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Sleep-through

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Disclaimer: I am directly swiping this from @StaySavvy of https://www.savvytravels.co/ who (as far as I know) invented the phrase and explained it on our Accelerator call last night.

A walk-through is a protocol typically performed before (and sometimes after) a guest checks-in in which a knowledgable team member ensures that all other standard operating procedures (housekeeping, maintenance, and staging) have been completed and the home is ready to create memories for guests.

A sleep-through is like a walk-through on steroids.

It involves a team member (or several) actually staying a night in the home and behaving like a guest on vacation. Cooking dinner, using all the offerings, and observing some of the factors that may slip through the cracks of a normal walk-through.

A sleep-through also has the benefits of "Forced Vacation" -- ie. employees in a demanding industry being required to enjoy a taste of their own medicine and practice self-care. You may still be working a little bit, but your job during a sleep-through is to be a vacationer. And that's an order!

Questions for the wisdom of the crowd:
  • What are some things you've learned from a sleepthrough at your property(s) that you couldn't from a mere walk-through?
  • What are the costs of performing a sleepthrough?
  • How can you compile your findings and communicate your learnings to justify doing more sleepthroughs?
 

Terry

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
One of the biggest mistakes we made was buying a property that we did not rent out and that is where we stayed every time we were on the island. We did walk throughs on turn over cleans and our quality slipped.

There is nothing like blocking a week off and staying and the property. You cannot compare the difference between a walk through and staying on site. It was a lesson learned the hard way and we sold the property we did not rent out.
 

lisafrank

Attaché
Inner Circle
Love this phrase - I too, have never heard it, but 100% believe in its value. I strongly believe that a whole lot of headaches can be avoided if you put yourself in the guest's shoes. The biggest things I've gained from performing a 'sleep through' is empathy and clear expectations.

A walk-through is equivalent to window shopping if you don't fully immerse yourself in the experience as a guest, it's like buying an outfit without trying it on first. You don't know what you don't know - that alone speaks to the need to learn everything there is to know in an effort to ensure the best experience is being provided for guests.

The costs are grand as without sleep-throughs you're missing out on an opportunity to set clear expectations, increase guest retention and improve the many factors that slip through the cracks jeopardizing the success of the vacation rental.
 

Miel

Attaché
Inner Circle
Disclaimer: I am directly swiping this from @StaySavvy of https://www.savvytravels.co/ who (as far as I know) invented the phrase and explained it on our Accelerator call last night.

A walk-through is a protocol typically performed before (and sometimes after) a guest checks-in in which a knowledgable team member ensures that all other standard operating procedures (housekeeping, maintenance, and staging) have been completed and the home is ready to create memories for guests.

A sleep-through is like a walk-through on steroids.

It involves a team member (or several) actually staying a night in the home and behaving like a guest on vacation. Cooking dinner, using all the offerings, and observing some of the factors that may slip through the cracks of a normal walk-through.

A sleep-through also has the benefits of "Forced Vacation" -- ie. employees in a demanding industry being required to enjoy a taste of their own medicine and practice self-care. You may still be working a little bit, but your job during a sleep-through is to be a vacationer. And that's an order!

Questions for the wisdom of the crowd:
  • What are some things you've learned from a sleepthrough at your property(s) that you couldn't from a mere walk-through?
  • What are the costs of performing a sleepthrough?
  • How can you compile your findings and communicate your learnings to justify doing more sleepthroughs?
This is how I founded my business. It makes me realize that I need to do more of it. For my early clients, when I wasn't living in the same community, I stayed in places and got used to them as I helped prep them for guests. In one case, the homeowners were out of the country, and I knew their home better than they did at a point. It helps to know exactly what the layout of the house is, where to find things, what is annoying, what people would complain about. I've never done this with other friends, but I know they would come up with stuff as well. I've had friends and family give feedback on places as they were getting ready, which helps to iron out the kinks as well. It is worth it to pay for a friend to stay and give all the feedback.
 

Debi

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
This is something we've done for over 10 years. It's probably harder for larger management companies to experience every property if they have a large company, but if you get staff involved, it's a great way to amortize the 'work'. :) We are currently staying in a large vacation rental, and it reinforces this 'sleep through' concept (love the newly coined term!) every time we find that something is malfunctioning or difficult to find. Although this is a lovely large property, there is no pantry area for storing food, difficult to find kitchen items (thinking of @Heather's love of labels) and an irritating can opener that doesn't work! Bedroom closets are locked owners' spaces so actually hanging up clothing is not an option, either. Little things like this tend to niggle and annoy the guest, something we really don't want our guests to experience!
 

Robin

Counselor
Inner Circle
Love the term sleep through...we called it sleepover.....but to owners this was presented as QC Stay (Quality Control.

Staff were required to complete a detailed report covering all aspects of their stay to share with the team and homeowners. Staff loved it - it was fun, a reward, and helped them understand aspects of the home they hadn't seen before, which for a reservationist helped them sell more enthusiastically afterward.

If you can make it happen, it's totally worth it.
 

Stephen

Counselor
Inner Circle
I like the "stay through" concept and have done the same at West Park Gardens. It occurs to me, though, that the owner or staff doing the sleep through wouldn't be as effective as having an "independent" party who doesn't know the layout and operations. Better simulation of a 1st time guest. Might be a great way to connect with 3rd parties (bloggers, etc) and repay their review time for the sleep through with a free stay. Also thinking that a review form or special sleep through package (local specials, gifts or coupons) would be an awesome way to build brand ID and word of mouth referrals without being too "bribey".
 

Sherry

Ambassador
Inner Circle
During Covid we slept in every room and used every bathroom. Highly recommended experience. As a result there is a bathroom that I am gutting. The water pressure isn’t as high in a bathroom as we expected.

It can be challenging to use others, unless you are sure that they understand the standard you are aiming for. Friends can help but sometimes they don’t want to hurt your feelings so you want to choose people who understand what you are trying to do and are willing to be honest.

Even so, if you can, it is a good idea to get an independent person to give feedback
 

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
I learned how hot the expensive anti-bedbug mattress covers make our beds (I welcome any suggestions on this. Even with flocking, the plastic in the mattress covers doesn’t allow them to breathe, making them uncomfortable on the skin. Any ideas?)

Every year we would take a couple of weeks in our properties, creating a growing list of tweaks and minor repairs that get missed on a walk through. Things you can only find by ‘living’ there; like dull knives, a small leak in the shower door, that sort of thing…

Improvements I made as a result of trips like this; knife sharpeners, built-in USB ports in counter plugins, built in auto glow LED night lights in lower hallway plugins (I love these. They say we’re glad you’re here like nothing else!) clothing steamers in addition to irons and boards, better wifi routers… the list is endless!
 

Steven

Attaché
Inner Circle
That is a great term to use. Ever since we signed our 3rd property this has been a standard practice of ours and it is a great way to find all the things that will go unnoticed by a guest but if they had not been discovered and corrected during one of our "sleep-throughs" would potentially anger the guest. For example, the way light shines through a window in the morning or how the branches of a tree brush up against the house in the night and sound like someone trying to break in.
 

StacyW

Counselor
Inner Circle
Accelerator
I have been saying this for years! But to see someone bring it to fruition is awesome! You really need to stay at the house to see what it is missing and what is working and not working. You can't get that from a walk through. We will bring this to our team this fall and follow in your footsteps!
 

Christina

Counselor
Inner Circle
Disclaimer: I am directly swiping this from @StaySavvy of https://www.savvytravels.co/ who (as far as I know) invented the phrase and explained it on our Accelerator call last night.

A walk-through is a protocol typically performed before (and sometimes after) a guest checks-in in which a knowledgable team member ensures that all other standard operating procedures (housekeeping, maintenance, and staging) have been completed and the home is ready to create memories for guests.

A sleep-through is like a walk-through on steroids.

It involves a team member (or several) actually staying a night in the home and behaving like a guest on vacation. Cooking dinner, using all the offerings, and observing some of the factors that may slip through the cracks of a normal walk-through.

A sleep-through also has the benefits of "Forced Vacation" -- ie. employees in a demanding industry being required to enjoy a taste of their own medicine and practice self-care. You may still be working a little bit, but your job during a sleep-through is to be a vacationer. And that's an order!

Questions for the wisdom of the crowd:
  • What are some things you've learned from a sleepthrough at your property(s) that you couldn't from a mere walk-through?
  • What are the costs of performing a sleepthrough?
  • How can you compile your findings and communicate your learnings to justify doing more sleepthroughs?
I love this - we do this regularly (or did pre-pandemic and now are too busy) and encourage our team too as well!!
 

Christina

Counselor
Inner Circle
Love the term sleep through...we called it sleepover.....but to owners this was presented as QC Stay (Quality Control.

Staff were required to complete a detailed report covering all aspects of their stay to share with the team and homeowners. Staff loved it - it was fun, a reward, and helped them understand aspects of the home they hadn't seen before, which for a reservationist helped them sell more enthusiastically afterward.

If you can make it happen, it's totally worth it.
I love that you present it to owners this way, may we borrow and use?? @Katie Bien and @ChristianThoreson check it out!
 

JStokinger

Counselor
Inner Circle
As someone that works in this space as a vendor and not a PM, I associate this type of sleep-through action with a "read out loud" before you post (which I don't always do a great job of) or maybe alpha/beta testing of software before releasing it to clients.

Putting yourself in the shoes of your guest/reader/viewer/user is always a good idea.
 

StaySavvy

Counselor
Inner Circle
Accelerator
Really great to see how many people are already doing this kind of thing! For us, this started as a gesture of empathy (as @lisafrank mentioned) and we found it so effective that we decided to make it a real part of our onboarding process. Generally, we get a chance to discover the smaller nuances of the experience that are captured over the course of 2-3 nights...

For example, the way light shines through a window in the morning or how the branches of a tree brush up against the house in the night and sound like someone trying to break in.

And of course, it's an ongoing task for us that reiterates our hands-on approach to caring for these homes.

every time we find that something is malfunctioning or difficult to find.

Our management agreements include a clause with up to (8) sleep-through nights per year for quality assurance purposes. They get it, and for the most part, they trust us not to take advantage of this in any way. I don't know that we've ever used all 8 nights a year at any property, but it's there if we need it. And if our team can't make it happen, we make the same offer to friends and family as @Miel said.

We typically just draft an email that contains all the information with what we found, what we did to fix it, a roadmap for future improvements, and suggestions for other small purchases. We even go so far as to source a list of items with estimated costs so they can just go through and immediately approve, or purchase themselves if they have a preference for certain product types, design, or brands. I do like the idea of taking this to the next level with an actual report, though!

Staff were required to complete a detailed report covering all aspects of their stay to share with the team and homeowners.

@Robin is there a template you'd be willing to share?

Regarding the expense sides of this, hard costs are mostly contained between travel and cleaning so it becomes a kind of joint contribution with the homeowners paying the cleaning cost and the manager paying for travel, food, transportation, etc. Almost all new properties require a deep clean when starting up anyways, though, so we tend to schedule those on our departure so it doesn't come off as an added expense.

built in auto glow LED night lights in lower hallway plugins
@ToonTownRob - what are these? can you share a link to what you have? sounds like something that'd be useful for us too!
 

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
@ToonTownRob - what are these? can you share a link to what you have? sounds like something that'd be useful for us too!

They're sold by a lot of companies and stores under different brand names.

What I like about them is that they stay completely hidden, until they come on, and then like magic, there they are! They stay out of the way, don't present anything to become lost, pulled out, or hit with a suitcase or knock your knee on – and the plugins remain free. And they have a great element of surprise/delight for something so simple. For the guest it evokes a reaction of "Oh look at that! Neat! They're thinking of our needs!"

I know because I installed them one year, and then completely forgot about them until a year later. I got to be surprised and delighted by them as someone using/staying in the property. (A sleep-through!)

We put them in the hallways that lead from the front door. So they're there where you need them, but only until you need them!

83ebc7c1e72969ce51abee2d2ec598f4.jpg
 

Susanne

Counselor
Inner Circle
How timely, I just had a three-day sleep-through at the Urban Shores Property for the first time. I noticed a few small details like the "blackout" drapery we ordered from a seamstress was not as blackout as I would have liked. A few small things were noticed/resolved. For instance, I never did get around to setting a StayFi password. Overall, I am really proud of what we are providing. The best part was the opportunity to capture some photos from the guest's view. I was head-down hard at work on the online cleaning manual and looked up to see this sunset (!). I also strolled around and found a funky new restaurant. "Checking in" is a valuable quality control exercise, and I highly recommend it.
 

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MarkD

Counselor
Inner Circle
Mile High Hosts
One of our most enlightening moments was taking our family through a sleep through at one of our vacation homes. It's about all the small things you never think about or create processes for. The next day we bought all new pots, pans, and small ware. Definitely need to do this more often.
 

Heather

Heather Bayer
Inner Circle
We have a 'We've Stayed Here' badge on our listings that identifies the properties our staff have stayed in. They write a blog post describing their personal experience that goes onto our website, including video and photos and then become an ambassador for that property being available to guests to ask specific questions. Additionally, they will write a report for the owner that recommends upgrades and any remedial work that needs doing. Taking part in the the WSH program is optional for owners but most welcome the opportunity. It's a win-win as it's a real bonus for our team to get away with their families for a short stay and the owners who experience an uptick in interest because of the blog posts and videos.
 
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