Appeal to Your Guests’ Senses with a Great First Impression

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I just got back from a week at a vacation rental in Costa Rica which was a wonderful experience on many levels,  and  I learned a lot about how to ‘get rentals right’, from the owners of the property.  From the comprehensive directions to the villa, making a 3 hour drive from the airport a real pleasure, to the information packed Welcome Book, nothing was left to chance, and much of the enjoyment of the vacation came from the attention to detail so clearly evident in every aspect of their business.

Over the past twenty odd years I’ve stayed in a lot of rentals from a manor house and roses-round-the-door English country cottage to Mediterranean villas, a Maui condo, Sedona red rock view homes, ski chalets and many others.  Without exception, the first impression of the property lasts long after the initial “wow” or “not so wow” reaction and it doesn’t take much to deliver the former effectively.  Of course, arriving at an ocean view location on a blue-sky day can help a lot, but owners can stage manage their guests arrival experience effectively so even if the weather doesn’t co-operate, that first impression meets expectations in every sense.  Here’s some suggestions:

Create a visual impact with flower tubs, exterior cleanliness and an uncluttered interior.  Use color in soft furnishings and artwork to brighten up darker areas.  Provide vases of fresh flowers and bowls of fruit to add interest to kitchen and dining areas.

Make a sound impression by setting a music channel on the stereo to one that is appropriate for your location.  Caribbean, classical or country…whatever works to give your guests an audible welcome to their vacation.

Tantalize their taste buds by leaving an edible gift.  When we went to Maui there was a fresh pineapple waiting for us;  we were welcomed to an English cottage with a bowl of strawberries, a jug of clotted cream and a plateful of home-baked scones and I always leave my own guests fresh picked tomatoes, herbs and locally grown vegetables.

Put some scent in the air with natural products such as vanilla and cloves, avoiding all chemically based products.   A fresh aroma beats anything manufactured in a laboratory.

If your guests primary senses are impacted positively on their arrival at your property, the good feeling will stick with them for a long time, and will be one of the most memorable aspects of their trip.  It has been four weeks since I came back from vacation and the memory of arriving remains the strongest, and the most powerful pull to take me back there again.


Heather Bayer is Director of Owner Community at She has been renting her vacation homes for over 20 years and is author of the book ‘Renting Your Recreational Property for Profit’.


Posted in Bayer's Blog, Tips for property owners

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