This is a guest post from our partners at Guesty.
Most property management companies understand the value of prioritizing guest experience as a differentiator for their rentals. When guests seek out accommodation, added perks like top-notch amenities, high-level service and curated entertainment packages often tip the scales and lead them to choose your vacation rental management business or serviced apartments company over the competition.
With the coronavirus pandemic, the criteria for what creates an outstanding guest experience has shifted along with the typical guest profile. Where you were once hosting adventure-seekers and eager tourists, you’ll now be seeing stranded travelers anxious to get home, self-quarantiners, remote workers and in some areas, cautious domestic tourists. These new travel personas appreciate great service and luxurious amenities, but the most important thing you can do for them is be understanding of their situation.
Demonstrating Empathy During COVID-19
Whether you’re hosting a frontline worker who is exhausted and missing their family, a stranded tourist who doesn’t know where or how to get information in an unfamiliar environment, or a remote worker who just needs peace and quiet, there are three things to keep in mind to ensure they feel validated and well-taken care of.
At a time when we are all practicing social distancing, keeping in touch with messages is critically important. Use auto-messaging tools to reassure current and future guests that you are taking extra health and safety precautions and keeping properties sanitized. Ask them ahead of their stay if they have any additional requirements, and keep your rentals stocked with masks and hand sanitizer.
Try to anticipate the needs of your guests based on their current situation. If you know they’re waiting on a flight home, check in to see if they need help contacting local airline offices or arranging safe transfer to the airport. If they’re using your rental as a workspace, message them to note if the WiFi has been working well. For those self-quarantining, suggest local restaurants offering delivery.
Every property manager and host has a set of services they offer to guests, but during COVID-19, you need to be prepared to receive unusual requests. Guests may ask to have groceries delivered and they might need help navigating a language barrier as they deal with local authorities. As such, try to expand your typical service set to accommodate these new requests. Guests will appreciate the effort and you’ll see that reflected in their reviews and hopefully result in them returning for a future stay.
On the other hand, if you know there are requests you won’t be able to cater to, be sure to manage expectations to avoid disappointment. For example, if you’re unable to facilitate grocery deliveries, share a list of local services with guests so they can easily get it done on their own.
The situation created by COVID-19 is new to all of us. There’s no rulebook or roadmap for what to do, and often the best solutions for handling the challenges you’re facing will be the result of thinking outside the box.
Consider new solutions that may be outside your comfort zone. For example, even if you’re not tech-inclined, now is the time to consider how you can re-evaluate your check-in system to make it contact-free. If the local businesses that you typically partner with to create better guest experiences are suffering, brainstorm new ways to partner with them — perhaps via targeted social media campaigns or care packages for guests. If Netflix isn’t cutting it for your guests, try sending them links to live-streamed cultural events.
It’s tough to think creatively in times of stress, but your guests will be impressed by the measures you’re taking to improve their stay.
A New Era for Guest Experience
While it’s no one’s preference to be revamping their guest experience strategy under the current circumstances, prioritizing empathy via communication, flexibility and creativity will not go out of style. In fact, we predict that the next era of guest experience will be defined by this approach. Displaying empathy to your guests will foster long-term loyalty and ultimately make your business stronger.