You don’t have to be on-site to be a great host – It’s all a matter of management

vacation_rental_property_managementWhen you are a far-away owner, and by that I mean an airplane ride away – not a couple of hours by car – managing a property becomes a whole lot more of a challenge.  I spoke about this with Lisa Presley Sedore in episode 2 of the Vacation Rental Success Podcast (VRS002).  She ‘manages’ her villa in Orlando from Ontario, Canada and is as hands-on as she can possibly be from a distance. Owner of the Thevine House on Great Exuma in the Bahamas,  Montreal-based Nathalie Olivier takes an active approach to the care of her guests, and I should know since I’m her guest at the moment.  It’s a tough life, but vacationing in rental homes gives me a great opportunity to explore how owners can have an impact on the guest experience even when they are thousands of miles away. It takes a very special person to be the sort of  long-distance host that can make guests feel pampered and cared for;

The owners were VERY helpful hosts, answering all of our questions and creating a wonderful vacation home!”

The owners and caretakers were very easy to deal with and quickly provided any information requested. “

The owners and local caretakers are very helpful and accessible. They even provide you with tips on getting fresh seafood, restaurants and local grocery stores – not to mention things to see and do.”

Success in the vacation rental business has a few requirements;

If these are all in place great reviews should follow, however falling short on any one of them could make the difference between fully-booked and challenges with occupancy. There are a couple of things that must be in place to be a 5* remote host

A commitment to hospitality

hospitality_definition
This means having a system in place for welcoming guests whether it’s via a personal written message or a telephone call or having a local representative call by.

Here at Thevine House, we were met at the airport by Willie, who escorted us to the villa via a stop at the supermarket.  He saw us into the house, made sure we had everything we needed before he left.  The housekeeper came by the next day to continue the welcome and answer any questions we had. It all made us feel very welcome and cared for.

balance_wants_and_needsAn understanding of what your guests want and need

Every guest group is unique and although they may have a collective goal – to have a memorable vacation – getting to know them a little can impact the memories they take away. Nathalie sent a comprehensive information pack as soon as we booked so we had a lot of activities and outings to plan.  She was there for us if we had questions or needed additional information.  Having an 18 month old in our group made some of our requirements quite specific, and our questions related to baby equipment got a quick response. A responsive attitude and actions will pave the way to great anticipation on your guests’ behalf.

property_maintenance_teamGreat on-site staff – your eyes and ears on the ground

This is the most important aspect of remote hospitality.  Without a local contact your guests could be left floundering if they run into problems, so having reliable staff makes the job so much easier.  It’s not just a matter of hiring someone to clean up after guests leave – they need someone they can call on in case of an emergency or to answer a question about shopping or finding a local resource.  They really are your eyes and ears on the ground and a good caretaker or property manager can save you a lot in terms of problem solving.

The …. local caretakers are very helpful and accessible. They even provide you with tips on getting fresh seafood, restaurants and local grocery stores – not to mention things to see and do.”

I’m experiencing this at the moment since we are a long way from our cottages and we have guests going into Kingfisher today – a short notice booking with guests being re-housed from another property that has frozen pipes.  Even though we are local owners being 10 minutes away from either cottage, we have a caretaker/cleaner who will be welcoming our guests this afternoon – they will not even know we are away.

Property management should be seamless
– always on tap under any circumstance!

With the evolution of the vacation rental industry, it’s no longer enough to rent out a property and expect guests to be completely self-sufficient.  Many are, but it shouldn’t be an expectation. The owner of Thevine House personifies what it is to be a vacation rental hospitality provider and many can learn from Nathalie about how excellence is carried out.  She can be assured of a 5* review from us….to add to the wealth of those already shown on her listings.  This is what creates success. What experiences have you had with property managers, good and bad? Please share in the discussion below.

Andrea.M

These are some really great points Heather. I always worry about relying on a third party to meet my standards and ensure my property is in perfect condition. It takes a very special kind of person to be a invested in my property as I am. Does anyone have any suggestions if providing incentives will help improve the quality of property managers?

Heather Bayer

Great point Andrea. Getting that investment in your brand of hospitality can make a huge difference in how your property is presented. I had to find someone new to clean my cottages this year and when I found her, I gave her the title of property manager. I also shared my philosophy of hospitality so she knew exactly what I expected. Within a few changeovers, she started to make suggestions for improving the guest experience.

Eva Whitney

Hi Andrea & Heather – –
As a manager of 3 properties, for out of the area owners, it’s up to me to oversee the home completely, because I am a perfectionist, (albeit human) my mantra is always no detail overlooked. In addition to a cleaner (s) there should always be someone that is given the title of manager, caretaker or supervisor, as they will be the one that is on call for your property (s) I like Heather’s philosophy of giving her new associate the title she deserves, as this is a critical part of the business. I have a project management background so I look at my properties as my projects, from start to finish…quality assurance, personal touches, keeping an eye on repairs, purchasing items for the home etc, detailed spreadsheets of the expenditure of the home, etc. I invoice the owners for the housekeeping per our agreement, (and this goes to my cleaning team) however I am paid a separate fee for the management. When I meet a new prospective client I attend the meeting with business contracts that break down what is included in the housekeeping and what is included in the management. I have a website, blog and a business email. Bonded, licensed and insured. Look for someone who is invested in their own business that is targeted to your business and I think you will find the person you are looking for that will be as invested in your property as you are.
Heather, as always great stuff 🙂

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