Vacation rentals have many advantages over hotels - extra room, better value, and so much more. But the key thing that sets them apart is the personal touch that you can provide for your guests. With every stay, you can create an emotional connection with your guests that keeps them coming back year after year, recommending you to their circles, and leaving 5-star reviews. So how do you provide an amazing experience that wows your guests?
You have to know your travelers.
Good news: we’ve studied our - and by extension your - travelers in depth. Now we want to share that data with you so you can use it to provide an amazing experience.
What most HomeAway travelers share
Travelers come in all shapes and sizes, call different places home, and have different reasons for their trips. Yet, in analyzing data from across the globe*, we’ve found some attributes that most HomeAway travelers have in common.
Did you know that on average 65% of travelers are vacationing with a group? And 50% are traveling with families. Since those are the groups most likely to end up at your property, here are some ways to make sure you’re catering to them:
Have enough plates, cups, and flatware for large groups and a nice area for everyone to dine together. Family meal time is important for bonding! For your dishes and flatware, we recommend having at least 2 extra sets over what your maximum guest capacity is, but you might want to have double, just to be on the safe side.
You may want to have a super-capacity washer & dryer onsite to handle heavy laundry, especially if you have a longer minimum stay.
To accommodate small children, having a crib or playpen and high chairs available makes life much easier for their parents.
If you have the space for it, consider making a bunk bed room where all the kids can sleep together.
- Include family activities at your property -- decks of cards, board games, outside games like horseshoes or badminton, etc. Remember, you can provide more than just a space - you can provide an experience!
With the exception of the UK, an average of 60% of travelers are arriving by car. So how do you cater to these travelers?
Make room for parking. If you have a garage or covered parking, make sure it’s clean and easy to get in and out of.
- If you’re using a garage for storage, clear it out and let people park in there - they’ll appreciate it!
It may seem obvious, but 69% of travelers on average are coming for vacation. Here are some things to provide that will keep them relaxed and refreshed:
Books to read
Earplugs for sleeping (if you’re in a noisy area)
White noise machines
Blackout curtains in the bedrooms
Lounge seating indoors & outdoors
High-quality towels & bed linens
Now that we’ve talked about catering to some of the most common traits of HomeAway travelers, let’s talk about how to use your property’s location.
Harmonize with your location
It’s easy to guess what your travelers are hoping to get out of their vacation by looking at what’s near your property. If you’re near the beach, you’re probably not attracting skiers! Here’s what our travelers said they’re focusing on during their trip, as well as some tips for enabling those experiences:
On average, 33% of travelers - by far the largest group - were planning on spending time at the beach. If your property is by the sea, make sure to have plenty of towels available. You may also want to consider a shoe rack by front door for wet or sandy shoes, and providing extra sunscreen is a nice touch.
Fifteen percent of travelers on average were looking to explore a city. If your property is in or near a city, provide a city map with your favorite off-the-beaten-path places highlighted. Your guests will appreciate the inside scoop!
About 6% of travelers were focusing on hiking. If your property is near some great hiking trails, consider leaving out some trail mix, snack bars, and water bottles for guests to use on their trek.
Only about 4% of travelers were going to attractions like water parks, theme parks, zoos, or major landmarks. If you’re near a theme park, some small souvenirs might be nice (like Mickey Mouse ears if you’re near Disneyland). And extra sunscreen is always nice to have for these kinds of visits.
On average, about 3% of travelers were planning on skiing. If you’re near the slopes, stock your property with hot chocolate and electric blankets to warm up your guests after a cold day. Souvenir ski caps with the name of your property would also be a nice touch.
Your property’s location is a big part of what makes it special. To create the best overall experience, make sure what’s inside lines up with what’s outside. And speaking of special...
Special touches for special occasions
There is one key question to ask your guests when they’re booking -- “Is this for a special occasion?” If so, it gives you an opportunity to really go the extra mile. About 10% of travelers said their trip was for a special occasion. Here’s how those occasions break down, and how you can help make them extra special:
On average, 43% of special occasion travelers were traveling for a birthday. To help make birthdays special, have some cupcakes & birthday candles ready when guests arrive. And a birthday card from you is a wonderful personal touch.
16% of special occasion travelers were looking forward to a reunion. Consider providing an instant camera so the group can take fun pictures together!
About 13% of those traveling for special occasions were taking part in a wedding. For these happy occasions, you might consider providing a fun souvenir with the happy couple’s names.
About 12% of couples were celebrating their anniversary with a trip. To keep them connecting, you may want to provide chocolates and wine or champagne when they arrive, along with some flowers or rose petals. Soft music and flameless candles are easy and safe ways to create a romantic atmosphere.
Only about 8% of travelers are booking a vacation rental for holidays. If it’s Hanukkah, have a menorah ready. If it’s Christmas, consider putting up a tree and some lights. If it’s Carnival, provide some fun beads for everyone to wear. And to go the extra mile, have some cookie dough and cookie cutters for baking - who doesn’t love cookies?
On average, 2% of special occasion travelers were celebrating a graduation. A congratulatory card is a nice touch for the graduate, and to take it a step further, you might provide a small notebook where everyone can provide sage advice about the future!
Many owners are hesitant about renting their property for bachelor & bachelorette parties, but there’s good news - only about 1% of special occasion travelers said that was the reason for their trip. If you’re game, providing (a small amount of) beer and wine, or a cute tiara for the bride-to-be would be most welcome.
You have a unique opportunity to provide a personalized experience for your guests that they can’t get from a hotel. Taking the time to not just provide a property but a whole experience means repeat guests, 5-star reviews, and glowing recommendations. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction you get from a guest that’s grateful for your hard work!
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*All data sourced from Q3 & Q4 2016 HomeAway Customer Satisfaction Reports. 6,088 total surveyed across Brazil, US, UK, France, Spain, & Germany.