During your busy season, you have little time for anything more than minding present customers and putting out fires. To ensure that all goes well, and customers are happy during peak periods, you’ll need to fully be prepared before the season starts. Here are some basic tips to ensure your busy season is a smashing success.
Planning. What exactly do you need to be ready? How will you handle contingencies? You should map it out and write it down. You’ll need more supplies than usual and more assistance from service providers. You may need to hire additional, temporary on-site staff.
Cleaning. The #1 complaint of customers during the busy season is that their accommodations have not been fully cleaned. Cleaning staff has been so overtaxed by the volume of guests coming and going that they’ve failed to finish cleaning all the rooms. If your cleaning people are working hard and still not getting the job done, you’ll need to hire more staff or find an outside cleaning service big and efficient enough to handle the extra busy season work. Also, right before the busy season is a good time for a deep cleaning of all apartments, something you should be doing at least twice a year anyway.
Restocking. Many vacation rental services don’t or can’t afford to provide daily cleaning service or have sufficient room service capacity to respond to constant guest requests for service, and even if it were possible, it would be too costly and inefficient to run rentals like a hotel. So, you need to make sure all your units are extra well supplied before the season begins with things rental vacationers typically need, especially in the kitchen and bathroom.
The kitchen should have fresh supplies of basics like salt and pepper and cleaning soap. The bathroom should have lots of toilet paper, soap, and towels. It’s a good idea also to have a dedicated supply closet with additional supplies of the above items and other crucial items needed on a more occasional basis, like light bulbs.
Booking. If you expect a large volume of guests during the busy season, you need to rely on a good booking service to handle all the reservations. You should also make it possible for customers to self-book online by credit card. Most people nowadays prefer to book online rather than by phone.
Guest information. Your guests are on vacation. They don’t want to waste a lot of time they could be having fun trying to figure out where to find things and how things work in their guest apartment, and there’s a good chance they don’t know all the vacation opportunities available in the area. You, on the other hand, don’t want to spend the whole busy season answering information questions.
One simple way to make things easier is make a Welcome Book available to all your guests, online and/or (ideally and) in physical form in the guest apartment. The Welcome Book should include house rules, instructions on operating appliances, check-out instructions, and rental services contact information, along with restaurant recommendations and, ideally, a list of popular sites and activities in the area with descriptions and location information.
Also, save yourself potential headaches by making sure check-in and other information is up to date. If customers end up relying on old, no longer accurate information, you’ll be inundated with information calls and may actually lose customers.
On top of written information, you’ll also likely need some kind of concierge service available to field customer requests for directions, activity recommendations, and so on. If you can afford it, you can really impress your customers by providing more elaborate concierge services like arranging for airport pickups, dry cleaning or grocery deliveries, and pet care.
Special seasonal needs. Beyond the basics mentioned above, which apply always and everywhere, you’ll have some special busy season needs particular to your rental location(s) and the time period in which your busy season falls. The peak season for snowy mountain rentals will probably be during the winter snow period, and in that case, you’ll need to be prepared for increased heating maintenance, heavy blankets, and other winter-specific provisions.
Rentals on the beach, conversely, will need increased A/C maintenance and ramped up warm-weather services. It may be your peak season relates to certain holidays or area special events. Know your special seasonal needs and prepare accordingly.
Big projects. Busy season is not the time for them. Project disruptions of rental availability and service is the last thing you need when that human wave of vacationers is coming through. If you’re planning on painting all the rooms or making any major renovations, be sure you start them in time to be done with them before the busy season starts.
Management assistance. If you have a full-time job or other significant demands outside of vacation renting, or if you just aren’t thrilled at the idea of overseeing all this activity yourself, you may want to seek management assistance.
Property management service can be expensive and hiring a property manager doesn’t make sense for everyone. But for vacation rental owners who don’t live near their rental property or who don’t have much time to devote to their rental business, it can save a lot of stress, time, and energy to have someone else on top of overseeing maintenance and renter services, especially during the busy season.
Building on success. If you and your team have handled the busy season well, you’ll have a lot of satisfied customers. Take advantage of customer satisfaction by encouraging customer reviews. Make sure that guests are formally asked for reviews at the end of their stay and send an email reminder afterwards. Build up an email distribution list of past customers and offer them seasonal discounts to encourage them to come back.
If you follow these simple rules, you will not only be able to manage your vacation rental busy season but will build a good reputation and expand your business!