Can Vacation Rentals and Hotels Work Together?

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.

Lately I’ve been hearing buzz about hotel brands entering the vacation rental market. Vacation rental owners and hoteliers alike understand that we have an attractive market; but leaders in both industries are often quick to point out the stark differences and disregard each other as competitors.

I’ve personally seen and achieved a lot of success in business through aberrant partnerships and I often ponder how such a partnership might benefit our growing industry. Take Target’s designer collaborations, for example (with the likes of Nieman Marcus and Jason Wu). Each collaborator understands what the other partner offers, how they are different, and how they can benefit each other. The goal is not to become the other.

Vacation rentals are distinguished by their unique brands and authentic experiences. What they lack is industry-wide guest service standards and independent brand awareness.

Even with great efforts to overcome these challenges by industry stalwarts, it is impossible for every owner/manager to create a brand presence that precedes them, as hotels do, simply due to the marketing expenses and execution time. It is particularly hard for new vacation rental owners. Often working families, they don’t have time to read every new post on LinkedIn and follow vacation rental blogs, let alone build and manage an independent website to build their brand.

But they do have a vision. Most have created a high quality experience with amazing guest service and are taking one step at a time towards running their business as a full-time career.

One Way Vacation Rentals and Hotels Could Partner

A recent trend I’ve been noticing across a host of different vacation rental sites is the use of stamps of approval. A stamp of approval can certainly add some credibility but do guests really know what these mean and how it may add to the vacation rental standard and experience?

Guests know hotel brands and their standards (by way of millions spent each year in advertising), the biggest area of uncertainty for vacation rentals guests.

According to Oracle, 86% of customers will pay more for a better experience. If newbies (or vacation rentals in general) were able to get a “brand stamp of approval” from a relevant boutique hotel, would they see an increase in conversion, retention, and rates based on the perception of a more dialed experience?

At the same time could hotels also benefit by driving much needed patronage to their ancillary revenue centers (restaurants, spas, shops and activity spots) through recommendations from partnered vacation home owner(s)?

There are many logistics not addressed herein. Hotels, for one, would need to understand that vacation homes are independently run and a source of ancillary revenue. Independent homes would have to meet and adhere to select standards set by the hotel (that would not diminish their uniqueness, of course).

Is this topic off in left field or reasonable enough to test the possibilities? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

This post was written by Kris Getzie

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

Choosing the Best Vacation Rental Location

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.

There are many reasons why people choose to purchase vacation homes. Sometimes it’s for the love of an area and pure personal enjoyment. Other times it’s purely for cash flow. If you are somewhere in-between or are looking to run your home as a full-time business, the location of your vacation rental is one of the most important decision you will make.

While it can be possible to turn a vacation home in the middle of nowhere into a successful business venture, I do not advise the risk if you cannot afford uncertainty. Choose a location you love, but be cognizant of its ability to attract tourist.

Tripping.com’s Top City Destinations

San Francisco, CA

New York, NY

Seattle, WA

New Orleans, LA

Chicago, IL

Tripping.com’s Top Beach Destinations

San Diego, CA

Destin, FL

Key West, FL

Gulf Shores, AL

Honolulu, HI

Top Tips For Choosing a Vacation Rental Location

For most, location seems basic and research often ends after selecting a particular city or a general neighborhood. Don’t stop there. Just because your condo boarders Central Park, doesn’t mean it’s on the right end. So what’s an out of towner to do?

1. Go for a walk and take in the surroundings

Don’t hire a cab or rent a car, walk. Walk in all directions around your property for blocks. What do you see? Look at the quality (and type) of shops, businesses, homes. Will they complement your business? Do you feel safe on your walk? Take another walk at a different time of day, including the night. A beautiful beach can look completely different when the tide is out. It can also be quiet and pristine on a Wednesday but packed with locals on Saturday (which may or may not be great for your intended experience).

I once stayed in a vacation rental right next to train tracks where trains passed by every thirty minutes. While some noise levels, particularly in urban locations, are inevitable it’s important to understand what is around you. This may sound ridiculous but not too long ago I stayed in a property that was located about 500 yards from a sewage treatment facility. I was sick to my stomach a few hours everyday when the wind blew wrong.

2. Study the local landscape

If you are buying a home or land in an area you aren’t intimately familiar with, take extra time to study the details of the land and area. You don’t want to show up on a pristine day, only to find out later that during your peak season strong winds blow large tides onto your beach and make swimming a hazard.

The same holds true for erosion. Understand what happens to your property when the extreme elements (rain, cold, heat, whatever) are in full effect. Will your property flood? Do you have exposed water mains that could freeze and burst?

My Personal Experience

When I bought my vacation rental in Park City, Utah, I noticed the neighbor had recently excavated and laid a new driveway, which had already cracked. Park City happens to be the high desert, so this was a big red flag. Sure enough, the water main was exposed and had a history of bursting. In my purchase negotiations, I had them move the water main from the side of the home to the front where it now connects with city water (all underground). The project was estimated to cost $15k, but really cost over $20k due to the depth of the city water connection. A fee I’m glad I didn’t have to pay!

luxury pool

3. Be aware of the elements

If you are planning on having a pool, you will need to create a space with consistent sunshine. If a building permanently blocks this opportunity, your rates might be substantially lower than you would have thought. Too much sun, or high temperatures, can also be problematic and reduce travel to your hopeful location for long periods of time. Lastly, understand how the elements will impact the design of your property and maximize what is naturally bestowed upon you if you are building.

4. Never be pressured into buying

Don’t let anyone rush you! I don’t care if an all cash offer is supposedly looming, if you are not allowed time to research your investment, walk away. This is when the biggest mistakes are made. Likewise, if something doesn’t feel right, even if everything else by examination seems perfect, trust your gut and move on.

This post was written by Kris Getzie

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

Protecting Against Vacation Rental Damage

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.

In my experience, one of the biggest concerns for new vacation rental owners is having their home trashed by careless guests. Vacation rental damage, however big or small, is something all owners have to deal with but there are ways to provide extra protection for your property.

My clients who are looking to get into the vacation rental business are usually looking to increase household income and/or gain life balance (by way of working fewer corporate hours), so the concern is understandable. Help alleviate the stress of dealing with vacation rental damage and save both time and money with these four tips.

Top Ways To Minimize Vacation Rental Damage

1. Screen Your Vacation Rental Guests

Screening is the first line of defense in protecting your home. I always try to speak to potential guests before they book; to get a feel for what type of people they are and the nature of their vacation.

If you hate the phone more than I do, or just cannot arrange a time to speak, try to engage in a couple of emails, at a minimum, instead. Pay attention to any red flags or inconsistencies. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to turn inquiries away.

Keep in mind that screening isn’t foolproof and it’s important that you have some type of insurance or deposit in place should damages, or the need for deeper cleaning, occur.

2. Take a Deposit For Your Vacation Rental

Upfront deposits, typically a flat fee or a percentage of the total booking amount, are common. They are nice because you have the cash on-hand should something go awry, but can also be a hassle due to extra steps involved; collecting, deducting and returning.

Vacation Rental Deposit Tips

– Guests don’t like large sums of cash sitting in limbo for upwards of 6+ months.

– Don’t spend the deposit if you are on a tight budget; some clients choose to put it aside in a business savings account, along with tax money.

– Some states may require you to make a claim against a guests deposit within a set duration of time, typically 14 days.

3. Consider Vacation Rental Insurance

For a low, non-refundable, fee CSA Travel protection can provide an insurance policy as an alternative to taking a deposit. For those listing their homes on booking sites or using management software, it’s typically one click of a button in your account to add a policy requirement for all of your guests.

Although it’s super cheap and easy to implement, all damages may not be covered- like pet damage. Make sure you read the fine print of your insurance provider carefully.

All my properties are dog friendly. To mitigate any risk, I collect a $150 non-refundable pet deposit (which covers additional cleaning as I like my properties spotless) and ask for a credit card number to process through rental management software, Braintree, or any other payment system you prefer, should damages occur.

4. Build a List of Repeat Guests

Building a vault of repeat guests is probably the single most effective way to minimize the potential of damages. Take note of the many ways to create an exceptional experience and start growing your guest base. You will have rapport and will know how they will treat your home.

But even so, mishaps will happen. Always use your discretion when asking for fees. If charging them is causing you more anxiety than just covering the expense yourself, let it go. On the converse, if the damage is costly, talk through the solutions and repair costs openly.

My rule of thumb is that if the damage is fairly inexpensive, and was obviously an accident or non-malicious, I acknowledge the problem to the guest and offer to cover the expense. In my experience guests are usually very impressed with the level of hospitality and often demand to pay for the damage anyway.

This post was written by Kris Getzie

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

Dwellable Q&A

This Q&A was for Dwellable and can be found here.

1) How did you get into this business?

My parents have owned and operated vacation rentals and boutique Inn’s for nearly twenty years, so the industry and it’s transformation have always been a huge part of my life.

After establishing my individuality, career and finishing grad school, I knew it was time to make the transition into this industry full-time. First by taking over the operations of my parents businesses and consulting on the side, then buying my own.

In a way, I was destined to be here. Not just because of my parents (they aren’t into free rides), but because of a deep interest in economic development. Responsible and sustainable tourism provides significant means for lesser developed countries to address their fiscal, environmental, healthcare and education situations.

I’ve also spent time working with a variety of organizations and governments addressing these issues as a hospitality consultant… It’s completely rewarding.

2) Tell us a story about the absolute best or absolute worst vacation rental experience you’ve ever had.

My friends and I were in Culebra, Puerto Rico, at my parents VR, when we met a retired couple who regularly hosted guests on their catamaran. They were locals (kinda) and offered us a trip. We hopped onboard.

I’d never sailed prolifically before, so that was a great experience in and of itself… But the way they hosted us forever shifted my perception of what a great VR experience should be.

They let us into their lives; showed us how they prepare for a trip, how to cook on board, drink like sailors (literally, Sailor Jerry—the rum—was a flowin’), tie knots and brought us diving at amazing little islands we would have never visited otherwise.

Of course, they had the details of their stay perfected and I still remember the smell of their sheets. Literally, one whiff of sea salty-butter-pineapple and I immediately want to be on that boat (talk about a retention strategy).

They were entertainers. They shared fantastic stories about their experiences sailing, history of mariners and took us all out of our comfort zones. A decade later, the girls and I still talk about that trip!

PR3

3) How is the rise of mobile devices changing the vacation rental business?

Mobile strategy often refers to developing a mobile website that enhances the overall vacation rental search and booking experience.

I think it’s important to embrace this. But with 68% of smartphone users sleeping within two feet of their phone, it’s equally important think beyond the mobile website as devices have the ability to enhance guest engagement on a more personalized level before, during and after their stay.

Integrating an app, for example, provides guests with an easy way to control their experience.

They might buy mountain lift passes, a spa package or view a virtual tour before arrival. During their stay they might want to request additional maid services or book a dog walker. All great ways to drive ancillary revenue, by the way. I also think most owners could benefit with an app after departure by continuing engagement. Not stalking! But to say thank you, invite them back and ask for a review.

Mobile devices are also great for face-to-face interaction if you can’t be there physically. I had a guest FaceTime me because he couldn’t figure out the ski rack. Within two minutes I was able to guide him through the problem. It was super easy and it was nice to cyber meet in our PJ’s 🙂

4) Word of advice to VR owners?

Always be authentic.

PR4

The most successful VR owners I have encountered consistently show their personality and have an ability to connect their guests to the local culture, in their own way. Consistent VR industry standards are obviously important (in terms of cleanliness, communication and so on) but the one thing no one can ever duplicate is your authentic and unique presentation of an experience.

I love what Vayando is doing. Once they are established, I hope to see them connect with vacation rentals to enhance the overall travel experience!

5) Insider tip for travelers in your area?

Regardless of what brings you to Park City, collect locals as your wingmen. They are guaranteed to be interesting people and will give you a fantastic day-in-the-life tour!

PR5

They’ll bring you to backcountry slopes you’ll never see otherwise (maybe not via snowcat, but you’ll get there), insane bike routes (mountain or road), sketchy food trucks with delicious grub, or random concerts outside of Park City (Twilight Concert Series, for example, features the likes of De La Soul, Beck, Thundercat and local artists… for $5!).

PR6

Kris Getzie is Founder & Principal Consultant at Volo, a hospitality consultancy, and she loves to help her vacation rental and boutique hotel clients crush with an amazing brand and dialed operations. She is obsessed with chocolate, learning, random adventures and getting her two kids out to explore the world.
Follow her on Twitter @volovantage or at www.volovantage.com.

Guest Communication: A How To Guide

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.

The vacation rental industry is about people and guest service. Aside from constant attention to the details of your vacation home, effective guest communication before, during and after your guests stay is the easiest way to exceed expectations and gain loyalty. The success of any vacation rental business is up to each owner to ensure the entire process is worry free, fun and that guests leave excited to recommend your home to others.

According a J.D. Power study on guest satisfaction, the number of interactions guests have significantly impacts their satisfaction and loyalty. In hotels, the overall satisfaction among guests is the highest when they interact with four or more types of staff after check-in. Vacation rentals are not hotels and certainly don’t have “staff” but I think we can discern from this study that guest communication should not end after check-in. Guests want more than a key, so pay attention to how and when you interact.

Guest Communication Tips

  • Be Genuine: Your experience offered will distinguish you from your competitors. Don’t be afraid to engage the real you into your business, albeit professionally.
  • Be Prompt: Guest inquiries, questions and requests need to be handled with a sense of urgency every single time.
  • Smile! As cheesy as it sounds, it’s easy to hear a smile in some one’s tone. Your pronunciation will be more clear and your guests (current or potential) will be more engaged in your experience even if you are not speaking with them in person.

 

Comfortable modern bedroom with a fireplace.

Prior to Guests Arriving

Listen: Don’t just listen to the actual words guests are verbalizing, ask additional questions to get to know them. Read between the lines and make attempts to personalize their vacation rental stay. As a single mom of two young kids, nothing is more helpful than arriving to Frozen in the DVD player, milk in the fridge and banana’s on the counter for a snack (next to a shot of local whiskey for me). My kids travel often and are ridiculously well behaved, but these small gestures help immensely and allow us to settle quickly.

Help: Even if the guest hasn’t booked your home, help them with the details of their vacation if it’s possible. By making their trip better, more memorable and more authentic, you will likely remain a piece of their experience. Chances are that they will book with you next time, or refer a friend!

Eliminate Concerns: Independent vacation rentals don’t have the brand recognition hotel chains do (in terms of what to expect), so owners have to be diligent about anticipating potential concerns with effective guest communication.

A stress free process will not only distinguish your vacation rental from competitors, it will make your guests happy.

Top concerns, in my experience, have involved uncertainty of the homes quality, location and what will happen if disaster strikes. Disaster, to some, may be a malfunctioning dishwasher. To others, where they will stay if the entire house burns down (I’ve been asked about house fire contingency plans before).

Provide clear and updated images, video tours and information on your emergency contacts and procedures. Hopefully you have stayed in vacation rentals prior to starting your business, so put yourself in their shoes and provide any information that will give them peace of mind.

During a Guests Stay

Warm and welcoming: You never get a second chance at a first impression. Your door should open with a sense of ‘welcome home’ and the transition in should be seamless and comforting.

Check in: I call my guests within 24-hours to be sure they are settled, have everything they need and gain insight into their plans. I like to followup after 12 hours, but under 24, as it gives them time to acquaint themselves. I look for ways to personalize their trip during this call.

Give guests space: Let them enjoy their trip but always be willing to engage further, should they like.

After a Guests Stay

Say thank you: I’m still surprised at the number of vacation rental owners that don’t thank their guests for staying. It’s simple and an easy way to build repeat guests.

Feedback: Ask for feedback in your thank you note. Their input is the best way to continually enhance your homes experience. Also provide a link so they can easily review their stay.

Engage: Ask for a picture during their vacation and permission to use it for marketing or offer a discount for their next stay. Don’t end your relationship when they walk out the door.

This blog was written by Kris Getzie, Hospitality and Vacation Rental Consultant for Tripping and can be found here.

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

Winter Rentals: 5 Ways To Attract Off Season Guests

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.

Just because high season summer reservations are coming to an end doesn’t mean your vacation rental business cant thrive in the winter rentals market. Unless you don’t have heat or property access during the winter, it is possible to capture the elusive out of season guest to help pay on-going fixed expenses!

Summer guests, in general, are looking for lazy days on the beach and a boat. They want sunshine and family interaction. You probably market your property as such through captivating photos, property descriptions and offered activities.

Fall and winter guests, on the other hand, might have dramatically different desires for their out of season getaway. Understanding your guest and how their needs shift throughout the year is the most effective way to attract out of season business.

Top Tips for Winter Rentals

1. Market Your Rental For The Off Season

Your listing ad, website and home itself probably already promote summer festivities. This is great for the high season, but won’t necessarily attract guests looking for winter rentals. Update your photos, property descriptions and amenities to up-sell your winter welcome.

Ensure the beds have really warm duvets, throws and unforgettable sheets (LL Bean Flannel sheets are my personal choice). Provide extra wood for the fireplace (with usage directions and fire extinguisher!). Warm colors and soft lighting will take the cozy factor up a notch and pictures of said ambiance work wonders for your ‘winter retreat’ section on your website, if you have one.

2. Loosen Your Booking Requirements

Travel decisions become impulsive (often booked only days in advance) with shorter stays. If you typically require weekly reservations, offer nightly rates to promote last minute weekend getaways. The goal is to become attractive to a larger audience, with less flexible schedules.

3. Make Sure Your Pricing is Competitive

It’s really easy to price too high in fall and winter. Resist the temptation! With so many vacation rentals vying for the dwindling market, potential guests won’t give your home a second glance if your rates aren’t accurate reflections of the season.

Park City

4. Offer Compelling Events & Activities for Guests

Research festivals, concerts, tours and events in your area so you have plenty of attractions for your potential guests. Is there a local University? Understand their events calendar and how your home rental can fill a market need.

Develop promotions with these organizations, inclusive of your vacation rental. I love working with the Park City Chamber of Commerce (which also acts as the Tourist Bureau) to develop marketing packages for press visits and other planned promotions during the off season.

Also, don’t overlook the importance of seasonal activities offered at your home. A hot tub, snowshoes and sleds are really fun and great additions for winter rentals. They will quickly pay for themselves.

5. Pay Attention to Economic & Travel Trends

According to the U.S. Travel Association, 41% of American workers do not plan to use all of their paid time off (PTO) in 2014. Although 96% of those interviewed agreed on the importance of vacation, 33% say they “cannot afford” it.

By keeping a pulse on larger trends, you will be able to identify new opportunities to attract business. If more travelers feel inclined, for one reason or another, to forfeit extended Bahamian winter trips for a weekend getaway closer to home, how can you capture their attention?

Be creative, flexible and have fun creating options to attract out of season guests. They will appreciate the effort and they will return.

Increasing Your Vacation Rental Income

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.

Unlike vacation rentals, hotels have many ways to bring in additional money. Revenue from their retail shops, food & beverage outlets, spa or premium internet charges, for example, can more than double their revenue beyond room rentals. This is what hoteliers call ancillary revenue.

Revenue managers focus intensely on their ancillary revenue channels, in addition to controlling expenses (like you would your household expenses) and increasing RevPar (Revenue per Available Room). RevPar is literally a basic health measure that looks at room rates (or ‘home nightly rate’, if you will, for VR’s) combined with occupancy.

Through buying featured ad placements on vacation rental listing sites, increasing the subscription package or taking cues from blogs posts on building a vacation rental brand, many vacation rental owners are convinced occupancy and rates are the only ways to increase profitability.

These are all very important aspects, no doubt, especially increasing occupancy through repeat guests. But I encourage you to think more like hoteliers today, beyond just ‘RevPar’, even if you don’t have immediate access to revenue enhancement centers (the physical places ‘ancillary revenue’ is generated at a hotel).

You can increase profits, aside from occupancy and rates, albeit through less traditional means.

I’m not insinuating that vacation rental owners nickel and dime guests as airlines do by charging for the basics (i.e. checking your luggage). We are in the competitive hospitality business as independents, have a standard guest experience and understand that some items are a minimum expectation!

Every single guest needs to receive a quality experience for their payment. Luxury sheets are required if you are offering a high-end rental home, for example.

I’m not fond of guest check-out chores under any circumstance; however, it works for some experiences (when the expectation is presented clearly prior to booking). I cringe when owners or managers drop a list of check-out chores, on top of cleaning fee, in their house manual just to save a buck.

I’m referring to increasing revenue through differentiating your product offerings and providing customized options.

Examples!

A Volo client had a great little Inn in Mexico near a community of soap makers. The owners offered amazing complimentary soaps in each room, but also introduced a soap concierge program encouraging guests to order personalized soap scents; lavender, melon, vanilla or any mixture thereof. Guests used them during their stay, brought them home and purchased as gifts. The ancillary venture not only increased their revenue by 5% (in addition to other implemented strategies), but gave back to the community.

Other examples could be snack/lunch boxes (preordered for planned outings, not to be confused with a gift basket left for new guests… although, pre-arrival grocery shopping is also a great add-on), upgraded bathroom amenities or linens, gift cards and other easy-to-deliver items. Know who your guest is and you will be able to define ancillary revenue sources they will engage with.

One client saw nearly a 10% increase in revenue by sending her guests to local businesses she loved. According to FlipKey, the average homeowner in its network earns $26,000 a year, that equates to $2600 in additional revenue.

We achieved this by developing referral partnerships that complemented her vacation rental experience; ski and outdoor equipment rental companies, restaurants, spas, movies theaters and art galleries. The commission per referral was between 5-15%, depending on the business partner.

Each ‘revenue center’ may not independently skyrocket your profit, but collectively, it can add up quickly!

This post was written by Kris Getzie

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

Distribution Channel Analysis: 5 Things To Know

The hotel industry has changed dramatically over the past 15 years. The most challenging of which is in the area of distribution.

Each distribution channel has associated costs, benefits and is evolving quickly. Online travel agencies battle with search engines, social media platforms and hundreds of hotel websites for the customers attention.

Intermediaries act as gatekeepers and impose increasingly higher fees for directing traffic to hotels, impacting distribution costs. Simultaneously, the transparency of hotel pricing structures online puts pressure on already competitive rates. With higher booking volumes passing through intermediaries, the costs imposed and pressure on rates, hotels are challenged to maintain profit levels.

Regardless of the distribution channel used by consumers, it is important that each hotel attempt to understand the dynamic of each channel and analyze the costs and benefits in a meaningful way to create sustainable revenue and profit streams.

When approaching your distribution channel analysis, these 5 things are good to keep in mind:

1. Share Shift

In a mature U.S. lodging industry, incremental demand by any one channel is difficult. However, each channel can advantageously ‘share shift’ from another hotel in its market. Hotels should develop tools to share shift from all channels, not just OTA’s (online travel agents) as receiving business through yourwebsite.com, for example, will incur lower transactional fees and may have less impact on ADR (average daily rate). Share shifting mostly occurs:

  • From one hotel to another
  • From one time period to another
  • From one channel to another

2. Conversion

Some hotel distribution models allocate resources to acquisition, persuasion and retention. Those hotels will benefit from working harder at converting existing traffic from all channels, and on retention, rather that emphasizing acquisition. Acquisition is expensive, especially if there isn’t a strong conversion and retention plan in place.

3. Costs of Distribution

Knowing the costs associated with each channel is essential for management in the fragmented distribution landscape, even when the costs don’t appear on the P&L statement.

4. Benefits of Distribution

Equally, it’s critical to analyze the full benefits from each channel including length of stay, ancillary spend, repeat and referral potential.

5. Commoditization

In the current marketplace, a common theme portrayed is that last minute bookings result in better deals. So potential guests wait to book. These price drops inform that your distinguishing feature is price, not the quality, experience or differentiation from other hotels. With third parties targeting the same guests, and sometime offering last minute deals, it’s important to be cognizant of who controls your guest relationship. It will strongly affect the value of your brand.

*Pictures from Google Images.

Mountain Money

Volo was recently on KPCW’s Mountain Money show with Larry Warren & John Wells to discuss a little of who we are and what we do for our Vacation Rental clients, specifically. Kris Getzie is on around minute 45, for the last 15 minutes of the show.

Click here to listen!

Offering Guests a Sense of Connection

Connection and ‘the experience’ is one area I work diligently to maximize in my consulting practice.

The most successful hospitality businesses that I have worked with (vacation rentals, hotels and/or boutique experiences) are able to connect with their guests on many levels, in an exceptional way. Not only do they go through great length’s to know who their guests are/what they want to experience (to tailor the travel experience accordingly), but they create a holistic environment of connection; to the environment itself, the community, historical significance, the property and to the owners.

Give your guests a ‘tour’ of the community, from your perspective and provide a space for them to build their own- whether that can happen on your property or elsewhere. For hotels, staff training is critical. They must be informed, prepared and empowered to interact and provide unique experiences for your guests.

This blog is written by Cori M. Hildebrandt | Volo Blogger, Globe-Trotter & Therapist

The sense of being physically alone in a foreign land triggered in me the deep need to connect with other human beings, quickly.

Even in death, we are part of a community.

Even in death, we are part of a community.

I think modern travelers are seeking a sense of belonging and connection again as our lives at home are becoming increasingly disconnected. La Casa Fitz Roy was my home-away-from-home in Buenos Aires because of the friendly staff and welcoming social crowd. I didn’t really care that it had cockroaches or dingy bathrooms. Of course, I would recommend eliminating these things. But what made my new home memorable (even so years later) is their authentic staff and communal spaces that encourage conversation and interaction among travelers.

The people I met at La Casa Fitz Roy became my network. I encountered time-and-time again all over the continent of South America; it was always comforting, and fun, to see a familiar face in a sea of foreign ones. It still baffles me how I ran into more people I recognized in South America than I do in my own hometown… I think part of it is because when we travel we are open and have the time to genuinely connect with others, while at home we often get bogged down with work, household, and family responsibilities.

Part of the joy of travel is the free time to make new acquaintances and feel a sense of universal connection.

How can you help cultivate authentic human connection for your guests? How can you invite your clients to be part of a unique community experience?

Cori’s Previous Post: Southwards