Who doesn’t LOVE to travel?
Young and old alike, the desire for adventure and world exploration has captivated us throughout history to this very day. Lucky for us our beautiful planet could provide exploration opportunities for many lifetimes over. No shortage of world-class destinations and unique habitats waiting to be explored around every corner of the world.
The global travel market continues to grow while many other industries face year after year of downturn and uncertainty.
While spending in retail and tangible goods slows down, spending on travel and experiential based activities is on the rise. These include everything from outdoor recreation to culinary experiences.
Today’s shifting consumer trends are heavily influenced by millennials, who's spending habits show preference towards experiences above anything.
Meanwhile, approximately half of all travel and destination related marketing is currently influenced by social media.
According to a (Expedia, 2018) report, more than 50% of travellers from the US, UK, Canada, and Australia said that content, promotions and deals on social media influences their travel plans.
52% of travellers also said that friends travel pictures inspired them to travel. 55% of travellers will like at least 1 Facebook page relating to a trip they are planning. (WebpageFX, 2018)
With the industries growing application of technology, coupled with trends such as sustainable travel, hosts today have a wide-range of tools at their disposable and unique opportunities for new market growth.
It’s a very exciting time of change that we, as hosts, are slowly influencing thanks to platforms such as Airbnb and many others.
Our company founders have closely followed these trends over the last 15 years and our insights ultimately led us to the vision behind Alter Experiences. We’ve always believed in the application of tourism towards bridging culture gaps, as well as encouraging habitat conservation and environmental stewardship.
Perhaps this information means little to you, or like us, you’re a travel trend junky teetering at the possibilities and implications of all this.
So how can I, as a host, use this to my advantage you may be asking?
Well here are the 5 most important steps towards standing out as a stellar host.
1. Be prompt, responsive and engage with your guests
It’s a saturated market out there. We’ve got over 150 Airbnb listings in the Julian area alone, along with our hotels and B&B’s. Visitors have plenty of options and will be more inclined towards a host with fastest response time. Your response time and level of engagement also says a lot about you as a host.
Your initial interactions are critical links in a chain of an overall hospitality experience you’re trying to create. This is the most imperative stage for managing guest expectations and avoiding needless unpleasantries later. Make your expectations clear in your listing, briefing and during initial conversations. Make sure to manage visitor expectations by asking questions and being a good listener.
So much of your growth as a host is dependent on reviews, so you can’t afford to be a disengaged host.
Create a comprehensive template you can always re-use to explain your property guidelines, rules, check-in procedures, do’s and don’ts, etc.
So many of the problems that typically come up for hosts can be easily preempted during initial communication stages.
2. Build a hospitality brand and direct booking platform
Airbnb is an awesome channel for you to grow as a host. There are many channels you can use to get your name out there such as VRBO or Homeaway. Tripadvisor and Booking.com are currently the two most popular travel sites in the world. You can also take advantage of more niche platforms such as Glampinghub or Misterbnb. Airbnb alone is not going to cut it if you’re serious about growing.
You’ll want a presence on as many of these channels as possible, to get as much exposure to your listings as possible.
You’re going to need a channel manager to accomplish all this.
More importantly, you'll need a brand, web-site and direct booking platform.
Even if you’re a management company handling several properties, or just an individual renting out your primary dwelling, creating your own unique brand is the key to standing out from the competition. A direct booking platform also allows you to cut out middle-men and gives you full control as the host.
Guesty is a comprehensive direct booking platform and channel manager that will enable you to accomplish all of this and more. We highly recommend Guesty Property Management system to take your hosting game to the next level.
It integrates with your web-site for a seamless on-line booking experience and provides a wealth of functionality to help manage your many responsibilities as a host.
It’s a relatively inexpensive solution that puts you in full control and will allow you to harness the full potential of your internet marketing strategy.
3. Content driven marketing + leverage social media
Once you’ve got a brand and direct booking strategy in place, the real fun begins. Social media is the most powerful and cost effective marketing tool to grow your hosting business quickly. You must know how to create content driven marketing, or hire somebody who does. We can’t emphasize this enough.
Your posts must be curated and should be original, authenticate and engaging. You need a mixture of content including; high quality video and photos, blogs, info-graphics, memes and thought provoking content.
This approach is crucial towards creating your brand following and lifestyle business, which will also help you stand out from the competition.
Your on-line presence should captivate your audiences and serve as a seamless extension of your overall hospitality experience. Consider that your web-site / social media page is most likely your visitors first point of engagement. Make that first impression count.
This will also encourage visitors to interact with you virtually, sharing your content, creating their own content, and writing very personal and thought-out reviews.
4. Create experiences and encourage sustainable tourism
If you're really determined to grow as a host, you need to be thinking in term of experiences. Do you have a unique accommodation that is an experience in itself, such as a tree tent or dome? Does your property have some unique historical or regional significance that you can incorporate into an experience?
Orient your listing around the diversity of activities and experiences your destination offers. Make those experiences a focal point of your marketing approach. Encourage your visitors to immerse themselves in everything the destination and community has to offer.
Green travel and responsible tourism are popular and fast growing trends that you should be continually incorporating into your business. How can you reduce your environmental footprint? Are you using renewable energy? Are you education your visitors about the destination and engendering a culture of environmental stewardship?
Sustainable tourism practices can be applied in so many ways and will further incentivize visitors to choose you over the competition.
5. Study your market and be strategic about pricing
Check out your competition and understand the travel trends influencing your destination. Know the demographic of travelers into your region and where they're primarly coming from. Make sure that you're reasonably priced in comparison to your competitors.
Far too often hosts will start by setting very high prices. But you also don't want to start off too low and devalue your listing.
Keep in mind that you'll most likely want to start off with a discount until you get at least 3-4 reviews going on your listing.
As a rule of thumb, it's better to start off lower and work your way up versus starting off too high and having to work your rates down.
Take it to the next level by finding ways to ensure visitors understand the worth and value you're offering as a host. Guaranteed best reviews!
So do you have what it takes to be a stellar host?
These guidelines provided above are a general rule of thumb. Some of the steps may not be for you. Perhaps you want to keep it small and under insurance coverage provided by platforms such as Airbnb. Perhaps Guesty isn't the property management system that best suits your needs. Or perhaps you're just not ready to take all that on.
Either way we hope you find this information useful and that it helps to make you a better host.
As a growing destination with more and more people getting into hosting, we should be striving towards setting the highest hospitality standard possible.