We are in a new era of our business. We’ve moved from talking about ‘vacation rentals’ to using the term ‘short-term rental’; Airbnb has become a verb; major hotel groups are moving into our space with years of hospitality experience and a strong competitive edge, and we have to watch our backs every day as regulations take hold.
But, all is not lost. It just takes a different attitude to get into a new headspace with what’s going on.
We can’t whine any longer if we want to stay in this business and be successful.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and do the real work involved to embrace the changes. That doesn’t mean rolling over and passively accepting what we don’t agree with. It does mean we have to be diligent and open to all the great opportunities we have for growth. We have to adapt and evolve to survive.
We are using this list to define our property management business as we create a new five-year plan, so I wanted to share it with you in the hope you’ll find something useful within it.
In this episode I talk through the 10 steps we are taking to future-proof our business:
1. Be the best you possibly can at what you do
This should be common sense with any business, but it can be easy to drop standards if it’s not front of mind. Brainstorm all the ways you can do better from marketing to operations to the services you offer. Think about how you can go the extra mile.
Putting all your eggs in one basket may be fine if you rent out infrequently – maybe you have shared space or just want to make a small amount to pay a few bills. But, if you are a professional owner or host and are in this for the long haul, you need to diversify. I explain what that means.
3. Upgrade regularly
Everything wears out eventually, from can openers to pillows; lawn chairs to sofas and tech is continually advancing. An Xbox 360 might have been state-of-the-art in 2005 when it was launched – not so much now. Some things have a one-year life like a non-stick fry pan while others may last several years. Scheduling annual upgrades are key to success.
4. Know your customer
I’ve done other episodes on personas so don’t go into that too much, but I use a couple of case studies to demonstrate how knowing your guests can make the difference from them being indifferent to sharing uncontrollably.
We have to be on top of all our systems and procedures to ensure nothing gets forgotten or glossed over. Using the best reservation system and staying up to date with advances in email marketing and automation is the way to keep ahead of the competition. That way we’re always front of our guests’ minds.
6. Stay on top of regulations
No-one is safe from legislation and regulations, and it’s important to keep up to date not only on what’s out there for everyone to see but what might be in the hopper and looming up to surprise you. San Diego’s latest legislation has come as a blow to many, particularly in Mission Beach where it’s said roughly 44% of the housing stock is turned over to short-term rentals most of which are not primary residences.
7. Increase your tolerance
If you frequent some of the larger Facebook groups, you’ll find varying degrees of tolerance for a range of guest requests and behaviors. We know expectations are rising all the time and guests tend to be less self-reliant in general. We complain they don’t read anything we send them, that they have unreasonable demands and they need to understand these are our homes and not hotel rooms. We may have to change that attitude, and I discuss how the entry of hotel-run accommodation could change the face of what we know as a vacation rental.
8. Network with peers and competitors
Collaboration and networking are how we will succeed as we gain force in number. From creating local associations to fight unreasonable regulations to attending live events to meet peers and suppliers, to joining organizations such as VRMA and AVROA, the potential for growing networks is almost unlimited.
9. Become the go-to authority for your location
The one thing the listing sites and big hotel chains aren’t able to do is to create authority with their local knowledge. Take a look at what Nancy McAleer and Terry White have done with their respective websites for their Anna Maria Island properties, and you’ll see what this looks like.
10. Hold the passion
Successful owners and hosts are passionate about providing a supreme product and service for their guests. Holding onto that passion through every.
Links mentioned in this episode:
The Island In The Sun
Anna Maria Island Home Rental