After shutting down due to the crisis, the travel and tourism industry doors are slowly about to reopen. With travelers eager to get away after a challenging few months, vacation rental owners are also keen to get bookings going again – especially that private villas are poised to become the ultimate accommodation choice beyond the pandemic. A rush of interest is expected and to make the most out of this opportunity, it is vital that if you are a holiday property owner that you are preparing your villa rental for the travel industry reopening. Here are some useful pointers to get you ready:
Run a maintenance check
To make your villa stand out, check out what condition it is in. Tired looking décor can be easily refreshed with a lick of paint, while minor repairs easily fix wear-and-tear issues. Make sure everything works correctly, that the place looks spotless, and that all appliances are in working order, including any lamps and any digital gadgets. The pool will no doubt need some attention if your villa has been empty for a while, and overgrown grounds and dusty windows may need some attention.
Small changes and improvements can really make a huge difference, and in the luxury market it is what guests expect. The important factor is to look at every room and area with an eye for the smallest details. Look at your property with a fresh and objective perspective. Marks on the walls or floors can ruin the pristine impression of a whole room, whereas outdoor furnishings that are not in the best condition can lessen the appeal of an al-fresco experience.
Reassess and revise rates, bookings and cancellations policies
Luxurious stays come within a higher price bracket that is justified by the quality, facilities, and setting of a villa, with high-end design costing too. However, recent global disruption has impacted many individuals and this could be a good time to re-evaluate your rates against the backdrop of uncertain times to make sure that your rental is competitively positioned. You may want to make changes to appeal more broadly to the domestic market too. With many international flights still not operating, the local staycation market is seeing some growth.
What customers want is to feel that they can book safe in the knowledge that they are able to cancel if they need to. With this in mind, it may be worthwhile to reassess your booking guidelines by extending the cancellation period or adding in greater flexibility in terms of booking for greater peace of mind. When deciding on these adjustments think how best to convert inquiries into reservations, and look at the tourism market from the guest viewpoint.
Improve customer service
While discretion and just the right balance of service have always been required from a villa butler or concierge, in the new-normal all villa staff will need to know how to ensure that guests feel safe. Set out health and safety guidelines so that there is clarity, create task lists to follow, and, most importantly perhaps, offer training to make sure everyone understands what is expected.
You might want to consider applying for certifications and accreditations to demonstrate certain standards are being met. Look at what, if any extra requirements there might be with cleaning schedules and private dining services. What about anyone visiting the villa, such as a spa therapist or a yoga instructor? What protocols are in place to make sure everyone feels relaxed and safe? From hand sanitizer at the door, hygiene kits, to hot cloths offered to guests when they return to the villa from being out and about, there are lots of ways to address the risks posed by Covid-19.
In addition, revamping and finding quality outside service providers to connect with and increase guest experiences can really boost booking appeal.
Create a promotional strategy
Special offers and discounts can really capture the attention of would-be vacationers, even in the luxury market. Make sure that these promotions are created to respond to what travelers are looking for. The aim is to coax those who are interested in a stay into booking, while benefiting your reservations too. In other words, this should be a win-win situation. Go beyond just offering blatant money-off deals and instead imagine what might give your future guests more while boosting bookings.
Consider promotions that offer free nights, such as an extra included when seven nights are booked. Other ideas are an early bird discount, to encourage immediate booking action rather than procrastination. Booking in advance often leads to rewards, otherwise many would leave booking holidays until the last minute. Other possibilities include special rates for longer or extended stays, vouchers or even inclusive experiences such as private dining at the villa.
Update marketing materials
Before the rush of interest in luxury vacation escapes, sell the dream of a tropical destination by updating your villa photos. Ideally, it should include any photos of the surrounding scenery and landscape to convey your villa’s grandiose appeal.
Make sure your website and other communication templates are updated to include any new offerings and services. It is also important to point out any new guidelines and protocols you have set in place in response to Covid-19.
Keep information simple and targeted with the right tone and message. A good way to reach potential guests and to entice past ones with updates is to send out an e-newsletter. The key is to not make it too lengthy, so that your main points are not lost.
Renovate and remodel spaces
Before the vacation seasons really get into full swing, now could be a perfect window to commit to any renovations you have been putting off. Part of this revamp could be changing the use of a space, from say a bedroom to a gym, and even adding in an extra room, such as a spa or home cinema. You could also create open-plan spaces or change the layout in some way. A second living area could be changed into a game room or perhaps part of the garden could become a kids’ play area.
While work is underway, you might want to change the interior design style as well as update the furniture to fit with this new theme. Classical spaces can be made to feel uber contemporary and the main point is to be consistent. This is an ideal time to re-energize your villa rental and create booking traction.