Toilet Paper Not Included – Cottage Rental Gone Minimal

bad-apple2 I consider myself a professional vacation rental owner in that I consider my guests to be paying travellers who deserve respect and trust.  So it was with a degree of shock that I recently spoke with an owner of a rental property with an alternative perspective on the industry.  His initial approach was to tell me that his renters (he didn’t like the word guests) should bring everything with them, and that he had no intention of providing anything beyond basic accommodation.

When he started out he had supplied a few rolls of toilet paper and two or three garbage bags, but said they had all been used and then objected because his renters complained  that his cottage was ‘too basic’ for the price he was charging.  This owner felt I was leading owners in the wrong direction with my stance on higher standards and delivering service, arguing that this is not a service industry and that his renters should not expect any more than a roof and some beds (without pillows or blankets as renters are expected to bring them too).

While this might be acceptable providing it was advertised honestly and transparently – so guests would know what to expect, and could make their buying choice based on accurate information – this property was marketed with the word ‘luxury’ in the text.  The rental rate also gave the impression the property would deliver a higher standard than it actually does.

Given we are involved in an industry in its infancy, this is an attitude that is troubling, and although extreme, it’s not an isolated example. However, we are all competing in a market that has widely differing standards, and as professional owners it’s our responsibility to be at the forefront of the push for promoting excellence. Let us know your views on this. Do you think these ‘bad apples’ have impact on the bulk of well-run vacation rentals?  Can sites like Trip Advisor work to name and shame poor vacation rentals as they do with hotels?  I’d be interested in your views.


I think you are both right. You are both entitled to providing what type of service you want. If you want to provide higher end service than you can do that, and if he wants to provide basic service that’s fine too. If he can get away with charging a high rate for his basic accommodation than that’s his right and congrats to him, it shouldn’t bother you. Any owner is going to charge as much as they can. It just means he may not get return guests if they did not get what they feel they paid for. I agree it should be stated what is provided, and what is expected of the renter to bring themselves, but I don’t think the industry needs to meet certain standards the way you suggest. It is totally up to the owner.

cottage rentals

I feel that a few that advertise incorrectly does not make the rest of the cottage resorts look bad. Most advertise exactly what they are, and a whole lot are underpricing their product

Donna Smith-Seeley

I think that there are many types of vacation rental owners, but that the one common factor is that all should post the truth about their property and what is or isn’t offered. If such charges more than what is offered in a range that others do it isn’t an issue because that is when you use the apples to apples example vs apple to organges. It should be looked as a good way to sell to a future guest what they are getting for your price vs a home that is just as high, but doesn’t offer such ammenities. We prepare our vacation homes to a higher standard than most of the area, but the prices in the area also have moved up closer to what we offer. It certainly didn’t offend me because I could show what I do for that rate and now more homes tend to have rates close to mine. Don’t ever undersell yourself and make sure guests know what they are getting for their money. You have the ability to market your home and telling and showing on line what your offer is a great tool. I also have many repeat guests and it is because they compare from what is typical and what we do or just appreciate the extras and know it isn’t the norm. I have also had guests contact me and state they are comparing me to a home that is lower, once I state what we do vs that home I tend to get the booking. Again there are all types of owners that rent their homes. They just need to be honest and true to what they do so as not to give the industry a second look for not being true what is offered.

Donna Smith-Seeley

Heather Bayer

@Donna – I completely agree. Providing there is transparency and guests are not given nasty surprises, a variety of accommodation is good for the industry. On the other hand, hiding flaws and neglecting to mention aspects of a property that could have an impact on a buying decision, is not acceptable. Sadly, the media love the horror stories and I’m often contacted by journalists who want to hear them.

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