10 Ideas For Vacation Rental Companies
1. Create a frequent guest program
Every time you stay at a place through AirBnB/Vrbo, you get points that can be redeemed towards a future stay. Stay at enough rentals through the platform, and you can eventually get a complimentary stay (just like how casinos will comp you a room if you spend a certain amount of time playing games at the casino). Structure the points system so that guests get more points for staying with a new host to the platform. This will incentivize guests to patronize new hosts, help new hosts build their business on the platform, and will help grow the host base.
2. Create a host network based on geography
All AirBnB/Vrbo hosts in a particular area are automatically included in a host network that connects them with other hosts in the area (for example: AirBnB/Vrbo NYC Host Network, AirBnB/Vrbo Boston Host Network, etc.). Hosts in these networks can connect, exchange ideas, shares resources to keep costs down, even possibly cover for other hosts when they themselves need a vacation).
3. Partner with local farmer's markets
Recently, a host at an AirBnB I was staying at had complimentary bowls of fresh fruit at the ready when I got there. I really appreciated this, and thought it was a great idea. AirBnB/Vrbo could support local small business by partnering with local farmer's markets and providing hosts with fresh fruits to share with their guests.
4. Advertise local small businesses
When I was in Connecticut for the CFA Exam, I stayed at an AirBnB hosted by a Bridgewater employee. On the nightstand next to my bed, he had laminated sheets that included details about local restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals, the library, post office, directions to major highways, etc. I thought that this was a nice touch. Sure, these days, people can look all of these places up with a couple of swipes on their smartphones, but it was nice to have everything in one place and all of the research done for you in advance.
If you're a local restaurant, perhaps you can provide vacation rental hosts with coupons to be shared with their guests. If you were staying in a new area for the first time, wouldn't you be more likely to patronize a restaurant that was recommended by your host and is giving you a deal?
5. Have hosts create introductory videos to be shared on the platform
This could give guests a preview of the host when considering places to patronize. It could give them an opportunity to gauge the likelihood of whether or not they'll get along with the host, minimizing the chances of a bad experience.
6. Have hosts create video tours of their vacation rental instead of photos to be shared on the platform
Will give people searching the platform a better feel for the rental than just photos.
7. Provide a way for guests to contact previous guests to ask questions about staying at a rental on the platform
For places that don't have dozens/hundreds of positive reviews yet. This will make folks feel more secure when booking a rental.
8. Employ a translator
Not sure if this is necessary given apps like Google Translate, but it might be useful for folks that are traveling but aren't tech literate. Could be useful for diverse cities like New York or places abroad where there might be a language barrier between local hosts and guests. The team of translators could be at the ready and just a phone call away. A recent host I stayed with spoke Spanish and his English was weak, but since I can speak Spanish, I had no problems communicating with him. For folks who couldn't speak Spanish, there could be some difficulties.
9. Partner with a digital lock company
Remove the need for hosts to provide physical keys to their guests, and remove the possibility of guests losing the keys or forgetting to leave them upon checkout. This will prevent the need for the host to spend money/charge guests to replace lost/forgotten keys, and will also prevent previous guests having access to the rental beyond their agreed upon stay. With digital locks, the hosts can control who has access from their phone.
10. AirBnB/Vrbo Cares Program
Give hosts the option to sign up for a program that takes a certain percentage of any revenues they make through the platform and gives them to local non-profits/charities.