guest would arrive. Think of the ripple effect those free two nights will be for that valuable returning guest (reviews, word of mouth, loyalty).Ask for more information about the Barefoot rewards module. It can pay for itself by saving you on new marketing expense vs. retaining existing customers.
- Random acts of kindness. How wonderful is it to receive a completely unexpected gift? Taking this type of thinking and putting it toward your guest may be one small step in helping your guest to having an overall amazing experience. If you have a front desk, what kind of a welcome gift can you have ready for your guest? Gifts for kids are always a winner for everyone. Having something waiting in their rental home is also very exciting.
We all know that your repeat guests are probably the most important source of new business for you. They are relatively inexpensive to market to and they know what to expect. Take the time to make them a priority and get ready to reap the rewards.