I’ve just booked my winter vacation in the Bahamas and once again spent hours poring over listings, reading descriptions and exploring different location options. Holiday planning is almost as much fun as the vacation itself as the anticipation grows, and now the decision is made we will go back to the listing again and again to remind ourselves what’s there, what we’ll be doing, and how much fun we’ll have. After many years of doing this, we know what we’re looking for and what turns us off. Here’s my top five features that help make our decision easier.
1. Evocative photos
The photos on a vacation rental listing should jump out and capture the imagination pictorially describing the experience we can expect. We got captivated by images of people kayaking and paddleboarding. I remember getting so excited when we were looking for our Costa Rica villa to see a photo of the bookcase full of paperbacks. When you are taking photos to go on a listing, think about what will fire your guests’ imagination.
2. Comfortable beds and great looking linens
Bedroom photos are so important and can make or break a vacation rental listing – in my opinion anyway. Beds with only a couple of pillows and flat-looking outdated comforters are a complete turn-off. I often wonder why owners don’t spend more time and budget on creating luxurious bedrooms since these can make or break a vacation buying decision.
3. A great kitchen to cook in
When travelers go to a vacation rental, they are expecting to cook. After all that’s what self-catering means, so the look of a kitchen carries a lot of importance. Once again, photos are what captures or kills interest, so polished surfaces; clutter-free areas and breakfast bars staged with a vase of flowers, a couple of glasses and a jug of orange juice, can create that all-important desire in the eyes of potential guests.
4. Things to Do
In a resort hotel you’d expect there to be all sorts of activities on offer, either included or as optional extras, but with a vacation rental guests are mostly on their own in planning their day to day pastimes. I want to see a list of all the things I can do such as nearby hiking trails; bike rentals; local attractions etc on a vacation rental listing. The best is when an owner responds to an inquiry with additional information or a link to their blog where they are writing about their area.
5. Amenity descriptions
A family group has different needs and expectations – for our upcoming vacation, my son and his wife are looking for child-friendly facilities for their 18 month old; my husband likes to have access to satellite TV so he can watch sports if the weather is not great, and I love to read. We all love to sit outside and explore local areas. We look for listings that are fully descriptive and don’t just rely on a list of amenities. Love of a property shines through in a well-written thoughtful vacation rental listing and if it describes the amenities and how different types of people might enjoy them, that emotional investment could convince me this is the place I’ve been looking for.
Over the last few years, we’ve been to Maui, Costa Rica, UK, and the Bahamas and have been delighted with every one of our choices that have been based on our blueprint for reviewing a vacation rental listing. There are other factors that come into play, of course, but getting the vacation rental listing right is the start. I’d love to see your examples.