Industry Update
Opinion Article 2 January 2018

Your Boss can Track Your Every Move – a New Vacation Rental Industry Norm?

By Richard B. Evans, President of Revenue Report Card LLC & Author of “the Definitive Study of Vacation Rentals”

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Evans

It's interesting that I was once dramatically opposed to "tracking" staff because I felt it was an invasion of a person's (staff's) privacy. Admittedly, I've come full circle on this in the Vacation Rental business and after years of struggling with it I've converted. Let me tell you why.

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LOCATION TRACKING

Unlike many industries the Vacation Rental business often covers large geographical areas that are serviced by "roving staff". In order to manage guest needs efficiently and effectively Vacation Rental Companies have to be able know where staff is, in order to quickly respond to a guest who is checking in, "needs a towel" or has a maintenance emergency.

Smart phone technology allows us to do this and to see where roving staff is and when. Without it, administrative logistic management would be inefficient and complex.

When a substantial number of guests are checking in on let's say a Friday night (between flight and perhaps car rental delays) "roving check-in agents" are stretched to meet and greet assigned guests arriving and simply can't be in two places at one time. Here, a quick view of a tracking map program, showing where "check-in roving agents" are, enables the administrator to quickly and efficiently reassign responsibility.

If John in Maintenance is a mile away from a guest who is having toilet problems, assigning Jane in Maintenance who is 15 miles away is inefficient and costly. Here again, a quick tracking map program shot of where staff is located enables the administrator to identify and assign these situations.

Maintenance and service requests are daily and numerous.

Admittedly, in finally accepting "tracking" technology as relevant and necessary I have, on occasion found that "roving staff" who says they are (let's say) at "Home Depot" is instead elsewhere (i.e. home, etc.) and on the clock. That's always an eye opener but the reality of life in the trenches.

The key here is that staff can turn this technology off when they are not on the clock.

VOICE TRACKING

I remain opposed to indiscriminately monitoring staff conversations at will and frankly here in the USA I believe it's illegal.

With that said, being able to monitor and critique reservationist recorded calls has been used in the hotel industry for many years. The technology has become more refined over time and "key word" alerts enable trainers to hone in on calls that could be "turned around" with the right training.

"I have to check with my husband", "I'll get back to you", "Is that the lowest rate you have?" are key words or phrases that can now be identified by software and that can be flagged for review. You can choose keywords and phrases to be flagged.

Some reservationists convert 3 out of every 10 calls to reservations while others convert 6 out of every 10 calls. There is a rhyme and reason for these conversion differentials and often critique and training can turn average operators into superstars. It is more effectively and efficiently done by monitoring recordings.

Good third party Call Centers, who take calls during off hours, use this technology and make it available to clients.

The key here is that reservation staff knows that they are being recorded.

TRACKING PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA AT THE OFFICE

We are in an era where personal social media is everywhere.

Needless to say, office staff is always able to access their social media sites on their smart phones. But these sites should not accessed on company computers. Not only does it take away from productivity but it at times can render a company's computer system to be vulnerable to viruses and malware that can disable or compromise a business.

"Tracking" software monitors staff computer use. Some take screen shots in time intervals, while others alert administrators when mainstream social sites (and even adult sites) are connected.

There will always be naysayers to "tracking" staff; any which way. It took me some time to come full circle, but having reached a new reality and understanding in my industry I can't see running a moderate sized Vacation Rental Company (over 20 homes) without it.

To reiterate, I am adamantly opposed to indiscriminately "tracking" employees without their knowledge. This is far from what I am advocating here.

I've devoted a chapter in "The Definitive Study of Vacation Rentals" (available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lb041k ) to APPS and Programs and provide a list of companies that provide tracking and other mechanisms that help companies streamline their operations.

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Richard B. Evans

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    Richard B Evans
    President of Revenue Report Card LLC
    Phone: (954) 290 - 3567
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