Over the last decade, the vacation rental movement was headed in all kinds of directions. A wave of hosts looking to get rich quick. Listing sites so irresistible they were worth sacrificing direct contact with guests. Technology, automation, finances, oh my. And with so many noises, our core discipline was getting lost in cacophony.
But when everything is reduced to rubble, only hospitality remains.
"Hospitality means we take people into the space that is our lives and our minds and our hearts and our work. Hospitality is the way we come out of ourselves. It is the first step to dismantling the barriers of the world. Hospitality is the way we turn the world around, one heart at a time." (Joan Chittester)
In this definition of hospitality, there is nothing about technology or listing sites or getting rich. There's nothing complicated about it. It's hard, but not complicated.
In a post-coronavirus world, hospitality returns as the great equalizer. No matter the scale, if you can turn a single stranger into a single friend by welcoming them into a single home, you will hold the keys. In a dark hour, this should be reaffirming for many of you. But even the darkest hour has 60 minutes so here's some hospitality homework as you turn your corner:
- Open up more about your personal life (or the personal lives of your team mates) in marketing and guest correspondence. Share what you're doing (no matter how boring) during the lull. How has the meaning of vacation, or home, or family changed for you? What's a funny story about being quarantined with your toddler (or your husband!)
- When necessary, break protocol. Hospitality wins when people feel cared for and looked after, even if that goes against "the rules." If in doubt, ask yourself what a big faceless corporation would do...then do the opposite.
- Dedicate some time each week to hand-written postcards saying hello and asking how former guests are holding up (everyone is WOW'ed when they receive one of these and you have plenty of time on your hands).
- Hospitality means being safe. Use the downtime to complete safety certifications like the self-inspection program Breezeway.io recently launched
- Plan a "Grand Re-Opening" Campaign with champagne, local restaurant partnerships, and fanfare. Welcome any former guest or neighbors to join as part of the family. (Make sure the date is tractable.)
As you turn the corner and contemplate where you fit in the future of vacation rentals, look through the prism of hospitality. How can we bring people into our space? Hospitality got diluted during all the growth. Now it's the dealbreaker again.