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Personalization isn't new in the travel industry. César Ritz, the renowned 19th-century French hotelier, invented the concept, taking note of guests' wishes and desires, from how they liked for breakfast to who wanted a carafe of water on the bedside table.
Fueled by the spread of technology and social media, personalized travel has trumped one-size-fits-all and is a major phenomenon throughout the travel industry. Instagram-savvy travelers want experiential trips tailored to their interests, tastes and, yes, whims. And they expect personalized communications and services from their hosts, whether it's customized suggestions for activities and restaurants, tips for finding a kid-friendly beach or just a welcoming email.
As a vacation rental manager, you're perfectly placed to make the most of this trend. Unlike hotels, which accommodate large numbers of customers, you can deal directly with your guests and help them get the experience they want.
Here are five ways to make personalization work for you and your guests.
Tailor a gift based on what you know about your guests. For a couple, consider chocolates or a bottle of wine or chilled Prosecco. For a family, leave a basket of snacks and a pet treat if they're bringing the dog. Or choose something from a local business, like the town bakery's famous cranberry cookies or the apothecary's fragrant hand-made soaps.
Chat with guests before they come or email a brief questionnaire about their vacation preferences, from their interests and goals for the holiday to food preferences. Note anything they like (or dislike) during their stay.
Most guests want a vacation in synch with their interests. It's unlikely that a romantic couple, a reunion of college roommates and four guys on a fishing trip will want to same experience. Even family requirements differ depending on whether the children are toddlers, tweens or teens. Have ideas at the ready for a wide range of attractions, activities, restaurants and services you can suggest depending on the interests and needs of your guests.
Your deep knowledge of what the area has to offer makes you an invaluable resource for steering guests to events, activities, restaurants and local oddities like the cemetery where a world-famous writer is buried or the historic building that appeared in a recent movie, that they'll remember. You can also provide useful information about everyday essentials, from grocery stores and pharmacies to filling stations and sports equipment rentals.
Send a personalized email to let guests know you appreciated their visit. Pique their interest with newsletters letting them know what's going on in the area, from new restaurants and the revamped movie theater to the craft beer festival. And if guests specifically mention they'll be back the following summer, make a note of it and send along a friendly reminder as the season approaches.