Today I chat with John Oden, superhost with properties in Nashville and Florida. John hosts his properties with his wife Ellen under the brand Stay in the South. He's a firm believer in offering his guests the best hospitality possible by creating outstanding guest experiences. Here's how he does it.
- We really focus on building a great guest experience, and we do so by making sure we absolutely nail the basics. Cleanliness is #1 – we are fanatical and impress that upon our housekeepers, who are wonderful. Getting our technology right – the fastest WiFi we can get in every property. We have just gone through a round of HD-TV updates where we have a HD-TV with cable and WiFi in every living room and each bedroom. The last two homes we updated, we went with 4K TVs.
- Coffee! Guests love it – we have a Keurig coffee system in each property and are also adding a secondary drip coffee maker in each property for those who prefer it.
- Lighting – we use LED lighting everywhere, inside and out. Almost eliminates bulb changing. Dusk-to-Dawn lights outside, and festive string lights over the outdoor courtyards and decks.
- Prior to guest arrival, we have all the TVs on, and have the place lit up so the guests arrive to a bright and lively space. Especially important when guests arrive after dark so they aren't trying to find their way through the shadows
- Beverages – we provide bottles of water in the fridge, coffee service with sweeteners, creamers, tea bags, tea kettle.
- We also ask about guests preferred beverage, maybe a bottle of red or white wine, craft beers or even something totally different. We have that waiting upon their arrival.
- Personal hand-written note in the guest book, welcoming the guest by name, thanking them for booking with us and encouraging them to call or text anytime if they have a question
- We contact our guest immediately upon booking, or even inquiry, and offer our local expertise to help them find things they might not find on their own. We ask them about their plans and things they would like to see and do, and make suggestions based on our local knowledge.
- We communicate multiple times before, during and after the guests stay.
- We publicly respond to every guest review, 93% of which are five-star. We thank the guest for choosing our place and booking their stay, thank them for their kind words and for taking care of our place.
- We don't sweat the small stuff. Glasses get broken occasionally. Towels or linens get a stain, or small items go missing. The cost of these things in trivial in the big picture, and we'd never try to recover costs from guests from these small issues. Cost of doing business.
- My goal is to respond to every inquiry, booking or question in less than five minutes. With phone, text, email, and OTA apps on my smartphone in my hand, I hit this goal most of the time. Always within less than an hour. Typically within minutes.
- We aim to build a relationship with our guests from first inquiry. We aim to begin building goodwill long before the guests arrive at our property. By the time they arrive, we have a relationship, and this helps if problems come up (Internet outage, house mechanical issue, etc) and if an issue does arise, we get on it immediately.
- We realize we can't make everyone happy all of the time. When we have the (very rare) unreasonable guest, we deal with them graciously, and let it go.
- We care about our community. Every one of our properties was an abandoned disaster when we acquired. We have saved all of our properties from abandonment and have returned them to a beautiful state, which increases the value of the entire community. We make it clear that our houses are not party houses, that quiet hours are to be observed and that we expect guests to be respectful of our neighbors and neighborhood.
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