Significantly Not As Described – The SNAD Phenomena

There's a lot of media coverage about vacation rentals at the moment which is interesting as it shows an increased focus on what to many north Americans is a niche vacation product.  The latest article in the Wall Street Journal comments on a phenomenom with the handy acronym SNAD or ‘Significantly Not As Described'. Sadly I hear of this a lot and it contributes to a large proportion of the complaints made against the vacation rental industry.

The article goes on to review how online vacation rental companies are striving to combat this negative aspect of the business by developing more stringent methods of adding reviews; encouraging more feedback from renters, and demonstrating the more positive sides of vacation rentals.

The author of the article makes an important point:

The vacation-rental marketplace is highly diverse, which can compound traveler confusion and trepidation.

This diversity is part of the appeal of vacation rentals but can create a sense of wariness since there is no standardisation or yardstick by which to compare such different properties. Owners are free to describe their holiday homes as creatively as they wish, and the subjective listings that result are open to misinterpretation.

Ours is an emerging market, and it's so important that the travelling public isn't set against the concept because of a focus on a few negative reviews. There's a real need for owner education for those who seem to think it's OK to deliver a substandard product, but we should also be targeting the renter population and managing their expectations.

We are dealing with a demographic whose prior experience of vacation accommodation is of a sanitised and predictable nature. Getting them to appreciate that the very diversity of the vacation rental market is what makes it so special is a task that should be primary to every owner's marketing strategy.

This is a great discussion point and I'd love to hear your comments.


I think the real challenge is finding true, honest reviews from real people. If you can gather a few legitimate reviews, you can generally see how good the place is!

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Helene Coxhead

Booking a holiday on the internet is not challenging: there are lots of beautiful places to choose from, but being able to do so with confidence after the latest scandal is becoming more tricky.

So it is important to avoid being a victim of the DNAD phenomenon. I represent a holiday rental organisation run by the owners themselves and which only accepts approved owners and properties. Every potential partner and their accommodation has to undergo a rigorous accreditation process which includes an interview about the way they manage their guests’ holiday experience as well as their property, a review of their website and 3 independent guest reviews. After acceptance, website content continues to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that you have accurate and realistic information to help you make that important choice.

Constantly reviewing how to make the guest experience as positive as possible, as well as retaining the individual approach of our various owners, has led to the creation of a Guest Charter. This describes what every guest can expect – just the start, as we know from holidaymaker feedback that all of our owners deliver more than this standard, but they do it in ways that makes the individual holiday unique and delightful.

Helene Coxhead

Oops – typo Heather! SNAD and not DNAD!! Sorry

Margorie Okie

amazing stuff thanx Such a usefule blog…wow !!!!

The Vacation Rental Relationship featuring Honesty and Trust | Vacation Home Rentals Blog

[…] shows such occurrences are rare.  That is good to know because only two years earlier I wrote a blog post highlighting SNAD as a concerning challenge facing the industry.  It seems that the honesty shown […]

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