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How to deliver exceptional long-stay experiences with a PMS

Long-stay bookings deliver higher occupancies, lower overheads, and more reliable revenue than short-stay bookings, but only if you deliver an exceptional guest experience throughout their stay. 

However, the expectations of long-stay ‘residents’ differ from those of short-stay guests. Adapting your service to align with long-stay preferences is vital. After leveraging your property management software to guide the long-stay booking journey, use your PMS to expertly manage the long-stay service journey post check-in to generate more revenue while encouraging renewals. 

Here are five ways to provide an unbeatable long-stay experience with a PMS. 

Seamless communication

Communication makes or breaks a long-stay experience. With today’s digital check-in and access control, short-stay guests have little need to communicate with your management team unless there’s a problem (i.e. no hot water). Long-stay guests, however, have more nuanced communication needs and like to stay informed about things that are happening in the building, such as upcoming events or maintenance updates. When long-stay guests reach out to staff (i.e. about a faulty washing machine or with questions about parcel delivery), they expect to reach property managers easily and receive quick responses with a personalised touch. Auto-response emails and impersonal communication won’t make long-stay guests feel valued or encourage repeat business (56% of customers are more likely to be repeat customers after a personalised experience). 

With your Guest Portal, seamless communication works both ways. Residents can message the service team, raise requests, and engage with other guests (with auto-translation features simplifying the process for international guests), while personalised live chat support provides updates on the latest events and sends notifications about building services. In-built CRM software saves resident preferences (i.e. Mrs Smith booked 3 gym classes in a week and asked 5 questions about joining local sports teams), so you can deliver bespoke recommendations and tailored offers to long-stay guests. What’s more, you can communicate effectively with a small off-site team using your PMS, providing excellent resident communication as your business expands.


Responsive housekeeping & maintenance

Staying in the same unit for up to a year, long-stay residents prefer a more ‘homelike’ experience to short-stay guests. As such, they are more particular with their housekeeping preferences. Some residents expect a full clean every week, others every month. Some require daily towel changes while others wash their linen themselves. When it comes to maintenance, responsiveness is key for long and short-stay. But while a short-stay guest can simply move to another unit if there’s an issue (i.e. broken toilet flush), a long-stay resident would rather stay put in their ‘home’. Ideally, the problem needs to be fixed the same day it’s reported. 

A long-stay PMS is designed to handle these demands. Assign personalised housekeeping schedules to suit guest preferences (i.e. clean every Tuesday), note specific instructions (i.e. don’t touch their laundry), and streamline rotas so all ‘Tuesday cleans’ happen on the same floor. Cleaning can be tracked and updated remotely, with priority tasks and live chat keeping you in touch directly with housekeepers. Respond to resident maintenance requests in real-time, while assigning tasks to the nearest handyman, alongside sharing photos, specific instructions, and temporary digital access. Residents can even track progress and receive notifications once the issue is resolved (i.e. can go back to the apartment when the toilet flush is fixed). 

Curated events

A short-stay guest is unlikely to pick a property based on the community amenities on offer. But for a resident staying for seven months, connecting with others is exactly the reason why they booked your property. Be it the chance to hang out with like-minded people, make friends in a new city, or simply interact with others, community-focused events and amenities attract and retain long-term residents. In fact, residents are 8% more likely to renew their lease if they have made at least one friend and 47% more likely if they have 7+ friends.

Use a long-stay PMS to facilitate those social interactions between residents. Create a digital noticeboard of events, host social activities, and set up recreational clubs. Empower long-stay guests to personalise their residential experience by booking their gym sessions, signing up for film nights, and arranging weekend community activities, using a message board feature to share their plans with other residents. In addition, data analytics can be used to track the engagement of each social activity and amenity to curate interactive experiences around popular activities that encourage residents to stay in your properties for longer. 

Frictionless billing

Short-stay bookings tend to pay for their stay online via an OTA, on arrival or at the end of their stay. A year-long guest is unlikely to do the same, opting instead to pay monthly or in regular instalments, such as every quarter if it’s a corporate stay or every fortnight in correspondence with salary payments. What’s more, not every long-stay guest knows the exact end date of their stay (i.e. such as those working on a rolling contract). Scheduling reminder emails allows guests to renew their stay.

A PMS not only automatically takes deposits during the long-stay booking journey, it also sets up direct debit or card payments to suit billing preferences. Thanks to financial integrations, auto-generated invoices are updated with any in-stay extras and emailed on a monthly basis (i.e. to a corporate guest’s finance department), logging all accounts for tax and compliance purposes. Crucially, a long-stay PMS sets up automated activities for your reservations team to renew contracts, enabling guests to easily extend in the same unit with features like the ‘availability block’ holding a unit for a month after their booking. You can also send personalised communications in the run-up to guests’ check-out, offering extension discounts or ‘money-off’ for next bookings. 

Digital inventories

Inventories aren’t required for short-stays but for long-stay bookings, maintaining the state of your units is vitally important. Like taking out a traditional year-long tenancy, inventories are crucial documents before and after long stays. Although inventories come with a ‘worrying’ reputation (due to unscrupulous private landlords), they do have an oversized impact. Even the smallest discrepancy can leave a sour taste after an excellent six-month stay.

Banishing these concerns, a digital inventory keeps you and your residents on the same page from the very start, while instilling a sense of responsibility. This is included as part of the initial booking journey but you can perform a midpoint check-up to see whether anything needs changing or upgrading (like homeowners, long-stay residents are less likely to complain about minor maintenance issues like a leaky tap, which mid-way checks pick up on). At the end of a resident’s stay, a mutually-signed inventory manages expectations, giving residents time to resolve clear issues (i.e. clean curtains) or prepare for a deposit reduction, so guests don’t leave your property with any animosity. 

Not all PMS are long-stay ready

A PMS attracts guests via the long-stay booking process and provides exceptional service during their stay, but only if the PMS has long-stay functionality. 

“Many property management systems focus on short-stays and don’t have the operational capacity to handle the expectations that come with longer stays, such as offering simple renewals, housekeeping flexibility, and multiple billing options. We’ve specifically designed res:harmonics PMS to manage short, medium, and long-stay services, so you can provide an unbeatable resident experience throughout the customer journey.” Giles Horwitch-Smith, CEO, res:harmonics

From one-night stays to one-year tenancies, res:harmonics’ all-in-one software enables you to pursue a blended stray strategy and maximise the benefits of short, medium, and long stays. 

Download the Ultimate Guide to Long-Stay Bookings to learn how property management software supports long-stays.

Request a demo to speak to someone at res:harmonics about how our software can automate and scale up your innovative living business.

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