Case Stories

Service Delivery Beyond the Organization

Delivering a hospitality experience for different needs

Challenge

Persuade vacation rental owners to adopt a hospitality mindset and support them in delivering exceptional guest experiences

Result

Helped Evolve collaborate across the organization to develop flexible but efficient services to support homeowners with a variety of mindsets and needs

Helping vacation rental owners deliver great hospitality

For most of its history, Evolve Vacation Rental has focused its service model on helping homeowners who offer their properties for short-term vacation rental market get the most from their investments. They help homeowners merchandise and price their properties to maximize rental rates and occupancy. Evolve has also offered services to homeowners to make renting their properties more convenient, offering a robust network of partners who can assist with the tasks such as cleaning, greeting guests, and doing repairs and maintenance.

Evolve’s profitability depends on making homeowners successful. Evolve makes money exclusively from percentages of rental fees. If homeowners make money, Evolve makes money.

Evolve has recognized that its next step toward enabling homeowner success is the guest experience. Great guest experiences unlock the full value of a property, driving both demand and higher rates by generating glowing reviews, repeat business, and enthusiastic referrals.

Evolve envisions itself becoming a hospitality company, but to accomplish this it must persuade its homeowners to align with this vision.
Sector(s)
Vacation rental management
Online marketplace
Key Activities
Ideation Workshop
Design Research
Service Blueprinting
Evolution Mapping
Experience Mapping

Instilling and supporting a hospitality mindset

To take this next step into hospitality, Evolve faces three challenges.

The first challenge is helping homeowners understand the connection between guest experience and their own success, and to adopt what Evolve calls a “hospitality mindset.” Not all homeowners see themselves as hospitality providers and find guest-centric thinking natural. Some are satisfied with how they approach rentals and have little motivation to change.

The second challenge is supporting the delivery of an excellent guest experience. Not all homeowners have the time, resources, and inclination for delivering hospitality. Further, many homeowners do not even live in the same town or state as their rental properties and are not physically available to be hands-on. Evolve and local partners are the ones who ensure guests have what they need.

The third challenge is that Evolve’s internal operations have scaled up rapidly, and the organization feels the consequences. Communication has become less reliable, and this has damaged the homeowner experience.
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Education, communication, and coordination

Harmonic approached this problem by applying its service design approach to the homeowner experience and focusing attention on three areas:

  1. Education: helping homeowners learn the importance of hospitality in reaching their goals.
  2. Communication: helping homeowners form a partnership relationship with Evolve to get feedback on their hospitality efforts and see its impact on their rentals and the profitability of their properties.
  3. Coordination: helping homeowners, Evolve, and local service partners collaborate effectively as a team to deliver excellent guest experiences.

The first step was working with Evolve to form hypotheses on what homeowners might need to transition from property owner to hospitality provider. The work informed a research approach and a set of prototypes to test with homeowners.

Harmonic conducted research sessions with eleven homeowners selected from various regions across the United States. They were interviewed and asked to respond to the early concept prototypes. They were invited to tell the team stories about their most recent rental experience, which was captured on virtual sticky notes. The visual story was used to explore places where homeowners would have liked more information or more support from Evolve. These helped the team identify specific opportunities in the homeowner's journey where education, communication, or coordination could be improved.

Evolve was able to gain a more nuanced understanding of their homeowners and their divergent needs and goals, so they could more effectively address them and align them to Evolve’s goal of becoming a top hospitality brand

Different kinds of homeowners have different needs

In analyzing the research, the team discovered dramatic differences in homeowners preferences, which connected to two factors:

  1. Why homeowners choose to own and rent their property to vacation renters: Some homeowners are interested in making it more affordable to own and enjoy their own vacation home, whereas others are interested in the property as an investment.
  2. Whether homeowners are interested in and able to take a hands-on approach with their guests: Some homeowners love to interact with their guests and can do so because they live nearby, while others are either not interested or live too far away.

These two axes of difference produced four distinctly different segments of homeowners with respect to delivery of hospitality. Where some homeowners just needed information, training, and insights to support their existing efforts to provide visitors with exceptional experiences, others needed far more. They had to be persuaded that hospitality is important, provided third-party services to deliver hospitality to their guests, and to see ongoing evidence that investing in hospitality yields commensurate returns.

Customer Segments

Supporting divergent hospitality delivery needs

The insights from the research were used to pinpoint the greatest opportunities for motivating and supporting homeowners to evolve from property owners to hospitality providers.

The result included multiple integrated components. A new role, hospitality coach, would be established at Evolve. Evolve would develop tools to enable the hospitality coach to communicate and coordinate the delivery of superior hospitality experiences, and to track key metrics related to guest experience and property performance to help homeowners meet their goals.

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