Guest retention: increase repeat guests to your vacation rentals

Guest retention for vacation rentals

Running a successful short-term rental business is more than attracting new customers. Repeat guests are a testament to a rental’s quality and to your ability as a host to ensure a stellar stay.
Like any business, customer retention signals an excellent brand image and a pocket full of money. But how can you retain customers while keeping existing ones happy? Let’s find out.


Why is guest retention so important for short-term rentals?

Here are a few reasons why repeat renters are the best renters:

  • Easier management
    Repeat guests know the drill. They’re familiar with your prices, house rules, and amenities, which means fewer headaches for you and a smoother experience for them.
  • Cost-effective
    Marketing to new guests means spending lots of time and resources. You’re just another listing among many, so standing out can be tricky. On the other hand, with customer retention, you’ve already done the hard work, so it’s now time to reap the fruits of your labor.
  • Consistent revenue
    Knowing that a percentage of your bookings will come from repeat guests will give you peace of mind and financial stability. A steady income stream will allow you to expand your business and experiment with different marketing strategies.
  • Higher occupancy rates
    Being a host comes with lots of feast and famine. Extending your customer lifetime will increase occupancy rates even during dry seasons, ultimately avoiding the dreaded empty calendar.
  • Positive reviews and referrals
    Customer feedback is incredibly powerful and can make or break your short-term rental business reputation. Happy guests are your best advocates. By encouraging guest retention, you’re more likely to receive positive reviews and attract new customers.

Customer retention for vacation rentals

7 strategies to encourage repeat guests to your short-term rentals


1. Ensure a stellar stay
First impressions matter. From the moment guests check into your property till the time they leave, ensure stellar service. A warm welcome with a basket of local treats and a handwritten note will set the tone for a successful stay. Make sure your property is always spotlessly clean, as guests will quickly notice any signs of neglect.
Fresh linens, clean bathrooms, and a well-maintained kitchen are a must. Pay attention to small details that can enhance the guest experience. For example, providing a digital guidebook with house rules, local tips, and transportation recommendations can make all the difference. When it’s time for check-out, give clear instructions and encourage guests to leave positive reviews or return for a second stay.


2. Create loyalty programs
If your goal is customer retention, establish loyalty programs to reward repeat guests for their business. This will make visitors feel appreciated while motivating them to book again. Consider offering incentives such as discounts on future stays, complimentary services, or even a free night after a certain number of bookings.
For instance, create a tiered loyalty program where guests can unlock additional benefits after two, four, or six stays with you. Higher tiers could include late check-out, complimentary amenities, discounts for local restaurants, or special concierge services.

Guest retention for short-term rentals

3. Give exclusive offers
Offer discounted rates or bundle additional services for repeat guests. For example, provide airport pickup or guided tours for guests who’ve completed a certain number of stays with you or have spent a specific amount of money. This will make them feel appreciated, increase their loyalty, and have them believe they’re getting a great deal.
The key here is customizing your offers to your “self-selected” group instead of making them available to the general public. Exclusivity and personalization can go a long way. If existing customers booked their stay during the winter, use personalized marketing campaigns to offer discounts or bundle packages for next winter.


4. Provide early-booking privileges
Offer returning guests the chance to book your property before anyone else. This is especially attractive during peak seasons or popular events in your area. Not only will you be rewarding loyal customers, but you will also secure a full calendar and a stable source of income.
We also recommend giving repeat guests the chance to book new properties added to your portfolio or rental upgrades before the general public. The sense of exclusivity can foster a strong relationship with your brand and have guests coming back for more in the following years.


5. Offer personalized perks
Understanding your guests’ needs is vital for customer retention. Use your vacation rental management system to track visitors’ preferences and personalize their stay. If you see a customer returning, surprise them with a personalized gift upon arrival. If you noticed a guest enjoying a particular type of coffee the last time they visited, have it stocked for their next stay.
It’s the small touches that make a big impact. In the meantime, provide personalized recommendations for activities, restaurants, and local attractions. Know someone who enjoys hiking on nearby trails? Have a few outdoor suggestions up your sleeve to impress them.


6. Leverage digital marketing
Attracting new website visitors shouldn’t be your only objective with your marketing campaigns. Keeping in touch with past guests can increase your chances of repeat bookings and bring more revenue. Use email newsletters to share news about your property, upcoming events in the area, or special promotions. Personalize them to remind guests of their stay and prompt them to book again.
Social media is another excellent channel to share engaging content and build your brand’s reputation. Post positive client testimonials, show the behind-the-scenes, and interact with new and past guests so that you’re at the top of mind when they’re ready to book. Lastly, use remarketing campaigns to advertise your rentals to previous guests and increase the likelihood of repeat bookings.


7. Foster a sense of community
Encourage guests to engage with you and each other to build relationships around your brand. For example, create a Facebook Group with new and past guests where they can share their experiences or tips during their stay. Alternatively, create a physical or digital guest book for your property, where each visitor can leave notes on their favorite spots, local attractions, and activities.
You can later share that in your social media or newsletter to add value for future guests and create a sense of community. Another great idea is hosting meet-and-greets at your rental to meet up with everyone who trusted you with their stay. Finally, maintain an active presence on social media, repost guests’ photos, and share memories and recommendations to keep everyone engaged.


To sum up, retaining guests is more than just offering a great place to stay. It’s about creating unforgettable experiences your guests want to relive. By implementing these strategies, you can build a solid reputation, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately grow your vacation rental business.
The key to customer retention is personalization. Naturally, keeping an overview of each guest’s needs without a system in place is impossible. This is where a PMS and channel manager like Hosthub comes into the frame. With native tools like a unified inbox, reports, and charts, you can stay on top of your customers and bookings and increase your revenue. Start a free trial or book a demo today!

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