I’ve been in this business for nearly 30 years, and during that time have rented countless vacation homes as well as renting out seven of my own cottages. In addition, my rental agency manages more than 200 properties on behalf of their owners, so I figure I know a bit about vacation rentals. Every year I address the topic of expectations with our owners because as this business grows, so do the demands of our guests.
Where we were
A decade ago, we were far less demanding and so much more adaptable in terms of what was acceptable in a rental property. I see it this way.
In the earlier days of vacation rental the demographic being attracted were those who were previously ‘campers’. They had spent holidays in campgrounds and housekeeping resorts where amenities were basic and accommodations of a more primitive nature. Self-sufficiency was the key to enjoying a great family vacation – kids bunked in together or slept on the floor in sleeping bags; it was fun making-do with whatever the owner had left in the kitchen, and evening entertainment was playing a game of Monopoly or Clue where nobody cared if there were missing pieces, or if the playing cards were old and dog-eared. Televisions were rare and were mostly of the ‘rabbit ears’ variety. Families created their own fun.
Where we are now
Over the years, as our form of vacation accommodation has evolved and been marketed so intensely, the rental demographic has changed. Rentals have been hotly promoted as an alternative to hotels and higher end resorts, and todays clientele have markedly different expectations than those in the past. The phrase ‘that is so last century’ really does apply to many vacation homes that have not kept up with the fast pace of change.
I see this in my own expectations. My family was the camping type, having spent years of family holidays tenting across Europe before transitioning to renting homes in England and Europe. Now, we vacation with our children and grandchildren in high end rental properties in the US, South America and the Caribbean and have noticeably higher standards. We choose this variety of accommodation because we like the ability to all be together in one area, to cook and cater for ourselves, and enjoy private amenities. For the price we pay, we expect high quality amenities, plenty of entertainment options; very comfortable beds and good service from the owners. We want to feel welcomed as ‘guests’ and not ‘renters’.
What does that mean for 2013?
Most owners I know have clued into this and offer the goods, regardless of the size of the place. They will be the winners in this emerging market, and will easily beat out their lazier competitors. The key for 2013 is not only meeting expectations but exceeding them.