Webinar Recap: How to Build Guest Loyalty and Secure Repeat Bookings

Webinar Recap: How to Build Guest Loyalty and Secure Repeat Bookings

We all know that it costs less to maintain existing customers than to gain new ones. But when it comes to the vacation rental industry, what exactly can you do to keep guests coming back?

We set out to find an answer to just that question in our latest Lodgify webinar. On April 11, 2024, Lodgify Content Marketing Specialist Miquelle Radich explored How to Build Guest Loyalty and Secure Repeat Bookings with the help of two special guests:

  • Arthur Colker, founder and CEO of StayFi, the #1 provider of WiFi, marketing, and guest engagement tools for vacation rental operators
  • Kerri Gibson, co-founder of the Quebec-based vacation rental business Chalets Hygge

The result was 60-plus minutes filled with practical tips that any vacation rental business can implement, plus answers to some of hosts’ most common questions on this topic.

Feeling like you missed out? Don’t worry—we’re covering some highlights and sharing a full recording of the webinar here.

Webinar recording

Webinar recap

The webinar began with an introduction to the speakers, Arthur and Kerri.

Arthur, the founder and CEO of StayFi, explained how the company started in 2018 to help short-term rental operators build their own brand and drive direct bookings. Now, StayFi offers a suite of technology from data collection to email marketing to help STR operators do just that.

Kerri co-founded Chalets Hygge in Quebec, Canada seven years ago with her life and business partner Philip. Their business model consists of sourcing properties in need of significant renovation, renovating them, and turning them into short-term rentals. Today, Chalets Hygge has grown to include six vacation rental chalets, which Kerri and Philip manage as owner-operators.

At this point, Miquelle went on to briefly explain Lodgify’s main offerings, after which Arthur dove into his presentation on using technology and marketing campaigns to drive repeat bookings.

Arthur’s presentation first reviewed the benefits of direct bookings and how to create memorable stays for guests. Then, he broke down the three stages of converting guests to repeat bookers:

  • Collecting guest data
  • Marketing to your guest list
  • Offering value

Concrete tips on how to accomplish each of these stages made the presentation incredibly helpful (check out the recording for specifics!).

Finally, the webinar ended with questions for Kerri surrounding her experience with building guest loyalty, which has been crucial to the success of her business.

Webinar Recap: How to Build Guest Loyalty and Secure Repeat Bookings

Questions for Kerri

What percent of your bookings are return stays?

Return guest stays are actually one of the KPIs [key performance indicators] that we track pretty regularly. We started doing that in 2021, which actually was our highest year of return guests, when we came in at 40%. But obviously that was Covid—we had a lot of travel restrictions and a lot of local destination vacations. After that, in 2022 and 2023, we settled into the 20% range, which is still pretty strong. That’s the high end of what an STR can expect.

But then we were getting ready for this webinar, and we were running numbers for Q1 of 2024, and 24% of our Q1 reservations came from repeat guests. And in addition, 6% of our Q1 reservations came from referrals from guests. So 30% of our Q1 reservations came from prior guests in some way, shape, or form.

For us, we see repeat guests as a higher KPI than even star reviews. Five stars is amazing, but it really is a five-star-plus guest when they come again.

Vacation is such an important part of our culture, and so when they choose to spend their time and their discretionary spend to come back because you’ve earned their trust and confidence, that really is next-level as a KPI for letting you know that you’re really hitting your guest market in the right way.

Do you segment guests by language for your communications?

This is very important in a bilingual market! We actually communicate in both [English and French] and we segment our guests by language. We currently use MailChimp for our email marketing…and use a tag to identify who is who so that when an email goes out, they get it in the correct language. And of course, all of our digital assets are in both languages.

When and how do you introduce upsells?

We look at our chalets as where people start and end their days. They’re coming here for a whole entire experience…so our marketing brands are based off of the chalets, seasonal activities, and local businesses. You’ll see us talk about all of those things on our website, social, and email newsletters.

And that right there builds a ton of credibility with people that aren’t even guests yet, that may have signed up on the popup on our website and are like, “Okay, they’re really focused on helping me create the right vacation as opposed to just giving me a place to stay and then disappearing.”

So that proof of building the trust also comes in offering them upsells…It comes down to communicating it in a way that they don’t feel sold to, in a way that helps them curate their experience. We only add on things that are going to take their experience to the next level. And that’s what makes them repeat guests.

What role does technology play in creating memorable guest experiences?

For us as a small business, the only way that we can provide this amazing guest experience is with technology. Because if we didn’t have technology to help automate, to take away some of these tasks that we previously had to do manually, we wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to guests and curate that experience for them.

Webinar Recap: How to Build Guest Loyalty and Secure Repeat Bookings

Do you offer incentives for return stays?

We do offer incentives for both return guests and referral guests. And that’s a very personal decision—it really depends on your market and what your goals are. The reason we choose to do this is because it makes our return guests feel valued and important. They trust us with their money and with their vacation time—two very precious resources they have. We want them to know that we value that trust.

But keep in mind that the incentive only goes so far if you haven’t built the trust and the confidence and created a connection. The incentive is just the cherry on top. You have to make them proud and eager to share their experience with their friends…

One stat that I was going to give is that the lifetime value of our top five guests is over $100,000, and they’ve been to us over nine times each. So it’s really about creating a very long, sustaining relationship…And it really does drive revenue, ADR, and occupancy—it really, really does. That’s $100,000 going forward for the next five years that I can have a lot of confidence in. I know we’re going to have some level of return guests that will provide consistency and predictability for us.

Questions for StayFi

Many of our webinar participants included questions for StayFi in the chat. While we couldn’t get to these live, we’re including them here to resolve any remaining doubts!

Many people feel SMS marketing to be intrusive. How do you prevent that?

For StayFi, it is always an affirmative opt-in from guests, and we recommend reserving SMS for high-value messages.

Do you have any tips for getting started when you have no historical data?

When you connect your PMS to StayFi, we can uncover how many real emails you have. Many people do connect at least the booker’s email through a rental agreement. Adding StayFi will make sure you collect from all guests, not just the booker.

How often do you send out email marketing campaigns?

A great place to start is an automated welcome email and a quarterly newsletter. Eventually, you want to get to monthly newsletters. It’s important to find a relevant “excuse” to email your contacts so your emails stay engaging.

How to contact our speakers

Learn more about Chalets Hygge by visiting their website and following them on Facebook and Instagram (@chalets_hygge). Kerri Gibson is also on LinkedIn, and was kind enough to share her email for anyone who has additional questions for her (info@chaletshygge.com).

For more information about StayFi, check out their site as well as their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. You can also reach out to Arthur Colker via LinkedIn or email (arthur@stayfi.com).

Finally, learn more about how Lodgify can help grow your vacation rental business with a free 7-day trial or demo call!

What do you think about this article?

4/5 - (3 votes)
Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ready to take more direct bookings?

No set up fees, no credit card details, no obligation. Try Lodgify free for 7 days.