As we all know, life as an independent hospitality owner isn’t normal.
A 24-hour job like this one, with the added factor of strangers staying in your rather large house, can zap your energy. From cooking breakfast to cleaning bedrooms to doing extensive food shopping, all the while anticipating and welcoming new guests, you have a lot on your plate by any standard.
Your day-to-day life is already jam-packed before you sit down to take care of your online marketing! Fortunately for you, we here at Boostly are always looking at ways to make our vacation rental marketing services and ideas easier. We have come up with 5 lifehacks to ease the hectic days of every hospitality professional.
On weekends after 6 pm, however, the majority of your potential customers are making the most of their time off. The likelihood of you being able to come up with a great post or shareable photo precisely at peak time is very low. How can you get your customers' attention under these circumstances?
The best solution is to schedule your messages ahead at a time when you have a chance to be online. A great tool for this is Hootsuite. With it, you can schedule updates to your Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels to debut when you are certain most of your intended customers will be online. Hootsuite is a ‘freemium' service, where you get the basics for free and have the option to pay a low monthly cost for extra features.
Other websites, like IFTTT (which we covered in more detail here) and Tweetdeck, offer alternative scheduling services. However, Hootsuite is the recommended option.
Set an auto-responder for your email
Are you constantly checking your email on your phone or computer, waiting for a potential guest to message you? If the answer is “yes”, then you’re wasting time that could have been spent on doing more important tasks. The fantastic Tim Ferriss talks more about email management here. The best way to work around this is to set up an email autoresponder.
Here is an example of one that we have set up for one of our clients:
“Thank you for your email. Due to our busy working hours, we only get the chance to check emails at 11am and 5pm. If you need anything urgently, please call my mobile phone directly on XXXXXX so a staff member can immediately address the important matter with you.
If you're emailing about availability in our hotel, the quickest solution is to go to XXXXX and if you add XXX in the promo code section, you'll also save 10% on your stay!
Thank you and have a great day!
This autoresponder fills two functions. First, the guest learns the timeframe in which when you check emails, so they will understand if you don’t email back straight away. Second, if the guest is enquiring about a booking, they can go to your website. If they do, they will save 10%!
Give them a reason to go and do something. If you reward them with a few pounds off their stay, they will definitely consider it. For you, that direction embedded in your autoresponder saves between 5 and 10 minutes of time per day and also helps you keep the guest as a direct booking. That way, you don’t have to pay commission to the OTAs. Additionally, if the guest's query is urgent, they will be happy to know that they have your mobile number and can call you directly. (Quick side note: if you don’t want to give a guest your personal mobile number, buy a spare phone and use it only for business calls.
This way, if you want, you can give it to a member of your staff who you can trust with important guest phone calls.)
Our clients have saved hours daily with this strategy and have experienced no adverse ramifications for potential bookings.
Online grocery shopping
Going to the shops to get supplies is a massive time killer. Online grocery deliveries are widely available now, and many of our clients use them. Quick tip: Sign up with all the major chains, and take turns each month on which you use. If you stop using a supermarket chain for a month, they are inclined to send you “come back to us” special offers and coupons, hence saving you money.
Virtual assistants and outsourcing
This is one of the most important solutions that we recommend. Websites such as Upwork.com are a godsend for any independent business owner who doesn’t want to hire a new full-time staff member but still wishes to outsource time-consuming chores.
Tasks can range from emailing guests with check-in instructions before arrival to requests for feedback upon departure. You can even outsource your accounting work. Responding to reviews and managing email can both be outsourced easily. The benefits are massive.
Why not log onto a freelancer platform, set up an account, and post a job for something that, on a weekly basis, consumes too much of your time? Pat Flynn, a man we respect at Boostly HQ, speaks about outsourcing work here.
Invest in text: lifehack for an easy day
We recently wrote a blog telling you why you should be using text messaging. Everyone texts nowadays, which means that businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, should be, too. Busy hoteliers interact intensely with a very large number of people every day. There is no other line of work out there where you have more contact with customers. Using text, you can efficiently confirm check-in time, give last-minute information about meal times, and much more.
Text eradicates any confusion and nips potential bad reviews in the bud. At Boostly, we are Apple iPhone geeks. On all iPhones, you can set keyboard shortcuts. This means that you can just pre-input phrases, which prompts the phone to substitute a preset block of text automatically. For example, here is a shortcut text that we created for one of our clients:
“Hi, just a quick message to check on your arrival time this week. Would you also like to reserve a table in our Restaurant for an evening meal or an early Afternoon Tea? We serve food from XXX – XXX – Monday to Saturday and XXX – XXX on Sunday. Regards, XXX @ XXX XXX”
There are also startups, such as Zingle, that are now offering automated text messaging services. As of September 2016, we are working with Zingle and incorporating their automated text service for our clients. Check back in 2017 for a blog about our experience with them.
Our clients who have adopted these five techniques have reported back fantastic results. The less you have to be behind a computer screen or checking your phone, the more time you get to do the important tasks that your day throws at you. Who knows? You might even be able to put your feet up for a while!
We recommend you start by giving one of the steps a go and let us know how it pans out for you. Get in touch via Twitter @BoostlyUk, comment below or email us at [email protected].
Are you already running a successful STR business?
Short-term rental hosts run one of the most demanding operations out there where the competition is usually fierce and bookings can sometimes feel hard to come by. Find out exactly how your STR business performs in two minutes or less and unlock your personalised insight report.