Just like these ATT commercials, Faster is Better – especially for Responding to Vacation Rental Inquiries!
As any vacation rental owner or property manager will tell you, responding quickly to inquires is one of the easiest ways to increase your conversion rate. The difference between responding in 20 minutes versus 20 hours is astounding. No matter where your leads come from, whether it’s your own website, or VRBO, each lead costs money, so treat them like gold. The quicker you respond, the quicker a guest may also stop looking for other options.
Great Steve, I know I’m supposed to respond faster, but how do I actually do that? I try, but sometimes I just can’t get back ASAP or I miss the email. What can I do?
I’m so glad you asked! Here are 5 tools to help you respond faster. And Faster is Better.
Vacation Rental Auto-Responders
This is by far the fastest way to reply as it’s automated and instant. You can send a canned message that says “Thanks for your inquiry, I will follow up with you shortly with a full quote. PS – if you haven’t checked already, here is a link to my Calendar to see if your dates are available.” Now, you don’t need to respond to booked dates if you don’t want to. I still think it’s a good idea to respond fully, but hey, you did your part and didn’t leave them hanging. But the best part is that it lets your guest know that you are on the ball, and they may stop looking elsewhere.
If you use Gmail, and you should, you can use IFTTT.com for FREE to set up specific auto-responders to each listing site inquiry so you are not auto-responding to every email you get, just the inquiries. I have found that IFTTT can take 10-30 minutes to respond so it’s not instant, but it’s much better than waiting 4 hours until you get home from work. See the second video below to see how IFTTT works.
For an even more robust solution, try Property Management Tools – This company has a nice auto-responder that not only replies, but calculates a quote for you instantly! If your dates are booked it can send back a quote for another one of your properties. It works with HomeAway, VRBO, Flipkey among others as well as your own website. This does take out some of the screening process, but you can obviously put a note into the email about calling you first before booking if you wish.
Text Message Alerts for Vacation Rental Inquiries
Unless you are sitting by your computer all day, it’s pretty easy to miss an inquiry that might get lost in your email inbox especially if you are out and about on your mobile phone. Setting up text message alerts for inquiries is smart since texts are easier to notice than email. VRBO, HomeAway & Flipkey all have text messaging options for inquiries. See the video below to see how they are set up.
But Steve, what about text alerts for other listing sites that don’t offer it, or your own website? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered there too! Using a great free tool called IFTTT, you can set up text alerts for those too. Once again, see the video for a walk through demo.
Email Templates for Vacation Rental Owners
If you are writing each response from scratch, you are wasting a lot of time retyping the same basic message over and over. Take advantage of Reservation Managers email templates or, like me, use ToutApp’s free email templates. This will save you loads of time and frustration.
Answering Rental Inquiries on Your SmartPhone Apps
When you are out and about, you still need to be able to respond quickly. Either call the prospect, or reply via your smartphone email even though its hard to offer the detail and possible attachments you would on your computer. You also can access Reservation Manager via the HomeAway app to take care of inquiries that way. Flipkey also now has an app for both iPhone and Android. If you still have the old flip phone, it’s time to finally upgrade to a smartphone. It will help you respond faster and can pay for itself very quickly with just one extra booking.
Live Chat for Your Own Vacation Website
This can allow you engage with a guest immediately and answer any questions. It also gives your site a bit more of a “live” feel. The downside is you need to have someone available to answer. It can also give people a way to get quick info without you being able to engage them as fully as a call or email. But generally it’s a good idea to let guests communicate in their favorite way with you. There are lots of free live chat options available.
Above are all free ways you can use any or all of the techniques and tools to reply faster. The other option is of course buying Vacation Rental Software which may have one or more of these tools built into their solution…but that’s for another blog post. What do you use? What tool do you wish existed?