Discussions to have with your Property Manager

It has never been more important to have a reliable property manager in place to take care of your property, deal with issues that may arise, and be your ears and eyes on the ground.  If you are not available to manage your rentals while they are underway, your PM will take responsibility to do all those jobs that ensure your guests have an effortless and trouble-free vacation.  [...]

Pets Welcome!

When you decide to accept pets you are taking a small risk they will cause some damage or leave additional cleaning for you.  This is a small risk since we’ve found that most pet owners are very grateful to find a property that will permit them to bring their pet and usually treat it with great respect.  [...]

Keeping On Top of Maintenance Improves Reviews

Good reviews are the lifeblood of a rental listing.  No amount of fancy text or Photo-shopped images will trump a dozen glowing reviews that applaud the property and the hospitality of the owner.  And the occasional four star review is fine – after all, there are plenty of people (including our guests) who would never deliver a perfect score on principle and will remove a star based on things that are outside the owner’s control – weather and bugs spring to mind! [...]

Family Friendly Strategies

When families go on vacation, they are looking for a low stress, comfortable time without being continually worried their children are not going to be safe, or might break something that may be charged to their damage deposit.  They don’t want to be concerned about how their infants will sleep at night or whether there are hazards that will keep them constantly wary rather than relaxing and spending quality time with their children.  A vacation rental owner has a responsibility to consider these things if they want to appeal to the family market, because it’s not a matter of just labeling the property ‘child-friendly’;  making sure it meets the promise of the text is vital to avoid guest disappointment or complaint. [...]

10 Ideas for Evaluating Projects

Every year brings expense in a vacation home, whether it’s routine maintenance or repairs, renovation, or upgrades to increase rental rates. Deciding what to do can be a tough process – most of us have a finite budget and it’s important to choose the right project to keep the property safe and well-maintained as well as updated.  Having a five or even a ten-year plan for projects can help keep the balance right and prevent money being spent on the nice-to-have items at the expense of the must-have and must-do improvements.  [...]

Performing a Property Audit

Carrying out a thorough property audit before you start renting,  and then annually thereafter can unearth all sorts of deficiencies that you might not have thought of, and indeed may not feel are worth worrying about, either in terms of cost or time and effort.   Remember that this is supposed to be a hyper-critical exercise so it’s probably best not to do it on a lovely warm day when the sun is sparkling on the water, the happy sound of children playing fills the air, and the barbecue is sending out wafts of mouth-watering aromas.  Instead, carry out a systematic analysis on a cool, cloudy day, when your judgement won’t be distorted or swayed by the beauty of the surroundings. [...]

37 Things You Need to Know (and do) about Bed Bugs

 From the moment you enter the hospitality industry – and that’s what you are doing when you operate a vacation rental – your property becomes susceptible to bed bugs.  It’s a simple fact, and not one to avoid because it’s an ‘icky’ topic, or because your place is super-clean and you feel it could never happen to you.  Bed bugs can impact any location that has a transient population and the more popular your vacation home is, the higher the risk of infestation. [...]

Going The Extra Mile – Tales of Great Hospitality

Some vacation rental owners just have the edge over the competition because they go above and beyond what’s expected of them, and wow their guests with their hospitality.  It generally doesn’t take much to deliver great service and exceed expectations – a phone call to check all is OK after a storm; a box of essential toiletries should guests forget something, or a personal note of welcome, are just a few things that take no time or effort at all, but can have such an impact.  Here are four examples of going the extra mile. [...]

Top 8 Vacation Rental Changeover Tips

Cleanliness is one of the first things guests notice when they enter your property, and they are eagle-eyed.  In this respect, renting a vacation home is no different from paying hard-earned holiday money for a hotel or resort accommodation, so it’s important you feel confident your property passes the guest test [...]

Is it Time to Upgrade Your Technology?

It seems no time at all since we were happy to find a vacation rental with a small box TV with rabbit ears – even that was luxury when my family was younger. Now the demand is for flat screen, games consoles, music systems that accept iPods, and surround sound.  And for those bemoaning the loss of the vacations spent on endless rounds of Monopoly or Scrabble, it’s time to get the Wii or Xbox ready to go. [...]

Making Checkout Easy

We know how important it is to create a great first impression for guest arrival; making the place look great, smell fresh, and generally appeal to people as they walk in the door.  You do all this to make sure they have a good start to their vacation and enjoy their time at your property.  But what do you do to make sure it ends well? [...]

Guest Complaints – When Should You Refund Or Compensate?

No matter how well you prepare for your guests there will come a time when someone makes a complaint.  Causes for this are varied – it could be a breakdown in an appliance or amenity, a misunderstanding over an expectation or simply a disgruntled guest who transfers disappointment over poor weather to a complaint about the property.  Whatever the nature of the grievance it’s worthwhile being ready for it to happen and have some solutions in place. [...]

Tips & Recipes for Green Cleaning & Stain Removal

Most vacation home owners I've met seem to be environmentally conscious and enthusiastic about sharing this with their guests. It's great to see property welcome books that ask guests to conserve water and electricity, recycle garbage, and offer tips on shopping locally. So, it was not difficult to come across suggestions for stain removal using natural products and recipes for cleaning fluids. Here's a few of my favorites: [...]

What Your Guests are Saying - Read Between the Lines

Your major goal with rentals is to fill your available weeks and maximize your occupancy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to accept every booking that comes your way.  Occasionally you’ll get that gut feeling that something is not quite right; a potential guest will say something that makes you feel uncomfortable or just doesn’t ring true.  These are the times you need to have a good conversation with the potential guest and make sure they are the right match for your property.  The clues you may need to do a little extra screening are often in the things people say and here’s some examples that might ring a few alarm bells: [...]

Getting Your Guests to Go Green

It would be great if all our guests were motivated towards eco-friendly behavior on vacation.  In a perfect world, they would always turn lights and ceiling fans off in rooms when they were not in use; would raise the A/C thermostat levels so it didn’t come on as often; would only use the washing machine with a full load, and would be diligent at recycling.  [...]

Cancellation Without Tears

Sooner or later every owner will have to deal with a cancellation.  Mostly this will be a straightforward request for a return of deposit or a final payment, but occasionally there’s an emotional call involving a death or illness in the guests’ family that is more difficult to handle. [...]

Converting Inquiries the Easy Way

A perennial concern of vacation rental owners is how to convert inquiries to bookings.  It’s not enough any longer to just have a great looking listing and enticing photographs – the competition is tightening all the time.  From the moment of the first inquiry, your job is to create a relationship and draw the potential guest into additional correspondence.  Getting your customers to choose your place over your neighbors’ is key in many areas, and you may have to put more effort into conversion than ever before. [...]

8 Ways to Create Happy Guests

Happy guests are the key to great reviews, and great reviews mean higher occupancy.  It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but amazing how many reviews I see that point to owners not respecting their guests sufficiently to make them 100% satisfied with their vacation choice.  Here’s 8 ways you can drive up your guests satisfaction level [...]

What Guests Really Want

Guest expectations are changing.  They are becoming more sophisticated, demanding and harder to please and as owners, we need to be consistently upgrading, improving and one step ahead of the competition to keep occupancy up and reviews positive.  From communicating in a very timely fashion to ensuring the place is always spotlessly clean, it’s a tough job being a proactive owner but there’s a few things you can do to reduce the risk of disappointing your guests. [...]

Happy Arrivals – Getting Your Guests to Their Destination

What does this quote in a Washington Post article have to do with vacation rental owners? “Studies over the past decade have shown that women are likelier to rely on landmarks and visual cues, and men on maps, cardinal directions (such as north and south) and gauges of distance.” [...]

Are Your Guests Down in the Dumps?

Your vacation rental guests will create lots of garbage and they don’t want any hassle disposing of it. After all, the vacation rental industry goes to great lengths to persuade potential vacationers that this is better than a hotel or resort, but have you ever been to one of those and had to take your garbage home with you? Very unlikely. Nor would you expect to arrive at a resort or hotel to find bags of rubbish left behind by previous guests and be asked to put them out on garbage day. Yet, I still hear from guests that the owners of their rental homes have failed to make it clear how their domestic waste should be handled. [...]

10 Fall Tasks

There’s just something about the leaves falling and the winter approaching that motivates me to spend a couple of days down at the cottage tidying up after a long summer of rentals, and preparing it for the next season.  Even if your location doesn’t have distinct seasons, schedule a complete audit a couple of times a year to ensure the property is in tip-top shape and never gets that ‘used’ or ‘run-down’ feel.  [...]

Lost and Found – What to do With Left Items

In a single season of rental it’s quite easy to amass a pile of left items – whether it’s pairs of shoes from the back of a closet; forgotten swimwear from a dresser drawer, or a much loved soft toy retrieved from the dryer where it had gotten tangled with the bed sheets when the guests were packing up.  What to do with the things can create a bit of a dilemma so here’s a few tips on how to handle the inevitable forgotten stuff. [...]

Rinse and Repeat - How to Make Guests want to Return

There is no doubt that the best guests are the repeats – the ones that come back over and over again and tell all their friends about ‘their special vacation place’.  Of course there are a lot of people who will never come back again, not because they didn’t like it, but because they are more adventurous and will always choose a new experience over a tried and trusted vacation choice, simply because they can.  These folks may never be converted to repeaters, but you never know so treat every guest as a potential for becoming a loyal visitor. [...]

Under-Promise and Over-Deliver: 3 Ways to Delight Your Guests

Have you ever lined up for a ride at a theme park and seen the sign that tells you there is a 30 minute wait, only to find out when you get to the end of the line that it only took 15 minutes?  You feel great don’t you?  You had an expectation and then it was exceeded, which is a ploy created by Disney to improve customer satisfaction, and is now used extensively in marketing strategies across a wide range of products. [...]

How to 'Handle' Best Price Requests

People are looking for the best deal possible for their vacations so it is likely you will be asked at some time for "your best price" or “what is the best deal you can give me?” In areas where there are a lot of properties for rent and changing levels of demand depending on season, you’re likely to hear more of these requests so it’s a good idea to take a pragmatic approach to pricing particularly in periods of rental ‘drought’ – the low and shoulder periods where demand is lower. [...]

Live Like a Local Guide

Good local information can make a vacation so much better for your guests.  It saves them time researching things to see and do, and makes it so much easier for them to plan their trip.  You can include the information in your Welcome Book and send them a PDF version in advance so they can make reservations if required. [...]

Renting to Friends and Family

When you purchase a vacation home it can be quite amazing how many ‘friends’ contact you to congratulate you on the purchase; offer all sorts of advice and ideas on how to manage it, and suggest how much they would love to stay, in exchange for some work on the property.  Of course, this advice and offers of help may be very welcome, but it is worthwhile being professional about renting the property from the start, and that includes how you let friends and family use it, particularly if you accept money in the exchange [...]

How to Avoid Service Calls

The best rental guests are those that arrive after check in time, enjoy their vacation, write wonderful comments in your guest book, depart before check out time leaving the property in great condition, and recommend you to their friends.  Perfect guests like these are not hard to find if you make the whole process easy for them.  Good pre-arrival information, a comprehensive Welcome Book, and a clear check-out list will go a long way to achieve this, however it’s easy to be caught out by the lack of something your guests need, or a minor breakdown that could be resolved with some forward planning. [...]

Managing Your Hot Tub

Having a hot tub at a vacation rental property can help achieve significantly higher occupancy than those without, and with good marketing and promotion, the cost of purchase, installation and maintenance can be recovered over a relatively short period of time.  However, installing a hot tub brings additional responsibilities and commitment to maintain the quality of the spa water. [...]

Bedroom Quality Counts

We spend a third of our lives in bed and this is the same for our vacations.  In fact, for many people, a holiday is a time for spending even more time catching up on sleep, having lie-ins, and hopefully luxuriating in comfort with a morning coffee or a good book last thing at night.  If your beds don’t measure up to these expectations, guests will be unhappy and this can result in negative feedback and complaints. [...]

Managing Guest Expectations

As vacation rentals grow in popularity, your guests’ expectations are rising and it’s important to meet and exceed those expectations wherever possible. Your listing is your primary showcase and with great photos and appealing text, you should be able to attract good quality guests to reserve their vacation weeks with you. The next step is to make sure what you provide matches up with the anticipation you’ve created, because if you disappoint your guests they will deliver negative feedback in return. [...]

Property Management

When it comes to managing your vacation rental, you have several options. There are likely factors that will determine your preferred method of management, such as budget and proximity. [...]

Pet Friendly Policies

One of the benefits for vacationers of renting a vacation home over traditional hotel or resort style accommodation is the ability to take their pet along with them as part of the family holiday; however the percentage of properties that accept pets remains low. This puts owners who welcome pets at a great advantage, but before you rush to add a pet icon, make sure you are fully prepared and ready for all eventualities. [...]

Handling Inquiries & Bookings

Inquiries and Bookings are the focus of your efforts. It's important to be prepared to best handle inquiries and bookings. A little attention in advance will certainly pay dividends down the road. [...]

Dealing with Damage

Although we would all love our rental guests to treat our properties with the utmost respect, damage of some sort will undoubtedly occur. If you have ensured a good match of client for your property by talking with them and creating a relationship, it is rare that you will encounter anything other than accidental damage. However, spills, stains and accidental breakage are a part of the risk you need to accept before taking on rentals. It’s also a good idea to have a plan for how you will deal with damage and/or any other incidents. [...]

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