Sep 23, 2011

In the post on Advertising your Vacation Rental Property, I mentioned that Repeat Guests were important for us. Across our two vacation rental properties over the last 3 years they represent 8% of our income. Repeat guests not only offer valuable rental income requiring minimal advertising, but also offer peace of mind.

Peace of Mind

When you rent to previous guests you know how they are likely to treat your rental property. Presumably you wouldn't rent to someone again if they didn't treat it well the first time. Just as importantly, your property is a known quantity to them. They wouldn't be renting from you again if they didn't like your property or the area. No surprises means no disappointments means no bad reviews.

Minimal Advertising Costs

A lot of repeat guests come to us without any advertising at all. But occasionally we will send a postcard to previous guests. We send postcards instead of emails because we think they are less likely to get lost in the shuffle. We've found that a good excuse to send a postcard to previous guests is when we've made some kind of upgrade to the rental property. For example, if we've replaced all the mattresses, or put n a new floor, or remodeled a bathroom.

Personal Touch

One tip is to keep detailed notes on all your guests. When they talk about their spouse or their kids, make a note of their names. It makes it much easier to respond in a more personal manner when they contact you again.

Discounts for Repeat Guests

We have a policy of not charging a damage deposit to repeat guests. Not all rental owners agree with this approach, but it has worked for us, and we think it shows repeat guests that they are valued. Depending on other circumstances and the dates being booked we might also offer a discount - at most 15%. Even though we don't charge a damage deposit, we do still require that they sign the rental agreement. And we make sure that they have read through it and that all the rules are clear. Just because they've stayed with us before we don't assume that they remember things.

Delighting your Guests

One of the things that we've found is that delighting guests, doesn't always depend on things going perfectly. We've found that the way we react when something has gone wrong can be just as important. A sense of urgency and desire to do the right thing can turn a bad situation into a positive experience. We've generally erred on the side of spending a little more money to take care of a situation quickly, rather than risk having unhappy guests in our vacation home.

There are several reasons why we always try to delight our guests. Firstly, we just find it very satisfying when someone enjoys our vacation homes as much as we do. Delighted guests are also more likely to take the time to post positive reviews online about our vacation rental property. I intend to post about the importance of positive guest comments another time. But attracting repeat business from previous guests is perhaps the most important reason.

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