Delivering the detailed property care and service that vacation rental guests demand has always been a top priority for property managers and owners. But never more so than now. Guest expectations are rising and at the same time the industry is adopting smart technology at pace.
At Breezeway, we conduct an annual report that looks ‘behind the scenes’ of professional holiday rental management. We explore current and intended focus on standards, maintenance, cleanliness, hygiene, safety and quality control -- the elements that are integral to offering guests real quality and raising the benchmark of the industry.
Our latest findings point to a new wave of professionalization within the travel industry, highlighting an increased focus on elevated quality and overall service delivery. The industry is ‘upping’ its game and a new state of play is emerging. But what does this mean for both the traveler and the industry professional?
Changing guest expectations and behaviors
No-longer simply looking for a place to rest one’s head, today’s holiday rental guest demands a full hospitality experience. This begins at booking and extends throughout the stay and after check-out.
Such elevated consumer expectations undoubtedly increase the pressure placed on hospitality operators. But, handled effectively, professional property managers can drive guest satisfaction and loyalty through deeper service, including proactive guest communication, and offering s late early check-in, late check-out, and stay extensions.
Cleanliness and safety remain important in 2021
The events of last year brought issues of cleanliness in the hospitality sector to the fore like never before. In 2020, 66% of professional managers thought cleanliness and safety were the most important considerations at booking, beating out location and price. 40% (the majority) of travelers agreed. Although, we saw a slight shift in 2021 - with travelers ranking location the most important consideration, and cleanliness shortly behind in second place - heightened expectations around cleaning remain.
In a pandemic climate, guests need assurance, particularly when it comes to cleanliness and safety. And the industry is responding to these new concerns, recognising that it has a duty of care to uphold standards and help guests feel confident in the safety of their rentals. Indeed, in 2020, 99% of managers planned on making some sort of change to their property care programs; from strategy and protocols, internal communication, time allotted to housekeepers, items cleaned, and products used. The same rings true in 2021, with 94% of operators planning to address guest safety through preventative maintenance, safety certifications and training programs.
In the current hospitality market, cleanliness equates to safety. And this sentiment is set to stay.
Communication is key (but barriers persist)
The trend for proactive guest communication has accelerated in recent months and is now a vital part of the hospitality experience that today’s traveler demands. In fact, good communication throughout a stay has become a basic expectation. And the benefits it affords - such as building trust and an ongoing dialogue that can result in learnings, reviews and referrals - are widely recognised in the industry.
In 2020, 74% of managers surveyed planned on adjusting their communication strategies in the hope of putting guests at ease and setting the stage for a great experience. In 2021, 40% of managers said that they communicate with guests and owners frequently. Although this slightly lower than expected number may suggest signs of a disconnect between intent and behaviour as barriers to improved communication persist.
Embrace the tech
Adoption of technology and IoT in the hospitality sector has accelerated at pace over the past year and shows no signs of slowing. Driven by evolving guest expectations, and the pandemic pressure, holiday let managers and owners are now looking to tech solutions as they rethink operational processes in a drive to improve standards and influence the bottom line.
Breezeway’s research shows that in 2021, 88% of property managers plan on differentiating their business by increasing or optimizing their tech stack. And a staggering 100% agree that adding tech resources like noise monitoring, PMS systems, property operations software and smart locks will impact their business positively.
We’re already seeing the uptake of tech playing out in cleaning practices. In 2020, 49% of property managers used customized cleaning checklists. This figure increased to 59% in 2021, pointing to industry-wide determination to embrace the efficiencies afforded by new technologies in order to elevate quality in vacation rental supply and meet raised guest expectations.
The hospitality landscape is evolving. With increased focus on the guest ‘experience’, service delivery and quality matter more now than ever before. But how can the industry respond to guest demands for properties maintained to heightened standards and concierge service? The answer lies in connecting property operations to the guest experience. And technology can help achieve this.
Jeremy is the founder and CEO of Breezeway, a property care and operations platform for hospitality providers. Breezeway’s software and mobile apps help vacation rental operators coordinate and verify the cleanliness, safety and quality of their properties, and deliver a better experience to guests and owners. Jeremy previously founded FlipKey, which TripAdvisor acquired in 2013. www.breezeway.io
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