Should You Automate Your Vacation Rental Messaging?

automate messaging STR

Here at MaidThis we are advocates for automating at least one part of your vacation rental process: cleaning. Automations in personal and professional matters often make things that much easier. But should you automate your vacation rental messaging?  Let’s talk about it.

Team Yes

Well, automation is definitely more efficient.  There’s no manual step that has to be done and much of the information that guests are going to ask for can be put into messages that are dripped out over their visit or are shared at once.  Without having to manually send messages, owners and managers are free to focus on other things.

Team No

We know that cleanliness (cough, cough) is a major factor in driving reviews, but not far behind is how the guest is made to feel welcome.  Automated messages, especially ones that are obviously cookie-cutter, can make a guest feel like a cog in a machine.  While such messages would rarely, if ever, act as a negative influence, they can sometimes have a neutral effect.

Team Hybrid

A combination of the best of both worlds would be a set of automated messages, some of which can be customized with a sentence or two.  That makes this a semi-manual process, but you will be able to reap the benefit of some automation while also making the guest feel special and welcomed.

Which Messages to Automate

There are many types of messages you could automate, but there are four that we think should not be missed:

  1. Check in / Check out — a check in message can be sent after a reservation has been confirmed and can offer key information on how to get in, as well as a link to a house manual with even more detailed information. A check out message can be sent 24 hours before checkout to make sure guests are informed how to leave your property and any tasks they need to complete.  In both of these cases a single sentence or two can be added to whatever the automated message is. That single sentence can use information from the guest’s profile, commenting on where they live, or in the case of a sparser profile, asking where they are traveling from. This shows that you, as a host, are engaged, and don’t simply see this as the equivalent of a hotel.
  2. Welcome! — this message should be sent after the check in time and should offer anything very timely that wouldn’t appear in a house manual.  This can include weather forecasts (and your advice on what to do) or a festival or special event that might be happening during their stay.
  3. How’s it going? — However long your guests are staying, this message can be sent a third or halfway through their visits.  Many times guests will ignore this or simply say, “All is well” or something equivalent. But every now and then they will ask a question which gives you an opportunity to be helpful and hospitable!
  4. Please leave a review — while platforms are pretty good at getting their guests to leave reviews, a plea from a host, especially if the guest had a good experience, is likely to lead to quick action.

In addition to these four messages, it’s often handy to have pre-scripted messages that answer FAQs like:

  • What’s the Wifi password? (they may have missed it in your house manual or checkin instructions)
  • How does the hot tub work?
  • How does the oven/TV work?

Final Thoughts

So to answer our original question, should you automate your messaging, our answer is, yes, mostly.  Have pre-scripted messaging ready to go at certain times, but take care to personalize those messages, particularly at check in or checkout.  It’s little touches like these that lead to more guests and more revenue.

This content originally appeared in our twice-monthly Guest Book newsletter.

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