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Serviced Apartments – 5 Must-Have Requirements For Hosts

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The wave of owning serviced apartments is running all over Kenyans’ minds. Sit in a business forum for two hours, and you will never walk out without someone mentioning serviced apartments.  

Recently, I heard someone say it is almost becoming a flooded business. For a moment, I thought of the quail’s business. I remember how Kenyans immediately took advantage of it. But shortly after, it went silent. The business was no longer profitable.  

Now, let me assure you today that the Airbnb business is here to stay.  

These two are different business models. Serviced apartments are permanent assets. With proper strategies and maintenance, it is and will always be a lucrative business. Thanks to the fact that nobody can own a home everywhere.

In every business model, there exists a dynamic range of outcomes where some investors achieve success while others face challenges.

It’s important to realize that despite investing in creating an elegant and secure facility that complies with all the requirements, there might still be instances where attracting clients becomes a challenge! 

Now, if you are scratching your head wondering how to succeed in the serviced apartments business, then you need to camp here. We will go into the depths of what can make you or break you.  

Let’s assume you already have the facility somewhere, so we will not talk much about the location. Furnished apartments will always be the preferred choice, especially for long stays, but you need to have some facts at your fingertips.  

While these five points may seem like direct answers, there’s more to explore. Let us guide you through each of them, one step at a time. You need to get the right perspective of each.

Online Presence 

Serviced apartments are mostly suitable for travelers who go places for long-term or short-term business or work-related assignments. Leisure travelers on long stays may also find it fit to book Airbnb facilities.  

Many travelers often find themselves on international assignments that can span anywhere from three months to a full year.

To ensure that these potential clients discover your facility, it’s imperative to have a strong online presence.

Relying solely on word of mouth may not suffice. The teams they’re collaborating with on the ground may not be aware of the existence of your apartment!  

It’s crucial to acknowledge that depending on a single online platform is not a comprehensive strategy. Clients navigate various online avenues based on their immediate thoughts and impulses; it’s a psychological phenomenon. 

Their current train of thought may direct them towards Facebook, and that’s where they’ll go.  

If they decide to initiate a search on Google, they’ll head in that direction.  

Similarly, if their familiarity with a platform like Airbnb comes to mind, they’ll explore it!  

Even when they get a referral through word of mouth, human curiosity naturally drives them to explore online options. 

In this digital age, online exploration has become an inevitable part of the decision-making process.  

Understanding this dynamic is essential to effectively reaching potential clients and ensuring they discover your apartments. 

The next pertinent question is:  

Which online platforms have you chosen for the visibility of your business?  

How are you actively promoting your presence on these platforms to gain global recognition?  

Who visits these platforms and why? 

To delve into this further, let’s examine the online platforms most frequently used in Kenya. 

Facebook 

In the digital realm of Kenya, Facebook serves as a bustling hub for a myriad of reasons. Kenyan users frequently log in for: 

  • Quest for Knowledge: They turn to the platform to seek answers to pressing questions and tap into the collective wisdom of their network. 
  • Escape and Laughter: After a long and arduous day or a demanding job, Facebook offers solace, humor, and a chance to unwind. 
  • Trendspotting: Keeping up with the latest trends within their areas of interest keeps them engaged and informed. 
  • Engaging Debates: Facebook is a forum for diving into conversations on a plethora of topics, from local news to global issues. 

This vibrant blend of activities has turned Facebook into a digital home for virtually everyone in Kenya.

Consequently, for businesses, it’s a platform that simply cannot be overlooked. The crux of the matter lies in how effectively you navigate this dynamic landscape. 

Yet, if your sights are set on the realm of “serviced apartments,” relying solely on Facebook may not suffice to harness the full potential of your online presence.

A mixed approach may be your key to unlocking greater heights in your business endeavors. 

Twitter 

Twitter is renowned as the epicenter of real-time global trends.  

When you seek to grasp the pulse of the entire world, Twitter is your compass. 

It’s the go-to platform for insights into everything, from the world of celebrities to unfolding disasters and issues that captivate the world’s attention. 

It’s worth noting that Twitter’s format is succinct; a paragraph and a link to the post.  

Your effectiveness here depends on your audience, unless, of course, you’re crafting an advertisement.  

Essentially, Twitter excels as an information powerhouse. It’s a beacon of knowledge dissemination. 

In the realm of business, even the slightest connection with a potential client can create a great impact. 

A single message can ripple outward and transform into a thriving conduit for spreading news and information.  

Hence, being a part of this dynamic platform is not just important; it’s a strategic plan that leads to success. 

Instagram 

Instagram stands as a beacon of visual storytelling. It’s a platform where you can weave a narrative from start to finish, captivating your audience and enticing them to peruse your pages.

However, this journey begins with the imagery and videos you share.

After all, your audience will only stick around if they find themselves consistently drawn to your content.

The secret to success on Instagram is simple yet profound.

When clients repeatedly find themselves attracted to your images, you’ve hit the mark. But here’s the key; there must be value embedded in your content.

As long as it resonates with your audience, you’ll interact with prospective clients who are genuinely interested in your serviced apartments.

To ensure your visual storytelling on Instagram reaches its full potential, consider these essential tips:

  • Invest in Quality Photos: Treat your Instagram feed as a visual extension of your business. Use a good camera to capture high-resolution photos and videos. Professionalism should be evident not only in your services but also in your visuals.
  • Consistency is Key: Building trust and credibility requires consistency. Post regularly to keep your profile active and your audience engaged. An active profile not only attracts attention but also keeps your brand fresh in the minds of your followers.
  • Engage Authentically: Don’t just talk at your audience; engage with them. Respond to comments, answer questions, and show appreciation for your followers’ support through likes and meaningful comments. Authentic interaction builds a sense of community and trust.
  • Networking Beyond Your Profile: Extend your presence beyond your own profile by actively participating in the broader Instagram community. Engaging with others can help you gain a following of like-minded individuals.

You can transform your Instagram presence into a magnet for prospective clients. Remember, Instagram is where your business’s visual journey unfolds, so make it a compelling one.

Directory Listing Websites 

In the realm of directory listing websites, these platforms are tailored to specific niches. They offer a laser-focused approach, unlike the all-encompassing nature of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

For your serviced apartments business, these niche-specific websites can be a game-changer. The primary reason behind this lies in the fact that every visitor to these platforms shares a singular objective.  

Let’s take Airbnb, the renowned giant in the serviced apartments industry, as an example. When users frequent Airbnb, they’re not there for trending topics, celebrity gossip, or casual amusement. Instead, they are driven by a distinct purpose. 

As we mentioned earlier, prospective clients scour the internet for serviced apartments based on the trigger of the moment. It’s this precise characteristic that renders directory listing websites key for client acquisition.  

These platforms become fertile ground for reaching potential clients, as they come with a clear intent. 

One such platform, among many, is Savetime Relievers. In the subsequent discussion about property management, we’ll delve into the details of how it can serve as a potent ally in your quest to attract clients and thrive in the serviced apartments business. 

Social Media Marketing Enhancers 

If crafting compelling social media posts isn’t your thing, consider sourcing the help of a skilled social media marketer or influencer.

The decision naturally hinges on the portion of income you’re willing to allocate toward enhancing your social media presence. Of course, you will not be doing this all the time.  

It’s an investment that can pay substantial dividends in increasing awareness and attracting potential guests to your serviced apartments. 

Keep in mind that client reviews are a potent marketing tool.  

Typically, clients return to the platform where they discovered your services to either commend or convey their discontent.  

This invaluable feedback can potentially attract a stream of new clients. 

It’s essential not to disregard negative reviews, even if they may seem minor or unjust. Instead, view them as opportunities for improvement.  

Strive to achieve a minimum rating of 4.2 stars across all online platforms, including our very own Savetime Relievers.  

This dedication to excellence can bolster your reputation and enhance your ability to attract and retain satisfied clients. 

Serviced Apartments Management 

Even after displaying your serviced apartments all over the internet, there needs to be a trusted manager on the ground. It could either be you or someone else.  

Your property could look all glittery online but fail you when the client comes face to face with you or whoever is handling the property. 

You might find yourself wearing the dual hats of a host and manager. On the contrary, you may be the host while delegating the management responsibilities to another. 

If you have ample time to manage your property round the clock, then you are all set.  

However, if the demands of life leave you feeling stretched thin and you sense that your property isn’t receiving the attention it truly deserves, it’s time to consider the services of a property manager.  

This is precisely where Savetime Relievers emerges as your dependable savior. 

At Savetime Relievers, we will give your property a permanent online home as a bonus and still manage your property. 

Your property’s well-being becomes our priority, ensuring that it thrives even in your absence. 

When you entrust your property to Savetime Relievers, you can bid farewell to the stress of management. Cleaning, check-ins, check-outs, and the scrutiny for damages or any issues requiring immediate attention after your guests vacate become our responsibility.  

We’ve got it all covered. We ensure your peace of mind while your property remains in excellent condition. 

How to Know You Need a Property Manager for Your Serviced Apartments 

Guests truly appreciate dignified treatment from their initial inquiry until the moment they leave your serviced apartment. They call it value for their money. 

How you communicate sets the initial tone that can either captivate your client’s interest or drive them away.  

Drawing from my personal experience while searching for serviced apartments, I’ve encountered instances where phone conversations left me with a less-than-favorable impression. 

The tone of the person answering the phone needs to exude professionalism.  

Since Airbnb clients may reach out at any hour, the recipient should always be ready to engage in a courteous and prepared manner.  

It’s vital not to assume that every unknown call is not genuine.  

However, maintaining vigilance is key in distinguishing genuine inquiries from potential pranksters. 

If you’re personally managing the property, being an exceptional communicator is paramount. However, if you have challenges presenting yourself before clients, it’s wise to delegate this responsibility to a proficient property manager. 

Acknowledging that you might have multiple serviced apartments yet struggle with effective management is crucial. Even if you have the time to handle them all, client satisfaction may fail you. That would mean you miss out on referrals. 

Working with Agents 

Navigating the world of serviced apartments successfully often requires collaboration. 

When we hear about agents operating around our serviced apartments, our initial thought might be to veer in the opposite direction.  

However, there’s merit in adopting a more positive perspective, even if only momentarily. 

Agents may not always be good at communication, but they possess a wealth of knowledge, particularly within their specific areas of operation.  

Instead of outright avoidance, consider forming partnerships with them. 

Whether you’re a solo operator or working alongside your manager, it’s crucial to realize that reaching all potential clients independently is not practical.  

Likewise, expecting every potential client to find their way to you unassisted is often impractical. In these scenarios, you need intermediaries to bridge the gap. 

The agents’ efforts culminate in clients reaching you or your manager and receiving the warm, attentive service they deserve. 

Once an agent has fulfilled their role as per the agreed terms, it’s essential to honor your financial commitments without engaging in unnecessary disputes. 

In this context, it’s also vital not to underestimate the role of the caretakers and security guards who take care of your premises. They often serve as a valuable source of walk-in clients.  

Some guests may have already heard about your facility through word-of-mouth and decided to visit the place for clarity. They are likely to interact with the guards before you even realize someone is interested in your space. 

While it’s crucial to be vigilant against potential fraudsters who may pose as agents, it’s important to recognize the genuine value that agents bring to the table. 

Effective collaboration and acknowledging the contributions of agents can be instrumental in the success of your business.  

It’s a matter of fostering partnerships while maintaining a watchful eye for any potentially fraudulent activities. 

A Clear Payment Process 

In any establishment, the handling of finances holds profound significance in the eyes of clients. You might have an exceptional property manager in place, but if this critical aspect is not wisely managed, it can lead to disappointment.

It’s imperative to establish and maintain clear and well-defined guidelines for your payment processes. 

While clients who book through major online booking platforms typically encounter no payment issues, those who opt to make direct payments require a trustworthy and reassuring payment process. It’s important to offer them a sense of security as they anticipate their arrival at your facility. 

When dealing with clients you may not know personally, using reliable payment channels like PayPal, Mpesa Paybill, or Mpesa Till Number, among others, instills confidence in them.

This gesture is particularly crucial for guests who may have had previous unfortunate experiences, as their peace of mind is dependent on the assurance of a secure transaction. 

Consider the perspective of guests who may have encountered financial losses before. They may remain anxious until they physically arrive at your premises and verify their reservations. If, unexpectedly, your phone becomes unreachable during this crucial period, it can exacerbate their anxiety. 

To mitigate such concerns, especially for long-term clients, it’s advisable to include concise payment instructions within your facility.

A single mistake in the payment process can not only cast a negative light on your establishment but also tarnish its reputation among clients. The repercussions are far-reaching, with clients potentially attributing their losses to a lack of streamlined payment procedures. It taints your apartment’s image. 

In essence, if you’re not personally managing the financial aspects, entrust this responsibility to your property manager. Maintaining a unified approach to treasury management eliminates confusion and fosters client confidence in your operations. 

To sum it up, the importance of safeguarding against fraudulent activities that may harm your guests cannot be overstated.  

Dispute Resolution Strategy 

In every business venture, encounters with challenging clients are an inevitable part of the journey. Some of these clients exhibit stubbornness that may not have a valid basis. 

They might raise complaints about circumstances beyond your control, like a blackout that hindered them from completing an assignment.  

In other instances, even minor inconveniences, such as a malfunctioning instant shower, can be blown out of proportion. 

As a conscientious host, it’s vital to equip yourself with effective strategies for handling such clients. Their discontent can potentially lead to bad reviews that could tarnish your reputation. Therefore, adopting a proactive approach and ensuring these clients leave your facility content is essential. 

There’s another category of clients who may engage in deceptive behavior. They initially pay for an extended stay, then request additional days. Given their prior commitment to an extended period, you might hesitate to request immediate payment for the extra days. 

However, a disheartening scenario unfolds when you discover they have left without settling their dues, and attempts to retrieve the outstanding payment are met with resistance. 

In such cases, it is crucial to extract a valuable lesson from the experience to avoid future losses.  

Launching an anger-stricken attack on them can be counterproductive. It may cast doubt on your credibility and professionalism, potentially deterring future bookings for your serviced apartments. 

Ultimately, the long-term reputation of your business is of paramount importance. Prioritizing professionalism and maintaining a forward-looking perspective is key.  

The prospects of your venture should always take precedence over momentary frustrations or disputes with clients. 

Take-Homes at Your Fingertips 

If you’ve made it this far, it’s clear that you’ve found some value in this article, and we sincerely appreciate your engagement. Here are some takeaways for a smoother operation of your business: 

  • Global Visibility: In today’s interconnected world, maximize your property’s online visibility. Use all available social media platforms and directory-listing websites to reach a broader audience. 
  • Consider a Property Manager: If you’re pressed for time or lack the necessary skills to manage your property, hiring a competent property manager can prove to be a worthwhile investment. 
  • Collaborate with Agents: Don’t underestimate the knowledge and insights that agents can bring to your serviced apartment business. They can be valuable partners in your growth journey. 
  • Prioritize Payment Processes: Ensure your payment processes are reliable and transparent. Registered methods like Mpesa Till Numbers enhance credibility and trust, particularly in case of disputes. 
  • Client Disputes: Handle client disputes with professionalism and a customer-centric approach. Prioritize resolving issues amicably, even if it means treating the client as though they are right, as it safeguards the future of your business. 

Your thoughts and feedback on this article are highly appreciated. Please feel free to share your insights in the comments. Thank you for taking the time to read. We value your input. 

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4 Comments

Lucy Kairu
September 14, 2023 at 12:56 pm

Wow, this is so informative. I will quote this “Handle client disputes with professionalism and a customer-centric approach. Prioritize resolving issues amicably, even if it means treating the client as though they are right, as it safeguards the future of your business”. I can relate.

    September 14, 2023 at 8:07 pm

    Hey Lucy. We are glad to have you around. Sometimes we do not want to hear “the customer is always right.” But looking at it from another perspective, I think it is more of just letting clients be who they are. No matter how difficult they are, we’ve got to soldier on.

Maryanne Nduta
September 10, 2023 at 10:23 am

I am an Airbnb host. I’m not one of those funs of reading long articles but when I saw this, I thought of getting to know what’s in it. To be honest, this business entails a lot of risks on the part of the host, but we’ve got to keep going. I have lost money, learned lessons, and I’m still learning. My level of patience has increased as I have met clients I can describe in all sorts of ways. All the same, nothing is easy.

    September 14, 2023 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you Mary for your valuable comment and sorry for the challenges you have had to bear. Every experience is a lesson in the business world. Keep going!

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