British travellers spend £62 billion annually on tourist trips. With European travel expected to resume without testing requirements for the fully vaccinated it will be a bumper year for any holiday rental companies who can attract British tourists.
When it comes to guest confidence there are of course certain factors that are out of your control. Covid-19 infection and vaccination rates will no doubt be at the forefront of any guests’ mind and regions that are successfully controlling the pandemic will attract more British tourists.
There are, however, several steps that holiday rental managers can, and should, take to attract British tourists this summer.
OPTIMISE YOUR OTA LISTING
PropertyCare.com is a great supporter of the Book Direct movement, however, this year is likely to see guests wanting to book through an OTA given the perceived added security of refunds in the event of cancellation. The pandemic has seen many companies in the travel industry go out of business. In addition, there has been a large amount of media coverage on the difficulty travellers have had getting their money reimbursed for cancelled holidays. Consequently, this has made British travellers nervous about booking direct and preferring to book with an OTA, even if this is more expensive. Every holiday rental company should have a marketing budget for increasing direct bookings and this is the year that you should consider diverting those funds to ensure your OTA listings have premium professional photos.
Your OTA listing is your marketing window to show British tourists you’re ready to accept them this summer and have the relevant procedures in place to ensure their safety during the stay. With Britons desperate to travel this year, and holiday rentals being the preferred accommodation type, competition for bookings has never been tougher.
It’s important to ensure you’re covering off the points below clearly in your OTA listing to ensure you’re meeting 2022 guest expectations.
A little talked about fact is that during the height of the pandemic, most OTA platforms changed their algorithm to ensure that properties that give the guests an option of contactless check-ins appear higher in the search result.
COVID-19 HYGIENE POLICY
In 2021, the British government guidelines about international travel changed constantly and with this fresh in the mind, British tourists will need to feel confident that if they cannot travel then their money is protected. Offering full refunds up to 14 days before the booking is due to begin will make your property significantly more attractive to any British traveller, therefore allowing you to charge a higher nightly rate.
Whatever policy you choose to offer, the terms must be concise and clear. With government guidelines, restrictions and public perception changing by the week (if not day), being clear from the outset on when your cancellation policy applies will give your guests immediate confidence and elevate their experience before they’ve even booked with you.
Any company unable to offer a competitive cancellation policy will find it very difficult to attract British tourists this summer. As a minimum, holiday rental managers will need to offer a change of dates for customers that are unable to travel within a 14-day notice period.
Post Covid-19, there has been a shift in the amount of communication between guests and property managers prior to a booking being made. Before the pandemic, most guests would book online with limited pre booking communication. The complications around travelling since the pandemic have changed this.
No matter how comprehensive your OTA listing or direct booking site is, there will be a large number of British travellers wanting to communicate with you prior to making a booking. With questions about cancellation flexibility, hygiene standards and even your country’s guidance it’s important to have as much knowledge to hand as you can to ensure you instil enough confidence in the guest for them to complete their booking.
The British government and press have insinuated to its citizens that the UK is ahead of other countries in terms of vaccination rates and infection rates. This means that people will be over cautious when looking to travel abroad and will require confidence in their accommodation provider to travel.
Your pre-booking communications strategy is only part of the solution. Once the booking has been made you need to ensure that you maintain that confidence through your post-booking communication. We’ve already detailed the reason you should have a flexible cancellation policy. The downside of this is that this gives your guest more time, and freedom, to change their mind and cancel the booking. This is where your post-booking communications strategy needs to be flawless. Whether you are using an automated platform like PropertyCare.com or you’re managing the communication manually, it so important that you keep abreast of country guidelines and recommendations and keep the guest informed throughout.
Also, British tourists will be more excited than ever to be taking a vacation. This provides an ideal marketing opportunity to upgrade the stay with pre-arrival emails. Upgrades could include early or late check out, airport pick up or arrival packs.
There has never been a better time to optimise your cleaning processes. With rising inflation it has never been harder to recruit and retain cleaning staff and this comes at a time when guests have a material interest in how clean the property is.
Property managers have a responsibility to guests to provide a best in class cleaning standard to provide a safe environment for guests to stay in. In order to set up and maintain this process you will need task management software. There are lots of different task management software to review but if you want a holiday rental specific task management software (which automates setting up and assigning tasks linked to bookings) then PropertyCare.com is your only option.
The holiday rental industry has been moving towards a contactless tech driven approach for a number of years and this has only been accelerated by the pandemic. Everyone knows the risks associated with physical touchpoints, and British tourists expect a contactless experience in 2021.
This starts with contactless entry. Gone are the days when a face-to-face meet and greet was seen as exceptional guest experience. It matters little whether you choose to use a keypad entry system, or the more traditional key lockbox, the sole reason of offering this to the guest is simply to avoid any face-to-face interaction.
Your contactless technology considerations shouldn’t end here. We cannot deny the fact that paper guides and leaflets are no longer seen as safe and should not be left in your properties. However, the age-old paper guides have always been necessary for both your guests and your operation. How is your British guest meant to know how to use the air-con when it hardly exists in the UK? There are countless technology solutions to replace these guides. You can use an in-property smart tablet, such as YourWelcome, an app or weblink sent via email. Whichever route you go down we’d recommend you start planning this now or you risk your guest service calls rising whilst your guest’s experience plummets.
When offering contactless check ins, you need to also consider your process for taking guest ID and signing rental agreements. Most European countries require you to take a copy of your guests’ photo ID to ensure you comply with regulations. Traditionally, this was a simple process. You would likely greet the guest at your front desk or at the property directly and take a copy of the ID. British tourists are very aware of privacy and data rights and laws and you will need a GDPR compliant process to obtain this data remotely. A software solution such as PropertyCare.com will ensure you are remaining complaint whilst instilling the confidence in the guest to ensure that they can provide their ID, sign a rental agreement, and agree to terms and conditions.
The holiday rental industry across Europe has been devasted by the last 12 months, however, all the data shows that British tourists are desperate to travel to Europe this year and holiday rentals will be the preferred choice of accommodation. These two facts indicate that the holiday rental industry will surge this year with the ‘bounce back’ on the horizon imminently.
Price per night used to be the most important factor when British tourists were trying to make a booking. As detailed in this white paper, this has shifted since the Covid-19 pandemic. British travellers are now willing to pay a premium if your accommodation can meet their evolving expectations.
The key to attracting British tourists to your holiday rental this year will be clarity of information regarding your Covid cleaning policy and ensuring you have a consumer-friendly cancellation policy that is fit for purpose in the post Covid-19 world