There’s an old saying: Never trust a skinny chef. Never trust a business or professional that does not partake in their own wares. The best businesses are run by people with an unswerving passion and commitment to what they do and a belief that they provide the best product or service out there. We expect professionals to know everything worth knowing about their industry. We want them to be more knowledgeable than us on whatever aspect of the service or product. They should burst with this knowledge rather than having secrets that have to be probed out with searching and esoteric questions. So, part of being a successful property manager must involve staying at vacation rental homes whenever you can.
By switching from host to guest, it allows you to see how other hosts treat their guests, what they do to make you feel welcome in their homes. You can use your business as a yardstick and really see how you compare in the industry. Staying as guests at various vacation rental properties mean you may even pick up a few ideas you can implement right away, like a small touch that one host added to their welcome basket, or the wording of an email that really connected with you. If you limit yourself to the usual ideas and approach you will eventually be left behind by other businesses as they innovate and set new standards in guest service.
See how hosts in other countries do it. Find out if there are cultural divides or barriers that are stopping people finding your website or making that final commitment to booking in certain markets. Try the booking process on a site you’re not on. Is it simpler than yours? Do you find yourself becoming frustrated at any point? These are all things that it can be easy to be oblivious to from the business side of things. Becoming the guest allows you a new perspective on things and gives you the perspective to see the problems and highlights that your customers see in your business.
Plus, you will get a chance to speak with other hosts. You don’t have to think of yourself as an undercover agent, infiltrating the business secrets of bitter rivals. We find that property managers are more than willing to share their expertise and challenges with guests and other professionals. Or, you can use your travels to do some self-review and see how your own properties stack up against the competition. You can see if there is anything that makes things easier for you as a host, but that you found made the guests’ experience more complicated or time-consuming.
You will be in august company, the CEOs and executives of HomeAway and Airbnb search through their sites to find places to stay for their business trips and personal vacations. You demonstrate faith in your product and get to see how your business works at every step. Every stay gives you more knowledge and more capacity to be able to empathise with your guests’ questions and concerns. The most complete hosts will have just as good knowledge of the guest experience, as they do the business side of the operation. Neither operates in a vacuum and even the most lean and efficient business model cannot thrive without a good knowledge of the final customer experience, at every level.
Many vacation rental managers started out as holiday makers with an extra property, building their businesses out from the experience of being a guest. Returning to this, and seeing new businesses doing the same thing will help to drive the creative spark to do even more for your guests and develop a reputation as the very best in an increasingly competitive industry.