Marketing As a proponent of raising standards in vacation rentals and an enthusiastic follower of other successful owners, I often come across examples of best practice to share. This morning, when I checked Facebook there was an update from Margaret Leach, who runs a number of self-catering apartments in Bavaria, Germany. Margaret is a great example of an owner who focuses on guest satisfaction to the extent her properties have 69 five star reviews on Trip Advisor. Most of the reviews comment on Margaret’s attention to detail and the lengths she goes to fill the apartments with amenities. Here’s some examples: “I have used self catering accommodation quite regularly over the last dozen or so years but until this holiday I had not come across owners who included so much in the rental price” “We had two nine year olds who made use of the ample games and sports equipment available at the apartments, as well as a wide choice of DVD's and books for all ages.” “The proprietors (Martin and Margaret) are phenomenal–they have thought of everything you could want/need–including …… a well-stocked library of books and DVDs. It's truly amazing.” “Their attention to detail to ensure that you have the best stay possible is outstanding. The information on trips and local activities makes life so much easier on a first visit.” “the personal touches made us feel completely at home.” “We have never rented accommodation where our hosts provided such good facilities for low or no extra cost – e.g. Lego for the children, a library of DVDs, …. free WiFi access, easy parking…etc” “it seems there is nothing that hasn't been thought of in terms of amenities.” These testimonials demonstrate how attention to detail and the provision of lots of extras can give a huge return by way of feedback and referrals. I’m often taken aback by the reluctance of some owners to offer anything more than the basics, and who then wonder why there are no glowing testimonials coming their way. Take a leaf from Margaret’s book and generate raving fans. They are your walking, talking, networking commercials and having them work for you (for free) is worth a lot more than any amount of paid listings! We can all learn from reading reviews from other properties, and can get some great ideas for what works and what doesn’t. For example, this one (which I will keep anonymous) just shows how taking an opposite approach to Margaret’s works (or doesn’t!) “The place was OK , and the beach was lovely but it was all so spartan. No pictures on the walls, not even a magazine to read or a video to watch on the very ancient VHS machine. Every appliance was the cheapest Walmart sells and all the dinnerware was plastic. It was like the owner didn’t care about our comfort” Which type of review would you prefer, and which one will bring you more guests?