The single most valuable skill a vacation rental entrepreneur can develop is curating special experiences for guests.
Done successfully the rest of the dominoes fall into place: special experience = 5-star reviews + repeat bookings / referrals / PR. Oppositely, if you don't do this (no matter how good the rest of your business is) guests won't remember, return, or refer.
"Curating special experiences" starts with a well-appointed vacation home.
But let's take it one step further...
For travelers, serendipity is the mother of special experiences.
Serendipity is the chance experience that makes the vacation all worthwhile. The story that gets told for many years to come. Travelers rarely deliberately search for serendipity but when it happens it lasts a lifetime.
By definition, serendipity cannot be planned or premeditated. OR can it?
Here are some ways to engineer serendipity into your guest experience. Not so much to fabricate or fake that special moment. Rather, create optimal conditions for it to occur.
Introduce guests to other guests
This is one of the big advantages hotels have over vacation rentals (in the experience department) — the chance to serendipitously meet other travelers staying at the same place. There's something magical about meeting a like-minded traveler while in a foreign place. So if you have multiple vacation rental properties, try hosting a happy hour once a week for guests to co-mingle. If you only have one property, reach out to other vacation rental hosts in town and coordinate something light and fun.
For more tips on how to work together, listen to Dana Lubner's podcast episode "Go Together"
Present local personalities
You know, the creative chef in town, the quirky small business owner, the transportation/guide. People whose mere introductions tend to lead to other serendipitous storylines. This is as simple as texting “You should stop by X and ask for Y. He/she is amazing and loves taking care of our guests.” A coupon or voucher or deal card works well as the connector piece here.
Encourage attending local events
This is of course handy because you’re giving guests “something to do” — it works especially well when you know someone who’s part of the event organizing. Weekly events (apple picking, yoga, beach clean-ups) are best because you can recycle. The guest now feels like they’ve followed a whim: like they’ve stumbled into a social scene. They feel like they *belong* Belong anywhere. Just kidding.
Gift an action item
One of the classic factors of Limited Edition (an arrival gift or a parting thought) takes on a new power when the gift is something thoughtful that triggers or leads into serendipity. If you already offer a gift, try adding a card that explains who/where the gift came from. This is an easy link.
I'd encourage you to watch an episode of The Vacation Rental Show to get inspired about how you can leverage serendipity in your destination...