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Good communication is the foundation to any successful relationship. With short-term rentals, guest communication has consistently proven to be one of the most important aspects of their stay. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since we all have high expectations when paying for a service. Offering good communication also influences many other aspects of a guest stay and can assist in improving the overall guest experience.

Being an effective communicator with guests is something that can be difficult to master at first, but is something that is essential to get right. You must understand that everyone is different in how they communicate and do your best to adapt to your guest’s style. There are four elements of effective communication that are essential to offering an exceptional experience: helpfulness, responsiveness, clarity, and friendliness.

Helpfulness in Guest Communication

As a host, it is your main responsibility to be as helpful to your guest as reasonably possible. One of the best ways to optimize helpfulness is to communicate everything your guest would need to know during check-in. In the world of short-term rentals, this information should extend at least one level beyond house tips. You should give some level of insight about things such as transportation options and local activities or events. You can also create a basic house manual (either virtually on a home sharing platform or a physical mini-guide) in case your guests forget information.

Even if you’re perfectly prepared, there’s still a high chance that your guest will reach out to you at some point in their stay to ask about something. The key to helpfulness is to focus on exactly what your guest needs or wants and ensure they get it. Don’t overwhelm them with too much information, and make sure they are fully satisfied with the outcome. If your guest is requesting something that you can’t accommodate, make sure they understand why and make it clear that you’re committed to being as helpful as possible. Simply showing that you care really does make a huge difference.

Responsiveness in Guest Communication

When renting your property on the short-term market, it is important to understand that you’re competing with hotels and the level of service they provide. Responding to guest inquiries and requests within a reasonable amount of time is the expectation, and the goal is to always exceed expectations by responding immediately. While most guests don’t expect on-demand service, they will expect that you respond to their questions in a timely manner. This is especially true for busy business travellers or vacationers eager to get their day started in an unexplored city. The result of being highly responsive is guests that will trust you more and be much more receptive to your thoughts and suggestions. The rewards of being available to your guests 24/7 far outweigh the costs.

Clarity in Guest Communication

Communication is only useful if the message is clear and understood by the receiver of the message. If there is ever a doubt in your mind that your guest isn’t fully clear about something, take the time to make sure you are both aligned. This applies to both when you’re speaking with your guest in person or messaging them through a platform. It’s always better to over-communicate and be fully confident they understand then to assume the message was properly received.

Friendliness in Guest Communication

Communicating in a friendly and personable manner is central to ensuring that your guests feel comfortable in your property. Having a friendly host can go a long way to influence a guest’s experience and drive glowing positive reviews. Being friendly and welcoming from the start is essential to making sure your guests feel great about their decision to book your place. As sites like Airbnb and HomeAway grow into the mainstream, more and more everyday people will become guests for the first time. Some might enter the experience a little skeptical, and there is nothing wrong with that. For people with this mindset, your friendliness and hospitality can quickly become a key differentiator in terms of their experience relative to a traditional hotel. Interestingly enough, it is often first time guests whose expectations have been exceeded who write the nicest reviews.

Communicating effectively is something that all great hosts on Airbnb, HomeAway and other short-term rental platforms have mastered to drive consistent positive reviews. While some have a natural ability to do this well, it may take some learning for new hosts. Just remember, matching good preparation with helpful, responsive, clear, and friendly communication will get you on your way to being a top host in your city. Your guests will certainly appreciate it.