Where your VR business is most at risk
Recently we discussed the need for Vacation Rental owners to protect themselves and their business by keeping their options open.
Our experience here at UnitedVacation.Rentals has shown us that many owners have a critical dependency in there business that they need to break. The most surprising thing about this, however, is not just how many owners are dependent in this way. It is how completely their own expectations have been manipulated and distorted, and how unaware of it happening they have been. (We’ll actually discuss that in our next post.)
The management of your vacation rental is a fundamental, critical task that many owners choose to do themselves in order to ensure that their guests receive the experience the owner wants them to have. Other owners hire a property manager who takes care of their property operations, and some owners have managers who take care of all aspects of their vacation rental, including operations and marketing.
If an owner manages these things themselves, they truly need to make themselves independent.
One of the services you can hire to make the operation of your vacation rental more efficient is a ‘Reservations Management’ system to make it more efficient for you to interact with guests; by providing a booking system, a method for providing and recording quotations, record keeping, etc. Many of these services are ‘cloud-based’ meaning they are online software systems that you use through a web browser.
If you are not using such a system, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. You may like your self-created jumble of email folders and spreadsheets, but you are truly kidding yourself if you think that any system you can devise is more efficient than some of the excellent services available at relatively low cost.
One source of such services are the major listing sites, as they include Reservation Management in the bundle of what they provide in return for your subscription fees or the commissions you pay them. But should you actually be using them? Not necessarily.
There is much talk in the industry about vacation rental independence, meaning not being dependent upon a particular listing site for bringing you guests. To us this makes sense. We believe that owners should have all kinds of different means of attracting guests, listings sites included. We’ve priced this one so that owners can afford to use it and other means as well.
Vacation rental owners have recently been made painfully aware of how dangerous it can be to be dependent upon suppliers who don’t operate with the VR owner’s best interests at heart.
So wouldn’t a vacation rental be equally in danger if they are dependent upon the same type of company for providing their reservations management system? Of course it would! Yet that is exactly the situation that many owners are in. Even as they are looking to other sources of guests, they are continuing to use a reservations management system that was provided to them by one of the major VR listing sites.
This is just as dangerous as being dependent upon them for bringing guests, because they effectively have control of your business.
There are huge dangers in doing this. First of all, once you provide the guest’s information to a listing site, they become their customer, not yours, and those sites waste little time in marketing other properties and services to someone who used to be your customer! Second, you become dependent upon the listing site for the operation of your business. Third, your guests become subject to whatever the listing site decides to impose upon them as they are processed on their site, like Guest Fees.
In our own personal vacation rental operations, we have never used any vacation rental listing sites reservation manager for operating our business and taking care of our guests. Why? Because we never wanted to be dependent upon them for the operation of our business. So we have always used an independent booking and reservation management system, and separate payment systems. And even if a guest found us through a major listing site, we put the guest and the reservation through our own workflow, not the listing site’s.
In fact, we kept all of our guests as far away from the listing site’s reservations management system as far as possible.
Let’s just say we could see the danger and writing on the wall long before lots of other owners did. Back then, we had no intention of ever being involved in developing a listing site! But we also had no intention of letting any listing site take control of our vacation rental business!
There was another reason for doing this besides preventing control of our business and our guests from being taken over by a listing site – our system was simply much better than any provided by any listing site. And that means that our guests were being better taken care of.
Your reservations management system is so critical to your operations, so critical to your guest experience, and so critical to your marketing efforts, that it needs to be the best it can be. It also needs to be completely independent of any listing site. If not, whether they are supplying you with guests, or not, they’ve still got control of your business. And you need to change that.
Up Next: Distorted Expectations
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