RESERVATION RESPONSE TIME: EVOLVE’S MAGIC NUMBER

The Evolve TeamLeave a Comment

How quickly you should respond for more guest bookings

One of the promises we make to Evolve homeowners is that we’ll provide their guests with the same level of service they’d expect from any well-known hospitality brand. 

That’s a high standard for the average Do-It-Yourselfer to meet, especially for those who work outside of managing their rental. We also hear a lot of complaints from owners about the understaffed local property managers looking after their homes. These PMs assume they’re meeting guest expectations. They’re not.

Making guests feel welcome starts with that first inquiry. Long response times or vague voicemails just give guests the impression that they’re a lower priority. They’re not (at least to Evolve). 

If we can make a guest happy, we will. It’s the right thing to do, and it makes a lot of business sense. Happy guests are good guests. Happy guests leave more positive reviews. Happy guests come back. 

But we’re not here to meet guest expectations. We’re here to exceed them. 

GUESTS EXPECT A RESPONSE WITHIN A DAY 

The 2018 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report has some interesting data on response time expectations.

While the data speaks to people who are looking for long-term rentals (vs. short-term or vacation rentals), the lesson is the same: people who contact a landlord or property manager expect a quick response. Here’s what Zillow learned:

  • 8% expect a response in less than an hour
  • 20% expect a response between one hour and a few hours 
  • 44% expect a response between a few hours and a day
  • 22% expect a response within 2-3 days
  • The remaining 6% are very, very relaxed

As you can see, 72% of renters expect a response within 24 hours. And only 1 out of 3 will even bother to call again. The rest will simply move on. 

So what does this mean for short-term rentals? Let’s assume that vacation rental guests are even more demanding since it’s a lower-cost investment with a much larger inventory. If a day or less is acceptable to most guests, how can Evolve exceed expectations? 

WHY 15 MINUTES IS THE EVOLVE DIFFERENCE

Zillow’s data shows that almost half of the people surveyed would be comfortable hearing back within a few hours, which is good to know if you’re in the long-term rental industry.

Evolve is in the vacation rental industry, so we looked at data from our 10,000+ properties and found the magic number — 15. Turns out, it’s the speed at which we convert the most inquiries to bookings. And it’s the ambitious goal we’ve set for every inquiry.

The goal for our Travel Advisor team is to respond to a booking inquiry within 15 minutes.

And when we say “respond,” we mean a personal phone call. 

“Believe it or not, people want to be called in 2019,” says Olivia Marciniak, Director of Reservations at Evolve. “If they talk to somebody the first time they contact us, they feel like they’ll have someone to talk to later if they ever need help. It gives them a sense of security.”

Most importantly, we don’t outsource to non-employees or a call center in another part of the world. Our team here in Denver, Colorado, works together every day to field every inquiry, every time. 

DOES THE EVOLVE DIFFERENCE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

In a word, yes. 

Our data for 2019 shows that returning a call within 1-15 minutes of the inquiry arriving converts at least 8% more guests to book a property, compared to the next best-performing time block. 

What’s really striking is comparing calls in the 1-15 minute time frame to calls between 55-61 minutes (i.e., within the same hour). We see almost double the number of guests book in that first time block than later that same hour. 

None of this is to say that returning calls to a guest inquiry outside of the first 15 minutes is a bad thing. You’ll still reach guests in a reasonable time frame. But if you truly want to convert the most inquiries to actual bookings, you have to act quickly. 

That’s the Evolve way. And we’ve always said there are only two ways to manage a vacation rental property: the Evolve way or the hard way. If you’re ready to leave the hardest parts of managing your vacation rental (such as fielding guest inquiries seven days a week) behind, let’s talk. See if your property qualifies for Evolve.