The Cottage Life Show in Toronto each spring is a great place for vacation home owners to check out cottage-related products and services and the five halls in the Exhibition Centre were packed with everything an owner might need from docks, boats, composting toilets, all manner of patio furniture and cottage kitsch to realtors, insurance agents, rental listing companies and agencies. The Main Stage is the venue for seminars on a range of topics and for the last five years, I’ve been presenting on the topic of cottage rental.
It was gratifying to have a full house for each of the 3 days, and to talk to a lot of owners at our booth as well. Many were veterans of several seasons of rentals and had a few funny stories to tell; some had the odd groan and gripe, but most were very happy with their rental experiences. There were also a lot who were stepping into rental for the first time and they had questions…lots of questions. Here’s a few:
· “What about damage? What happens if the renters trash my place?”
· “Do I need to provide linens and towels”
· “Should I let renters use the washer and dryer?”
· “How do I limit guests and prevent overcrowding?”
· “What happens if the renters go over the limit on my internet plan?”
Surprisingly, the majority of questions came from a downbeat perspective with new owners more concerned about how renting might impact them negatively, rather than focusing from a more optimistic standpoint. It points to the economics of owning a second home where many owners are using rental as a last resort to enable them to maintain and keep the property in the family.
I did my best to answer the questions while giving it a positive spin, and tried to get them moving to thinking about it from another viewpoint:
· What could you do to improve the guest experience?
· What could you do that would attract great reviews?
Check out this article to see some of my answers to the hot topics raised at the Show.