A Great New Tool for Our Guests: The "Glad to Have You" app!
If you are a guest of our condo in Dillon, CO you will enjoy a cool new tool to enhance your stay: the "Glad to Have You" app! This is a mobile guest management solution that allows property owners and managers to improve the way they manage and communicate with guests during their stay.
"Glad to Have You" announced on on March 5, 2014 the purchase of the app by Homeaway, Inc. the world’s leading online marketplace for vacation rentals. Homeaway is pleased to offer the use of this app to their customers free of charge. People who are not customers of Homeaway can use the app for a fee of $9.99/month or $99.99/year. After my experience of setting up the app and reviewing how guests can use it, I think it is a very good value for the money!
According to the Glad to Have You site the "Owners" version of the app has the following features and benefits:
- Provide their guests everything they need to know about a particular property and stay in a mobile application customized to the property
- Provides guests customized local recommendations about all the cool things to do while on vacation
- Enable guests to submit reviews to multiple sites, including HomeAway sites
- Automates a simple set of email communications over a guest’s stay – Before stay, During the Stay and After the Stay:
1. Invitation to download app - goes out after the reservation has been entered/confirmed,
2. Follow up Invite (if the guest hasn't downloaded the app yet) - goes out 3 days before arrival
3. Guest Invite (if a guest invites someone else in their party to download the app) - goes out when one guest invites another
4. Welcome Message - goes out on day of arrival
5. Trash Notice - goes out the night before trash day as scheduled (IF scheduled) in rental content area if zoo
6. Checkout Notice - goes out the night before departure date
7. Thank You Message (with invitation to leave a review if you wish to include one) - goes out the day of checkout.
Setting up the app and loading all of the information into it that will make the guests' experience impressive and informative is a time-consuming task. I spent several hours on the project (but I am a perfectionist who wants everything that pertains to my vacation rental property and guests to be excellent in every way!)
I found that the app had places to put every bit of information that I had been providing via documents attached to an email to my guests. Not only is the app able to provide the same information that I send in my instruction packet or "Things you need to know" document, but it also has opportunities to load information that is typically included in an "Information Book" that most owners leave on the premises that informs guests on things like operating instructions for electronics or other systems, emergency information, restaurant recommendations and local activities, etc.
Currently the owner must manually enter each reservation and guest information into the app (another time-consuming part of the setup of the app), but I understand that eventually an enhancement will be made that will allow the app to sync with the Homeaway customer's account automatically.
When a guest reservation is entered into the "Glad to Have You" app, the guest receives an email announcing the app and inviting the guest to check it out. They can do so by "web" (computer) or mobile (smart phone or tablet.) The email that the guest receives looks like the screen shot below. It contains the check in date of the reservation as well as a "Passphrase" that the guest will need to access their reservation in the app.
When the guest clicks on "Access Your Rental" link they must complete a 2-step sign-in process:
1) The guest will enter their email address and check-in date.
2) The guess will enter the password that was included on the email invitation and click to agree to the Terms of Service.
Once inside the app, the guest is presented with information that they will need to access the property as well as a wealth of other information that they can use to enhance their vacation experience at your property and location.
NOTE: The "Access My Rental" information block (which contains the access code if applicable) and the "Map" are not sent to the guest until the owner has indicated the reservation is paid in full, a contract has been signed and it is within 14 days of their arrival date. When those three criteria are met, these information blocks are added to the guest's reservation in the app.
Some of the information the guest can view are a "Welcome" message from the owners, Pre-Arrival information such as "Car Directions", "Check-in" instructions, "House Rules", "What to Pack", "What's Provided", "Parking", etc. The owner can choose which information blocks they wish to use and may opt not to use others.
The "Welcome" message and "Thank You" message come with pre-populated text but you can edit those messages or enter your own to personalize them to your heart's content.
Other information block options available include such things as:
- "Helpful Tips" (where you can put tips for how to operate systems in your property or even tips that will benefit the guest such as the location of the nearest Redbox DVD rental kiosk, etc.)
- "Emergency" information (such as emergency numbers or locations for Urgent Care Centers; there is a specific information block for "Hospitals")
- "Grocery Delivery" (a great option for guests to pre-order groceries and one they may not even have thought of or know that the service exists in your area)
- "Miscellaneous" (this is where I put everything from my instruction packet or "Things you Need to Know" document that did not make it to a specific information block such as advice to drink lots of water to avoid altitude sickness, or invitations to write in our on-site Guest book or contribute a wine cork to our Guest Cork collection, or where to find other pertinent information in specific information blocks)
- "About Owner" (which is a great opportunity to insert your personality into the application and give a bio of yourself, your property and why you think your property's location is a great vacation spot. You can also include a photo of yourself here, if desired.)
One thing I liked about the "Local Suggestions" options was the fact that you are able to enter your own "Recommendation Notes" about each choice for the benefit of your guests. When viewing your favorite restaurants, bars, shopping or attractions the guest can click the down arrow to open that choice and read your note about why you enjoy that particular restaurant or your favorite item on the menu and so forth:
One cool option is for the guest to "Invite Others" in their party to use the app, so that all members of their party can have access to all of the information available about their stay in your vacation rental property.
The "Glad to Have You" app makes it even easier for guests to submit those all-too-important traveler reviews. Owners have the option to use the app "Guest Book" which allows the guests to upload photos from their stays directly to the app's Guest book, or to disable that Guest book and instead enter the URL that leads guests to leave a review directly on your listing on sites such as Homeaway.com, FlipKey.com, AirBnB.com and/or VacationRentals.com. When your "Thank You" message is sent to the guest by the app after their stay they will be able to click directly on the link to leave their review on your listing.
I also discovered on the "My Guests" tab on the owner dashboard the option to "Export for Excel" guest information as well as an option to "Export for Email Marketing". These could be helpful tools for owners who choose to use them.
I'm excited to receive feedback from my guests about how they liked the app and if they found the easily accessible information about their stay and our location helpful and convenient.
CLICK HERE to view a Glad to Have You™ (GTHY) Client Testimonial