Vacation Rental Management – Earn more, Work less

From intern to Head of Department

Daniela Sorak is proof that hard work pays off. Six years ago, after finishing her Business Economics studies, she began her career at Direct Booker as an intern. Today, she is the Head of Property Development Department.

Always professional, meticulous, and dedicated to work. She is constantly thinking about how to improve the business. In her free time, she attends various courses to become better at her job. Directors say she is a person who respects hierarchies and rules and enforces them within her department.

She told us a little more about herself, the department, and colleagues.

What does your work involve?

It includes the organization of work within the department, distribution of tasks, communication with partners, testing implemented changes in the system, monitoring and elaborating proposals for changes and improvement of the system, and the department’s work in general. I provide help and support to colleagues in performing daily tasks and users regarding the use of the system.

What do you like most about your job?

The dynamic atmosphere and the fact that I acquire new skills and knowledge with the development of the business. I love learning about new things and the excitement that comes with new knowledge and curiosity. And the inevitable, great team.

What characteristics should people working in this department have?

Ability to adapt to work tasks, good mood, follow the rules, think outside the box, team spirit and player, independence in doing work, cooperative behavior (asking questions and offering suggestions, proactive behavior and interest or in short (independence, honesty, and integrity, positive proactive action and willingness to work). Additional pluses are if they are coffee and sweet lovers and will bring sweets to the office every day. #healthylifestyle

Who’s on your team?

We are a team of 7 amazing people (dragons) :). All of them are dedicated to the work. They are always thinking about solving the tasks and improving their work. Of course, it is stressful sometimes considering the work’s dynamism, but there is nothing that we can not solve as a team. We have a solution to every problem.

What are the most common issues in your work?

It depends on the tasks and work within the department. The problems are various and vary every day. On the one hand, we cover support for all partners, independent users and franchisors, and colleagues within the company. On the other hand the development part, therefore the problems and issues depend from day to day (as I mentioned earlier), some of them are:

-customer support to system users (setting up prices, restrictions, establishing a connection), and any questions related to the functionality of the system

-customer support when reading syn records

-assistance for preparing properties for set up on various booking channels

-questions about updating, adjusting and editing the content on the channels (caused by system modifications or new connections from the channel)

– how to use most optimally certain functionalities in the system, etc.

 How do you deal with stress then?

Always with a positive attitude.

Where do you see yourself in the future in the business world?

I want to develop in management and gain additional technical skills to learn all the secrets of this business. I also want to improve my skills in different areas (technology, management, and development sectors) to better understand the company’s framework and expand my knowledge and skills.

Lastly, how do you spend your free time?

Perfect free time is with my family, friends, and a dog. I like to watch a good movie or series (mostly SF), anime, gaming, read a good book, travel, and stay in nature… Also, I try to attend as many courses from various categories to expand my knowledge and experience. I am currently attending courses for programming and the Japanese language.

Why now is the time to respond to every review?

As we have seen, guests now are spending more time searching and checking for an apartment. Safety and cleanliness became a priority for travelers and they will look for accommodation that will fulfill their requests. It is now more important than ever to have excellent communication with guests. If you didn’t have time or knew how to respond, now is the time to check all the reviews and respond properly to each of them.

Did you know that today 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?

Reviews of the guests who were staying at your accommodation play a big role in attracting new guests. It is best to respond to all reviews you receive, whether they are positive or negative.

When guests were looking forward to vacation and it does not turn out as they imagined, it is likely that they will write a negative review.

For a homeowner or Property Manager, a negative review can be a huge discouragement. You should always keep in mind that you are not only responding to a comment to that one guest, but to all potential future guests who are likely to read that response.

If the guest wrote something that is not true, then of course you will politely deny it and let everyone know what really happened.

Rule number 1. Always thank guests for leaving a review

By regularly and honestly responding to all reviews, you are showing that you care about your guests and that you care about their opinions. Through guest reviews, you can get an insight into what potentially needs to be changed to improve the quality of your property and services.

Since guest comments are not always positive, this is an additional reason to respond and explain the situation from your perspective. Do not forget that in this way you create a positive reputation with potential guests. Start each response by thanking the guest for staying in your accommodation and leaving a review. For example, “Dear xy, Thank you for staying at our apartment and for taking time to write this review…”

Rule number 2. Never start an argument

Whether the guest’s comment is true or not, your answer must always be professional, as objective and friendly as possible, as it suits the host. Do not engage in quarrels with guests, just briefly and simply describe your view of the event.

Rule number 3. Remind the guest of the offered solutions

When responding to negative comments, do not forget to mention that you did your best to solve the situation. Describe all communication, the compensation offered quick fixes, replacement of broken devices – briefly all the solutions you offered them while they were staying with you.

Rule number 4. Communication is the key

The worst-case scenario for a homeowner/Property Manager is that the guest does not inform him about the problem while he is staying in the accommodation, and the homeowner/PM finds it out from the review. In that way, the host doesn’t even get a chance to resolve the situation. It is best to point out on check-in that they can contact you always for help in case of any problems.

With a helpful and prompt response to a negative review, you have the opportunity to show what kind of a host you actually are. From your engagement, potential guests will see that you take guests’ comments seriously and that you wish to offer excellent service.

Since people usually are most interested in negative reviews, there is a big chance that they will read your answer, too. Use this possibility and turn the situation around to your advantage.

Advice:

Guests usually leave comments on booking pages like Booking.com and Airbnb. They also use Google Maps to leave reviews. Regularly check reviews for your accommodation on all platforms and respond to them.

“In a job like this, the most important thing is to always understand who is sitting on the other side”

Read something more about our colleague Ana Raguž who started her career in Direct Booker at Information Department, continued in the Research and Development Department, and has recently taken a new position, as a Senior Business Developer. So far, Ana has lived, studied and worked in two world capitals.

Tell us, how did your life look like outside of Croatia?

From my early youth I knew that part of my life journey would be with a suitcase in my hand. When I was 21 years old and completed my undergraduate studies at DIU International University, majoring in International Relations and Diplomacy, I decided to go for a master ‘s degree abroad. After applying to colleges in Barcelona, ​​Vienna and other European cities, eventually I decided to go in Paris and studied master’s degree in International Business Development and Consulting.

My next destination was Belgium, Brussels, where I perfected my French with work experience, which made my life and work in France easier. France is one of the countries where you just have to know language to be able to live everyday life, and certainly the goal of my departure was to build myself in an international environment.

The most valuable things I have gained abroad besides language, are friendships that will surely remain for the whole life. and travel that were an integral part of the bucket list.

Tell us a bit more about your Department and work @Direct Booker?

I currently work in the Global Partnerships Department, as a Senior Business Developer. Although I’m in Direct Booker for some time now, my current position is from October 1st this year. The advantage of working in a company like Direct Booker is that with young staff and professionalism at a high level, perceptions do not play a major role, but only the quality of work.

There are no strict working hours or standard schedules in my Department. Access and communication with potential clients or partners are the most important in our job. Everyday brings something new on the table. 🙂

What are the goals and specifics of your business?

The goal of Senior Business Developer is to achieve cooperation with as many foreign partners as possible through communication and presentation. Our expansion model consists of two types; software Booker Tools and Direct Booker franchise.

When it comes to our franchise model, it is already a bit more challenging. We are the only ones in the world offering such a franchise model, and even the negotiations themselves and the introduction of the client into our core business require extra time and effort. But it ultimately brings a positive outcome for both sides. Partners get a brand and a successful business model. We are currently focused on international tourism fairs and summits that are going online, which we believe will return to normal in the foreseeable future.

Given the current Covid situation, meetings are conducted exclusively online, and the meeting itself is the final part, the whole process of initial communication, preparation, and the whole logistical part. Our current targets are Italy, Spain, and England.

We have set a goal and regardless of the Covid crisis we are moving towards the goal, and every working day is shaping up according to our goal.

Describe one typical working day in your Department.

We do not have the standard work schedule terminology. The workday always starts by checking e-mails and organizing a working day, holding presentations and arranging the next meetings. Since we are still in the process of organizing the whole Department, a lot of the time is taken up for preparation. We do several online meetings on a daily basis.

What is the secret to the success of mutual satisfaction, for you and the client?

In a job like this, the most important thing is to always understand who is sitting on the other side, who is the interlocutor, and then adjust your approach. As for the technology itself, customers always have the same goal, to find the best possible solutions for their business, and it is up to us to offer our PMS and Channel Manager, Booker Tools, which offers everything to a property managers, camps, ho(s)tels, or any agency needs.

If you’re looking for a business opportunity, and know a few things about short-term rentals, we can offer solutions for you: franchise, agency service or software for property management. Contact us and find out more: sales@direct-booker.com

How to become a successful vacation rental owner?

Technology continuously changes and dictates market trends. It allows vacation renter owners to independently manage sales on a professional level. Brand recognition, market exposure, and sales strategy are three extremely important factors which determine the success of accommodation renting. Year after year, there are more and more early bookings since people are planning their vacation year in advance. This is why having prices prepared on time is important. 

Some vacation rental owners do this at the beginning of the year and only then release the sale, and until then they are not present anywhere, which is a big mistake. It is important to be present for the sake of marketing exposure and visibility which can be achieved only by preparing a sales strategy on time.

Technology is divided into the reservation and operational technology. Reservation technology is a tool that enables sales management and generates reservation on all connected reservation platforms through the channel manager. There is the possibility of generating instant direct reservations from the official websites of the accommodation unit using the booking engine.

Operating technology includes all those functionalities that make it easier for users to perform operational activities such as registering guests to eVisitor system, issuing invoices or updating reservation information.

Working together with private vacation rental owners provides an insight into the state of the market trends and the needs of the rental owners themselves. The system is made according to the needs of the vacation rental owners which is constantly being improved. Starting next year. our clients will be connected to as many as 7 global online reservation platforms: Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, Hostelworld, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and Hotelbeds. Such market coverage, while maintaining price with automatic closing of sales on all connected channels with each newly created reservation, without the adequate technology is only possible in theory.