Everyone knows that better guest interaction leads to stronger brand loyalty. Travelers want and expect responsive, multichannel support at every touchpoint of their journey – From booking to checkout.
The more recent challenge, in light of workforce trends associated with the COVID pandemic, is the task of building teams that can deliver on a level of guest experience that actually fosters brand loyalty.
Why vacation rental managers care about brand
Vacation rental managers care about brand loyalty because repeat bookings account for a significant share of total revenue.
A recent article published by VRM Intel astutely pointed out that while local vacation rental managers cannot expect to build a nationally recognized hospitality brand, they can win loyalty with travelers in specific geographies:
“Local companies not only have developed strong in-market and feeder-market branding, they also better optimize for specific areas and communities in search engines.”
Furthermore, repeat guests are more profitable when considering customer lifetime value – but also in terms of direct acquisition costs.
Recent data from KeyData showed that direct bookings still account for the largest share of bookings compared to other distribution channels. The trend line also suggests that direct bookings were more prevalent during the pandemic, as drive-to travel captured a larger share bookings.
Brand building has a lot to do with direct digital marketing strategy. The other side of the coin has to do with how brands interact with the guest down funnel – i.e. converting leads from lookers to bookers, as well as fostering positive relationships with guests during their stay.
Challenges & Opportunities With Virtual Work
COVID has had a profound effect on workflows and guest experience management – not only in hospitality, but in most other customer-centric industries e.g. e-commerce, real estate, and retail.
Virus mitigation measures pushed all but essential team members to go remote. This includes support teams but also vacation rental managers and owners. Teams now need to juggle many different digital apps and platforms to stay connected and productive.
Ultimately, the trend toward remote work has had upsides and downsides.
Having the ability to manage operations remotely comes with upside in terms of lifestyle, as well as certain cost efficiencies – for example, downsizing or even eliminating centralized offices for employees, as well as the cost savings involved with outsourcing roles to virtual team members.
The two general challenge areas with virtual teams are 1) keeping team members engaged i.e. productive throughout the day, and 2) keeping team members employed i.e. avoiding staff turnover and the costs associated with recruitment, training, and redundant coverage in terms of overlapping shifts to handle the inflow of reservations and guest requests.
What we have also found is that employee retention during COVID has proved particularly challenging, as emergency unemployment benefits keep people from seeking work – especially in vacation rental destinations that are in short supply of labor.
Your virtual workforce is key to brand success
The bigger concern, and indeed cost associated with high turnover, is a lower level of customer care which, in turn, can negatively impact your brand loyalty.
Senior staffers have a deeper connection with and knowledge of your product. As a result, they tend to have higher conversion rates on reservations compared to new hires. They can also manage customer requests better and in a way that meaningfully contributes to the bottom line.
In conclusion, keeping virtual team members happy takes effort; managing virtual teams requires a fresh layer of management that many vacation rental operators do not have the experience with or time to execute on. Technology helps, but nothing replaces consistent team member interaction team and culture building within the company.
At Extenteam, we are passionate about team building. When you bring on a trained and dedicated Extenteam member, you also get the full support of our global talent network and staff. Our dedicated virtual team members align seamlessly with your existing operations, to fulfill roles and responsibilities unique to your organization.