We’ve all heard a million times that first impressions count. And they do, it’s true. But if you’re running a hospitality business, especially in the field of short term rentals, then it’s important to remember that last impressions count a lot too.
Yes, it’s important that guests are greeted with a friendly smile, that they are shown everything they need to know and to be assured that you’re on hand to help them should they need anything.
This helps to set the tone for their stay and the house tour explains to them everything they need to know about the rental. They feel reassured knowing that you’re on hand to deal with any problems so they can relax and have a trouble-free stay.
But those last impressions count too. When you’re saying goodbye to your guests you’re working on three major areas. These are:
The chances are that when you say goodbye to your departing guests you also say, in some form or another, that you hope they’ll be back to stay with you again. And after all, if they’ve been exactly the kind of guests you like to have in your property, then you’ll want them back.
So let them leave with the words ‘we’d love to see you here again’ ringing in their ears.
As they drive down the road en route to the airport you can imagine what their conversation will be – because you’ve put the idea of them visiting again in their minds. For example “Yes, it would be great to go back, wouldn’t it? We had a lovely time and the host was so helpful. We’ll have to keep it in mind”. “Well, how about Easter next year? We’ve no plans and the weather here is excellent at that time of year”…
By the time they get to the airport, they’re already deciding to get on the phone to book with you. Okay, it might not happen exactly like that but you get the idea. Oh, and another parting shot is ‘do come back to stay with us … for longer next time’. After all, better the devil you know and it’s nice to have a three-week booking from a reliable guest all ready months in future.
Again, when the guests are leaving and you’re in conversation with them as you’re waiting for the uber, listen out for something like ‘my friend Kevin would love it here ‘ or ‘my mother would really enjoy this place’ or ‘Tom’s coming to the local branch of our office in March, I must tell him about this place’.
These or similar comments are your cues to start gently reinforcing the idea that Kevin / mother / Tom would be so welcome to stay and that you’d be delighted to see them.
Latch on to what they say and ask questions, for instance, “This place would be great for your mother – is there anything she especially enjoys?” When the guest says that mother loves the beach/ playing golf/ sunsets or whatever you have locally, then work on it.
As for Tom, “oh yes, your branch is only a mile away from here isn’t it? It’s so convenient for your co-workers and that lovely Italian restaurant is so handy if he doesn’t want to cook…” And “What about our lovely place is it that Kevin would like so much?” When you’re in conversation with your guests it’s so easy.
Be sure that your departing guests have your business card, your email or website address. You’ll want them to contact you directly if they want to book again, or book for mother. Why should you both pay fees to the listings service you use?
The longer you’re hosting, the less important reviews become to you. But even we old jaded hosts are flattered when a guest praises us publicly.
If you’re using a listings service that has a reviews system, like Airbnb for example, then you’ll want your guests to leave feeling great about your place so that they want to let others know. I’ve often had guests who write their review shortly after leaving the place – using their phones at the airport – it’s great that they review when you’re friendly farewell is still ringing in their ears.
If the listing service you use doesn’t have a review facility, or if you rely on your own website then remember that guests can still review you at various places on the internet. And you want it to be glowing.
Wish your guests safe travels when they leave. Express dismay that they are going so soon. Tell them you hope to see them again. Make last impressions that really count.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.