The key to succeeding in referral marketing is going above and beyond for your vacation rental guests. Guests want to feel like they have gotten value for what they have paid, and apart from their satisfaction with the property, customer service plays an important role in adding value to their rental. Automated check-in emails with information about the property and area is a good starting point for customer service. The next step you can take as a vacation rental agency/owner is to provide welcome packages for your guests as a pleasant surprise.
Welcome packages are cost effective and make guests feel like you are doing everything possible for their trip to be pleasant, increasing your chances of being referred to their friends and family. Below we have outlined 5 different types of welcome packages you can provide for your vacation rental guests:
1. A gift card to local restaurants
Create a local map with highlights for local restaurants and attractions. Along with the personalized map, you can include a gift card for them to enjoy one of your recommendations.
A cost-effective way of purchasing a gift card is to speak with the management of local restaurants and agree on a mutually beneficial deal. Let the business owner know that you will refer your guests to their restaurant if they provide you with a discount on the gift card. Guests are likely to spend more than the gift card value at the restaurant, generating a revenue for them that might not have existed had your guests not received the gift card.
2. Welcome gift basket with holiday essentials
Gift baskets are simple and cheap to create, yet can impress your guests. Below are a few gift basket suggestions:
- A morning gift basket with coffee, tea, cereal and fresh fruit.
- A relaxing gift basket with bath salts, small moisturizer bottles and essence candles.
- A family-focused gift basket with coloring books, crayons and chocolates.
When you purchase a large number of non-perishable gifts you can significantly reduce the costs. The presentation can make your goods look more luxurious: place them is a wicker basket with colored paper and a personalized welcome postcard for that extra touch.
3. Themed welcome gift baskets that match your property
Do you own or manage a winter chalet? A beach cottage? A countryside cabin? Play to the theme of your vacation rental by creating personalized gift baskets. Winter gift packages can play to the theme of hot chocolate and mulled wine, whereas summer gift packages can include sun-screen, inflatable beach balls etc. The key is to provide gifts that you think guests may find essential but may have forgotten to purchase, this way you will appear to be the one who comes to the rescue with forgotten items.
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4. Pick-up/drop-off services
If you manage a luxury vacation rental, you may want to partner with a car-service to pick up or drop your guests off to the airport. Your guests will feel like they have received preferential service and you are bound to receive a good recommendation and referral. The cost of hiring a car may be higher than the other package ideas, however you can either partner with the car company for a special deal or you can provide this as an option guests can opt-into paying for when they book your property.
5. Local keepsake packages
When guests have a great time on their holiday, they want to remember their time with small keepsakes. You can create a basket with small memorabilia that represent your local area such as magnets, postcards, and key chains. To add a personal touch to your keepsake package, you can have the guests' greeter take an instant-print photo of the guests in front of the property. Have them stick it to a personal-postcard that has a picture of the local area with your contact information. This way you can also provide them with contact information that they are likely to keep.
If these gift packages seem like a time-consuming activity, simply automate your instructions for the housekeeping staff to create these packages. Create different automated email templates and have your vacation rental reservation system automate the emails to your staff depending on the season, the number of guests and the guest type.
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(Editor’s note- we have updated and republished this article to benefit readers new to the Kigo blog).