by Sally Scarborough and Alexa Nota
Surprise and delight. As tech and digital platforms have in many ways eroded the personal connection between hosts and guests, these two words have become more important in hospitality than ever before. When we give more than our guests were expecting, we not only add a little extra sparkle to a memorable vacation, we give them a reason to come back - and recommend our homes to others. Both the personal connection to your home and the power of word of mouth are critical to rental success, so surprising and delighting guests isn't optional. It's a must. Thankfully, for vacation rental owners and managers, it is also easy! Here are 7 strategies to help you get started.
1. Give your guests a sanctuary.
After a long drive, is there anything better than
belly floppinglounging gracefully on a plush bed with crisp linens and fluffy pillows? We don't think so. Just because your beach house isn't a luxury hotel doesn't mean you don't need to give your guests this luxury moment. Make sure your bedrooms are sanctuaries that invite your guests to get a cozy, restful night's sleep with comfortable mattresses and bedding.
2. Add touches of home.
It's true a vacation is supposed to be a departure from the day-to-day grind, but that doesn't mean guests shouldn't feel at home away from home. Make sure they'll find their normal creature comforts and then some. Think Netflix, cozy throw blankets, or some locally roasted coffee. For rent-by-owner properties, you could even have fresh flowers.
3. Give your house a theme.
"Beach house" is not a theme. Set your house apart from the rest by creating a unique personality in at least the main living areas, if not the bedrooms, too. For example, a home named Oh, Whelk! could carry the whelk shell theme throughout with a decorative centerpiece, side table lamps, accent pillows, wall art, and - of course - actual whelks! Hatteras Island Interior Design is the place to go for help with design ideas and products designed for the vacation rental industry.
4. Keep your inventory fresh.
Don't let your guests discover there's no spatula when they go to make their first scrambled egg breakfast, or create a kids' meltdown when the game of Life has only two pawns. Do the opposite and surprise them with more than they will expect, such as new games and books, more than enough kitchen and dining ware, specialty appliances or cookware, or pool noodles for the whole group.
5. Make everything easy.
While there will always be a learning curve in getting used to a new home, make the settling in process as simple as possible for your guests. Consider labeling your cabinets and drawers (bonus: this will also reduce wear and tear by reducing touch points!); providing instructions for hot tubs, TVs and stereo systems; giving helpful tips for navigating any unique quirks to your home; or creating a list of important places nearby, like vets, hospitals, and attractions. Our Area Directory can help.
6. Leave a personalized touch.
Even if you don't meet your guests face-to-face, you can still deliver a personalized experience with easy things like hand-written welcome notes, personal recommendations to your favorite spots on Hatteras Island, or insider tips on how to experience the OBX like a local (check out our Hatteras Island travel blog for local guides!)
7. Celebrate with them.
Similar to personalized touches, make sure you acknowledge special occasions and help your guests celebrate them. Leave a bottle of champagne for honeymooners, flowers for Mother's Day, or cupcakes for a birthday. At Outer Beaches, doing these things for our special occasion guests is one of our favorite parts of working in the vacation rental industry.