Category: Specialty Hospitality


New Time-Saving Solutions for Overwhelmed Reservation Agents

If you are an overwhelmed reservation agent, we understand your life! Right now, it is all about solutions that will make your job and your life easier. These three solutions not only save you time and increase your productivity but are welcome upgrades that your clients will appreciate.

1. Printable Floor Plans from TruPlace

Having floor plans on hand for each unit saves time in a big way. Not only can you easily share these with guests, but also with maintenance crews and cleaning teams. The biggest time saver here is that reservation agents have reported a 33% reduction in guest questions with the use of TruPlace’s Interactive Floor Plan Tours. TruPlace’s Interactive Floor Plan Tour now includes a downloadable high resolution floor plan that can be printed and laminated for emergency directions and instructions throughout the property. Because all the information for the property is provided upfront, potential guests can eliminate properties that will not meet their goals.

Imagine a world where there are even a few less questions from the guests for you to answer. Reduced questions mean way more productive time for you to get other work done. This also means a win-win with less time wasted for you as well as guests with the use of Interactive Floor Plans. Guests are easily able to find out important details on their own, rather than calling reservation agents for questions such as “Which bedrooms have a shared bathroom?” or “Which levels provide balcony access?”. Maintenance and cleaning staff can save time in finding the proper rooms in need of service and avoid the extra call to office staff.

2. Property Voice Assistant from Xplorie

Another new and exciting tool to use is the Xplorie Enabled Voice Assistant. Client questions, while sometimes necessary, do require a large portion of time and effort on the reservation agent’s end. Common questions like, “What is the Wifi password?”, or “Where is the best family restaurant around?”, “Where can I get a spa treatment?” even, “Do I need a fishing permit to go fishing here?”. These questions and so much more can be used through the voice assistant with Xplorie.

Modern technology is about keeping it modern and now 1 in 4 adults own and use a voice-enabled device. Voice assistance is so easy to use that it is appropriate and helpful to all age demographics of vacationers. Being able to completely customize the experience will show you are current and continue to build trust in your knowledge of your property and surrounding area. Providing this contact-less concierge service will wow your guests while giving you hours back in your day to be productive in other areas.

3. Guest-facing App from Wishbox or Touch Stay

If you were able to lessen the questions you are normally barraged with using the previous tip, you might also be interested in a web-based guest app, like Wishbox or Touch Stay.

Imagine a guest being able to check in online and have access to a wide variety of information at their fingertips. You could customize your guests’ experience with guidebooks, local maps, upload videos, images and tours. Not only that, but you could provide access to in-house services and destination services working with your local partners.

Wishbox’s features will make your communication more efficient and save time and effort through their Communication Hub. It’s easy to manage your communications through their hub so you don’t miss a message and know where your guest is in the journey of their stay. Their Upsells feature allows guest to take charge of upgrades and automates offers to them, relieving you of some of the upselling that lands on you to push.

The takeaway is… hang in there! There are solutions that can help you during your busiest seasons and maintain your sanity throughout the year.


New Single Property Website Designed to Showcase Homes Multiple Ways

There’s a saying that good design is good business. Since our clients are the business of selling or renting homes, we wanted to offer them a good design within which to do so. We’re introducing the new single property website that showcases real estate in multiple ways on an intentionally simple and clean page. The focus is on the property, not the design or graphics. The intention is to impress the person renting or buying, to inspire them to take the next step toward converting. This is more successfully accomplished by adding less, not more to the real estate webpage.

One Home Many Views

Going beyond the still photograph has allowed us help sell or rent properties sight unseen. Today’s immersive visuals, such as 3D tours and video walk throughs of homes, provide more information and a better look at every nook and cranny. With so many options for viewing a property, a single property website that hosts them all in an easily accessible layout can be incredibly helpful.

It’s Pretty, But It Also Works

One of the most successful marketing software companies added landing pages to its offerings because it knew how powerful a singular focus and call to action could be. In fact, most Fortune 500 companies use landing pages to convert. That’s essentially what this is – one singular, vertically scrolling page offering multiple opportunities to reveal unique aspects of the house that might catch someone’s eye. With as many properties as people shop these days, it’s advantageous to give a property every opportunity to be matched with the right buyer. We’ve also refreshed our interactive floor plan tour colors to coincide with the fresh, streamlined look.

It Starts With Amazing Photography

Showcasing a piece of real estate using a single property website will further highlight the quality of photography used on the house. To make this website page look its best, start with TruFusion HDR photography. The webpage itself should actually be an afterthought once the stunning visuals have made an incredible first impression.

Devil’s in the Details

A few features of this property website that were not an afterthought include the lead capture form at the bottom of the page. Every good marketer knows a timely call to action is priceless. The branded version will have a lead capture form allowing the viewer to send a message to the realtor with contact information for immediate follow up. To optimize the viewer’s experience, regardless of what device it’s being viewed on, each section is designed to softly align with the screen without requiring a manual adjustment. And, of course, sharing is key. There are social media and messaging icons for sending out the webpage to others.

View a demo of our new single property website for real estate, which is complementary with every order.


Quality Visuals of Amenities at Long-Term Rentals Impact Decisions

When buyers or long-term renters are unable to physically tour a property, they turn to online photos. What property managers sometimes fail to emphasize on their website, could be the biggest help in converting the browser into a buyer – the amenities.

Why Amenity Photos?

Amenities can range from pools, gyms, designated pet areas, co-work spaces, laundry rooms, or even restaurants close by, but how does this help you sign a contract? By offering property visuals of building amenities and the surrounding location, you are cultivating a relationship with prospective renters and buyers. Their decision can be difficult because their stay is long-term/permanent. Providing information up front and answering their questions with stunning visuals and immersive experiences solidifies their trust with your brand before they even contact you. Showcasing amenities also shows your dedication to offering updated features for your clients.

First responders, those moving for work, or government employees are going online to “tour properties.” Providing more than just photos, and more than just photos of the community amenities, can impact decision making. Virtual tours, for example, can assist with setting the proper expectations of the unit itself, but buyers and renters want more than just the property; they want amenity features and local attractions to assist in their decision.
Amenities and location attractions oftentimes drive purchase decisions so featuring them is key.

Put a Spin on It

Need something more immersive? Create a customizable immersive experience for your amenity areas. Differentiate yourself from your competitors by allowing renters/ to explore every nook and cranny of your public areas. Used in conjunction with property visuals from your units, virtual tours of your amenity spaces provide more information up front, so your clients don’t feel the need to physically visit the properties.


How to Visually Repurpose Content and Stay Visible During Difficult Times

To say that that COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on the Vacation Rental industry is an understatement. As property managers like yourself learn to become more resourceful, you’ll find that there are also creative ways to re-use your existing content. You might be surprised to find that your existing articles/visuals are all you need to create a solid marketing strategy on a budget. Below, we’ve outlined some tips and tricks that will help your brand stay visible on a dime by repurposing content.

Step 1: Assess Your Existing Content

It’s a good time to step into the archives and reuse content to create creative engaging microcontent that will help guests remember your brand when things are on the upswing. Developing microcontent in a visual way can stem from the following:

Visuals

o Professional Photography
o Floor Plans
o Amenity Photography

Video/Audio

o Drone videos
o Walkthrough Videos
o Podcasts

Text

o Blog Posts
o Surveys
o Research Reports
User Generated Content
o Reviews & Testimonials
o Social Media Posts

Step 2: Repurpose Content on a dime

Once you assess your existing content, creating compelling microcontent for your guests becomes easier. Utilizing free visual services is a great way to break apart pieces of your existing blog posts, testimonials, etc. Below are some free tools that can assist you and your budget. Both applications also provide you with low-cost upgrades if you need more options for your visual marketing.

CANVA

Canva is a free graphics service that allows you to use your existing visuals to create microcontent for email campaigns and your social media. Your professional photography used in conjunction with text can create visual content that promotes a consistent stream of brand recognition.

Lumen 5

Static images are beneficial for your marketing but to really stand out and differentiate yourself, videos can also be beneficial. Taking your text and wrapping it up in video format is a great way to repurpose your content. Free services like Lumen 5 take your text and turn it into video. From there, you can showcase your professional photography as the backdrop and take testimonials, blog posts, or property descriptions as moveable text.

Step 3: Schedule to save time and budget

After you’ve leveraged free tools to redistribute your existing content, it’s time for some marketing automation. Marketing automation is technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically. With marketing automation, businesses can target customers with automated messages across email, web, social, and text.

Social Media

Products like Buffer, Meet Edgar, and Hoot Suite, are fantastic tools to manage all social media accounts by providing the means for a user to schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Email Automation

Emma, Constant Contact and Mailchimp are all examples of email marketing automation tools than can assist you as you schedule emails to your database.

Conclusion

When the industry picks up, and prospective guests are ready for their much-needed vacation, businesses that did not go dark during this time will be the ones they remember. Consistent marketing can be done on a dime by assessing what you already have and utilizing free tools and services to schedule a constant stream of fantastic visual marketing.


Booking an Event Venue in the Age of COVID-19

“Our Carriage House is beautiful and right next to the outdoor ceremony space.” Our clients are asking us how our products can help them paint a better picture for their prospective brides, bat mitzvahs and other ceremonies.

Booking an event venue in the age of COVID-19 comes with its own set of unique challenges.

First of all, we’re glad to hear people are looking forward to life returning to normal. But for now, how can a prospective customer “tour” an event venue without actually going on site? A website with photos, even videos, aren’t going to convey the feeling of standing there with your feet crunching down on the gravel path as the cobblestone and ivy-covered Carriage House comes into view.

So, let’s look at our options.

TruFusion 3D Tours

This is a completely immersive experience and the next best thing to virtual reality, which would also be cool. This product brings the essence of a property to life through clean, bright photography that makes you feel like you’re there because you can look around from every angle.


The interactive feature allows you to click or touch on the white circular arrows to move forward, getting deeper into the building, room or hallway.
What’s great is that this experience can be done for outdoor areas as well. Viewers can look up at the sky or down at the ground, as they glide from space to space, taking it all in.

This is a user-driven experience where we host the “tour” on a unique URL. A photo is displayed on the screen and the user has the option of navigating around the property using a Photo Slider Navigation at the bottom. Move from room to room or floor to floor easily using a mouse or touch screen. The user can also use their fingers to “pinch and zoom” into the details of the photo.

This is highly recommended for spaces that have a lot to explore, or a lot of detail inside.

Hybrid Floor Plan Tours

Literally get a sense of the layout with this product. We provide the floor plan for each level so viewers can understand where they are on the property as they look at the photos associated with that space. This works really well for bed & breakfast clients who want to book according to the proximity to exits or amenities.


The reason we call it a hybrid is because we suggest adding a few 360-degree views for a dual experience of seeing the photos and “moving through” the property. It’s another interaction that replicates the view of standing inside the property.

As with our TruFusion 3D, this tour shows the user what it’s like to “stand” in a room and see the views out the window from any angle – so if your property has breathtaking views from featured dining areas or guest rooms, these products can really sell that feature online.

Virtual Staging? Great idea.

For venues where the layout of a banquet hall or reception area is vital to the flow of guest traffic, these floor plan tour add on edits can help walk a potential client through the spaces visually and using room dimensions. Large, empty spaces, whether in a residential home, or an event space, make it hard for viewers to imagine what that area could look like with furnishings.

By virtually staging a room with cocktail tables, chairs, a buffet table, and other items, potential customers can see for themselves if there will be enough room for all their guests and where the pieces could be placed within the room.

While you’re never going to fully replace seeing an event venue in person, there are some high-quality property visualization tools that can assist with the buyer journey during this unprecedented time.


An Industry Newcomer’s Take on the VRMA International Conference 2019

(From left to right) Bob Cusack, Suzi Cusack, Mary Beth Albertini (newcomer), and Brianne (Pope) Murphy – the TruPlace booth squad at the VRMA International Conference in New Orleans, LA. 

Observations from the Exhibit Hall Floor and Beyond

This is my inaugural blog post with TruPlace. I joined the company’s marketing department a week prior to VRMA International Conference 2019. Jetting off to New Orleans on week two was not a bad way to start a new job in a new industry (for me). I came to VR from cable, where I’ve attended my share of conferences over the years. I’m guessing that I may have been the brand-newest member attending the VRMA conference, among a record-setting 2,000 attendees. More than one person I met remarked that I’d be “drinking from the firehose!”, which was ideal because I was thirsty for knowledge. And VRMA 2019 did not disappoint.

I thought I’d share a perspective through a set of fresh eyes and ears that were there to absorb information and learn as much as possible. My approach was that of a journalist – to observe and ask questions that would answer the “who, what, where, why and how” about the Vacation Rental Management industry.

These shoes were made for walking all over the VRMA International Conference. The TruPlace booth squad could be easily identified by our red Converse sneakers.

Three days spent on the exhibit hall floor, attending keynotes, general and breakout sessions, and flitting about a multitude of parties was unquestionably the best initiation one could hope for.

Following are some of my decidedly industry-newbie takeaways:

  1. The industry is changing. Fast. New players have emerged in the past year while some have scaled up or down in market share, and still, others have appeared in a new iteration under a different brand umbrella. This seems especially so among the technology partners. And there is no indication that the tides of change will soon cease. So, we all ought to buckle up and enjoy (or endure) the ride.