The best vacation rental property managers have psychic powers. They understand exactly what their potential guests want from their property (even when the guests might not know it themselves!). They predict what their audience will want to see, and highlight those key aspects on their property listing. When a guest finds the property on a sales channel or Online Travel Agent (OTA) website, they feel that the advert was written specifically for them. It highlights all their needs, contains all their must-have facilities and amenities, and fits their budget perfectly. It’s like someone was reading their mind.
Knowing what your guests want and being able to provide it is key to being a great property manager. It’s something that only comes with deep knowledge about your properties and about your guests gained through years of experience or thorough market research. It enables you to create a listing that you know will appeal to your desired audience, and if you can back it up you’ll have a happy guest who is eager to recommend your property to others.
But what facilities do guests actually want when it comes to vacation rentals?
And, perhaps just as importantly, what facilities do guests not care about?
Booking.com and Transparent recently conducted a survey of over 50,000 travellers to find out what makes them tick. They looked at travellers of all ages from across the globe, and considered vacation rentals, hotel stays and everything in between.
Read on for the top 5 aspects and facilities that guests value most when looking for their accommodation, as well as two that you can stop wasting your money on:
Top 5 most valued property aspects & facilities
1) Free WiFi
Whilst many of us might fantasise about a break from the modern, hyper-connected world and all its associated stresses and strains, the simple reality is that guests do not want to give up their devices just because they’re on holiday. Whether it’s so they can keep an eye on their work inbox, stream movies to keep the kids entertained or simply upload their photos of their trip, guests expect a reliable wireless internet connection and they don’t expect to pay for it.
Of course, technical issues might mean that connection is better in some destinations than others. If you’re renting out a cabin deep in the forest, guests will understand that they probably can’t stream the latest Blockbuster in 4k definition whilst simultaneously playing an online video game. But in the heart of a busy city, guests won’t look twice at properties without such a basic facility.
WiFi is so important to guests that it’s actually a mandatory information criteria for many rentals websites. When you select your facilities, make sure to indicate whether or not you provide WiFi and whether it comes at a cost. Otherwise many websites will refuse to host your listing. If you create your listing using a service like Your.Rentals, you can indicate your facilities (including WiFi) using one simple form and publish your property advert on whichever websites you want so that all of your amenities are clearly displayed and can be searched and (perhaps more importantly) filtered by guests.
2) Air Conditioning
Booking.com and Transparent’s report put air conditioning as the second most valued aspect for guests, but perhaps this is better understood as “climate control”. In hot summery destinations, decent air conditioning is an absolute must. For a ski destination, you might substitute this for central heating.
It goes without saying that guests want to be comfortable. You won’t win many return customers if your guests are unable to sleep in your property without sticking to the sheets, or shivering in their coats in your living room.
Guests often want to be able to control the air conditioning or heating, but this isn’t always a deal-breaker. Just knowing that such facilities exist can be enough to secure that booking, and if you have good communication procedures in place then your guests will be able to request changes to the temperature without feeling that they’re being unnecessarily inconvenienced.
You could even go the extra mile and invest in smart heating technologies to allow guests to control their environment from their phones so that the property is set to their liking when they arrive! If you do this, make sure to mention these high-tech features in your property description since many sales channels and OTAs don’t support this as a pre-defined facility. With Your.Rentals your property description will be automatically translated so that no matter where your guests are based they’ll know about the features you offer. You can also add your own description for your target languages so you can emphasise the features that are most important.
3) 24 hour check-in
We’ve written before about the importance of being flexible with your guests. If you insist on only allowing check-ins on Saturday afternoons, you’ll cut out a huge chunk of your potential audience whose work commitments or travel schedules mean they can’t possibly meet your rigid criteria.
24 hour check-in might sound like a lot of effort, but in reality if you communicate effectively with your guest beforehand it shouldn’t create too much extra work. Have someone on site during pre-determined working hours, but allow guests to contact you if they have specific requirements. Perhaps you can be flexible with your staffing hours, or at least have somebody nearby on call in case of emergencies. Guests will appreciate the extra effort you go to to make them feel welcome.
4) Breakfast available at the accommodation
Depending on the destination and the type of rental property you offer, the amount of time guests are planning on spending in your accommodation will vary. Some simply plan on having a base that they can use to rest and recharge before heading back out to explore the local area. Others plan on spending their entire vacation at your property.
Either way, one thing is for sure. Your guest does not want to be forced to leave your property in the morning to hunt for breakfast! The exact way in which this should be provided will differ depending on what your accommodation is like. If you’re physically hosting the guest in your property, considering offering to provide breakfast. Many guests will happily pay extra for this service, as long as the cost is clearly specified in the listing description.
If your guest has the entire place to themselves, then they’ll expect to be able to prepare their own breakfast. This means a functioning kitchen, with all the standard facilities as well as basic supplies such as tea, coffee and sugar. You might even want to set aside part of your booking fee to provide some fresh local ingredients at the start of your guest’s stay (we’ve written before about additional amenities and optional extras you can provide for your guests). Not all guests will make use of the facilities on offer, but they at least want the option.
5) A nice view
This doesn’t have to mean a stunning city skyline or a gorgeous ocean sunset. Not all properties are blessed with scenic views from their windows. But humans are visual creatures, and there’s nothing that hooks a guest more than a jaw-dropping photo on your property listing page. We’ve talked about the importance of photos in general approximately a million times, but this aspect is something that is often overlooked.
If your property is lucky enough to have a good view, use it! Make sure that it’s included in your property listing photos so that guests know what they can expect. If the view isn’t directly from your property but is instead in the immediate local area that can be okay, provided that a) you own the rights to use the photo and b) you make it clear to guests where the photo was taken.
If you don’t have particularly interesting scenery, then your property itself will have to be your eye-catching focal point. Artfully taken photos can make even a humble living room look like a picturesque postcard. Consider how you can use colour and decoration to create a visually appealing scene that will draw in your guests. Essentially, the goal should be to provide a view that your guests will want to photograph themselves – be that inside or outside the property.
…And two facilities not important to guests:
Booking.com and Transparent’s survey also revealed two surprising facilities that guests don’t care about as strongly as many property managers might think. That’s not to say that they’re not important at all, or that they won’t give your property an edge over competitors, but according to guests they are way down the list of things that help sway a booking decision:
Considering how much money big hotels invest in their fitness facilities, it’s surprising to see that gyms are one of the least important aspects for guests when it comes to booking their vacation. It makes sense that most holidays are supposed to be a time for rest and relaxation, so people may not be as motivated to pump iron or jump on the treadmill when they could be lounging around a pool. Some guests will of course see the ability to workout as vital to their enjoyment of their holiday, but for many it’s the furthest thing from their minds. Unless you are specifically aiming to target fitness buffs, you might want to invest your money in croissants instead of cross-trainers!
Originally the sole domain of hotels, a few years ago some vacation rentals started to provide mini-bars to their guests. They might be a good source of revenue for the property manager, but guests by and large don’t care about them. Mini-bars have a reputation for extortionate prices, and so the convenience you might think you’re providing may instead be suggesting to your guest that you’re going to try to upsell them on some overpriced peanuts. Guests appreciate honesty, so any food or drinks you provide should either be clearly complementary, or be pre-arranged in advance at a price that the guest is happy with.
Every guest is different and what makes your property unmissable for one person might be the same thing that puts another person off entirely. But by paying attention to the trends in the market and listening to guests about the aspects, facilities and amenities they actually want in their vacation rental you can invest your money wisely and create a property listing that appeals to the largest audience.
By creating your property listing in Your.Rentals you can specify your facilities and amenities and connect them to as many channels as you like from one central account. Guests will be able to search and filter by the facilities that are important to them, meaning that they’ll be able to find properties that suit their needs perfectly. You might not have psychic powers (yet!), but if you can tick all their boxes your guests will jump at the opportunity to book your property!