When I first started my vacation 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 labor-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 vacation rental business, I wasn’t aware of channel management software or calendar syncing, but I knew I needed to put something in place, since the manual admin was taking up so much of my time. The professionalism of the business was also affected – 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 in to 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 a ton with organizing my cleaners. They can log in to their dashboard and see right away 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 vacation rental property. Let’s say on average, I have ten guests per month – if I were to drive there and back to check guests in manually, that’s 20 hours of driving. Calculated at 0.6 cents a mile for 80 miles, that’s around $450 a month in travel costs. Instead, I installed a smart door handle and implemented Booking.com’s automatic messaging templates. On check-in day, the guest gets an automatic message about how to use the smart lock, along 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 traveling 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 if everything’s okay, 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 for each guest to provide a personalized touch.
I definitely recommend messaging templates for all hosts. If you have ten guests a month, and let’s say on average it takes two minutes to write each of those four messages, you’re saving about 80 minutes per month. That might not sound like a lot, but it can quickly add up to be quite significant. If you use channel management software on top of 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 in to 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. Otherwise, you might miss out on a lot of profit if you don’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 on my phone and make edits to my listing on the go. It also has an opportunity center that can show you where you’re missing out on certain things. That’s how I found out about the Genius loyalty program that allows me to offer discounts to returning Booking.com members. I discovered that if I were 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. It also makes it really quick and easy to add updated photos, manage your bookings, or edit 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. 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 much easier, which is vital if you want to generate as much demand and revenue as possible. For example, I listed my vacation rental on Booking.com, and within three months, I made a gross income of $9,285 across platforms – which shows the value of diversifying your distribution.
- Using channel management software can save you hours of work by syncing your bookings calendar across multiple platforms
- An automated check-in service can help you provide an enhanced guest experience, as well as potentially save significant time, effort, and expense
- You can improve the guest experience and save hours of time by implementing automated messages with 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