Updated: Feb 22
If you’re relatively new to short-term rental platforms like VRBO, Airbnb and others – the
size of the market and the competition between listings can feel a little bit overwhelming.
Typically as a host, you want guests to notice and book your short-term rental over rival
properties, so it may be you’ve gone ahead and optimized your listing as best you can.
So far, enquiries are up... but for some reason your bookings still seem too slow.
Is this your experience? If so, there’s a surprising opportunity at your fingertips that can
help you increase bookings as well as draw even more interest your way...
-- It’s an opportunity that has everything to do with how:
Bookings are attracted to speed
A little known fact that is helpful to know, is the average guest will browse through eight
listings, and message five of these eight listings’ hosts - before they make an actual
So, at any given time that you get a message pop through to you from your hosting platform, the potential guest who is sending that message is simultaneously sending
messages to four other hosts!
Now if you follow the same pattern as 63% of short-term rental hosts, you will take up to a full hour to reply. Sadly, what this same segment of hosts do not realize is how much business they are losing because they simply take too long to reply.
By creating a habit of responding immediately (or as close to it as you can) you will not only experience an increase in bookings, but your guest review star-rating will follow suit as well because communication speed is highly valued by guests. Potential and actual guests will forever show favor to hosts who reply quickly and offer efficient and speedy service.
Speed also shapes your visibility in search
Something else important to be aware of is your ‘response rate.’ This short-term rental
platform metric can affect your listings performance.
Response rate = the percentage of first-time messages/reservation-requests you
responded to within 24 hours in the last thirty days. In addition, any response after 24
hours is considered a late response.
Now, if your listing’s not been that busy and has received less than ten new message threads in the last month, your response rate and time will be calculated on the ten most recent conversations in the past ninety days.
All of this may sound daunting, but it’s actually a really GOOD thing..
Because if you want to get better results, then this is exactly where your opportunity lies.
Since sixty percent of hosts take approximately an hour to reply to potential guests, all you need to do, is move more quickly than that.
What’s more is, if you maintain a high response rate and low response time (ie, responding FAST in most all your guest communication) you will stack up some very favorable data from an algorithm perspective. The reward for you will be a better position in the search results for your listing, which in turn will drive more bookings!
Keep in mind too that this metric does work in reverse as well. So take care not to be slow getting back to people, or your response rate will be low and will negatively affect your position in searches.
Don’t worry, there IS help if you need it
So what DO you do if your life is just too busy and you worry that you won’t be able to meet hosting platform expectations with responding to guests in a faster time frame?
Thankfully there are some very workable solutions you can take advantage of.
Option 1: You can hire someone to manage your listing and its communication
requirements for you;
Option 2: You can use an automated software solution that will reply on your behalf inside a couple minutes. The best use of this tool is to buy you time when you get initial
messages from prospective guests.
While this guest communication software lets you set triggers that pick up keywords inside a guests message that then help predict the question content so a suitable response can be sent...this can become more difficult to get right the further along a message thread you go.
If someone asks, “Hey, is there a Wholefoods near your rental?” you don’t want them
getting a reply that says, “Yes! Those days are available.” See how poorly planned
automation can get messy for you and frustrating for customers, rather fast?
So keep it simple and use automated guest communication software purely as a
placeholder if you can’t send a personal reply in that first hour to acknowledge their
enquiry - and let them know you’ll get back in an hour or two (and then make sure you do!)
I really hope this overview of guest communication and response rate helps you win in new ways with your listing.
If you want help writing a winning script for automated guest responses -- or maybe you
have 101 other things you wish you knew already about listing, hosting and hospitality that would help you better understand, resolve and fast track your short-term rental business,...
If so, I may be able to help.
Head over to my Work With Me page, and if what you read there resonates with you, I
invite you to reach out because anything that seems difficult right now can be made EASY - when you just know how.