The 21st century has brought about big strides in the psychology of customer service. We can thank millennials for helping us “find our truth” and understanding that relationships between our guests and our homes are just as personal as any other serious relationship.
In today’s competitive environment, a vacation rental owner who sincerely wants to win a guest back can take cues from the steps needed to reconcile the most intimate of relationships.
6 ways to win back a guest like winning back a lover
1. Know why things ended
In the business world, we find ways to capture data about why a customer left (i.e. exit interviews). In most cases, our ex-customers (and our ex-lovers) are eager to share why they moved on. Was the cost too high? Were there better alternatives? Did we ignore their needs to pursue our own agenda? Did we not understand what they were trying to tell us? Were we rude and unsympathetic?
2. Sincerely apologize for any wrongdoing
When we are hurt, it is hard to apologize for our part in the breakup . . . in intimate or business relationships. Once we clearly know where we failed, we need to find a way to be humble and sincere and acknowledge our part of the breakdown to the person we’ve hurt.
A simple and personal email or letter to the customer validates their complaints and plants the seed that we care, which is all we want to do with the apology. And with this apology, we don’t ask for them to come back.
3. Get in shape
What does that look like for you? Do you need to change your guest communications strategy, give your home a face lift, or reduce your costs so you can offer a lower price? You may simply need to adopt a demeanor that emphasizes hospitality, compassion, and service.
Your home had something special that won the guest the first time. Try to recapture the romance and show them that you still have what it takes, but now—after taking some articulated steps—you can meet their needs even better.
4. Don’t be annoying
Most of us have learned that if we call or text or message too often, our ex will run even faster in the opposite direction. We need to communicate to find out what we did wrong…once. If they tell us, we have something to work with. And we need to apologize…once.
Then, after seriously improving, we can communicate what we’ve done to change. But that it is. Like our ex-lovers, the more we chase, the faster our customers will run.
5. Make the path easy and give up some control
Find ways to give former guests an easy, unobstructed path to reconciliation. We already have their contact information and the original specifications of what they wanted the first time. If we know if/where we messed up, have improved our offering and are still easily accessible, more often than not, our exes will find it is easier to stay with us than start over with someone new.
Gently offer them incentives—real incentives—to return. Take a hit. We all know what the lifetime value of reconciliation is worth in repeat business, so we should make our incentives show we truly and deeply care.
6. Know when to move on
Like our ex-lovers, there are some guests we either cannot win back or we are better off without. Inevitably there are a few exes that drain our energy and keep us from moving forward. They prevent us from being the best we can be, and we need to be able to let them go without it hurting our egos or consuming our thoughts or resources.
It is important that we conserve our energy and talents for those who we can serve effectively.
Relationships are hard, whether they are with an ex-lover or an ex-customer. Reconciliation requires self-awareness, hard work, and humility. In vacation home management, we already know we have something special to offer our guests. But we need to listen to them, improve our services, and empower them to choose us. In this generation more than any before, the choice is theirs.