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Industry Perspectives

What I wish I knew: you can’t be everything to every guest

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James Woolley, Managing Director of accommodation portal, shares his insight into creating an experience that stays with guests long after they return home

It starts with knowing your audience

What appeals to one audience will not always appeal to another. This sounds obvious, but one of the biggest mistakes that new holiday rental owners make is trying to be everything to every guest. While you may get some bookings with this approach, finding your ideal audience is a far more effective way forward. At, we have a diverse audience that includes a number of travel groups. Couples, families, budget travellers, business travellers, and luxury travellers make up our primary audience.

Knowing how to target each of these groups is essential when creating our listings and marketing our properties. As an accommodation and travel portal, our portfolio is extensive, however. Many short-term rental owners typically manage and promote single properties, which require a far more targeted strategy. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach means that you may miss out on the chance to connect to your ideal audience. Identifying the type of traveller that is best suited to your rental is the first step in crafting a truly outstanding guest experience. 

People watching a sunset

Photo: Andrea Riezzo, Unsplash 

Over and beyond knowing your audience, it can also be useful to consider niche travel trends. There is a growing demand for highly specific niches that provide an even more tailored experience for travellers. According to the World Food Travel Association's 2016 Food Travel Monitor, 93% of travellers consider themselves food travellers. Patients Beyond Borders predicts that global medical tourism will grow at a rate of 15-25%, while the Global Wellness Institute states that global travellers made 691 million wellness trips in 2015 - 104.4 million more trips compared to 2013.

Halal travel, spiritual travel, adventure travel, photographic travel, golf travel and many other niches have also grown in recent years. Identifying smaller niches and marketing your rental accordingly can be an excellent way to micro-position your property. For example, if you are aiming to target wellness travellers, you may invest in a spa-like bathroom, sustainable outdoor rainwater shower and wellness vouchers. If food travellers are your target, you could partner with local restaurants to create a food journey or provide a personal chef to cook for guests during their stay.

Don’t just meet guests’ needs, exceed them

In today's highly visible world where angry reviews can be left at the touch of a button, transparency is par for the course. Modern travellers across every audience and niche expect a high level of service. Providing a basic level of service is no longer enough to genuinely impress guests. Instead, you need to exceed expectation. This often comes down to a few core areas. The initial booking and interactions need to be as simple and stress-free as possible, for starters. The arrival and check-in process also needs to go smoothly.

Once guests arrive, you need to make them wish that they never have to leave

Once guests arrive, you need to make them wish that they never have to leave. Usually, this comes down to small, thoughtful touches as well as overall management, interactions with guest services staff, whether or not the property is equipped sufficiently, and whether the property does what it says on the box. If you have promoted your rental as offering amazing sea views, guests should be able to sit and enjoy those views.

If you go one step further, with a fridge stocked full of snacks and drinks, and a personalised list of restaurants, activities and attractions, you will be close to making the right impression. If you know your audience and your niche, and you are able to offer guests an even more tailored experience from the moment they arrive, the impression will be even more memorable.

Consistency is the glue that holds everything together

The most important thing, however, is not only exceeding expectation, but doing so consistently. When every guest is able to enjoy the same attention to detail and personalised care, you will very quickly begin to develop a reputation. Guests will want to come back again.

They will want to share their experience with others as well. They will leave reviews, tell friends and family, and become unofficial brand ambassadors. On the other hand, when you pull out all the stops for one guest, treating the next as an inconvenience, it is impossible to forge your reputation. Make exceptional guest experience a priority, write it into your policies, enforce it as procedure, and ensure that it is a non-negotiable part of your offering. That is how you craft the type of guest experience that is remembered for years to come.


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What do you think of this page?

  • One of the biggest mistakes that new holiday rental owners make is trying to be everything to every guest, says James Woolley, Managing Director of ComeToCapeTown.coIt's useful for properties to consider niche travel trends to "micro-position" their brand
  • In today's highly visible world where angry reviews can be left at the touch of a button, transparency is par for the course
  • The most important thing to create a great guest experience is not only to exceed expectations, but to do so consistently