Tag Archives: customer service

Deal or No Deal - Woo Your Guests with Breakers and MakersWith a billion-jillion shiny programs and thingamajigs vying for our budgeted spending dollars, how do you decide what is not just worth the expense but what will be a good investment?

Vacation rental owners run into a multitude of choices and money spending dilemmas on a regular basis, and arming yourself with a plan of how to determine what is important, before the money flows, will increase your bottom line.

There are two important questions to ask yourself to determine if you should fork over the dough for a service, renovation, or a shiny whatnot:

  • Is this a deal breaker for my guests?
  • Is this a deal maker for my guests?

Before you can answer those questions, though, you have to know what the deal breakers and deal makers are.

What is a deal breaker?

This would be an item or service that a guest desires in a vacation rental, but you don't have it, so the traveler moves on to another property.

Note here that the deal breakers will be greatly determined by your location and the type of traveler you cater towards. A deal breaker could be a service like wifi, an amenity like a walk in shower, or even a location such as being on the beach.

The big deal breaker for my family when we look for a vacation rental is a king size bed in the master bedroom. If there is not a king size bed for us, then we will not choose that property.

How do you figure out the deal breakers for your guests?

First, listen to their questions.

Many guests will ask their deal breaker questions in their initial inquiry. They want to verify 100% that you have their deal breakers, even if you have already talked about them in your listing and even shown them in your photos.

Don't get upset that the guest did not read the listing or carefully look through every single photo. Remember that they are searching through several listings, and not everyone enjoys making a spreadsheet to document what each place does and does not have.

Listen to your guestsWe once rented a property near Gulf Shores that was wonderful, and I thought it had everything we needed. But when we arrived, there was no wifi for the property.

I wasn't too happy with the owner until I realized that I had confused the property with another similar place. I survived the week without the wifi and also learned that I probably should have double checked the listing or asked the owner about it, just to verify I was booking the place that had everything I wanted.

Second, listen to why they did not choose your place.

Sometimes guests will tell you your place was lovely, but they chose your neighbor because of "xyz" amenity.

I know I have lost a handful of guests for our Branson homes to our neighbor because we do not have a private hot tub.

If there is a specific thing that travelers are asking for, and you are losing the bookings, and have holes in your calendar because you don't have that thing, then open your wallet and get the thing!

If you can't spring for it immediately, plan it into the budget to get it as soon as possible. The thing may or may not be expensive, and it may or may not be easily purchased or set up, but the deal breaker is worth the money or headache buy valium because of the additional bookings it will result in.

Now, am I going to be getting a hot tub for my places since I know the hot tub has been a deal breaker for several potential guests? No, I am not.

"Gosh, Tyann, you are losing bookings because you don't have one! Didn't you just say that the deal breakers are worth the investment?"

I did say that. But, the other factor of deciding if the deal breaker is something you really, truly need is if you have holes in your calendar. We don't have room for additional guests, as we are booked solid for the high season and highly booked for the rest of the year.

We have enough deal breakers that I now concentrate on the deal makers.

What is a deal maker?

A deal maker is that little extra push for a traveler to choose your property over another property, especially when the properties they are deciding between are very similar.

Last summer when we were looking for a beach house, one of the things that sealed the deal for our family was the master shower with dual shower heads. Who wouldn't want that extra luxury while on vacation?

But the deal maker doesn't have to be big or expensive...even a small appliance in the kitchen like a waffle maker to make breakfast time more fun for your guests is a good deal maker.

Seriously, who doesn't love being able to quote Donkey:

"...and in the morning, we'll make WAFFLES!"

The deal makers get your guest excited about your place. Last year I had a guest who was such a K-cup fanatic that she brought her Keurig with her to my place. This year when she called to book her girls weekend, I mentioned that we added the Keurig at the house, and she was over-the-moon happy.

Once I realized how addicted our target guests are to their K-cups, I made sure to mention the Keurig machine in every single inquiry reply, making it even easier for travelers to choose our property.

Once you have the deal makers, though, don't assume that a traveler will scour your listing and see every single awesome point about your property.

Point the deal makers out.
If you've got it, flaunt it.

If Youve Got It Flaunt It

But the absolutely biggest deal maker, which can definitely be a deal breaker if you don't do it right, is your hospitality, your customer service skills. Simply treating every single traveler with kindness, respect, and enthusiasm, making a personal connection with them, will go a very long way.

Whether you communicate by phone or by email or whether you are able to greet each guest personally or have a little gift on the table for when they arrive, you are a major deal maker yourself.

Tell me, what are your guests' deal breakers?
Do you have any deal makers that seal the deal with your guests?
Let's talk in the comments below.

And do not miss the Vacation Rental World Summit! It's FREE, so register now.
You can send me some dark chocolate as a thank you later. 😉

By the way, best way to stay on top of all the good stuff is to get on my vacation rental marketing email list.

You can sign up right here:


Tyann Marcink
Marcink Designs
Create Killer Vacation Rental Property Photos - eBook now available

P.S. Are you addicted to K-cups also? I am.

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Major update numero uno, in case you haven't heard:
HomeAway acquired the Glad to Have You™ app.

What does this mean?

First, that means calendar syncing and integration with Reservation Manager are in the very near future. I feel like I rubbed the magic lamp, and the genie has granted me a wish.

My wish wasn't for HomeAway to purchase the app, but for the calendar syncing. You can read more about what the app was lacking, in my opinion, over in my original review of the Glad app.

Since my first review, the Glad guys have been working hard, and there have been some cool features added to the app. I'll also go over a bit more documentation as to what your guest sees.

Here we go:

Reviews

Glad to Have You review updateReviews are important to me as an owner, and I know reviews are important to my future guests as they decide if my property is the right fit for their vacation.

So I was a little bummed that the Glad app couldn't handle hyperlinked text in their auto thank you message to my guests. Having the review request already in the thank you email would save me the time of having to send an additional thank you email requesting the review.

So their very next update to the app in January, the Glad guys added my feature. Woot!

So to activate it, you need to go into your "rental info" on your Glad dashboard and follow these steps:

  1. Checkmark the option to "Disable Guest Book"
  2. Enter the direct link to leave a review on a listing site in the appropriate field.
  3. Hit save.

Not painful at all! Here is what it looks like on my dashboard:

Glad to Have You review set up in owner dashboard.
Glad to Have You review set up in owner dashboard.

And here is what the email looks like to the guest:

Glad thank you sample email with review links
Glad thank you sample email with review links.

This feature is still being tweaked, so look for updates as owners give feedback on the review links. I have a couple tweak requests of my own that I have submitted. 😉

Documentation

I have seen many owners mention that there is not a whole lot of documentation available for the Glad app. Meaning, nowhere does anyone walk you through what you see as an owner and what you see as a guest. Or, how does it even all exactly work?

My first review covered a few things, like when a guest receives an email, the types of info blocks available, how to duplicate the info blocks to all of your properties if you have more than one property, and more.

So here is a little bit more, starting with the owner dashboard side...

Activity Log

One question I hear a lot is:
"Are your guests actually using the app?"

Thanks to the activity log, I can say:
"Why, yes, they are!"

If I wanted to, I could even scroll through and see exactly who is using it and figure out what percentage of guests use it, and even how they use it, not to mention who else in their group they invited to use the app.

Here is a screenshot of my activity log from this morning (guest names removed for privacy), pointing out all of the cool info that you have right in front of you:

Glad activity log
Glad activity log

Note that it doesn't tell you exactly what the guest is doing...that would be a little creepy, don't you think? It just shows you that your guests are using the app. Very cool!

I did filter my activity log...

Glad activity log filters
Glad activity log filters

So if you wanted to see even more activity, you most certainly can.

Guest access

The next question owners have:
"How does a guest actually get the app onto their smartphone or tablet?"

After you add the guest reservation in your dashboard, the guest receives a welcome email about 10 minutes later. This email contains a link to download the Glad to Have You™ app, as well as the password to access pharmacy-no-rx.net/viagra_generic.html your property.

The link sends the guest straight to the appropriate app store, and the guest will need to click the download button. After it is downloaded, they can now use the app!

"But how do they actually access the information???"

It's a two step process to make sure all of the details are correct:

Glad sign in screens
Glad sign in screens

If the guest mistakenly deleted the email with the password, then they can hit the "resend email" button to retrieve it.

Info blocks

Wondering what you can put in those brightly colored info blocks? Here are a few examples from my properties:

Glad info blocks - Whats Provided and Map
Glad info blocks - What's Provided and Map

The What's Provided info block gives an area where you can list everything the guest should expect at the house. I also add at the bottom to please contact me immediately if they find one of these items missing so it can be replaced.

The Map info block only shows if three criteria are met in your dashboard:

  1. rental agreement has been marked "signed"
  2. balance has been marked "paid in full"
  3. the arrival date is 14 days or fewer from the current date

If the guest hits the "Open In Maps" button, the app automatically inputs the coordinates into the Google Maps app (or the default map app, I assume) and begins the directions. Pretty sweet!

Glad info blocks - Emergency and Boating
Glad info blocks - Emergency and Boating

The Emergency info block is a good spot to put the important instructions in case of the electric going out, a fire, or other emergencies that could happen in your area. Don't shy away from putting in the basic, common sense instructions.

For the Boating block, and a few others, you can also add a website link for a particular web address. Ideally, I would like to be able to have these links as hyperlinked text within the block of information, so hopefully that will be a later tweak.

Also, the phone numbers or email addresses in the text area of the info blocks are not "tappable" to directly call or email the owner. Currently, the guest can tap the phone icon at the bottom to call the owner. Hopefully the "tap" features will be a later tweak as well.

Glad info blocks - Grocery Stores and Restaurants
Glad info blocks - Grocery Stores and Restaurants

One of the top questions from guests are:
"Where is the nearest grocery store?"
"What restaurants do you recommend?"

With the Grocery Stores and Restaurants info blocks (as well as other distance based recommendations like nearest coffee shops, hospitals, etc.), a Google algorithm automatically populates the blocks. However, you as the owner can put your favorites on top and add your tips to particular spots if you would like.

Glad info blocks - TV and Coffee Maker
Glad info blocks - TV and Coffee Maker

Two other info blocks that have been extremely useful for my guests are the Coffee Maker and TV/Cable. Simple troubleshooting steps for the Keurig machine has saved a few tears, and the list of cable channels in hand has helped if the guest misplaces the channel guide that we provide in each room.

One other update...if you list your property on HomeAway or VRBO, you get this cool app for FREE. (Sign up here if you are on HA/VRBO.)

And if you don't have a property listing on HA or VRBO? No worries! You can still use the app, and it's well worth the $99/year.  Click here to sign up and get a FREE 90 day trial.

Do you already have the Glad to Have You™ app?

How do you use the app for your guests?
Is there a particular feature that has been a life saver for you or your guests?
Please tell me about it in the comments below!

Tyann Marcink
Marcink Designs
Create Killer Vacation Rental Property Photos - eBook now available

P.S. I send out a vacation rental marketing tips email a few times each month. You should sign up for it right here: