I’ve stayed in several vacation rental properties this year and am now looking forward to my first visit to Costa Rica in February where we’ve rented Flying Toucans, an idyllic looking villa with a swimming pool and fabulous views of the Pacific Ocean. As I showed the listing to another friend yesterday and we pored over every page, it struck me how much responsibility vacation rental owners have over the presentation of the property through the photographs and description.
Unless you’ve actually been a guest in a vacation home; have spent time searching for the ideal property; been through the anticipation and excitement of planning the vacation, and experienced the first moments of arrival, it can be challenging to appreciate your guests’ expectations. These evolve from their perception of the images and their understanding of the text on a listing, so ensuring accuracy in every element is so important. If anything changes after a reservation is made, it’s essential to let guests know so they are not met with a surprise when they arrive.
A few years ago we changed the configuration in one of the bedrooms at Osprey Cottage. One room had a double bed with a single bunk over the top of it and my caretaker had commented how difficult it was to change the linens on the upper bunk, so we took the top bed down. In my mind the configuration was the same – one double and one twin – but to the 7 yr old who arrived with his family that weekend, it was a huge event. In the lead up to the vacation, he had been promised he could sleep in the upper bunk and this was the highlight of his expectations. The impact his melt-down had on the start of that family vacation was very real to them, and it taught me a big lesson on creating surprises for guests, however unwitting.
As I look at my Costa Rica villa – as I do most days – I’ve imprinted all the photos on my mind. We can imagine taking photos to emulate the one on the home page; are anticipating cooking and eating in the wonderful kitchen; taking morning runs along the beach, and relaxing by the pool. We’ve read all the reviews on Trip Advisor and know we have chosen well and don’t anticipate any surprises. However, it has made me take a good look at our Osprey Cottage listing and check for anything in the images or text that could be misleading or ambiguous.
Being a guest in someone else’s rental home is a really good and worthwhile experience and can make us better owners. If you get the opportunity try it out, even if it’s just for a weekend. Have you ever learned anything from being a guest? Let me know.