hosting in the motherhood

How to Become a Person of Influence, Part 1

Step 1: Take the Time to Actually Be Good at Hosting

Success takes time, but it also takes knowledge.  Having clear plans to reach your goals is the best way to make sure they happen, so this series is going to help new hosts expand their business, one step at a time.  Growth requires a firm foundation, so the first thing to do is take the time to actually become good at hosting.  Every new host makes mistakes, and making changes is an essential part of the process.  Although expanding your business right now sounds amazing on paper, fixing problems first before they spiral is a step that can’t be skipped.  Plan to spend eighteen to twenty-four months working out the kinks of your new business, which isn’t a bad thing!  The time spent understanding the STR industry now will save you later.  So, here are five ways to tidy up your hosting skills and help you understand your rentals to the fullest:

1. Define Your Niche and Who You Help

What makes your business different from the others?  That’s your niche, and it’s your business’s claim to fame.  Determining yours can be a challenge, so here are some things to consider:

  • When you were starting your business, what was your goal?
  • What are some common ways your guests describe your STRs?
  • How and why would you recommend your business to a stranger?
  • What is your business better at than the competitors?
  • Who does your business help?

Your niche doesn’t have to be a complicated thing.  Some examples of possible niches for vacation rentals are:

  • Beautiful views
  • Effortless check-in and check-out
  • Pet-friendly
  • Family-friendly
  • Very private and secluded/country lifestyle

Once you’ve determined your niche, focus on your audience.  You want your niche to align with the needs of your customers.  For example, if many of your clients stay to escape a busy city lifestyle, your niche being the property’s beautiful views lines up perfectly.  Accentuate what makes your property unique as much as you can.  If it’s beautiful views, put in some large windows or a porch with lots of seating.  The clearer and more emphasized your niche is, the more unique your rentals are from the others.

2. Grow a Brand With a Clear Value Proposition

According to Oxford Dictionary, a value proposition is a marketing term which refers to an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers.  Think of it as a quick and clear statement about how your company can benefit its customers.  For example, Your Family’s Place, my STR business, has the value proposition “Quiet life’s distractions and reconnect with the ones you love.”  And yours can be even shorter, if you like! When coming up with your value proposition, consider:

  • Your target audience
  • Your company’s values and goals
  • How your company helps its clients
  • What makes your business unique from the others

Being clear, specific, and concise are the most important characteristics of your value proposition- focus on your niche!  Avoid anything too broad or lengthy, such as:

  • Giving families their dream vacation (not specific enough)
  • Helping people enjoy their travel through clean, welcoming, and cozy rentals that anyone can enjoy (too long)
  • Special Stays (not specific enough)

Here are some effective value propositions from well-known companies:

  • Canva: Design anything
  • VRBO: Find the perfect vacation rental
  • Lyft: Select the ride to suit your mood

Your company’s value proposition is your opportunity to tell customers what you love about your business, so make it memorable!

3. Build Up a Large Number of Reviews

The more reviews your rentals have, the more people will trust them.  By staying in your rental, guests are putting their trip in your hands.  No matter how nice your STRs look online, if you don’t have plenty of reviews guests will rightfully be nervous about what they’re getting.  Every single review builds your business’s credibility and helps customers understand exactly what they’re getting, which increases customer satisfaction and provides social proof.  According to Wikipedia, social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in choosing how to behave in a given situation.  In other words, when customers see that others enjoyed their stay, they’ll want to do the same thing. 

 

You can help increase the number of reviews you have by just asking guests if they’d like to leave a review after their stay- it’s that easy!  Leaving comment cards for guests to fill out is another great way to get feedback, although it won’t appear online.  Thanking people that leave reviews and acknowledging what they have to say (positive or not) will help them feel heard and motivate other guests to review your properties as well.

4. Never Stop Learning

Even though you’re starting a new business, you don’t have to figure it out on your own from the ground up.  There are so many resources out there for new hosts, so use them!  If you’re unsure what to do, there’s almost always a book, article, or podcast out there to help you.  Even once your business is running smoothly, you should still keep trying to educate yourself in the vacation rental market.  The more knowledge you have, the more equipped you’ll be to make decisions and the more you’ll be able to stay up to date on what customers want.

But how do you know when you’ve learned enough to take action?  One thing that I like to use is the Rule of 3.  The Rule of 3 says that, in order to understand something, you need to use at least three different sources.  This means read three books, listen to three podcasts, or a mix of the two.  However, three books isn’t enough to fully understand a subject- you might be 70 or 80 percent there, enough to get started on the task, but you definitely haven’t learned it all.  So when have you really become an expert?  One way to tell is to keep reading or listening until whatever you’re currently in the middle of references a different book or podcast you’ve already listened to.  Let that be your sign that you’ve pretty much learned it all!

Reading books, reading articles, and listening to podcasts are very effective ways to gain knowledge about your business’s market.  But they’re not the only resources you should use.  Going to conferences can help you get your business out there and allows you to meet other professionals in the same space as you.  Being able to discuss issues with people in a similar situation can provide more insight than just reading about it.  Conferences give you the opportunity to partner with other businesses that can benefit yours, as well as meet potential customers. The more you learn about an industry, the more you can succeed in it.

5. Build a Team to Slowly Replace You

You can’t do it all yourself as your company grows, so focus on what you do best.  As your company expands, there will be more and more things that need done, and building a team to outsource becomes a necessity.  By letting your team do the more straightforward tasks, you can work on higher level items.  But don’t pressure yourself to get your team all at once- don’t hire a bunch of people that will put financial stress on your business.  Hire a person when you can afford it, and add more as you gain the means. 

The tasks of running a vacation rental business can be overwhelming, and drowning in them stifles growth.  By getting a team for everyday necessities, instead of focusing on keeping your company afloat, you can focus on its next steps.

In Conclusion…

Before you can expand your business, you need to fully understand what your business is and how it runs.  Knowing your business’s niche will help you advertise, and understanding your target audience will tell you who to advertise to.  On top of that, you need to have mastered your business’s day to day operations.  Once you’ve gained experience and credibility, it’s time for you to take the next steps into expansion!

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