Making Guest Complaints Work In Your Favour. Having open ports of communication with your customers is great. It allows them to double check small things with you, check out your products and properties as well as learn a little more about your business. Social media helps to reassure your customers about your business and move them a little further along in the buying process. But, what if it goes wrong? What if you misjudge a post? What if you are bombarded by complaints and don’t know how to handle them? One disgruntled guests can create posts that all of your prospective guests will see, undoing all of your work to create your reputation.Today, we’re talking about how to handle a crisis when it when it all goes wrong on social media, and how, as a property manager, you can turn it to your advantage.Read Don’t be too quick to respond. Read each post carefully so you don’t miss the inference. Make sure you know exactly what you’re dealing with and don’t respond emotionally or rashly. Read and read again to ensure that you know the problem inside out and won’t forget to check every single detail. EnquireIs this a customer? A lead? Do they have a history with your company. Social media has a range of tools that you can use such as Twitter’s advanced search option that will let you see who you are dealing with. This can be invaluable customer research and will help you to gauge your responses carefully. ResearchIs their complaint or statement valid? Is your company in the wrong? Check their complaint with your staff and find out what happened and what has lead up to the complaint. Many social media crises get escalated because of misunderstandings and misinformation. Know your customer and know their problem before you reply. Appearing knowledgeable and helpful helps to deflect the negative attention that complaints can gather. Resolve Work with your team to fix the issue. The quicker you can do this from the time the complaint or question was posted, the better it will look. Always remember to inform them that you are aware of the issue and are working on it. Leaving a message unreplied to on social media is like a flashing beacon of poor customer service. If you want to send sensitive details or information privately, let people know this is what you’re doing in your comment or tweet. Follow Up Once the problem has been resolved, don’t just leave it there. Ask your customer if there is anything you can do, or if they have any other questions. You are showing new customers that you are prepared to go above and beyond. This is what puts a positive spin on your crisis. You listened to your customer, wanted to help and did help. And, remember to judge the conversations you enter carefully. As a company, your silence on issues outside of your industry will never be controversial. If you are unsure whether you should tweet or post about an event or topic, err on the side of caution and don’t. There are plenty of cautionary tales about companies that manage to create their own social media crisis with a misjudged or mistimed tweet or post. With the right crisis management you can make sure that even the worst social media problems can be spun into a positive light for your vacation rental business. Having your customer interaction out in the public will let your customers see how you deal with complaints. How you take them seriously and work hard to rectify any mistakes. Your response is always going to be judged alongside the initial complaint, and may even be under more scrutiny. Making sure your response is measured and correct will turn a social media crisis into a chance to shine. Photo Credit
For a small business, staying on top of social media can seem like a full-time job. It means that property managers have to make difficult choices when it comes to which networks to be active on. Taking on a new page can be a lot of work, with a learning curve to navigate, so some networks can get unfairly relegated to the back of property managers’ minds. But, there is so much more than just Facebook and Twitter. Some networks are more suited to certain kinds of business. Today we’re talking about why Pinterest should be a serious consideration for any property manager that is not already using it, as well some tips on how to use it effectively. For many people, Pinterest is not one of their primary networks. It has a smaller number of users than Twitter and Facebook. Instagram and Snapchat seem to have captured the youth image sharing corner of the market whilst Linkedin covers anything academic or economic. But, Pinterest is not to be written off. It’s still a growing force and reaches a very specific demographic. It currently has more than 70 million users and a very high percentage of female users, with women making up 85% of the total worldwide users. Whilst these numbers may be dwarfed by the billion Twitter users, Pinterest has had a 135% growth in US users in 2014 and is set to growth further this year. It can be a good way to try out more demographic focused marketing and promotions. If you know the majority of your followers are female then you can use this to test the specific appeal of your website and content compared with the more balanced demographic of other social media networks. Create an account and add your own photos and pin other interesting, attractive images and blog posts. You have the option to create your own content as well as curating lists of other content and images that will appeal to your guests. You will gain followers just by collecting images and tips and tricks from influential bloggers, your guests and other people involved in the vacation rental industry. Once you have a following your own posts will have an audience to reach and you will be able to engage potential customers with images from your properties. One of the main advantages of Pinterest over other social media networks is that these images can link back to your own site.This means it will help to drive large amounts of organic traffic directly to your site. As well as this, your posts have a far longer shelf life than those on Facebook or Twitter. Facebook posts have a half-life of around 90 minutes, Twitter, just 24. Pinterest posts have a longevity that cannot be matched by other social media networks. Posts can stay relevant for months on end.You can use it as a virtual focus group to measure the popularity of your images, see which work best and use your most popular content as the headline images on your website. One of the best things you can use Pinterest for is to build visual links. Nothing generates holiday anticipation and excitement like pictures. Your images and posts will help to get your guests ready to book their destination. These images can then link back directly to your site. It is often said that social media works best for ‘product-based’ businesses, but sites like Pinterest can help you to sell an idea to your guests. You can then also add ‘Rich Pins’ that contain details about your business to your images such as addresses, real-time pricing, availability and where to buy. Using Pinterest adds a new dimension to your social media presence, and with Kigo’s WordPress CMS you can make sure that all of the high-quality images and content you share on Pinterest are featured on your site, too. Boosting your SEO efforts and driving people to your site through two different channels.
Answering The Questions Before Your Guests Even Ask them! Here at Kigo we like to read a lot about what property managers do to keep their businesses ahead of the curve. We follow blogs, check articles, podcasts and videos to make sure that we are always at the forefront of what is happening in the vacation rental industry. But, we also like to see what the people staying in vacation rentals have to say. Knowing what drives guests to vacation rentals, what makes certain properties more appealing than others and the big turn offs on booking websites helps us to make a stronger product. In doing this, we have been seeing a lot of content about the right questions to ask before booking a vacation rental. The things that guests NEED to know.So, why wait for them to ask? Give them the information they need right away. If you can preempt your guests’ questions you save them time, reassure them and help to give first-time guests the confidence to make that booking. We always like to remove barriers in the booking process for property managers so we have compiled five things that every guest wants to know about your property. Number of GuestsHow many people does your property sleep? Anyone booking for a family or a group of friends needs to know the exact number that you allow per night. Having just the number of bedrooms can be confusing and may filter your properties out on portal sites when people search for large group accommodation. List this information alongside the number of bedrooms you have to avoid any confusion. HousekeepingA big concern, particularly amongst first-time bookers, is how the housekeeping is organised. Is it like a hotel with a daily turndown service? Do I have to clean myself? These are things people need to know and are confused about before booking. There are misconceptions about vacation rentals, and worries that it’s going to involve more work than staying at a hotel or traditional accommodation. Inform your guests the schedule and process. WIFIWIFI is becoming a basic human need, alongside shelter and fresh water. If you have it, save your guests the time and list it right at the top of each property description. Not having to email or call to find out about WIFI in your apartments just makes booking that little bit easier. Who is the Contact?Who can your guests speak to if there are any problems? Who should the seek out to find the apartment? Will anybody meet them? Will there be anybody to be accountable. Hotels and other types of accommodation have clear and defined processes that give guests confidence and reassurance. Outline your contact process and key person for each property. Cancellation and Refund PolicyAm I locked in if I book now? Can I keep my options open? Knowing where you stand is very important when booking anything and any doubt or confusion will be enough to make your guests reconsider. Transport and LocationHow long will it take to get to the property from the airport? Where are the nearest stations and public transport links? How long does it take to get to the center? Guests need all this information. If you don’t want to publish the exact location of your properties you can add your location as well as maps to an automated email that you can program to be sent in response to availability information These are some of the most popular inquiries that people to make to vacation rental properties before booking. If you can answer them first, you remove that barrier to booking. So many bookings are lost because people are unwilling to get in touch to find out the information they need. We live in an instant society and having to delve for key information means that people will switch off and move on to the next site, the next business. If you have the answers to your guests’ questions that show your properties in a positive light make sure you include them in your property descriptions. Photo Credit
There’s a saying that anyone that has worked in an office will have heard, ‘Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions’. Whilst it might give you flashbacks of your old boss, there’s no denying it’s a pernicious phrase. People don’t want to hear problems. They don’t want to hear that vacation regulation is going to cause damage to your business, or even to their local area, they want to know how YOU are going to suggest a better alternative. As people who believe in the power of short term rent as a force for good, we are invested in finding stories that help us prove this. We want to hear about the people that are bringing solutions to the table and are making sure that the rights of property managers to rent their properties and the future of their businesses are not ignored So, when we came across the work of the Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance, we wanted to share their story.Their aim is to combat the creeping rent regulation by highlighting how vacation rentals and short term rents are adding to their areas, how they are already part of the city that is trying to stamp them out. They share real testimonials from people that have used short term rentals to save their houses or help with medical bills. They include stories from happy guests and undisturbed neighbors.But, to play devil’s advocate, how you use money you earn is not the biggest concern of most people, you could save your house selling crystal meth, you could spend your doctor’s salary betting on cockfights. One does not justify the other. Where money ends up is not the concern of VR regulators, it is how it’s earned that they want to know about. This reason has been ignored by countless communities and does not seem to be enough to convince people of the right to provide short term rentals.What LASTRA have done is added to the argument. It has arguments that extend further than the fact that it makes property managers money. They have conducted their own research into the wider economic impact of short term rentals. They know regulators are at the mercy of their bottom line and are playing to this strength. They feature not just the benefits that people renting their homes and investment properties are experiencing, but also the $1.4 billion that vacation rental guests are reported to spend in Los Angeles in just one year.It is not just about the selected few that operate homes in cities that benefit. They look at how vacation rentals have an impact on their areas as a whole. They provide a new alternative to holiday accommodation, empower people of any age or background to become business owners, distribute income to people at a more grassroots level then than the trickle down style of large hotel businesses. To give you an example, the famous Beverly Hills Hotel (as well as many others) is currently owned by one of the richest men in the world, the Sultan of Brunei.They cite an example where the tax from properly regulated vacation rentals could be used to house over 10% of the current Los Angeles homeless population and at a lower cost than existing programs. It’s a proactive approach to the problem that demonstrates solutions rather than just decrying what has happened. They understand the majority of hosts and guests are responsible and professional. They actively seek regulation and taxation that allows them to conduct their business fairly and competitively. They echo the rhetoric that we have been saying; vacation rentals are not just good for owners and guests. They are good, full stop.We found this inspiring and we know that others will, too. Stories like this are why we think that it is going to be harder and harder to refute the economic and social benefits of the vacation rental industry as and when more regulation is attempted to be implemented. And, this is something you can do too. In any area. If you are a professional host, with happy guests and neighbors; add your voice to the story.
Staying on the Right Side of Uncle Sam Expanding your business into a new country is one of the biggest steps for a small business owner. In fact, it is a major event for any business and it requires meticulous planning to get right. Often, getting started can be the hardest part, so we’re going to explain the best way to take the first step when it comes to expanding your business stateside.Today, we’re discussing practical advice for vacation rental owners looking to expand their operation into the United States. It may not be glamorous, but it is inevitable. Tax. The US has clear regulations covering anybody looking to start operating a business in America and vacation rental owners can’t ignore them. To start operating in America, you will need to obtain an ITIN. This is an Individual Tax Identification number. You need an ITIN before you start to earn income from any properties in the US so it’s best to obtain it before you do anything else. This can be obtained without a social security number and is available to residents and non-residents alike so you can get this obstacle out of the way early.Having the red tape taken care of before you even arrive gives you the best possible start to the international success of your business. Making errors with taxation is a costly mistake that could have serious implications on your potential business. Get it right first time with our guide to getting your ITIN: The first step is to obtain the Form W-7 and fill it in, sending in original versions of your identity documents. You can post this form, but it does need to be sent with your original documents, which can be a risk. If you send your passport, you do not need to send any other documents alongside it, otherwise you need to send a combination the prove your identity and your foreign status. You can get this form, as well advice and help completing at US embassies in London, Paris and Frankfurt. You can find their address and contact details here. If you’re not in the position to head to these embassies, you can use a third party service such as Acceptanceagentservices.com to take care of this for you. It may not sound exciting. In fact, it may sound outright dull but getting your ITIN just gives you that impetus to move onto the next step of your journey towards world domination. And, using a certified agent will take out the hassle and stress of application and make sure you get it right. First time. Tax is nobody’s favorite part of running their business. It is expensive, time-consuming and can be a real problem if you get it wrong. We’re not going to pretend that this will be one of the more glamorous events in your career but, breaking ground in one of the most exciting and profitable markets for vacation rental properties in the world, will be. Getting the right documentation early on will save you time and stop potential problems further down the line. Choosing the right agency to help you means you that you get your business in America off to the best possible start. Let us know your experiences with renting properties in America! Photo Credit