When I first started my holiday rental business, my biggest challenge and most significant learning was the importance of automating tasks wherever possible. This has ultimately been crucial to my success, and I’d like to share some advice to help you increase your own growth using automation.
The importance of automation
For me, automation is all about putting systems in place to complete tasks automatically that would otherwise be quite labour-intensive. These can range from the smallest jobs to the biggest and most important tasks in your business. It’s all about understanding what you can automate to get your time and money back. In my case, automating some key processes gave me back sufficient time to grow my business by expanding my rental portfolio.
Channel management software and calendar syncing
When I first started my holiday rental business I wasn’t aware of channel management software or calendar syncing, but I knew I needed to put something in place, as the manual admin was taking up so much of my time. The professionalism of the business was also being affected, as I was getting double bookings and it was all a big mess.
I now use a channel management platform that integrates really smoothly with Booking.com and the other platforms I use. I can log into one dashboard and control all my bookings – I don’t need to keep switching between applications because all the data is pulled through from the various APIs.
A channel manager helps so much with calendar syncing and guest management, and it’s also helped hugely with organising my cleaners. They can log into their dashboard and see at a glance when guests are arriving and checking out. Before that, I was sending them screenshots of my bookings via WhatsApp messages, which used to take up so much of my time!
One of the biggest benefits I’ve experienced is from automating my check-in process. I live almost an hour away from my holiday rental property. Let’s say on average I have 10 guests per month – if I were to drive there and back to check guests in manually, that’s 20 hours of driving, and calculated at 0.5 pence a mile for 80 miles, that’s around £360 a month in travel costs. Instead, I’ve installed a smart door handle, combined with Booking.com automatic messaging templates, so on check-in day, the guest gets an automatic message about how to use the smart lock, together with a code that opens the door.
I really recommend switching to an automatic check-in – it saves so much time, money and hassle. You can have a system like this in place and be anywhere in the world – earlier this year I was travelling in Thailand and managing my business from there with complete peace of mind, because everything is automated.
Booking.com messaging templates
I send four messages to my guests during their stay – booking confirmation; on check-in day with the smart lock details; a mid-stay message to check everything’s OK and a check-out message thanking them for the stay and encouraging them to leave a review. This whole process is automated through Booking.com’s messaging template system, which can be automatically tailored per guest to provide a personalised touch.
I definitely recommend messaging templates for all hosts, because if you have 10 guests a month, and let’s say on average it takes two minutes to write each of those four messages, you’re saving around 80 minutes per month. That might not sound a lot, but it can quickly add up to be quite significant. And if you use channel management software alongside that, you’ll also have a unified inbox for replying to guests, which makes it even quicker and easier.
Pricing plug-ins and discounts
Another automation option I’d recommend is pricing plug-ins. Booking.com has different pricing products you can opt into that automatically set discounts for your target audience. For example you can set a 10% discount for mobile users, which is really useful.
I also use a third-party revenue management software that integrates with Booking.com and makes the whole experience much easier for me as a host. I don’t need to manually enter a lower price if it’s off-season or a higher price if it’s peak season – the data gets automatically pulled through from my channel management software which then talks to Booking.com and my other platforms. For me, it’s a huge plus to have an automated pricing rate system in place, because otherwise you might miss out on a lot of profit if you haven’t set your rates at the correct level for that particular time period.
Update your listing from anywhere with the Pulse app
Booking.com’s Pulse app is another great time saver, but it’s much more than that. Pulse is great because I can check in via mobile and make edits to my listing on the go, but it also has an opportunity centre which can show you where you’re missing out on certain things. That’s how I found out about the Genius loyalty programme which allows me to offer discounts to returning Booking.com members. I discovered that if I was to offer Genius level 3 to guests, it would increase my bookings by around 117% – so that was a no-brainer. The Pulse app is great for bringing new opportunities for growing your business to your attention, as well as making it really quick and easy to add updated photos, manage your bookings or edits to your listing from anywhere.
Automation is the key to growth success
My final piece of advice for hosts is to take every possible opportunity to automate tasks whenever you can, as it really makes a huge difference, especially if you’re managing multiple rental properties. Automation saves so much time, and makes listing properties on multiple platforms so much easier, which is vital if you want to generate as much demand, and as much revenue, as possible. For example, I listed my holiday rental on Booking.com and within three months, I made a gross income of £7,467 across platforms – which shows the value of diversifying your distribution.
- Using channel management software can save you hours of work, syncing your bookings calendar across multiple platforms
- An automated check-in service can help you to provide an enhanced guest experience, as well as potentially saving you significant time, effort and expense
- You can improve the guest experience and save hours of time by implementing automated messages using templates provided by Booking.com
- Booking.com’s Pulse app combines a fast and easy way to edit your property listing and manage your bookings on the go