By The Hospitable Team
Being rapid in your responses to guest inquiries is pivotal to running a successful short-term rental business. Every minute that lapses between the moment a potential guest sends you a question until they get a response means more time for them to look elsewhere.
When your response rate is low, you miss out on the opportunity to capture guests that would otherwise be a perfect fit for your property. But you don’t want to spend all day responding to guests’ questions (you have a business to run, after all).
That’s where automated replies come into play.
We’re here to show you how you can harness the power of automated replies with AI, as well as share a quick fix for what to do when a message can’t be automated.
Learn about how Hospitable.com can improve your guest communication and save you precious time.
Outrun the competition by responding to guest questions instantly.
Why automating your replies can give you a competitive edge
A slow response rate means you could be missing out on bookings, but there are other benefits to automating your replies as well. If you list your properties on Airbnb, reaching Superhost status can mean an 81% higher occupancy rate than non-Superhosts. Plus, Superhosts earn a global average of 60% more than non-Superhosts.
However, in order to become a Superhost, you must have a 90% response rate, which means responding to 9/10 guest inquiries in 24 hours or less, and your average rating must be 4.8 or higher. Fast responses are key to securing and maintaining this coveted status, which is where automated guest messaging can help.
Plus, by saving time on the tedious job of responding to guest inquiries, you can devote those extra hours in the day to improving your listing, marketing your units, and doing whatever else is necessary to scale your business.
Finally, quick responses simply make for a better guest experience. Whether it’s an inquiry about your property before booking or a question during your guest’s stay, responsive and attentive hosts get better reviews and more repeat visitors.
How to automate your responses to commonly asked questions
Automating your responses to common questions is a seamless process with Hospitable.com. We can detect guest messages starting at the inquiry process all the way through the review process. All you have to do is set your rules for what messages you want sent to guests in response to common questions.
Within the “Guest experience” tab of the platform, you can create question rules, which are the building blocks for automated responses.
By customizing these question rules, you craft the responses for common questions that guests ask, which are picked up by Hospitable’s advanced AI. Plus, we provide you with templates you can use as a starting point and customize to match your brand voice and unit details.
Hospitable.com’s machine learning model is highly capable of picking up on questions and sending just the right responses. For example, if a guest asks for a late check-out, the platform identifies whether or not this is possible by consulting your booking calendar, and responds accordingly.
Learn more about how to accept or deny early check-in and late check-out requests automatically depending on your calendar availability.
Hospitable can detect questions on more than 20 different topics, including inquiries related to WiFi, airports, pets, discounts, and restaurant recommendations. Plus, the platform can send different replies depending on whether a guest has started their stay or not.
For example, if a guest inquires about WiFi before their stay, the reply may be related to WiFi strength and speed. On the other hand, a guest that sends a question about WiFi during their stay will receive information about the WiFi password or troubleshooting.
You can make these messages sound totally natural, and the vast majority of the time, guests won’t even notice the message they’re receiving is automated. However, some hosts choose to inform guests that their auto-replies are in fact automated. Hospitable.com host Jason Wolohan does this for the following motives:
“I tell the guest that it’s an auto message for two reasons. The first reason is just in case the response does not answer their unique question that was on the same or a similar topic. Secondly, by being transparent about message automation, they’re more likely to think that some of my other [canned] messages are personal.”
Examples of automated replies to guest questions
Automated replies can be used to answer a wide range of questions, varying from quick fixes like “Where can I park?” and “How do I turn on the television” to more complicated topics such as late check-out requests.
To get a better idea of how automated replies work, take a look at some examples of how Hospitable host Jason Wolohan gets the most out of the platform:
Question: Pool Hours, Seasonality, and Distance From Cabin
Answer: The community pool is open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day. If the weather is still warm in September the community might leave the pool open a little longer, but this is not guaranteed. The pool is about a quarter mile walk from our cabin. The hours for the pool and the communal fire pit are 10am to 10pm.
Question: Restaurant Recommendations
Answer: We have a few restaurants relatively close to the cabin. Here is a link to the portion of our guidebook dedicated to food and entertainment. Restaurants are on the first two Pages. [Insert link to guidebook]
As you can see, Jason provides his guests with all the basic, necessary information, and if they come back with follow-up questions, he can send a canned response or write a personalized reply.
And as we mentioned above, he lets guests know that these responses are automated by including this message at the end of his response: “P.S. This is an automated response to hopefully get you what you’re looking for as fast as possible, but I do check every message that comes through.”
How to create and use canned responses
Sometimes automated messages just don’t cut it, as not all guest inquiries can be addressed with machine learning.
While questions like “What time is check-in?” or “What is the WiFi password?” can be addressed with an automated response, other questions are a bit more complicated. That’s when canned responses come in handy.
So for inquiries about discounts for specific types of travelers or very specific questions like “Where’s the nearest Whole Foods?”canned responses are your answer.
Canned responses are messages you prepare ahead of time and save so you can customize and manually send them at a moment’s notice. They are a bit more personal than an immediate automated response, but sending these responses doesn’t have to eat up your time.
You can create a bank of canned responses within your Hospitable.com dashboard, which you can access and select right within a conversation with a guest. And like automated replies, canned responses can be listing-specific, meaning you can have a canned response about the nearest pharmacy store or urgent care linked to each different property you run.
Examples of canned responses
Where an automated response won’t cut it, canned responses fill in the gaps. As we mentioned, these responses can be customized to fit each unique property, and you can have them at hand to send guests a quick, helpful response without having to write it out each time.
Hospitable host Quynh Vu shares one of her common canned responses:
Question: Beaches in the area
Answer: We are a short 5 minute walk to the closest public beach entrance. It’s best to leave the car in the driveway and walk to the beach as there is limited street parking at the beach. If you want to take a little drive, below are a few other beaches that are beautiful to check out.
Grayton Beach : 30 minute drive and a beautiful trip along the famous 30A.
Rosemary Beach: 40 minute drive and pretty views of smaller beach towns along the 30A.
And host Jason Wolohan shares his canned responses to some of the more delicate questions guests ask:
Question: Security Cameras
Answer: Hey [guest first name]! There are definitely no security cameras inside the [listing_type].
We only have one camera. It’s on the exterior of the [listing_type] facing the driveway area. We don’t actively monitor it. It’s something we use retrospectively if there is an incident.
Question: Military/First Responder Discount
Answer: Hey [guest_first_name]! While we sincerely appreciate all of our country’s service men and women and first responders, we work hard to keep our prices very competitive and fair for every guest we have the pleasure of hosting. If you do decide to book with us you’ll be supporting our small business. Thanks!
As you can see, canned responses provide a great balance between being helpful and rapid to respond while saving you time and energy.
Automate your guest communication to save time and bring in more bookings
Automated and canned responses are a solution that require little of your time yet can have such a positive impact on your revenue, productivity, and overall guest satisfaction. Not only will you be able to capture more potential guests, but guests who do book with you will be impressed by how rapid and helpful your responses are.
Stop spending hours trying to keep up on guest communication and embrace automated and canned responses so you can spend time growing your business.
All your STR business in one convenient window
Start now with a 14-day free trial.
Automated message flows make it easy for you to instantly respond to inquiries, greet your guests once the booking is confirmed, answer questions quickly, upsell amenities, and deliver a well-rounded experience. This article will walk you through the ideal message flow for a typical STR guest.
Our system uses artificial intelligence to scan guest messages and automatically detect questions that belong to specific categories. hospitable will send an automated response if an answer has been set-up for the question category.
As Airbnb gained traction and secured its foothold in the short-term rental market, and subsequently the hospitality business, it became clear that its users clearly valued the communication and experiences they gained from interacting directly with the property owner—not the landlord or manager, but host. How, on earth, then can the hosts stay sane and have a life? We’re about to tell you, read on.