Michael's March 2016 Letter
March 10, 2016
It is hard to believe, but Easter is just two weeks away and with it the Charleston Beach rental season returns! The Beachside Team is excited to get back into action and in preparation has hired two new members of the Team. First, Amy Blazitz joined our team recently as our assistant front office manager. Amy is terrific and has already made an impact on the team utilizes her nearly thirty years of customer service experience. Next, the Beachside Team is excited to welcome Rebecca Cotton to the Team. Rebecca will be training with Stephannie Williams and eventually will be our fourth Property Manager joining Stephannie, Bonne and Heather. A University of South Carolina graduate, Rebecca has an excellent resume in graphic and interior design as well as extensive sales experience. We believe her wonderful personality with her past sales success is going to be excellent building blocks in becoming an all-star in property manager.
Today, we received the following comments from a guest survey:
"The reservation process was excellent. Everything was handled through the Beachside Vacations website, through email, and through SMS messages. The only human interaction we had was at the Wild Dunes guard gate when we requested our parking pass. This was really convenient because we did not get in from Charlotte until about 11:30 p.m. The electronic communication was above and beyond. We knew what was going to happen every step of the way. "
In a recent article in VRMA magazine, the author was making his top four vacation industry predictions for 2016. Two of the four predictions involved technology during the booking process. Millennials didn’t grow up using travel agents or calling hotels to find the best deal. Like every other aspect of their lives, they use technology to get what they need and don’t have patience for long sales processes. Speed and ease of researching potential homes online, making payments online and communicating when needed through e-mail and text are critical tools for a successful rental management team. The second technology prediction is that consumers want to use their mobile device and not the traditional desktop computers that most travel sites are designed to accommodate.
I am so proud that the ownership of Beachside Vacations, Beau and Jamie Hollingsworth, saw this trend developing just over two years ago. We are so fortunate that they made the investment then in our software system and website to accommodate these trends. The Beachside Website is fully functional on a mobile device, the online booking system is efficient and easy to use, and the new Welcome Home App allows complete interaction with guests via e-mail and text messaging. The Welcome Home App also fully describes each property to the incoming guest prior to arrival. We are seeing the results of this investment! For the first two months online/mobile bookings increased 8.5% over the same period last year! For the first time, online/mobile bookings have surpassed traditional reservations making up 52% of the reservations captured so far in 2016! Beachside is continuing to invest in this technology so that we can continue to be ahead of the market trends.
Finally, I came across an interesting article regarding a survey completed by Goldman Sachs. The article emphasized that hotel companies need to invest in vacation rentals. In their survey, they found that 79% of consumers who hadn’t use vacation rentals prefer traditional hotels, but that number dropped to 40% for those who had. Once consumers visit a vacation rental they prefer it over traditional hotels in the future. In regards to the reservation process, last year the Goldman Sachs survey showed that 11% of respondents had used VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb and Flipkey where this year use of such services jumped to 16%. Familiarity with these services increased from 24% to 35%. No wonder large hotel companies like Wyndham and Destination Hotels are working so hard to expand their business model into vacation rentals. Unfortunately, for them, it is a step learning curve to understand that you cannot manage a vacation rental like a hotel room.
Thank you so much for your trust and confidence in the Team at Beachside. We hope to see you on the Island again soon!
General Manager, Beachside Vacations