irm2Inquiry Responder Tools and Techniques

The importance of accurate alternate unit matching in an auto-responder – fine tune your responses for higher conversions.

social3_05Auto-responders need to do 3 things perfectly.  They need to respond quickly, they need to respond accurately and they need to facilitate an online booking.  Today we are going to dig into the second component – the need to respond accurately.

Let’s take a step back and explain what is meant here by an “auto-responder”.   In the Vacation Rental marketing space, the only kind of auto-responder you should be concerned with is one that can respond to high volume request sources like VRBO,, TripAdvisor,  AND  your own website.  A simple way to describe a good auto-responder is to explain what they do.  Here are the steps of the process from start to finish.

  1. A guest fills out and submits an inquiry form from a website like VRBO. The form contains standard information like the unit name, arrival date, departure date and number of adults and children
  2. The inquiry is received and parsed by your responder. This is done with a connection to your Property Management System allowing the responder to check unit availability, fetch rates and respond with a bookable price quote.  Or, the responder determines that the unit is not available and the response contains alternate units that closely match the original request
  3. Your guest receives the response in a matter of seconds or a few minutes, clicks on your “book now” button, and books the unit on your website

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The challenge in the above process is delivering a response when your guest’s first choice is not available.  This becomes critical when you are in high season, very busy and occupancy rates approach 100%.  Your guest may be scrambling to find accommodations and the first one available “wins”.  This is where the alternate matching logic concept comes into play.

If the “first choice” is not available you need to offer an alternate that is as close as possible to that first choice.  Do you need to match dates, nightly rate, beds/baths, complex, view or all of those?  Which are the most important?  Which matching criteria could you discard and still maintain a “valid” alternate?  What about choosing only specific units that you feel most accurately match that first choice?

The best responders can do all of that and give you the control to do it.  When done with accuracy in the match and precision with the price quote, a good responder can save you many hours and headaches – especially in the busy season when you need it most!

The Gueststream Inquiry Response Manager (IRM) has been developed and enhanced to do just that.  The images-for-check-mark-clip-artfollowing video will show you how to manage the alternate matching logic so you can have control over the process
of fine tuning your inquiry responses for the best results.

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