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Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

Replies: 10 - Pages: 1 - Last Reply: Sep 4, 2020 5:45 PM by: Airnaldo C
Rich S
Registered: 12/28/18
Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

Since I began using Airbnb I've had multiple instances of guests who have simply ignored all emails that I've sent to them. So I'm looking for an alternative way (hint-hint need texting support!) to get them the information.

This post got longer than I wanted so here is the key summary:

Problem - I want to CONFIRM that my guests are getting the info I send them, in an automated fashion

a) must include texting, since not all read their emails or have access while travelling
b) needs to have automated confirmation of 'message received' where guests confirm they will pay attention
c) ideally provides booking-relevant information details accessible from a smartphone (a custom, temporary website for example)

That's it, here's more of the details...

I do require a rental agreement be signed, and that is only sent by email, so my issues is not a problem of me using the wrong email, it's just that there are guests who simply will not read emails. One of them said that they thought my emails were spam, and the other said they got a new phone and haven't configured email. So in the latter case it could also be situational, yes they have email, but no they don't plan ahead and while travelling cannot get to their email.

In any case, it seems that texting keycodes would be a great backup plan for all guests, but it would need to be done around noon on arrival day, not 3am in the morning.

But this brings up an interesting problem, if guests don't really read emails then they are missing out on lots of info I send them. And texting isn't a great way to get them all the information they might need because the texts will quickly get large/unwieldy.

So how about having a personalized, per-booking web accessible link for each booking. Maybe it's only valid for a few weeks ahead of a stay and maybe a few weeks after, then it can disappear.

Would OwnerRez consider doing something like this? It would be similar in concept to a booking landing page controlled by content from OR. So if I make an update to a custom field, it would appear to the guest in their page. Would have a unique url of course.

If this existed in an automated fashion, I could simply include the url and be confident that guests could follow it from their smart phone and access all the key information relevant to this trip.

I'm not talking about sending a link to my website - this would need to be a specialized page that is simple to use for finding critical information at the time it becomes critical.

As a final thought, what's needed to tie all of this together is a type of positive confirmation by the guest, some time (days or hours) ahead fo their stay, that they are getting the information I am sending them. For instance, 2 days ahead of a stay I'd send a text that requires a return message like "YES" to confirm this is the phone number they will have access to on the trip. If that confirmation isn't received, the fallback could be an automated email which also asks for confirmation. If both fail, I'd get an alert which tells me to manually intervene by calling, texting, etc so that I don't end up with guests arriving at 10pm at night without having read my keycode emails.

Chris Hynes
Registered: 10/19/12
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

Mmm... that's a lot to unpack. Definitely food for thought!

We have tossed around the idea of a central guest portal accessible by link that you can customize with info about the property, lock codes, etc. If we want to get fancy it could have areas for requesting date changes, updating credit cards, all that sort of stuff that'd be nice to give more self service for the guest. Some of those things are already done by channels and we'd have to direct them to the channel on those bookings, but would work for direct bookings at least. Useful for a lot of different things and could be shared in a link with the guest via SMS vs the long and windy welcome email.

The confirmation is another interesting concept. The only way I could see it truely working is if you made them reply to get the door code and entry information. "Your stay is coming up soon... reply to get your door code" or something. Otherwise you'll still get people that don't.

These are all things we've been thinking about and will do eventually, but we don't have any near term plans yet. Well except for SMS. That's actively being worked on, although I don't have an ETA yet.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

SMS yes, so many emails end up in spam. I have been texting manually after email is sent, but hey, I do have a day job!

Chris L
Registered: 5/17/17
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

From what I've heard, OR is working on getting channel messaging (i.e. replying through Vrbo, Airbnb, etc.) implemented, so once that goes live, we'll be able to send some stuff there, although rich content like PDF welcome packets and things might still have to go via email, and URLs might get censored (TBD).

I signed up for Touch Stay (they were a vendor at the Scottsdale Vrbo conference). It was about $300 for a year for my 7 properties. It allows you to set up a very nice-looking and easy-to-use digital guidebook and then send a URL to guests they can use to access it. They have an option to do booking-specific URLs (so info can be customized per guest and some info, like access info or directions, can be hidden before or after their stay); however, the system to manage this would be pretty cumbersome to use to manually input every stay in. I had a call with the CEO the other day and asked him about integration with my PMS; he said they've actually talked to the OR guys and have found them very friendly and open, but they have to prioritize the big guns like Escapia and V12 first before they can get to smaller players (but they are interested). I guess it's a race to see whether they launch their integration with OR before OR can get their guest portal built. ;)

That said, I've had decently good luck by emphasizing in my post-booking Airbnb message multiple times and very clearly that my system will be *EMAILING* them *VERY IMPORTANT* documents to their EMAIL, not their Airbnb inbox, and that these will be delivered to whichever email account they used when signing up for Airbnb. I have a pretty good open rate and haven't had many issues with people not finding their codes. I also send the welcome packet and door code immediately after booking (I integrate with RemoteLock, so the door code doesn't start working until their check-in time anyway) and again 7 days before stay and once more 1 day before stay.

I do kinda wish the emails didn't go out at 3am...something more sane like noon Eastern time would be more logical, or even better, allowing me to specify the time as part of the trigger...

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

You can already reply via vrbo. But that can end up in spam also.

In my case I do not care for digital brochures etc. We are in the mountains and reception can be poor I want to ensure that they check their email and actually PRINT directions on paper and bring with them b4 driving to the destination as they may lose satellite and phone signal.

I guess I need to emphasize EMAILINg part more - just today had airbnb person whop was asking about door code (was emailed 3 days ago). I guess ppl do not check their emails...

Rich S
Registered: 12/28/18
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

Chris L - how is your post-airbnb booking messaging sent? By email? Or somehow through their app?

Blue Mtns - if keycodes are sent by sms they'll be available even without cell coverage. So even in your case with spotty cell coverage, almost certainly your guests will have cell service sometime in the 1.5 days before a visit. Now maybe they'll forget, but I think it would be pretty hard for a guest to be upset if they were emailed and texted several times.

In any case, sounds like sms is being worked by OR so maybe we'll see it sometime in the coming months ;-)

Chris L
Registered: 5/17/17
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

I manually send it via the Airbnb app (or website) when I see the booking come in. It's saved as a template, so it's just a couple of taps/clicks.

Rich S
Registered: 12/28/18
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

Chris L said:

I manually send it via the Airbnb app (or website) when I see the booking come in. It's saved as a template, so it's just a couple of taps/clicks.

I like it, thanks for the suggestion !

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email
Airnaldo C
Registered: 8/27/20
Re: Alternative messaging for guests who don't use email

I am using SmarBnB for Airbnb and VRBO messaging.
You can automate every message and it is sent trough the apps, not mail or sms, also including pictures, very handy when for directions

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