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...
And of course, it's an ongoing task for us that reiterates our hands-on approach to caring for these homes.
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!
@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.
@ToonTownRob - what are these? can you share a link to what you have? sounds like something that'd be useful for us too!
@Heather, love it.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.