Some years ago, when planning an RV trip, I read a review which complained that the swimming pool was green and slimy and the guests were unable to use it, giving the place a 1 out of 10. This could not have made good reading for the site owner, particularly since the site did not have a swimming pool. So, I wasn’t too surprised to hear from a vacation rental owner that she had received some fairly negative comments about the lack of air conditioning in her property, and how disappointed the guests were not to have the facility available, in such a hot summer. The listing didn’t mention air conditioning at all.
This led me to think about expectations and perceptions that guests have, based on earlier feedback or reviews, that bears little relation to the reality of the property listing. Does it mean we should we list all the amenities we don’t have as well as those we do? If so, how far do we go with it?
Where’s the campfire?
Where a facility or amenity is common to most properties in an area, it’s probably a good idea to mention if your place doesn’t provide it. One example from my own region is outdoor fire pits. It’s a ritual for visitors in our neck of the wood to spend their evenings outside, roasting wieners or marshmallows around a flickering campfire and most guests see the campfire as an integral part of their vacation. However, given ongoing drought conditions and increasing burn bans, more owners are choosing to avoid the firepit, and don’t show one on their listing. This in turn creates a surprise when guests arrive armed with the makings of s’mores and wieners to find there is no facility for cooking them.
A home from home
I see many listings that proudly announce ‘luxury’ accommodation or an ‘executive’ style. This again conjures up expectations based on each person’s concept of the words used. Luxury to some could mean an indoor toilet and a roof, if they have previously enjoyed wilderness camping, while to others they could expect a model home with granite countertops and opulent bed linens. The use of such superlatives could make some guests extremely happy, but leave others feeling they have been duped.
Is there a solution?
We all want to meet our guests’ expectations but unless we know what they are, in the first place, it’s a challenge to manage them. The key is to enter a relationship with prospective guests; find out what their perceptions of a vacation rental are, and be honest about the nature of the property, its amenities and facilities. If it is rustic, tell them a little history of the place and why it’s a great place to be; if you don’t have some of the bells and whistles, say so, and explain what does make it special. Above all, be honest and upfront about the negatives as well as the positives, and never over embellish the facts. After all, it’s their vacation and your responsibility to help them make the right choice.