How to Create 'WOW' Moments in the Kitchen

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It’s less than a week now until I head off to Phoenix to speak at the Home Away Summit, and I’m getting really psyched up for it.  I love talking about this business and I’m so looking forward to a whole weekend of immersion in vacation rentals, with lots of vacation rental people.  There’s a session on dealing with rental bans, and since we are facing that across Ontario at the moment, I’ll be sure to take a lot of notes.  If any of my readers are going to be there, please let me know as I’d love to meet up with you and put faces to the names I’ve read on comments, tweets and emails.


The title of my presentation is ‘The Power of Wow – Thirty Seconds to Increasing Revenue’, and is about the small things that can have a powerful sharing effect.  I’ll be writing a long post following the session that includes links to further information on the issues I am going to be talking about, which will include:

  • How to wow potential guests in a listing, not just with great images, but with targeted text
  • Tips on how to create rapport  in email communication using subliminal techniques
  • Why it is important to appeal to all your guests senses
  • Going beyond traditional marketing – why marketing doesn’t end with a reservation
  • Tapping into the sharing culture – examples of wow moments your guests might share

I’ve drawn on my own experiences running a cottage rental agency and viewing hundreds of vacation rentals every year, as well as from being a guest on numerous occasions, and while preparing the presentation I came across a ton of stuff I just don’t have the time to include.  For example, the are so many ways to create a wow reaction during a guests’ stay at your property it’s useful to brainstorm some ideas and think about what you could put into action right now.  I’m going to kick off this series with ways to wow in the kitchen.


When I go on vacation, I want a really well-equipped kitchen.  After all, this is why many people choose the vacation rental option – because they want the freedom and flexibility to cater for themselves.  They don’t want to be restricted to dining times in a restaurant, or limited menus that may not appeal to different dietary requirements.

For me, I object to spending money on restaurant meals that are often mediocre at best, expensive, and loaded with ingredients that I’d prefer not to ingest, such as corn-based cooking oils, high fructose corn syrups, and MSG to name a  few.  That aside, it’s just great to shop for local fish, meat and veg and different recipes.  We were in Eleuthera in February and bought fish off the dock in Governors Harbor, vegetables from roadside stands and made fabulous meals.


So, the kitchen is really important and is the first room I’ll explore when we arrive at a new place.  I expect to see certain things such as:

  • A good set of pots and pans – preferably stainless steel – I hate to see pans with peeling Teflon
  • Lots of casserole dishes – nice ones that will look good on a table.
  • A supply of herbs and spices
  • Good quality small appliances

To get a ‘Wow’ and have me take a picture and send it to my friends requires a little more thought and ingenuity.  Here’s what has wowed me in a kitchen recently:

  • The tiny UK cottage that welcomed us with cupcakes, fresh strawberries and cream.  A few days into our stay we opened the door one morning and there was a bag with freshly baked scones with a really nice note from the owner.  WOW!
  • The villa in Eleuthera that had a selection of cook books featuring local recipes so I could cook the fish we bought off the docks.  WOW!
  • The property in Sedona that had such attractive dinnerware we bought the same for our own home when we got back.  WOW!
  • The rental condo in Ontario that had a Nutribullet for making smoothies and a recipe book.   (For anyone not in the know about Nutribullet it’s tons better than a Magic Bullet) WOW!
  • Back to Eleuthera and the well-stocked herb garden and fresh veg available for guests to help themselves.  WOW!
  • The Maui condo that had a discreet label inside each cupboard to say what was in it – so helpful for putting dishes and stuff away in the right place.  WOW!
  • The same Maui condo that had a cupboard full of good quality plastic containers (not empty margarine and yoghurt containers)  and picnic supplies.  WOW!
  • The Costa Rica villa that had a set of professional chef’s knives – the sharpest I’d ever felt in a vacation rental.  WOW!

As you can see, many of these are simple things that we probably already do, and are used to illustrate that it’s often the small things that have the maximum impact.

I’d like to compile a list of 100 (or more) WOW moments  – I’d love to hear about how you wow your guests  – let me know in the comments below.


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