Top 8 Ways to Compete and Beat RBOs
How can professional management companies compete with rent-by-owners in their local market? Here are the top 8 ways to show potential guests the value of staying in a professionally managed vacation rental.
1. ANSWER INQUIRIES QUICKLY: The number one way to show a customer value is by giving better service right off the bat when you get an inquiry. Most vacation home owners are not sitting at their computer all day ready to respond to an inquiry. But your staff is. Respond within 30 minutes to the email inquiry, and if the potential guest includes their number in the inquiry, CALL before emailing. They will be so impressed with the quick response, and immediately you’ve shown them the difference of a professional vacation manager vs. a private owner.
2. RESCUE THE GUEST: It is quite daunting for guests to search through countless listings on RBO sites to find the right property for them with no central number to call for advice. So, when you get a guest on the phone that’s been searching these sites, get them to your website right away, and let them know you’ll help them, making it easy for them to find the right property for their stay. They will appreciate the life raft. Most customers prefer receiving the professional, personalized service a vacation rental agent can provide over the negligible savings they think they are receiving with an RBO property.
3. EXPLAIN YOUR VALUE: Don’t assume potential guests understand the difference of renting from a private owner vs. a professional manager. Their buddy told them in passing to try out going through a private owner and they are giving it a go. Explain simply and not defensively why it’s going to be a better experience with your company vs. an out-of-state owner. Some value points: 24/7 in-town service during their stay; taking secure, online credit card payments; offering vacation insurance; professional cleaning and maintenance standards; and guest amenities (discount lift tickets, ski rentals, restaurant discounts, etc.). Overall, the guest can book with confidence that the professionally managed rental they are staying in comes with greater quality assurance and if expectations are not met, the management can offer a reasonable solution.
4. MEET EVERYONE'S NEEDS WITH VARIETY: A private owner can’t do "consultative selling” because, well, they only have one property to sell! You can ask questions of the potential guest, and then guide them to the perfect property in your portfolio of rentals. They will feel they are getting the right place for their needs vs. feeling they are being forced into the only property the owner has to offer. Property managers employ agents who are trained to match guest expectations with the right property in order to ensure the best vacation experience for the guest.
5. SELL THE "EASY” EXPERIENCE: With a private owner, the renter has to do a lot of work. They have to make sure they have all of the information needed, codes, contact info, etc. And if something is wrong, they probably have to just live with it. If they want anything while they are in town, they have to figure it out on their own. Stress to the guest that you have an office nearby, that there is a 24/7 emergency number, and your staff is happy to help anytime during your stay.
6. OFFER LOCAL ADVICE: Second homeowners are not "locals.” Sell the advantage that you know the best beach spots to hit, the secret bike trail no one ever goes to, or who has the best steak in town these days. That’s what guests want – the local scoop!
7. PROFESSIONAL EMAILS: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a big deal. Make sure your emails are informative, helpful and answer all of their questions. First impressions make a big difference and immediately tell the guest that you can take care of them.
8. TELL YOUR STORY: Professional management firms offer peace of mind that the vacation rental the guest books actually exists and that the business is accountable for all transactions and rental terms. Casually mentioning the peace-of-mind your company offers help the guests rest easier about their vacation investment. With a professionally managed rental, the guest doesn't worry about the horror stories that can haunt their vacation experience: the house that floods during the guest’s stay and there’s no one to fix it; not being able to get a refund from a private owner; walk-ins who show up in your office because the RBO key didn’t work, etc. Online rental scams, fraudulent bank drafts, and other criminal activity take place daily on the internet and many innocent consumers have been conned at a high price, including ruining their vacation.