Oftentimes we take things that are freely available for granted: like liberty and clean, running water, and…Gmail?
I’ve been using Gmail now for about 10 years and it’s funny how, at times, I totally forget that my rental business would be nothing without it. Gmail, with its dynamic interface and wealth of specialty features, beats any other email system I tested (Outlook, Yahoo!...etc.) and not to mention, it's free! But as a testament to my new book The Eureka Effect: How Good Vacation Rentals Become Great, I wanted to share 4 features of Gmail that my vacation rental marketing simply couldn’t do without:
- Canned Messages: If you are going nuts sending the same “Sorry but we’re booked,” or “If you’d like to make a reservation, please…” messages to guests, the Canned Responses feature from Gmail Labs will save you tons of time and energy. Basically, you pre-determine any given canned message. Then you add it to your list. And when you’re ready to insert it into an email, simply select the message from the dropdown bar and POOF your email is ready. The best thing about this is that you can personalize or adjust each email so there’s no rigid rules to your correspondence. Learn how to set up canned messages here.
- Undo Send: If you’re like me, there are moments every now and then that you write an email to a guest, hit Send, and then realize you’ve sent the wrong information. Doh! Well, I do it all the time but I don’t worry now because I use Gmail’s “Undo Send” feature. This feature (also part of Google Labs) simply holds your sent emails in virtual freezemode for 1 minute after you hit send. During that time, you can choose to “UNDO” the send and the receiver will have never read your mistakes. Learn how to set it up here.
- Rapportive: I’ve spoken about Rapportive before, but if you didn’t read it, Rapportive allows you to get a quick glance at your potential guests through their email address keychain. I just find it’s really nice to be able to see what a prospective guest looks like, what he or she does for a living, and where they live before I send my tailored reply. This not only gives you a better idea of who you’re talking to, it provides insight into your guest demographic (awesome for marketing too). Read my Rapportive review here.
- Boomerang: Oh where I would be without my Boomerang. No that’s not an old Austrailian folk song, but rather my feelings on one of Gmail’s most useful tools to vacation rental owners. Boomerang allows you to tag emails that you want to get back to. For instance, if a guest doesn’t reply, you can Boomerang it for a follow-up. Or, if a guest is inquiring about dates too far into the future, Boomerang it for a follow-up several months down the road. If you haven’t read about Boomerang, read my review of it here.
As you may very well know, Gmail is not the only free email provider on the internet. But it is the best for vacation rental owners and managers: use these tools to increase your productivity, generate more bookings, and maintain some sanity at the same time.