Marketing I’ve been researching web sites and listings recently and have come across a significantly large proportion of howlers – those that turned me right off even thinking of renting a vacation home at all, let alone the ones I was looking at. This is not a good reflection on our industry and I really don’t know what we can do, as professional owners, to encourage our less than committed counterparts to raise their standards. Rumpled bedding showing flat pillows – even better if there is a sleeping bag on the bed Bedrooms photos can be a deal breaker so it was shocking to see so many – even on established agency sites – that showed little attention to detail. Bathrooms showing toilets with the seat up This is a pet peeve of mine. We all know what a toilet looks like – why do they have to be shown in all their glory on a listing with the lid up? I even saw one that clearly showed stains in the toilet bowl…very inviting! Cluttered kitchen with dishes in drainer on a countertop When staging experts are preparing a property for sale they remove everything from kitchen counters and breakfast bars except for one decorative item and perhaps a stainless steel coffee pot. Bare walls and generally sparse décor It was surprising to see so many stark and cold looking rooms with nothing in the way of artwork on the walls or decorative pieces on shelves or tables. One even had a photo of a completely empty bookcase. I suppose it was to show there was space for any books a guest might bring. That’s just odd. Old throws and blankets Even if there is sentimental value in Grandma’s old throw that’s been on the back of the sofa for years, it doesn’t look good on a vacation rental listing. Refrigerator doors covered in notes and magnets A well- presented Guest Guide is the place for information guests need to read, not in a dozen different post-it notes stuck to the fridge. If there are a lot of cards from local businesses to display it’s better to buy a cork board and put it in a less conspicuous place Outdoor patio shot with moldy plastic chairs There were so many photos of junky outdoor furniture and stained plastic tables with patio umbrellas folded down. Potential guests want to imagine themselves relaxing outside – making it look entirely unattractive is unlikely to appeal to them. Fireplace with smoke-stained surround It’s great to have a photo of a fireplace but it must reach visitors to the listing in the right way. Light a fire, clean the smoke stains from the surround and create an attractive and ambient image. Non-matching bed side tables with non-matching lamps Maybe it’s just me, but I think this shows an owner doesn’t really care about the renters who pay to visit their place. Yard sale and home cast-offs are just fine for a property that is used by the owners and their friends but once it becomes listed as a vacation or cottage rental, some upgrades may be needed to create more appeal. Personal items on bathroom counters I don’t want to see the owner’s toothbrush, shaving equipment and pill bottles in a photo of a vacation rental bathroom – who would? Not only should bathroom counters be entirely cleared of personal items but they should be removed from bathroom cabinets prior to a rental as well. Perhaps I’m overly picky and seeking perfection in an industry that lends itself to more subjectivity than most. I’m sure you’ll let me know if you think I am.