At one time, most vacation rentals were second homes that were used by their owners and rented out when they were not being used. I remember staying in rental homes back in the nineties where the owners had cleared a shelf in their kitchen cupboard for food, and a couple of drawers for our clothes. It was clear we were in someone else’s well-used home. What was acceptable then is no longer OK though, and if you are still in that mindset that you are sharing your vacation home with guests, without any compromise, you may find your stay in the rental business is short-lived.
Many vacation homes are now dedicated to this purpose with many people buying them for investment. This has created new expectations in a growing client market as more travelers are choosing this type of accommodation for their vacations. Guests are less tolerant of the over-personalized house with a mass of family photographs on the walls, owner’s winter coats in the closet and their food in the freezer.
This by no means says a vacation home has to be a sterile place without any character or personal stamp because it’s the uniqueness of each one that makes them so different from a hotel room or resort suite. However, a balance between keeping the place a home and creating a welcoming space for guests so they don’t feel they are intruding into your personal life, is the compromise. Here’s four easy ways to get there:
We all have kitchen drawers that attract junk whether it’s matchbooks, rubber bands, half-packs of gum or birthday candles. Guests will add to that, so it’s important to clear these out regularly and only leave items that are genuinely useful.
There’s no need to remove every family photograph because having one or two selected pictures reminds guests that it’s a family-owned place and can serve to generate more respect and better treatment for the property. Where owners have renovated or built a property, an album of photos that shows the progress of the work is usually well received as guests get a history of the property as well as some personal owner information.
Unless you really want your guests to know you very personally, never leave your own clothing in drawers or closets. Rental guests will check out every cupboard and drawer that you have, so leaving anything in them is fair game to be found. If you want to leave clothing at the property, use a separate lockable closet or pack items away in boxes that can be stored in a basement or locked room.
This is a tricky one. I love going to vacation rentals where there’s staple items such as herbs and spices, flour and cornstarch available– those things you may use once or twice on vacation but you don’t want to buy a large bag or carton just for one or two meals. On the other hand, I have heard of complaints from guests because they have found ‘owners’ food ‘ in cupboards that they expected to be cleared for them. The solution is to offer guests the option of using the non-perishable foods that are left behind, as long as there is a clear indication in a guest book and pre-arrival information that they will have this choice.
If your vacation home is a place that you and your family use on a regular basis, there is no reason to strip it of everything that makes it personal for you, but you do need to consider how much of yourselves you want to leave behind. Sharing your vacation home with guests is a different practice in today’s market.