As a seasoned vacation rental owner, I know that communication with guests is of the utmost importance. I follow a structured communication method for all bookings. It has worked well for over fifteen years. The goal is to inform guests prior to arrival to avoid complaints and disappointment.
Airbnb wants you to communicate with your guests on their platform exclusively. I have always ignored that and communicated with guests on and off the platform. The guest is mine to serve and I will do it my way as I had done before there was Airbnb.
Vrbo has a messaging platform for that but is not required for guest communications, one of the many reasons why I prefer bookings through them instead of Airbnb.
Here is what I do that works perfectly for good communication with guests before, during, and after their stays.
Respond to messages on the OTA platforms.
Once a guest books get their email address.
Email guest directly through your reservation system, I use Owner Reservations which I highly recommend. Or email them from your email account.
Send the guest a confirmation email with a link, or attachment with detailed information about your rental. Here is an example of mine. Cottage Info Only confirmed guest have access to this.
Give your guest information to the local area. I have a website where I have links for guests to learn more. Local Links
Email the guests a few days prior to arrival to remind them of the address and detailed information. (people are busy and don't read so you have to make it easy and remind them)
The day before arrival text guest with details. This way they have your phone number on their phone and can text you directly. For Airbnb loyalists, you can use the platform for this too, and also text directly. This is what I send via text: This is Julie Fergus regarding the Wolfeboro Cottage. The address is ### Street. Here is the link for everything you need to know about the cottage. www.nhvacationcottages.com/cottage-on-highHere is a link for area information www.nhvacationcottages.com/area-information I will have the cottage ready for you by 3pm on Saturday. The door will be unlocked and keys inside. ~Julie
Await a message from your guest confirming arrival. It should look like this:
9. The following morning, message your guest to inquire how it is going and to make sure all is well. It should go well because you have given them all of the information they need prior to arriving.
10. Once they depart follow up with an email, mine is an email that notifies them of the security deposit release (another reason to like Vrbo over Airbnb - a real security deposit). In this email remind them of your local area, I will highlight winter and all that there is to do. Also, inform them that they can book directly next time.
11. In the end, you should be rewarded with a 5-star review as I usually am.
In addition to emails and texts, create a website to make the commination and information easy and accessible. I use Wix for my website and Owner Reservations for my automated communications / emails and reservation manger. Combining this with text messaging creates a thread of messages that convey your property amenities and offerings.
Being a successful vacation rental owner should be hands on. You should be directly communicating with your guests, they are YOUR customers, not Airbnb's or Vrbo's. It is YOUR business. Your rental is not an "Aribnb" it is a vacation or short-term rental owned by you. I suggest you brand it as such as I have done with a name and logo.