How can you host more guests without spending more time handling messages? This is the question every vacation rental manager faces as they scale.
Even with fewer than five properties, you already spend a big chunk of your time answering the same queries about Wi-Fi codes, local shops, and lock boxes. And though you hardly have time to think about growing your portfolio and optimizing your teams’ workflows, you know there’s got to be a better process for managing guest communications as you scale.
And there is: Automated messaging tools allow you to send out important information as soon as your guests book. Then, from booking through post-stay, you can stay in touch without spending hours at your laptop.
With custom templates, messaging flows, and triggers to help you provide guests with the key information they need at the right time during their customer journey, you’ll be more efficient, responsive, and effective in all your communications. You’ll even be able to step back and enjoy more well-deserved time off!
In this article, as well as discussing the key benefits of automating guest communication, we look at:
- Setting up and optimizing automated messaging processes
- Copy-and-paste message templates you can immediately start using
- Real-life case studies like Keith Freedman of HostWell, who saves 20 hours of manual work a week with automated messaging tools
Cut down your team’s workload
A great guest experience requires attentive service. But if your team has to manually send out welcome, mid-stay, and check-out messages on top of solving guest problems and providing recommendations, you’re losing hours every week.
What’s more, repeatedly sending information and answering the same questions is a recipe for employee burnout and churn. To retain your staff, you need to free them up to focus more on meaningful work like running cleaning inspections or developing creative upsells.
A great messaging system facilitates this shift in focus by allowing you to set up an automated flow that works without effort and at scale. With Hostfully, the process looks like this:
- You use templates to create messages and set up triggers like “At check-in, send X” (see examples of templates you can use, below).
- Hostfully pulls through bookings from your direct bookings site and channels like Airbnb and Vrbo, then your hands-off messaging flow kicks in.
- Finally, the centralized inbox allows you to save time as you manage conversations and answer follow-up questions.
Plus, with Hostfully, you don’t even need to manually add guest information, as our templates use shortcodes (or ‘variables’) to automatically insert personalized details like names, dates, and property information.
Avoid communication errors
When you’re copying and pasting messages to save time, misspelled words and incorrect details can start to creep in. And even just a couple of mistakes can damage your brand and reduce your guests’ trust—especially if one of those errors is the property or guest name.
With automated messaging though, all you’ll need to do is proofread a small number of templates. Then you’ll know you’ll be sharing all the key information error-free. We look at how easy it is to create a comprehensive and clear pre-arrival message as an example, next.
A concise, helpful message like this one is just what guests are looking for after booking. Note that the details in brackets are all examples of where you can automatically personalize content with Hostfully’s variables.
Thank you for picking [LOCATION] for your next trip! We’re so looking forward to your arrival on [ARRIVAL DATE].
Please look through our [DIGITAL GUIDEBOOK] to discover what’s available at the property and what we recommend locally.
We’ll be in contact with you prior to your stay to share check-in information and any further details you might need to make sure you get settled in without a hitch.
Give guests more control
Modern guests want autonomy and convenience. This means they don’t want to reach out to you for the information they need, but they will contact you very quickly if something becomes an issue.
As in our template example above, by sending out digital guidebooks in your automated messaging sequences, you’ll boost guest satisfaction by giving them more independence.
Your guidebooks could include:
- Directions for your property
- Access information
- House rules
- A list of amenities
- Links to local services
And just like that, you’ve minimized the number of questions coming your way. For example, after creating guidebooks with Hostfully, Cabins for You significantly cut the number of calls they received.
Queue this message template to be sent early on check-in day to give guests information about directions, access, and the local area.
|Hello [GUEST NAME],
We’re so excited for your arrival at [LOCATION] today! Here’s how to find the property: [DIRECTIONS].
You’re welcome to check in any time from [TIME] using [ACCESS INFORMATION] and, as a reminder, the Wi-Fi password is [PASSWORD].
If you need any help at all, the digital guidebook [LINK] contains information about the property and local area. Safe travels!
Upsell more effectively
Automated messaging sequences open up more upsell opportunities. Not only can you promote services in your digital guidebooks (and get an 8% commission with Hostfully and Viator) but you can share suggestions for activities and added services in your messaging templates.
Tailored upsell templates
With just a few tweaks, you can create tailored upsells and special offers for different types of guest. For example, this template is catered for business travelers but, by swapping out the taxi service link for a babysitting provider, it could be suitable for a young family.
I hope you’re enjoying your stay at [LOCATION].
You can check the [DIGITAL GUIDEBOOK] for all the information you need, but we also wanted to check in especially to let you know about the [EVENT TAXI SERVICE] we offer as we thought it could help you during your stay.
We’re currently offering [SPECIAL OFFER].
Just drop us a message if you have any questions!
Improve your ranking in the OTAs
Messaging automation helps you to rank more highly in OTAs because it:
- Enables quicker response times.
For Airbnb, you need to reply to guests within 24 hours every time to have Superhost status. Automated tools make exceeding this expectation easy.
- Boosts occupancy.
When you have automated messaging in place to support self check-in, you can accept last-minute bookings without hassle. And when you mark this on your listings, OTAs will promote your properties more widely.
Learn how Jim Sheehan of Wydaho Property Management uses smart locks and Hostfully to streamline guest arrival.
- Encourages positive reviews. By adding review requests to your automated message flow, you’ll get more guest reviews without adding to your workload. We explore this further, below.
- Reduces negative reviews. If a guest has a bad stay, you can minimize the risk of them leaving a negative review by sending them a survey asking for feedback. This creates a space for them to discuss any issues outside of the OTA.
Review request template
You should queue this review request to send shortly before your guest receives their first review reminder from the OTA.
|Hi [GUEST NAME],
Thank you for staying at [LOCATION].
We hope you enjoyed your stay and would love to hear about it when you get a few minutes.
Shortly, you’ll receive an email from [OTA] asking for a review. If you could leave us one, that would be greatly appreciated and we will, of course, return the favor as you were a fantastic guest!
Thank you, and we hope to host you again soon.
Scale your operations
When you’re stuck with the day-to-day management of guest communications, it can be hard to optimize your team’s processes. But when you automate your vacation rental business, you’ll suddenly have the bandwidth to identify areas where you could increase efficiency and grow your inventory.
This could look like fine-tuning your property inspection processes and analyzing the efficacy of your team scheduling tools, for example. Or it might mean more time to network and market your services to owners.
Growing your business with automated messaging
Messaging guests is time-consuming, and manual processes quickly become unsustainable as you scale.
But in taking on this workload, automation ensures you can maintain error-free contact throughout the guest journey, with vital communications, insightful recommendations, upsells, and review requests.
To effectively implement automated guest communication, you should use:
- Messaging flows for pre-stay, in-stay, and post-stay events
- Clear, concise message templates
- Dynamic variables for automated personalization
- Digital guidebooks
- A unified inbox
- A property management platform like Hostfully that seamlessly integrates all your guest communication solutions