Long-term stays are a sure thing for long-term income. What's not so sure is how long-term the stay will actually be. Guests often test out their apartments for four to five nights before deciding whether to stay the entire time. They want to know if the apartment is as promised. Will the furnishings match the online photos? Is the level of service in line with advertised claims?
For property owners and managers, this presents a challenge. Sandra Martin is particularly good at meeting that challenge. As Managing Director at Signature Serviced Apartments, she has made it her mission to ensure that her guests love their stay, and that they stay the whole way through. It’s personal.
"I am fastidious about keeping our standards at the highest level possible," she explains. "Our listings must be spot-on to meet our guests' expectations. I believe that if I make the guest happy, I will win the game."
Excelling at hospitality
The numbers show that she is indeed racking up the wins. Signature is managing 40 units, but the growth rate is now 5-10 new individual properties per month. By the end of the year, Martin expects to be managing 100 units. And she fully expects every one of them will be delivering the kind of service guests expect.
“It’s personalized, bespoke service,” says Martin, “which is not the same as full service.”
"If my guests wanted full service, they'd go to a hotel. But they want to cook. They want to relax and be entertained in a home environment, with all the comforts of home. That's a special kind of hospitality, a kind of concierge service.
Martin explains that guests who rent apartments are often frustrated by the lack of service they get, because many serviced apartment owners and managers don't realize they've entered the hospitality world. In contrast, Signature Serviced Apartments excels at hospitality. Martin got her training in the hospitality industry with the storied firm Relais & Châteaux, then took everything she learned to Scotland, where she started her business managing serviced rental properties. The next big step was understanding her customers.
"We're very responsive to our guests. We have to listen to them. It's about what amenities they want, not what we want. I will never manage another unit without private parking ever again. That was one lesson I learned. Units with parking out front-and I mean free parking-book much faster."
"Our guests want to be close to highways and the grocery store, too," she continues. "I turn down more properties than I take, because they just do not meet my customers' expectations. If the furniture is not well taken care of, I'm not going to represent those places. If I won't put my head on the bed, no one else will. And making my guests happy means I deliver great ROI for my property owners."
Thinking in hugs
That all makes good business sense. But listening to Martin, you get the idea that it's not just about business. It's more of a way of life.
"My philosophy is, 'How many times can we hug the guests?' I need everyone on my team to think the same way. They have to think in hugs."
Sandra Martin's philosophy extends to her choice of software, too. She selected Kigo, and a big reason was the ability it gave her to stay in touch with her guests.
“As my business grew, I needed to support my team while they tended to our guests,” she notes. “That’s when I moved to Kigo. I really like the Kigo Guest Experience app. We can interact and keep in touch with our guests the whole way. We can send them emails, make personalized phone calls, and follow up during and after their stay. Those are all hugs! Kigo gives them easy access to us. They love that. And when you give them the level of care and communication they’re looking for, they’re much more forgiving when there’s an occasional snag.”
Kigo also gives Martin another opportunity to keep the hugs coming: at home.
"Kigo lets me work from an office or at my kitchen table when my daughters are around. That was attractive to me-that I could do what I wanted to, where I wanted to do it. I wanted more family time and I have it!"
Being there for her family. Giving her guests all the comforts of home. That is Sandra Martin's personal touch at work, making things great for everyone. Hugs all around.
Provide a great experience for your vacation rental guests. Learn more about Kigo Guest Experience.