From Reservations to Memories: Creating Tailored Guest Experiences

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A few years ago, I attended a conference in Como, Italy. This place held a special significance for me, having visited it multiple times during childhood vacations. As I started a family of my own, we made it a tradition to return to the area and a tiny, off the beaten path lake, which always held a cherished spot in my heart.

When I made my reservation, I shared this history with the property manager. I inquired about the campsite we used to stay at and a local pizza joint we loved. Unfortunately, my queries seemed to slip through the cracks, unanswered or unnoticed and there was never a response to my questions..

While we did enjoy revisiting familiar spots, the experience could have been greatly enhanced with some local guidance during our planning stage given it was 30 years since I’d last been in the area.. The details I initially provided in my email contained all the hints needed. There was ample opportunity not only to elevate my trip but also to bolster their brand in my eyes.

It's easy to get caught up in the practical aspects - the booking, check-in, stay, and check-out. Undoubtedly, you've ensured the place is impeccably clean, the amenities match the descriptions, and to the extent you can control, the guest experience is assured.

Yet, concealed within each booking confirmation is a narrative eagerly waiting to unfold. Think of that as gold in your hands - this unique insight into each guest's story. 

Whether it's a momentous occasion, a much-needed escape from caregiving, a romantic getaway, or a chance to revisit a treasured locale, the potential for creating magic is boundless.

Here’s some examples of how you can create a guest experience from the nuggets found in guest communication:

A guest tells you they are traveling on their own and have chosen your place because it looks like it will be private and tranquil.  So you could:

  • Provide a warm welcome upon arrival without being overly intrusive.
  • Leave a handwritten note expressing that you hope they find the peace and relaxation they're looking for.
  • Offer recommendations for local activities that promote self-care and rejuvenation, such as nearby nature trails or quiet cafes.

You get a booking from a guest organizing a family reunion mentioning how tough it is to get everyone to agree on the elements of making it a perfect vacation for them.  She tells you she has her fingers crossed that everyone will like it:

  • Find out from the guest what their group likes to do so you can share ideas for different activities and places to go..
  • Make sure the group organizer has seen a video walkthrough of the property and encourage her to share this with the family beforehand so they can select their rooms before they arrive.
  • Encourage questions about the home and the location.  While this may seem counterintuitive, it can help avoid issues when they arrive.

A traveler asks about the speed of wifi because they have some Zoom meetings to attend.  He’s also bringing his dog.

  • Provide a well-stocked workspace with essential amenities like high-speed internet, a comfortable chair, and good lighting.
  • Ensure there are plenty of charging points for devices along with a dedicated charging space.
  • Provide information on local vets that accept non-local patients, along with their opening hours

One of your guests explains they are going to celebrate a milestone anniversary:

  • Arrange for a surprise bouquet of flowers or a small celebratory treat upon their arrival.
  • Offer recommendations for romantic activities or dining options in the area to enhance their celebrations.
  • Follow up with a personalized message after their stay, expressing hope that their special occasions were memorable.

A guest tells you they are looking forward to relaxing and recovering from an Illness:

  • Ensure the rental is exceptionally clean and sanitized before their arrival.
  • Provide a selection of soothing teas, comfortable pillows, and cozy blankets.
  • Offer a late check-out option to allow them more time to rest before departure.
  • While you don’t have to bring it to their attention, make sure information on local walk-in clinics and emergency care, is available in the guidebook

These are some simple ideas for customizing the guest experience based on each unique situation. Doing this shows you are attentive, empathetic, and genuinely cares about their well-being and comfort.   

Finally, make sure you have a place to collect the information that is shared by each guest.  This could be a standalone CRM or within your PM software.  The data should be accessible by everyone in your team who have access to guests, so they can see it when a guest communicates.

So, The next time you prepare your rental for guests, pause and think: What narratives might they be carrying with them? What experiences can you facilitate to make their journey memorable? Remember, understanding their stories not only enriches their stay but also empowers you to create a haven of warmth and hospitality.