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Enhancing The Guest Experience With Digital Guest Books – Episode #052

digital guest books

How can you enhance the guest experience to keep them coming back for more without adding to the hosts’ list of things to do? This can be achieved with automated guest onboarding and farewells that lead to satisfied guests who want to leave raving reviews and tell all their friends about your short-stay accommodation. These examples of best practices, using Digital Guest Books, are no longer just nice-to-do but are rapidly becoming expected by customers. So it’s time to embrace new technology and join the pack leaders to promote your glamping business or unique accommodation. In this episode, Andy McNulty from TouchStay shows us how.

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To read more about Digital Guest Books – What they are and how you can set one up easily, click here for the blog:

Guest Welcome Packs And Digital Guestbooks With Guest Experience Ideas

Embracing Technology to Elevate the Guest Experience

Discover the secret to creating a seamless and memorable stay for your guests without adding to your workload. Join us as we sit down with Andy McNulty, CEO of TouchStay, to learn about the latest technology in digital guest books and how they can enhance the guest experience at your short-stay accommodation. Get ahead of the competition and find out how to promote your business and leave your guests raving about their stay. Tune in now!

This episode is brought to you by the Glamping Academy and the Start Up And Grow Club

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If you have something inspiring to offer the world of Glamping and Unique Holiday Rentals then get in touch with Sarah Riley and share it on the Podcast. For more information contact Sarah here.

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Sarah Riley: One of the most important parts of the guest experience is the onboarding process and then the guest farewell. But how can hosts do it in such a way that it enhances the experience for the guest, but it does not give them a million things to do or to remember, and how can it be done effectively So it really gets the guest excited about their stay and desperate to come back for more. Welcome to episode 52.

Sarah Riley: Glamping and unique holiday rentals are surging in popularity with the growing desire of customers to book holidays that deliver and experience. They are also the new business of choice for those wanting to improve their work-life balance. So how do you build a strong business like this that gives you the life you need and a great investment I’m Sarah Reilly, and I want to share what I’ve discovered after being immersed in this industry for over 20 years to inspire you to find out more about what’s going on. Welcome. This is the business of Glamping and unique holiday rentals.

Sarah Riley: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Andy, for joining me today. It’s really great to have you on the podcast again. it’s something that we’ve been talking about a lot recently in my startup and Grow Club, which is about enhancing the guest experience. And for me, it’s something that goes beyond just the guests stay in the immediate term. It’s about, it’s connecting to them. It’s about building a long-term relationship with them, so they’ll come back time, time again. As we know, that’s the cheapest way to get your guest and, the most efficient and profitable way of getting your guest. but it also means that because they know what to expect and they know what you do and they really like you, you are much more likely to get great reviews. You are going to have a better experience with them and then with you.

Sarah Riley: So we’ve been talking a lot, you and I about the guest onboarding experience and I know that it’s something that a lot of people don’t even understand what that term is. And not just the onboarding, but the guest farewell as well. And many owners don’t understand that actually this is something they need to be building into their guest experience, as well as the experience they have on the ground when the guest arrives and then they leave. It’s also something that they need to be building into their online experience. So as a kind of a first step, can you explain a little bit about what onboarding is for anyone who hasn’t heard of the term.

Andy McNulty: Well, firstly, thank you for having me back. I always enjoy our conversations. onboarding you are, yes, you, you are right. It, it’s, it’s, it’s the process immediately after I’ve parted with my money or at least put down a deposit or a significant chunk of money to come and stay with you. And it’s one of the things that I’ve consistently seen over the years that, that, that hospitality professionals, despite the word professional, aren’t necessarily great at. and I know the good ones are brilliant at it, but I know the vast majority of people sort of half do it. And, and it’s that, it’s that journey that kicks in right after I’ve, I’ve made that reservation leading up to the stay itself. And, and I think, I think inevitably I understand that, that most hospitality people want to focus on, okay, I’ve got the guest.

Andy McNulty: What’s their stay gonna be like? Is my property up to scratch? Does it have correct cleaning are, are, are all things working? All of this kind of stuff. But for me, the idea of hospitality is about making a guest feel comfortable and, being welcoming and inviting. And that has to start immediately after I’ve booked. And it’s not just a warm sort of fuzzy, you know, feeling cuz a lot of people might say, well, what’s the point You know, I’ve, I’ve taken the reservation, they’re coming to stay with me, so I’m gonna focus all my attention on that stay. What’s the point of this bit in the middle And for, for me, the point about the bit in the middle is to reduce the number of questions that your guest is asking you. So typically my experience has been I get a booking confirmation email and then it’s like a ghost town.

Andy McNulty: So it’s like a tumble the tumbleweed, you know, until that moment where, you know, I’m about to, to come and stay with you. And I might get, another email saying something about how to find us or whatever. but as a guest, I’ve got that whole period where I am. I am, there’s two things. One is I’m, I’m a little bit anxious cuz I haven’t heard anything. So I’m wondering who is it that I’ve booked with And and I know in this current climate there might be a little bit of, I’m not that sure I want to continue with my booking. Like I’ve got a bit of buyer’s remorse. and that could be fueled by not having enough information or touchpoints from the person I’m staying with. So you need to build that level of trust. so that, that’s, that’s one aspect of it that, that kind of calming the guests down, I would say.

Andy McNulty: And the second aspect is simply, I think there’s three probably the second aspect is really reducing number of questions. So there’s the element of calming the guests down, make sure they’re happy with, with what they’ve booked. And you know, they don’t get the buyer’s remorse. The second is stopping the, the myriad questions. And I’m sure everybody faces this, you know, there will be, the same questions that are asked over and over again. Those are the sort of things that be really, really good to include somewhere in the journey prior to arrival. And the third thing is I’m also a captive, audience here in the sense that I’ve booked with you, I’m ready to hear about other things that you might want to tell me. And that could be things you want to sell me. it could be other things that I could see and do in the area that you’re not trying to sell me, but you’re just equipping me with as a good hospitality professional.

Andy McNulty: And, where I think it really kicks in, in this current climate, where there is some, you know, uncertainty. I think there could also be the emphasis on the extra things that you provide as a host or as a, accommodation operator, which gives me the sense as a guest that I’m getting something extra and something special for that, that money that I’ve parted with. so it, it’s that, that’s, that’s, that’s my version of onboarding. It’s, it really is that, that calm the anxiety, stop the myriad questions and protect the booking for yourself.

Sarah Riley: Absolutely. And, and it’s quite interesting cuz so many people in the glamping and unique ho holiday rental world, they, they so often haven’t even heard of the term onboarding. So maybe they’re doing it already and they just haven’t, haven’t heard of the term. But it’s, it’s a really interesting term. And as you said, there’s so many other things to get on with on the day-to-day for hosts and hospitality, business owners and, you know, no more so than in glamping when they’ve got all the land management and they often have animals and all kinds of other elements, which, someone who hasn’t just a, a usual, rental doesn’t actually have those other additional elements. So they have even more challenges. So I suppose any way that this can be automated is going to make it so much better for the guests who will feel reassured.

Sarah Riley: And as we know, the brain works when we get, when we’re looking forward to something, we start enjoying it even though we’re actually not, you know, taking that holiday. We enjoy it beforehand. So they start enjoying their holiday way before they actually come and stay with the host. And, and so I think that’s really important too, is to, because I can hear almost the voices of all the different people that I support going, oh, it’s not giving us another thing to do, are you, you know, it’s so, we’ve got enough on we don’t need anymore. I suppose that’s key, isn’t it, to be able to say, this doesn’t have to be something that you do time and time again. You just have to use the right tools and set something up and let it run automatically in the background. can, do you have an examples for, of hosts that have done that and how they’ve done that

Andy McNulty: Yes, absolutely. It’s a very good point. There’s one that I sometimes overlook when I, when I, say what I’ve just said is that very often people are busy and the thought of doing something extra is just a complete turnoff, . So I’ve got this long list of 500 other things to do. You want me to do another one No. h however, however, it’s not like you have to do this for every single guest. So you, you, you’ve mentioned it there, you’ve got to automate it. And that, that word itself can feel very, ugh, , I’ve got to automate something. You know, that, that word in itself is pretty loaded in terms of, work to be done. However, it can be very simple. So what we are not talking about here is, you know, every single guest you have to think about, oh, I’ve got to call them and I’ve got to write this message and I’ve gotta send this information.

Andy McNulty: You know, it’s, it’s not like that at all. And it shouldn’t be. And, and if you’re in that camp, you need to get out of that camp because that’s not, that’s not the way to keep yourself sane at all. Yeah. and so hopefully not many people are. so the, the thing of automating, yes, there’s a little bit of work in, in setting up, but it’s that bit of work which frees you, you know, because from then on it’s autopilot. I liken it very much to our business where, we, we have lots of customers who come to our website and they used to ask us loads of questions. What does it do How does it do it What about this, what about the, and we implemented a few years ago, a an article system in the help center.

Andy McNulty: And, but by, by experience, I generally hate those kind of things cuz you can never really find the answer you want. So we tried to make ours much more user friendly, much easier to find the answers you want. And it was a big endeavor to get that set up. But once we’ve got it set up, not only do we get fewer questions ourselves, but anytime a question comes in that we know is answered by an article, we can just reply with a link to that article instead of having to type it all out again. And that’s my, that’s my version of in my own world as a software provider, how we overcome that. Ugh, I’ve got to automate something. What, why Yes, there’s a bit of work once you’ve done it, it’s lovely. And so I would say in this world, keep it simple, there are people who have 14 or 15 different communications that go out post-booking and pre-arrival and even during stay, you can get to that stage in time.

Andy McNulty: But that’s not where you need to be straight away. So I would, I would say, what is it you need to tell the guest, which will achieve those three things that I said just now So it’s calming the anxiety of the guest, it’s reducing the number of questions and it’s protecting the booking. and what you could do is then structure your, your emails or automated text messages cuz that exists to, in our product, to automate that process. So you might set up, let’s just say four or five templates, maybe first one goes after, after I’ve booked. And that could be going from your booking system already, for example. So you may not need to do that one. but then that tumbleweed time that, that ghost town time, fill it with, those three or four other messages and think about when they should go.

Andy McNulty: So I’m always a bit of a fan of the more, cutting down the number of questions. One going out maybe a week prior, so much closer to the stay and maybe even another 48 hours or 24 hours prior. But the ones in between about, about, kind of relaxing the guests, taking away that buyer’s remorse, letting them know all the great things to see and do in the area. Maybe upselling them something, showing them the added value of staying with you. Drop a few of those in throughout that, that stay cycle and all you’re doing. And I, and I can give you the, in the, the, the example of the way you do in touch date, but I’m sure every other, system that, that, you know, your, your your community may be using has a similar version. You just simply open it up and you create a series of templates and you time those templates.

Andy McNulty: So you say, the one that I want to send the guest prior to arrival about the important things they need to, to prepare, you know, how to find us, where to park, all that sort of stuff. I’m gonna send it, one week prior. So I create my template, I write in the text, I write in the message and I set it to go out one week prior. And then I might do another one, a shortened version of the same thing that goes out 24 hours and 48 hours prior. So it’s really punchy. Then I go backwards and say, what else in between that stay, you know, that nice fluffy stuff that I said and create a couple of emails that go maybe one month prior or six weeks prior or whatever it is. Do that, set that template. Then when you are guest, when you get a, when you get a guest booking, all you do is you, you activate that sequence of things you’ve set up.

Andy McNulty: So you’re not doing a thing, right You’re just saying, I’ve got a booking. It’s gonna follow that exact sequence. And that little bit of upfront work is no more than five maybe messages that you have to write in the template. Once you’re done, you’re done. Like the system takes care of it. And, the, the, the trick with all of those, those messages is not to, to open it up and think, my goodness, what am I going to write I need to make it. So, you know, it’s like you suddenly become a bit paralyzed. It should be your style and it should be the way that you’ve written on your website or the, the way you’ve branded yourself and your website. Are you playful and easy going Are you sort of more corporate and professional or whatever And just write like with your natural style.

Andy McNulty: And it can be really friendly and really informal. And I actually think those are the better emails not so much. So you’re flippant and your glib and stuff like, but you know, but we all, we all want to know we’re staying, it’s hospitality. We want to know we’re staying with, with somebody who’s normal on the other end of the screen. And if you put that in your email, then the sequence of things that are going to your guests, they’re going to feel like they’ve come from you and they’re going to have that personal touch and, they’re much more likely to get acted on and and red then something which you sort of, I must write it in this way and it mu you know, like, no, just, just do it in your own way. The only thing I would say is it must be, there must be something in it for the guest in any of these messages.

Andy McNulty: It’s got to be about what’s in it for the guest. because none of us open up emails or read stuff unless it’s either really important and mission critical, like pay the tax bill or pay the award bill or whatever. or there’s something in it for us, you know, it’s like, Ooh, that’s interesting. I can relate to that. I like that. I, that’s my kind of thing. So I would definitely make those communications about what’s in it for the guest and and, and really make them deliberately short and succinct. So no long verbose. And this gets back to how quickly it’s gonna get done. It can be really easy by the fact that you’ve really gotta make them quite concise. and I’m a fan of bullets, so if you’re going to say, you know, the one seven days prior, for example, it might be, dear Sarah, we’re really excited that you’re about to come and stay with us.

Andy McNulty: I hope you are to maybe a smiley face. I dunno, , that’s, that’s the kind of thing, you know, that informality, because I read it and then I’m like, I, I’m, I feel like I’m seeing a person and then I might stay. it’s really the following things and bullet, bullet bullet bullets and not write them all out. Just bullet. And those bullets would be the things that you get asked most often. where do I park what do I need to bring, particularly in the glamping world Like what do I need to pack Bullet, bullet, bullet, bullet. And then you don’t need to answer all those questions there. You can just say what this email is about, what to pack, where to find us, you know, those things. And then underneath it, just say, for all the answers to these questions, click this link and it’ll be the link to, in our case, the touch day guidebook where all this information is answered. But it could be your PDF that you send them or your word docu. So don’t ramble that into the email, but just put it like, surface it there and set the scene. And then they’re much more likely to open and read and act on the things that, that you want them to. So that, that’s the way I would approach that. And I think that answered your question, which was that fear of one more thing to do. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Mm-hmm. .

Sarah Riley: And, and I think as well that fear of people see this as a huge barrier. It’s like a hill, it’s a really steep hill that they have to overcome. But I kind of put it into the sense of, well, if you don’t do it, then it’s going to be a constant climb. It may not be a steep, but there’s a constant climb of things that you have to do because you’re gonna have to send out that email to that guest who’s just booked and it’s gonna have to have this information. Or they’re gonna phone up and ask you all these questions cause they don’t have them, it hasn’t been sent automatically. So it’s gonna be a constant thing, a list of things to do rather than a quick spike in activity as you get those things done and then you are, you are free afterwards and it’s remembering that freedom, that you will have afterwards and the release of not having those things to do.

Sarah Riley: And it kind of, it really does help to release the stress for hosts who have 1,000,001 things to do. It’s a really good way of freeing them up. So I always explain to people that, never bite off more than you can chew, chew. And you were saying that keep it short, keep it sweet, doesn’t need to be long. It can just be a paragraph, maybe two paragraphs and keep it really bullet pointy and make it evergreen so that it is not going to age. So don’t talk about Easter Easter’s coming up or whatever. Don’t put any dates in it. just make it evergreen so it can be, sent out for the next 10 years even. And you don’t have to look at it unless you have time and you want to review it. but one of the things that I’ve spoken often to the people I support about is about how they can use tools like that, the automation particularly to streamline the guest experience, but also to raise additional income for them. Is there a way that you’ve seen that done quite well in the industry

Andy McNulty: yes. I, I I will say that the approaches people take are quite wide and varied. but it, but it depends what sort of things that, that you are, you are, you are selling or what things you’d like to make a little bit of extra for. So, at a, at a very basic level, you could have, links that go out to a place where a guest can buy something. So if you’ve got a local attraction that you work with, that attraction may often give referral links to you. And so you could include your referral link in there and that would, that would generate you some, some commission off people booking popular attractions in your area. That’s a really easy way to do it. So just, just a referral link. the other way I’ve seen people do it is to create forms.

Andy McNulty: So, something like, a Google forms, is a really, really simple way of doing this. And you just list on there some of the things that, that your guest can buy ahead of their arrival. So maybe it’s a grocery delivery, maybe it’s, maybe you provide breakfast and you want to know what they would like to be stocked for the breakfast, for which they pay a little bit extra perhaps. and that, that Google form is a nice way of collecting that information and it enables you to then, charge later or contact the guest and say, I’ve received your form, thank you very much. We’re gonna take care of that for you. you know, how would you like to pay So that’s kind of the less sort of, instant checkout version. And then, then the next step is to go a step further than that.

Andy McNulty: You could use a form building service that has a payment gateway embedded in it. So I fill in my form, but then I also take payment from the guest at that time. And, and virtually everybody is taking money now for their stay. So they’ve probably got some kind of preferred payment, whether it’s Stripe or PayPal or whatever it is. You can just put that, you know, these, these, these form building services allow you to put your preferred payment method and put your PayPal address or your, your Stripe details and it’ll settle it into your, your account for you. one of the services I like for that is called Jot form, j o t f o r m, jot form. Really simple. tho those, those are the, those are the, the, the easy, sorry, they, they’re the order of ease. So, referral look nice and easy form gathering, take payment later. That’s a nice one. And then the whole, integrated service where I build a form and I have my payment gateway as well. And I’ve seen people doing a lot of that, during, during the pandemic especially where they’ve needed to gather information in a remote way. and, creating a form to, to do that. And then off the back of that form, being able to charge that guest for that service that they’ve offered.

Sarah Riley: Mm-hmm. It’s great to hear that it can be done. And I’d heard of, job form, I think it was you who mentioned it to me before. And it is great to have a tool like that which allows the guest to, the host to stay in control of the guest booking. Cuz so often, the host will go through an online travel agent and gain the booking. There isn’t always the best, I have to say . And that’s another discussion for another day, especially at the moment. Things are really kicking off, with that at the moment. however, it, it allows them, cuz so often people say to me, well, I can’t actually sell those things cause I’ve taken the booking through the O T A and it’s about having a system that allows you, the, the host to bypass that. so it’s really interesting that that’s available and, people can make the most of that.

Sarah Riley: And it means as well that rather than just relying on the original booking as their income, they can add extra bits on top. And I’m talking about things like, pizza parties, booking an event, booking a local restaurant, booking some bikes, hiring some bikes and some other equipment, things like that. Mm-hmm. so many different things that hosts can do. And they can generate either a referral income, the commission income, find his fee as it were, or they can actually, do it direct themselves and, and have a hundred percent of the income there. And that’s particularly important when we are seeing such a pressure on all businesses at the moment because the state of the economy, and things like that. And again, that’s another discussion for another day. So many big discussions. but there are also, and this is quite interesting, when you have people who have maybe just set up their business and they are looking to make a reputation for themselves in the local community. And so they’re wanting to support the local community in different ways. They can do that through these kinds of things too. have you seen any examples in your time in this industry in working with so many hosts where people have used these kind of automations to support their local community.

Andy McNulty: 100%, yes. not many people are doing it. which I think is, is a pity because the number of guests that will relate to, will feel infused by and will be more connected to you is when they see that you are doing something wider than just running your business. And that doesn’t mean that, that they want you to be like, active on tons of boards, but they just want to hear about are you supporting a local charity are you working with a local organization Are you planting trees on, you know, for each booking, you know, various things like this, this day and age, I really, really important to guests. When we have a choice of where to stay, it’s very often about the other things that we feel benefit us from staying with that person. And this is a really good example,, do a, do a, a regular travel survey.

Andy McNulty: And the one they did, fairly recently showed that, almost eight out of 10 guests would book a place that had come some kind of sustainability initiative over another place. And I think that’s really, really powerful from somebody like who, you know, they surveyed, you know, tens of thousands of people. and we just know it intuitively, don’t we, we just know that, that the, that this kind of, and it’s not about necessarily tree planting, it’s just about, sustainability that could be ecologically oriented, but it could be very social oriented as well. And if we can see that that, is something that, that the person was staying with is actively embraced, then it’s a real strong driver for us to, to book through them, but but also then to feel a bit more connected to them as well. So the sorts of things that people are doing, Ty who works for us, she runs properties in the us.

Andy McNulty: She, she works with a local, volunteer, organization that helps, kids. So she talks a about that. we have, one, one lady has a, a place in Italy. She’s very environmentally focused. She’s talking about all the environmental activities that she does, by default in, in a, in a touch day guidebook template, you do get a, making a difference section. And within that making a difference section. If you can’t think of anything that, that you are doing or that you want to talk about, you can adopt what we are doing. So you can include that in the guidebook, which is tree planting. So all we’re all we’re doing is saying, we as a business offset our carbon by planting trees, but we’re also surfacing that in the guidebook for anyone else who wants to do something but doesn’t have the time, nor idea to adopt that.

Andy McNulty: And therefore all their guests will see a tree planting program and the guests can contribute to that if they want to. But it’s, but it’s very subtle, it’s very soft. It’s not, you know, you must do this. we had somebody who was renovating some of their properties recently and were donating the old property to local charities, the furniture, et cetera. And again, that’s something to talk about. This shouldn’t be something that you, you do operationally behind the scenes and you think, well, my guests don’t need to know about that. I think it’s part of a really strong story that, you, you’ve thought more about the community and your impact on, on the community. And I, and the bit that the, the bigger picture in all of this, of course is that there’s so, there’s so much attention on the accommodation industry being a, an evil in communities that anywhere that you can be part of the narrative, which is a more positive story, and the things that, that your business does bring to the local economy has to be worth doing. Because if we don’t talk about those positive aspects, then we let the narrative be about the negatives of having a, a villa in a, a city or using this land for glamping when it could be used for something else. And I think it’s really important to, to, to get on the front foot and take ownership of that. And again, it’s something that would really therefore resonate as well with, with guests.

Sarah Riley: Mm-hmm. , absolutely. But it can also go both ways, can’t it So not only are you supporting your local community, maybe sharing events that are going on and things that the local community will want more visitors to attend, you help promote it. that’s also going to be beneficial for you as a business cuz that event could attract more stays, more bookings and, and things. So it really does work both ways. And, and, and I love that. And particularly because during the, the pandemic, one of the biggest things that came out, as a result of that was the message from customers, consumers to say, we’ve lost a lot of trust actually in businesses. We need to have that rebuilt. And so this is a way of doing that to work with the community to help rebuild the trust that exists between the consumer and the business.and again, that, that was all in, surveys that was done, during that time, because so many people, so many consumers got let down by the business. Lots of cancellations, non refunds, it didn’t happen in my world, thankfully that I’m aware of in the glamping and unique holiday rental world. But there was a lot of it that did go on. And so people did get stung mm-hmm. . And so generating and building that trust is great. And this is what I love about touch day, that people are able, or hosts are able to, share their personality and really connect within that, digital guestbook and really helps to encourage people to think about coming back again because they’ve generated that really tight, nice connection with the host. So is there anything that you’ve seen, that people are using for the, the guest farewell process A lot of people will just say goodbye to their guests, hope you had a great time. that’s it. They don’t actually follow up with anything else. Is that something that you’ve seen done particularly well

Andy McNulty: Yeah, it’s a really, it’s a really important part, isn’t it It’s a, it’s a bit, it, it’s, it’s, it is really the, the, the opposite of the first part, which is your welcoming guests. Now you are saying goodbye to the guests, but both of them are an important part in that relationship. You know, if you’ve had friends and family staying with you, you don’t kind of just go, well, there’s the door off you go. You know, you, you, you, you do a nice farewell. Maybe you plan next time you’re gonna see them. you know what, and I think that same thing should exist in the, the hospitality world. So of course, on the day of departure, there is, you know, please do the following things, very functional stuff. and that’s not to be ignored either because guests are really, really frantic on that last day, aren’t they

Andy McNulty: You know, I must leave by 10, 10 to check out or 11 to check out. I’ve, you know, I’ve got a long drive ahead of me, or I’ve gotta get a plane back home or whatever. It’s a bit frantic. Kids have dropped loads of stuff on the floor and, you know, you’re trying to make sure you’ve got everything. You’re not leaving anything behind. So I think in, in that scenario, I, I definitely would say prior to, or prior to the departures, maybe the, the, the last day of the stay, maybe there’s a, one of these automated communications I said is triggered. So you’re not, again, again, you’re not yourself. The system is doing it for you. And it will, it will say, you know, dear Sarah, hope you’ve had a lovely stay with us. Sorry, it’s the last day tomorrow. we wanna make it nice and stress free for you.

Andy McNulty: Please remember to do the following things. Bullet, bullet, bullet, whatever. But then, that’s not the end. So it’s not close the door. Bye-Bye Sarah. It’s, recognizing you’ve done all this work during the, the, the buildup to the stay and the stay itself and you’ve won, you’ve won, you’ve won the trust of, of Sarah. So why would you not try to, have an ongoing relationship So for that reason, I would suggest definitely first thing, and I’m sure everyone’s doing this, is asking for a review to be left. And again, that could be automated. but that, that feels a bit, sort of what’s in it for me too. So I would, I would be tempted to phrase that as they are helping future guests by leaving a review and they’re helping you to identify the things that maybe didn’t go so well so you can fix them for the next guest that kind of slant on, on the request. but I would, I would then try and, and not all guests will want to do this, but if they’ve had a good experience and, and they, they really love the, the place, and you feel like it’s a repeat kind of business, like you’re in the location where people may do, may come back, then you want to get them onto your newsletter. So definitely asking them to, either for permission to add them and then once you’ve added them, maybe there’s a double opt in there probably should be where once you’ve added them to your email system, it pings them an email saying you’ve been added. Are you okay with this Let them, let them click yes to opt in. Cause I think that’s the important bit as well. Sometimes I think we think we’ve grabbed the email, the guests are right with that, we’re allowed to use it.

Andy McNulty: I think it’s really important in that whole trust that you’ve created to do that the right way too. And yes, you may not get as many people confirming to join the list, but those that you do get are really, really kind of embedded and baked into that. so that, that can be, that can be a simple, like I said, would you like, would you mind us adding you to your email and yes, please. Then you add them and then give them the, the option to double opt in and you can use MailChimp for that. Or there are a bunch of other email progress, but mail MailChimp’s nice and simple. but I, I would also then utilize that as a way to actively stay in touch. So you’ve got the email and they’ve agreed to, to hear more from you, what are you gonna do

Andy McNulty: and I would, I would, I would do that in a automated way as well, but also in those quieter periods. So maybe at the end of the season you could do a thank you, you know, it’s been a really busy season, this is what’s happened on the farm, you know, I’ve had lots of people, you know, tell a bit of a story about it. So it reminds them keep them updated. Doesn’t have to do anything more than that. and then through the, through the year, you know, you can, you everyone can get a bit creative. There are certain moments throughout the year where you could sequence things that, that, you know, late, late availability or special occasions or special events that are happening in the area that people might want to travel for, you know, all that kind of stuff. And the other thing is, is I know these are lots of things to do.

Andy McNulty: You don’t have to do them all, but you know, you might want to just do them gradually over time or pick one. but encourage them to also talk to you and share stuff on your own social media platforms. Give them the right hashtag that you want ’em to use. For example, provide them links to, to where they go and do this, encourage them maybe to leave their favorite photo of their stay or, a fun experience they had, you know, make it a bit more interesting so guests that they don’t just get, oh, I just gonna, and like, click on their Instagram link and have a look. It could be that they’re encouraged to do something, you know, that. And as a guest, like if I had a really fun experience or I’m more likely if I’m, if I’ve been pitched it that way to go and share the photo and, and then that creates you a bank of, you know, nice user stories from previous days. So those are the sort of things I, that I would do. if that makes sense.

Sarah Riley: Absolutely it does. And I think as well as we were talking about the onboarding process, get them excited about their visit, get them really thinking about it before they come to you, and then that really hi enhances their stay and that farewell get them kind of thinking, oh, that was nice. I’ve had such a great time, I could definitely go back there again. And that’s in the guest farewell, isn’t it And as long as, we know how to do that, it’s individuals. Even if we’re not great at writing emails or writing texts, you know, it, we all know how good it feels when people do it well for us. So we just have to duplicate that. And, and all of those tips there are really helpful. Thank you so much, Andy. And yeah, I think, for anybody, because we’ve been talking constantly about touch day and about the fact that it’s a digital guest, but, but for anybody who hasn’t used that kind of thing before, just in a very quick nutshell, sum up how it can be used, by what it looks like for guests Exactly. And how it works.

Andy McNulty: I, I could very quickly show it on the screen, Sarah, if you think that would be helpful.

Sarah Riley:  Absolutely.

Andy McNulty: I won’t take too long, but it will at least show people, in a nutshell what it does.

Sarah Riley: So for anyone listening, this will be shared on my YouTube channel, which is it YouTube inspired camping.

Andy McNulty: okay, good point. Cuz people who are listening won’t be able to necessarily see . But for those of you who can see, you can probably see my screen right now. and if I went to, our website, touch, do you see it Okay, Sarah

Sarah Riley: Yes. Perfect.

Andy McNulty: maybe if I went to the top one which says guidebooks, by the way, when I, when I’ve put my phone on the screen here, it’s the, the, the, it’s a little bit pixelated, but that’s cuz I’m casting my screen to the phone. the reality is it won’t be like that. if I go down and have a look at, I might look at the GL sites one, I think we’ve got a few examples of glamping operators that are, that are using us. So let’s scroll down here. So, for example, we could click on this one. So this is what happens. so this is what you have, this is a, this is a touch day guide. So it’s loading the content on the screen, this is who I’m staying with. You see a prompt at the top of the screen that says you can add it to your home screen for faster access so that that’s an optional prompt for the guest.

Andy McNulty: They can X out or if they press that, it will say that it’s about to install this guidebook on my phone and I’m gonna accept that. And it says that it’s adding it. if I come outta my screen now and go back to my homepage, see it says it’s added it, and there it is at the top left, that one there. So now as a guest, I can just click on that and it will load up the guidebook automatically for me. If I didn’t go through that process, I could still view it as a mobile tool. This is somebody in Australia. if I click get started, it’s just got very simple things like, you know, the welcome. so, a little welcome video it looks like here from them that they’ve put on the page. followed by a bunch of of stuff.

Andy McNulty: and then practical things like, you know, tent life here, for example, what it’s like, welcome to the bush water and solar power. So it’s, you know, it’s telling them about drinking water, sanitary items, solar power, et cetera. what’s in the tents So here’s one of them and a bunch of things that are in the tents, can’t read it so well cuz of the, as I said, the casting of the phone to the screen, sort of pixelating things. but then there’s a, there’s a, a map page here where I can see where it is I’m staying. and if I click that, it will allow me to get directions to that place. And if I click get directions, it would open up Google Maps where clearly from my location to Australia is not going to work. So that was a dumb example, but your, your guess your guests would be using this when they’re, in the same place as you. what else have we got bunch of other stuff. But, you know, that, that’s, that’s broadly what it, like, what it looks like. If I went back one step to this one up here, this is a UK one Devon’s Dens, who I think you probably know

Sarah Riley: Since I do know Jay very well, she was on the podcast. Yeah, she’s fantastic.

Andy McNulty: So I won’t add this one to my phone. I’ll just press the X button on the left. When I do that, you’ll see it does exactly the same thing, but now I’m viewing it as a, as a mobile website instead of as an app, but it’s exactly the same. So Joe’s put loads of things in hers. so even dog friendly stuff, for example there. So, talking about dogs and essential information, if you bring your dog, you know, it’s all really easily digestible as a guest. Look here on this one down here. So bottom left, so long, farewell. So this is the farewell. So a thank you, that’s an important one to start with. Just acknowledgement before you start asking for anything is a thank you. Mm-hmm. then check out times and processes. So here’s the simple checklist of things I want you to do when you leave, strip beds, et cetera. social media pages. So she’s linked out to her different pages here. She hasn’t put a newsletter here, so maybe she doesn’t have one, or maybe she does that in a different way. But, they’re all examples of what you can do to engage the guest and even bottom right book again, so you can link out to your, your website. So yeah, that’s, that’s broadly, what it does in a nutshell. There’s tons more I could tell you, but yes, you did say it in a nutshell.

Sarah Riley: I’m in a nutshell. Absolutely. yeah, well I know that, and this is the reason partly that I have you as a guest. Not only do you share amazingly interesting things, but I’ve had so many people say such great things about that, app that you do, that you provide. So, and, and so that’s great because actually what you’re doing is you’re taking a lot of the effort from the host so that they can focus on other things and particularly around, you know, when things are changing so much with terms and conditions, the covid restrictions, you know, people need to get their own holiday, insurance cover and things like that. It’s making it really clear. It’s giving people all the information they need to know. So you don’t have to keep saying that to people. And that just really does help reassure everybody that you know, the guest is protected.

Sarah Riley: The host understands that, they know they’re protected in the right way, and they’re not just assuming that they’ll be protected in a different way. So all of these things at the moment when they’re so ch so many challenges, it’s really great to have something that makes it a bit easier. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast again, Andy. I, we were talking before, that we a about the industry, about the economy, about things going on at the moment, and I definitely think from what we were sharing there, that there’s going to be more room for another chat. So maybe we’ll, schedule that, in the future. But it’s been incredibly interesting speaking to you. Again, thank you so much for dedicating your time. To my listeners,

Andy McNulty:  thank you for having me, Sarah. I’ve, really enjoyed it and would absolutely love to talk about stuff other than guest communication too, . Cause I think, I think, the, the, the stuff that’s going on in, in, in everyday life in economies and how that impacts our businesses is equally important, at the moment. So, yep, I’m available whenever you would like me

Sarah Riley: Brilliant. Well, all the links will be in the show notes and everything else that people can access really easily. So it’ll be, episode 52. So as always, that’s inspired 0 5 2. We’ll take you directly to the notes or on the platform you are, listening to. That would also be just below, the audio and you’ll be able to see, the links in there. But also here, if you are watching this on YouTube, then, then I’ll include all the links there. So really great to see you again, Andy, and take care and we’ll see you soon. Thanks. See ya. Bye. Bye.

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