"If you are told you can't have it – you want it more! Ever watched a child in a candy or toy store?"
Lay My Hat Forum contributor
I was reading an interesting thread on the Lay My Hat forum this morning. The gist was that the more honest you are about the shortcomings of your vacation rental, the more likely people are to book.
This seemed an interesting perspective. It's not that I am dishonest in any way about my cottage. I make it clear it's on a river and not a lake, and there is no access into bigger water unless guests are prepared to take the kayaks over the rapids, but I don't overstate the negatives. However, the author of the originating post on the thread suggested that because people are reassured by honesty, it wins their trust.
Think about the Buckley's commercial and the tagline- "It tastes awful and it works". As one of the best-selling cough remedies, their advertising strategy of blatant honesty obviously works too!
Last year, I had a call from a potential guest about a property we manage on Chemong Lake. She just loved the look of it inside and was ready to book. When she told me she had small children and it was important they could play in sand and wade in shallow water, I explained that the waterfront was very weedy and although swimming was OK in the deeper water it was not the scenario she was looking for. She then said that her husband would love that because the fishing was good, and asked some questions about local public beaches.
My detailed description of the waterfront only seemed to strengthen her decision to book, which she did. Her follow-up note after the vacation said it was the best time ever because they took the children out to the local provincial park each day, and every evening, she sat on the dock while her husband fished. "The best of every world" is how she described it!
There's another by-product of honesty and that is the ‘No Surprise' factor. In customer service terms it's also called under-promising and over-delivering. If weed is occasionally blown onto the shore at your cottage, mention it; if you know your neighbour is planning some construction on his property in the summer, let your guests know. If these things do happen, they are expected; if they don't, your clients are even happier.
If you discuss these things over the phone with potential guests and they still want to book, it's good idea to follow-up in writing so you have a record of telling them the negative points. Just a little bit of ‘insurance' you may never need, but always good to have!