Vacation Renters Speak Out And Owners Need To Listen

Announcement Following on from my post yesterday about renter feedback on finding a property to rent, the other question we were asking people at the Cottage Show in Mississauga was about their past experience of vacation rental. We wanted to know what they liked and what a turn was off. The responses weren’t surprising and mostly confirmed what we already knew. Renter’s expectations are much higher than they were several years ago and they are looking for accommodation that matches past experience of resorts and hotels. Many recounted stories of vacations last summer where it rained for several days at a stretch nearly every week, and much of the holiday was spent indoors, which meant interior facilities received more scrutiny, and subsequently complaint, from weather weary guests.

In summary the main issues raised were:

Cleanliness – One woman told us that she started to clean the cottage on the second day of heavy rain because ‘there was nothing else to do’, and wished she hadn’t started because the more she did the more she realized the place had not seen a deep clean in many years. Sadly, the general perception was that cottages were not as clean as expe.cted and several people said this was the reason they would only book through an agency as the perception was that agency-rented properties would receive independent inspection and had to meet higher standards.

Beds – People who’d had a great experience talked mostly about how comfortable the beds were and how attractively they were presented. A few mentioned that the beds that had showed as appealing on a listing did not match the images, on arrival. These were properties where linens were not supplied, and owners had removed the bedding they had used for staging the photos and replaced them with thin comforters and very used pillows. I’m a big advocate for providing linens and towels and these comments support my view.

Entertainment & Technology– We heard positive comments about properties where a good range of entertainment facilities were provided. I talked to one family who found the range of books, DVDs and games provided, a “godsend” and another whose vacation was “saved” by the Play Station and games offered in their rental property. Hi speed internet is growing in importance too, with many saying they could not rent a property without it, particularly in areas where cell phone coverage was patchy.

Kitchen Knives – I had to mention this one, as the quality of kitchen knives has been used as the basis of general complaint in the media, as a vacation rental negative. When we talked to visitors at the booth, we asked, ‘What is the one item you would recommend new renters take with them?”. The most common answer was a sharp kitchen knife as the general perception follows that of the media.

What did you like best? The response to this question was almost unanimous. “It was just as it was described”, or “There were no surprises”. Although some respondents mentioned the weather or the waterfront, it was clear when the images matched reality from the first impression onwards, people were happier.

One interesting point made was that people are using social media to tell their friends and family about the good and the bad.  Where there were complaints about safety or cleanliness, they were more likely to take video and show it off on You Tube, or be vociferous on Twitter and Facebook.  Use of review sites is also becoming more common.

We came back from the Show with a lot more data that we’ll be sharing in articles on our web site at www.rentingforprofit, so if you haven’t checked that out and downloaded the free ebook called Staged To Rent – Presentation & Staging Tips for Vacation Rental Owners, head over there now. We’d love to have you join us.

Enid Wilson

Phew – I’m relieved as I think we meet all these expectations. We want every guest to feel that they are the first to use our properties. All holiday (vacation) rental property owners should try to see things with their clients’ eyes.

Enid Wilson’s last blog post..5 things we don’t provide in our holiday cottages

Heather Bayer

Hi Enid – It was a great opportunity to be able to talk with so many rental guests (and potential guests) over the weekend, and quite an eye-opener in many ways. Unfortunately, there are a large number of rentals offered in our part of the world, where owners are not prepared to raise standards, and treat this business professionally, as many of us do. It places the owners who are committed to high levels of service in a challenging position as we are continually battling for improvement across the board. That’s one reason I started http://www.rentingforprofit.com as an education resource.
Thank you for your comment – you are a shining example of what can be achieved!

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