I was doing a changeover on my own cottage recently and used some time to check out all the board games had all their pieces; replace some worn-out cards with a new pack and refresh the Rainy Day Box, and I got thinking about how far we need to go in entertaining renters on rainy days.
From my perspective, it’s no longer sufficient to just provide accommodation. Guests are looking for more bells and whistles and if we don’t deliver on expectations, they will simply go elsewhere. It’s our job as professional vacation rental owners to create the type of environment that gives them as much as, if not more, than they can get at home. Delivering a range of entertainment options to appeal to all family members is just one way of increasing guest satisfaction.
One of the joys of a vacation rental is the chance to enjoy a riotous family evening with a good old-fashioned board game. We’ve spent many happy hours arguing over Trivial Pursuit answers; shouting suggestions for charades or Pictionary, or getting deeply involved in the strategy of Risk. I love the traditional games we all remember as kids like Clue, Scrabble and Monopoly and it’s often an opportunity to teach them to the next generation.
My recollections of family cottage rentals in England in the 1980s include memories of first night checking of the dog-eared and very well used pack of cards. After that we were into endless games of newmarket, canasta, cribbage or whist. Nowadays, owners should ensure a supply of fresh packs every few months – they get a lot of use.
It was such a pleasure to get to our latest villa rental in the Bahamas and find a packed bookcase loaded with both local titles and current best-sellers. I chose a biography of an adventurer who had travelled to the out-islands in the 1930s and became an island doctor (with no medical training). It was a fascinating read and made me more aware of the history of the place I was in. When we were in Maui, there were some great guide-books to help us find our way around the island.
When the weather doesn’t co-operate, a craft box with paper, crayons, scissors, stickers, colouring books and felt tip pens could make the difference between a happy family day and a miserable time with fractious children. Include a digital camera, a photo printer and a ‘treasure hunt’ so parents can send the kids off to get photos of all the things on the list, print them off and make a collage. There’s no end to ideas to keep guests happy!
I think we do have responsibility beyond providing great accommodation, if we want this type of vacation to be seen as a viable alternative to ‘package holidays’ where all activities are included. How do you keep the renters happy when they are stuck inside the house?