I’ve just come back from a 10-day stay in a vacation rental in Costa Rica. As always, having the experience of being a guest is invaluable in the learning points and take-aways it offers and this was no exception. From the driving directions that included several places to stop along the way – to photograph crocodiles, have a half-way picnic, and do a supermarket shop – to the copious recommendations on things to do and places to see, these owners know how to create a start-to-finish package guaranteed to delight their guests.
In areas where most guests come from far away and are unlikely too familiar with what the region has to offer, they will appreciate your expertise and local knowledge, as well as the suggestions and referrals from past guests. This can change a vacation experience from good to spectacular and it will be reflected in reviews, referrals and repeat business. Rather than just providing a sheaf of brochures and leaflets, think about creating a “Living Like a Local Guide” to help them plan their stay and take advantage of the best in your area. Read the article in the Owner Community and download the free template, and you’ll have a blueprint for delivering information in a way your guests will love.
One reason people choose vacation rentals over hotels is the freedom to cater for themselves, cook & eat whenever they want, and try out local produce. We found a fish shack close by, selling whatever the fisherman had caught that morning, and had several wonderful meals including grilled tuna, mahi mahi burgers and dorado curry. Having a ‘gourmet’ kitchen in the villa helped enormously since there were all the handy appliances and utensils we needed to cook up a storm. Take a look at the article on “How to Create a Gourmet Kitchen” and give your guests the help they need to self-cater without stress.
When we arrived at the villa it was amusing to see that one of the first things all four of us did was to get out our devices and hook them up to the internet. Since we didn’t have cell phone coverage, the wifi was very important for connecting with our two iPads, a Macbook and a laptop. The only downside of our stay was a problem connecting the laptop – there was a compatibility issue with the router. A local internet café owner did some diagnostics and suggested rebooting the router would resolve the issue. However we could not find the router, and the caretaker who was immensely helpful with every other inquiry, was not interested in our internet problem. His view that we were on holiday so it wasn’t important, was disappointing, since having a wifi connection is the only way I can go on vacation and keep track of my business. It was very frustrating and we spent a lot of time trying to get the issue fixed that would have been better spent in the pool or enjoying cocktails. Helping your guests stay connected and dealing with their issues promptly should be considered a primary service and you’ll find some ideas on this in the article “7 Ways to Create Connection Karma”.
Why not make 2012 the year you take a holiday in a vacation rental, and experience being a guest for yourself. It can be a real eye-opener, and provide a lot of material and ideas for creating your own best practice. I’d love to hear what you have learned from being a guest so find me in the Owner Community!
Heather Bayer is Director of Owner Community at VacationHomeRentals.com. She has been renting her vacation homes for over 20 years and is author of the book ‘Renting Your Recreational Property for Profit’.