Why You MUST Respond To Airbnb Guest Inquiries Quickly
Updated: Jan 23
Since you've decided to focus on one of the few remaining face to face and customer-oriented industries left, it's imperative that you have a proper and consistent method in your communication to your Airbnb customers. Yes, we're also talking about near-instantaneous replies in some cases due to the overall industry being geared towards first come, first serve.
You Are Not Alone
You have a lot of competition in this industry and the consumer base can be quite fickle when it comes to booking for their holiday. They will usually be looking at multiple options in the area, and happen upon yours during their search. You have a limited window to grab their attention and failure to get back to them will have you without a customer.
Constant communication subconsciously makes potential customers feel comfortable with you and brings that level of authenticity where they will select your property over another, even if it's priced higher or may not be in the most prime location, all because you were able to invoke that human connection.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you take too long it will hurt your conversion rate, and you may not be able to grow your business fast enough to get the necessary revenues, rates and reviews.
Also, you're in the hospitality business and if you remember what it was like to go to some hotels, it's all about service, managed expectations, and communication. This applies even if you're running your business offsite. Make sure to use those digital tools, and mobile applications to really make sure you can reply to every query sent your way.
The System Is Watching You
To add to this, the platforms themselves, from Airbnb to common social media channels all use timing algorithms to calculate how long you or your business takes to reply to a message. It takes the average time and lets the user know, which sometimes could be a huge deterrent if the message says “usually replies with a few days” instead of “a few minutes”.
Everyone who deals with a business now feels that instant is the new normal and that anything longer than an actual day can be a bad sign in their eyes as if the business isn't properly managed or too busy to handle them if they were to rent out the Airbnb.
It Can Help With Your Reviews
We’ve had a huge shift where the responsibility for reviewing has fallen on all of us, and how empowering it has built transparency in multiple industries, including those that run Airbnbs and other vacation rental properties.
Peer reviews are one of the first items people look for, and in fact, on some sites (such as booking.com) there are even filters to show only locations with a certain high review level. The review usually encompasses several items from the accuracy of the location, cleanliness, value of the rental, amenities and so on, but one of the silent review items usually revolves around communication and responsiveness.
There are many times when a good host with excellent communication skills that tries to help remedy adverse situations during someone's stay has resulted in higher marks on their review. Resulting in a shift from having a two-star upgrade to a four-star, simply for the fact that the customer was able to reach someone and communicate their problem and you, as a host was involved to help alleviate that problem.
Consistency Is Key
You should be communicating with your customers even before they are customers. You should field questions and check dates for potential customers as soon as they reach out to you. It continues on as they stay as a guest with you, from check-in to check out, and any issues or needs that come in between.
It doesn't stop there, and expands afterwards in the form of asking for feedback, getting them to sign up for a newsletter, or even asking to be contacted for their next holiday trip, should they choose to return to the area.
Keep in mind with the new normal, it doesn't just expand to people that are on holiday or tourists, but more and more are looking for longer-term short rentals in places that aren't a traditional home.
Since there are so many that are able to work from home or have a company 'work from anywhere' policy, your Airbnb rental may be in the best location for those freelancers and employees that want to escape from wherever they live and make your home their semi-permanent home while they work.
This means only that your communications need to be top-notch because your volume of days booked may stay the same but the frequency of stays may shift, as you may start to see longer-term clients.
These may have more issues or needs since they are staying more than just a few days. While great for your business, make sure to have the right types of tools and processes at your disposal to make sure you’re ready for this new normal and new entry into your business model.
In the end, you went into this industry due to its potential for making money, but also because you felt that you would excel and enjoy being a host for others. As long as you never forget why companies like Airbnb exist you should be alright. It's all about building a community between hosts and their customers and providing that custom and unique service that seems to have been lost in the commercial hospitality industry.
Keep in mind though, that the traditional hospitality business, specifically hotels, have gone through their own renaissance and have taken many strategies from the Airbnb playbook, meaning you’ll start to see their emergence as a potential substitute competitor, where people are looking to expand their vacation or business travel needs and as countries continue to open up.
They have invested exclusively in constant communication with customers able to reach hotel staff even before they show up. It’s always important to maintain your authenticity and stay genuine.