Text Messaging for Vacation Rentals: Why Guests Love SMS

If you’re not text messaging your vacation rental guests, you’re missing out on a major way to improve the guest experience.

Email is still great, but texting takes guest communication to a whole new level. We all know that even important emails can get lost in the deluge of our ‘unread’ pile, and guests can very easily miss crucial details in an overflowing inbox.


But as a society, we’re used to streaming music, TV, and movies directly from our phones. So why should guests’ vacation rental stay—whether booked on Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, or directly through you—be any different?

It shouldn’t—and texting makes it even easier to reach guests where they are.

But we know it can be confusing to understand how to set up and schedule texts. You may have questions.

Can you really schedule and automate texts to guests in the same way? Are there any SMS templates for vacation rentals, in the same way as there are for emails? Will using texts for your vacation rentals mean you have to type messages out manually all day long? And do guests really read texts more than emails?

We get it. That’s why we’ve broken everything down into this easy guide. Read on to discover why and how to start sending text messages to your vacation rental property guests today.

RueBaRue is an easy-to-use guest communication tool that lets you send automated text messages to your guests and stay on top of conversations with a team SMS inbox. Book a demo personalized to your rentals to see the platform in action.

Why should you send text messages to your guests?

Sending text messages to guests may be less common than emails, but there’s a host of great reasons why they’re the future of guest communication tools for vacation rentals.

Research shows that SMS open rates can reach as much as 98%, compared to an average open rate of 20% of all emails. Similarly, findings from HotelTechReport show that almost eight out of 10 (78%) of US consumers say receiving a text message is the fastest way to reach them.

Email expert CampaignMonitor also cites research showing that it takes people an average of 90 seconds for someone to reply to a text, but an hour and a half to reply to an email.

Overall, sending information by text improves, speeds up, and simplifies communication. As a result, it offers a much better experience for both guests and hosts.

6 benefits of text messaging for vacation rentals

Let’s dig a little deeper into why texting is the way forward, not only for the guest but also for you and your team.

1. Simplify and improve your guest messaging flow

Texts are easier to read on the go, without internet connection or data, or needing guests to download a separate app. This removes barriers to communication and makes it easier.

It’s easier for guests to communicate with you quickly when desired, and they can choose how much or little interaction they want.

Texts are more likely to be read than emails, so important and useful information gets through.

This means that guests are also more likely to see and read crucial information. This might include arrival and check-out policies, your vacation rental welcome letter , house rules, local recommendations, and any other key bits of detail.

2. Get more reviews

Better communication means happier guests, whether you’re answering questions, giving them everything they need before they arrive, or dealing with questions during their stay.

This means they are likely to remember the quality of service and you will get more (and better) vacation rental reviews after they leave.

You can also schedule texts just before or after they leave, to prompt them to leave feedback and reviews while their good stay is still fresh in their mind.

3. Get more repeat bookings

Texting is a more intimate and friendly way of communicating, so guests feel more valued and you can build better rapport.

You can also send extra touches such as vacation rental thank you notes by SMS.

Again, building better relationships with guests like this means that they are more likely to remember you, enjoy their stay, leave good reviews, and recommend you to friends and family.

This in turn means you are more likely to get repeat, direct bookings from loyal customers for years to come.

4. Give all team members access to guest conversations

RueBaRue is one of the only platforms out there that enables you to set up group or team inboxes.

This means you can delegate, and whoever is ‘online’ can respond to guest SMSs, rather than you having to be on alert 24/7.

5. Collect guest data

Using texts helps you to gather guest data, which is great for maintaining communication with your customers.

You can capture their email addresses and phone numbers during booking, and as long as you have their permission, you can send follow-up messages later.

This means you can maintain a good relationship with them, such as sending discount codes or holiday offers.

Research from SMS Comparison found that nearly 80% of consumers like receiving offers via text.

Similarly, tech consulting company Slick Tech found that more than 60% of clients would even like to book appointments or stays via text because it’s so easy.

Capturing your own data also means that your marketing isn’t dependent on the whims of other social media platforms.

Some guest communication platforms, such as RueBaRue, make it easy to capture guest data.

This includes making it a requirement when booking and offering incentives (such as good deals) to guests for sharing this information with you.

6. Get instant feedback from guests

Guests are more likely to report problems via SMS (because it’s less effort to text than use any other platform).

Quick and helpful feedback helps you improve and solve problems more quickly, improving your chances of pleasing guests and making them feel valued.

Again, this will likely mean happier guests and better reviews.

The 8 best text messages to send

There are a number of text messages that you should consider as the cornerstone of your communication strategy. These are our recommendations.

But fear not—you don’t have to write these all out manually. Many platforms, such as RueBaRue, offer fill-in-the-blank templates for all of these messages, so you can get them set up and sent in minutes.

Templates enable you to save time and send consistent messages.

Email messages might be longer than texts, but the general gist is as follows:

1. Booking confirmation template

This message is sent as soon as possible after booking, giving guests maximum peace of mind and the feeling of being taken care of right from the start.

This will include important information such as payment confirmation, dates, check-in instructions, check-out time, Wi-Fi password, cancellation terms, and your contact details in case they have any questions.

2. Pre-arrival template

This is sent as their stay approaches. It gets them excited about their stay while reminding them of all the key details that were in their confirmation.

It also offers more precise logistical details, such as directions, the property address, and parking information.

This is also when you can send the link to the welcome book, and house rules.

3. Maintenance request template

This is a simple reply to a guest enquiring or complaining about a maintenance issue. It might confirm that you are looking into it, and offer extra contact details in case of an emergency.

It might also ask the guest for more details, and apologize for any inconvenience, to maintain your relationship with them despite the mishap.

Having this message written and ready to go in a template helps you respond more promptly.

4. Post-arrival welcome template

This is a quick message sent just after guests arrive, hoping that they are happy and settled in, and asking them for any quick feedback. You might ask them if they need anything, or if they have any questions for you.

5. Pre-departure template

This is sent just before the guest leaves.

This is a great time to thank them for their stay, but also to remind them of your check-out policy, your vacation rental check out list (such as asking them to empty the trash or lock the windows), and any other helpful bits of information such as transport details for their journey.

6. Alert template

Hopefully, you won’t ever need to use this, but it’s good to have it ready in case the worst happens.

This is simply an emergency alert, with details of what the guest should do in an emergency (such as a natural disaster), and your urgent 24/7 contact information if needed.

7. Extend guest stay template

You can send this a few days before your guests check out. In fact, this is the perfect time to give your guest the chance to extend their stay (and gives you a chance to boost revenue and occupancy too).

You can send them the option, with details of (perhaps discounted) pricing, and give them an easy way to confirm if they choose.

8. Post-check-out thank you & review request template

As the name suggests, this message is sent after the guest checks out. Now is a good time to thank them again for their stay and hope they had a good journey home.

Then, you might ask them for a quick rating of their stay and put a link to a survey or page where they can leave a review easily.

Not only will this mean you get more reviews, but it’s also likely to boost ratings, as guests will be pleased you asked.

How to send text messages to your guests

So now you know why to send texts, and what messages we recommend, how do you actually do it (without spending hours attached to your phone manually typing our messages?).

Here are our suggestions.

  1. Establish your company voice. Texting is more intimate and friendly, so it can be more casual than a full email, but it should still be helpful and professional.
  2. Schedule your texts. A platform such as RueBaRue allows you to queue your filled-in templates in order, and schedule them to go out at the right times. Taking the time to set this up properly can also avoid errors such as sending a post-stay text when they’ve just checked in...
  3. Keep texts friendly, useful, and brief. Don’t send too many—this will dilute the impact and will also likely come across as annoying. The best text message communication strikes a balance.
  4. Set up a team number. Tools such as RueBaRue offer features such as a dedicated number for your ‘guest communication’ channel, so you don’t have to share personal or business contacts. You can also set up a team inbox, so multiple members of your team can reply from what appears to the guest as a single number.

Vacation rental text messaging: The easiest way to enhance your guest communication

There you have it! We hope we’ve left you in no doubt that text message is the way forward for your business and that it’s easier than you think to put it into practice.

Using templates, scheduled and automated messages, short reminders, and team inboxes, it’s simple to harness the power and directness of texting, without adding more work to your to-do list. So you can spend less time on admin, and more time on actually giving guests a great stay.

RueBaRue is one of the rare platforms that specializes in helping you do exactly this, so if you’re looking to give it a try, we’d be happy to show you how today.

RueBaRue is an easy-to-use guest communication tool that lets you send automated text messages to your guests and stay on top of conversations with a team SMS inbox. Book a demo personalized to your rentals to see the platform in action.

Frequently asked questions about text messaging for vacation rentals

Is it better to send emails or text messages to vacation rental guests?

Emails still have their place but SMS messages are better in many ways. At the very least, they offer a crucial ‘complementary’ communication tool that your rental business will benefit from using.

Text messages simplify and improve your guest messaging flow, as they’re quicker and easier to read and reply to. They’re more intimate and friendly, helping to build a better host-guest relationship.

What’s more, they’re 98% likely to be read (versus 20% for emails); and 78% of US consumers say a text message is the fastest way to reach them. Similarly, 80% of consumers like receiving offers via text, and you’re more likely to get quick feedback and reviews.

Emails are good, and SMSs don’t need to replace them. But SMSs have real advantages, too.

What’s the best SMS messaging provider for vacation rentals?

It depends on your business, but the best all-in-one provider will:

  • Include easy fill-in-the-blank templates for key messages
  • Enable scheduling and automation and scheduling of SMS messages as well as emails
  • Offer features such as team inbox
  • Give you a dedicated, separate customer communication number.

How many text messages should you send your guests, and how often?

There’s no perfect number, but there are several key messages that you might want to send. Sending SMS messages is a balance between reassuring the guest by ensuring they have all the details they need, and not becoming annoying or spammy.

Messages you should send include a booking confirmation, pre-arrival details, post-arrival welcome, check-out reminder, and a post-check-out thank you and request for a review.

The most important thing is to write them in advance, automate and schedule them, so they show up on guests’ phones at the exact right time. Platforms such as RueBaRue can offer templates and scheduling systems to make this even easier.

RueBaRue is an easy-to-use guest communication tool that lets you send automated text messages to your guests and stay on top of conversations with a team SMS inbox. Book a demo personalized to your rentals to see the platform in action.

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