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Fast, not furious - the importance of response times in short-term rentals

Fast, not furious - the importance of response times in short-term rentals


Excellent guest services and experiences, from the moment a guest starts searching for a rental to the moment they check out, are key to being a successful short-term rental (STR) property manager. One crucial factor in delivering a great guest experience is a quick response time to guest messages, and ensuring that your team and brand are easy to reach and always available.


This article explores how response times and guest support availability looks right now, and presents some key findings and actionable insights needed to increase responsiveness in the right way in order to drive great guest experiences across the channels that matter the most.


Living up to guests’ expectations 


Deploying a cohesive guest messaging strategy aimed at driving responsiveness and short MTTR (Median Time to Resolution) is a critical component of delivering great guest experiences and increasing loyalty, and direct bookings. Over the last month we’ve been analyzing our internal datasets and engaging with STR brands online to get a better understanding of what these response times look like today and how they’re impacting STR businesses.

Boosting booking rates

In the competitive world of STRs, companies need to be responsive to inquiries and booking requests, else they may miss out on the business. Guests are more likely to book a rental when they receive a prompt response, especially if they're in a hurry or have limited time to make a decision. Whether it's answering questions about the property, addressing concerns, or making recommendations, a quick response can help guests feel more at ease and comfortable with their booking decision.

The research 

Please note: All findings are based on conversations and interactions that happen within Yada with the exception of Instagram where we used a combination of Yada data as well as testing response time on Instagram directly with 100 STR management companies that have an active presence there. For all other platforms we analyzed only Yada customer data.


For internal Yada data, 1,000 conversations were randomly selected and analyzed for Instagram, WhatsApp, SMS/iMessage, and Onsite chat. Response time is defined as the time between a guest inquiry and a host response, focusing on time to respond to initial inquiries, as opposed to conversational response time for follow up questions within the same topic.  Response rate is defined as the percent of messages that were answered. 



  • Messaging through SMS, iMessage, or WhatsApp had the best response time, and best response rate. 
  • Onsite chat came in second with response rate slightly behind SMS, but a considerably lower response rate than platforms such as SMS, iMessage or WhatsApp. 
  • Instagram lagged all other methods considerably in both response time and response rate. 

WhatsApp, SMS, & iMessage

Average Response Time: 8 minutes

Response rate: 93%


Many hosts, especially those with smaller portfolios (2-10 units) frequently exchange WhatsApp or phone numbers with their guests and use this as their primary communication channel after a reservation has been made. 


While response times (8 minutes) are on average acceptable, they vary significantly based on time of day and other factors that may impact availability. Localized for timezone, there are significant decreases in responsiveness during hours typically associated with meals, daily activities, and sleep. This is especially true among smaller property managers and those operating without a dedicated property management company. 


In terms of response rates, we had expected rates on texting platforms to be closer to 99%. We are attributing a lower than expected response rate (93%) to the fact that more and more property managers are relying on direct bookings and are providing links and widgets to initialize WhatsApp conversations directly on their websites. These widgets can cause property managers to receive more accidental, spam, or ingenuine messages which they may not be replying to.  

Onsite Chat

Average Response Time: 17 minutes

Response Rate: 46%


According to Hubspot, customers expect an initial live chat response of 48 seconds - primarily because by the time they have initiated a chat they are entirely ready to make a transaction and want to clarify critical details before booking. Not responding within a minute can often be the difference between making a booking and losing a potential customer.

With an average response time of 17 minutes, property managers need to catch up to the buyer expectations set by other industries. 


Average Response Time: 193 minutes

Response rate: 21%


Instagram is quickly becoming a critical platform for STRs. This is primarily driven by millennial and Gen-Z travelers who use the platform to plan much of their travel experience and are more likely to book with brands that have a presence there.


Average response time is poor at 193 minutes.This is concerning given that 80% of instagram user surveyed said they use Instagram to decide whether or not to buy a product or service (meta).


Speeding up response times is critical

Great guest experiences and the correspondingly high guest satisfaction is tied to instantaneous responses in a very meaningful, direct way. Long wait times are, by a wide margin, one of the biggest factors that contribute to frustration, negative sentiments, and a significantly reduced probability of securing a booking or repeat business. Given that guests expect responses within a minute for live chat and text, and less than five minutes for other channels such as Instagram, response times we are currently seeing need to be reduced, as they are  far too long compared to customer support response times in other industries.

Looking Forward

With the right tools, the right processes, and the right workflows in place, it is not difficult to create and implement an effective strategy that will keep response times low across multiple channels. Automation, Chat AI, omni-channel inboxes, and good staff training can all help STR businesses accomplish this and bring messaging and support to maturity.