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Security vs. guest experience: How to strike the right balance

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As a property manager, it’s necessary to have security measures in place to protect your properties from unwanted incidents and problematic guests. But what happens when those measures go too far?

Strict rules and harsh screening can be a major turn off for guests, scaring them away from booking your properties. Losing good guests from over screening can be just as detrimental as being hit by a party. So, how do you reconcile security with guest experience?

While the two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, they don’t have to be at war, either. It is possible to implement protective measures without deterring your guests. But to be successful, you need to strike the right balance—too much security and you scare away guests; not enough and you leave your properties vulnerable. With the right process in place, you can weave the two together.

Here’s how:

Adapt to the guest

No two guests are the same, so don’t treat them as such. To deal with the different expectations and risks of each guest, it’s important to determine your company’s risk tolerance. What type of behaviour do you deem acceptable? What won’t you allow? Asking these types of questions will help you figure out the amount of risk you’re comfortable taking on with each reservation.

The next step is to tailor your security process to different levels of risk. The best way to do this is to introduce a dynamic guest screening system. This involves subjecting different guests to different types of verifications. For instance, a guest booking a four-bedroom house for a one-night stay could be a red flag for a party. To de-risk this reservation, you may verify the guest’s ID, validate their credit card and have them provide a security deposit. Whereas for a couple booking a one-bedroom condo, you may consider decreasing the friction in the guest-screening process. The lower the risk, the less hassle they should face to confirm their reservation.

To determine the level of screening required for each reservation, weigh the risks versus the rewards.

Set expectations early

So the guest is aware of what they’re getting into, communicate your rules and processes before they arrive. On your listing, if possible, outline your guest-screening verifications, any monitoring systems you use and what house rules the guest must follow. Reiterate this in a rental agreement that you have the guest sign, showing they legally acknowledge the information.

You can also send the guest a reminder email on the day of check-in that includes your house rules and checkout time, if you feel it’s necessary.

Being up front about your security processes should deter problematic guests from causing issues while showing good guests that you take safety seriously. You want to be on the same page as your guest so that neither of you receive any surprises during the stay.

Focus on legitimacy

With so many short-term rental scams out there, people are hesitant to provide their personal  information via email or over the phone—and understandably so. No one wants to be caught in a phishing scam.

To show that your security process is legitimate, build trust with the guest through transparency. Either on your listing or in a message you send to the guest, explain what information you collect in your screening process and what you do with this information. Reassure the guest that you are compliant with all privacy and data protection laws.

The guest is also more likely to trust your screening process if it looks professional. Make sure each screening page is clear and explains why you’re collecting the information. And for some added legitimacy, brand each page with your logo.

Use security to improve the guest experience

It may come as a shock, but you can use your security process to enhance the guest experience. By using the information you obtain through screening the guest, you can anticipate some of their wants and needs.

For instance, if the guest is travelling for business, suggest places to eat or visit nearby. If they’re celebrating an anniversary or a birthday, surprise them with a bottle of champagne and a congratulatory card. They’re small gestures, but the guests will appreciate it.

Put the guest first

Your top priority should be building healthy relationships with your guests. The best way to do this is through trust and safety. Show the guest that your security processes are in place to keep them safe and a great guest experience will follow.