After 25 years on Wall Street, I left in search of something more.  I’d done good work and received financial rewards, even meaningful friendships, but generosity was to be avoided and service providers often competed with their clients for the same prize.  Then I started Gertrude Vacation Rentals and quickly realized every exchange could be a good experience and my customers and I could always “be on the same team”.  

Gertrude Rentals is now in its 9th year and thriving with eighteen units in three states, each outperforming their respective markets by a factor of one to two times. Our secret is customer loyalty and we don’t just get repeat business, we frequently get multiple bookings from a single guest (or party) in the same year.  

Below are five Gertrude Rentals customer service techniques, I’m applying right now, that generate repeat business year after year. 

  • Be Accessible
  • Free Early/Late Checkin/Checkout
  • Area Recommendations
  • Ambassadors
  • Free Stays

Be Accessible

Always be there for guests without intruding on their getaway.   Don’t call and don’t visit, but no matter what the hour is always pick up your phone.  If a guest calls its because they need something and we always answer.  

It won’t happen often, but when a guest does need something it’s a precious opportunity to be a “hero” to someone hundreds of miles from home who could be travelling with young children, a cranky spouse, or a bum hip.  Even if you aren’t a “people person” by just being there you can stand out above your competitors and feel amazing about what you do for a living.

Free Early/Late Checkin/Checkout

Unfortunately airlines don’t synchronize their arrival and departure times with hospitality checkin and checkout times. Flexible checkin and checkout times are a must.  It might help your arriving guest start enjoying paradise a few hours early or save a departing family with a late flight from wasting an afternoon in an airport praying their iPads batteries don’t die.  When flights get cancelled, or bad weather disrupts a trip, ease your travelers stress by giving them a free night.  They may never forget it and if your unit is available it wont cost you a thing.  

Area Recommendations

Give your guests tips and recommendations before and during their trip.  Their vacation time is precious, so don’t let them waste time in your rental “researching” activities when they should be “enjoying” them.  

Every visitor is an adventurer at heart. If they weren’t they would stay home. When they stay with you, suggest your areas top attractions and inspire them to do something they already love.  They just might have an unforgettable experience they will want to repeat again and again. 

Web based ranking services are great, but their motivations are suspect and they are never going to be as insightful as you “an initiated local”.  Gertrude Rentals publishes guidebooks for every property recommending the best restaurants and commenting on affordability, menu, location, even highlighting the best spots for: children, large groups, the mobility limited, and romantic nights or “just for grownups”.  We also give “how to” advice on things like scenic outings, exploring secret spots, the hottest late night spots, local natural wonders, and authentic cultural experiences, to name a few.

Hire an Ambassador

Every vacation rental needs a “Mr. Rourke” (Fantasy Island) or even a “Marcel” (Couples Retreat).  Find an attentive but breezy glass is always half full ambassador and indulge them.  Nothing keeps a trip on positivity street like a local with twinkle in their eye and bright smile. Whether it’s a nudist, a whittler, or an amateur wellness guru, find a way to inject their passion into your product. 

When you find your ambassador hold them dear and pay them well. Gertrude Rentals would like to thank “Matt” (nudist) in Siesta Key and “Julie” (farmer) in Vermont.

Free Stays

When we find a great guest we give them free stays.  You can curate a guest list just like you do your decor. If someone is a true pleasure then this is someone you want to expose to their other guests and valued employees.  Maybe they are the life of the party, maybe they have a way of brightening the day. Whatever the reason, rare people like this improve the “mojo” of your property and they deserve to be appreciated. 

Shout out to guests Ray who raked every day just because he loved the property and Eric who assisted his geriatric neighboring guests with her TV and even an overflowing toilet. Shout out to Vermont guest Tara who was just an irresistible cat lover who coined the term “holy cats” whenever something exciting happened.

Remember, in vacation rentals you not only have an opportunity for public spiritedness that just doesn’t exist in other businesses.  Even better its something your customers will notice and appreciate.  When customer service efforts at Gertrude Rentals are thoughtful and reasoned they always hit their mark and thats great for our quality of life, our work environment, and our business! 

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