I know I’m preaching to the converted here, but having just spent a night in a (not inexpensive) Nassau hotel/resort, it just struck me that this is why vacation rentals are so much better than the old alternatives. We’ve just left our beautiful rental home with a full kitchen (with decent sized tea mugs), luxury bathrooms, luxury beds with quality linens, our own large terrace, overlooking a deserted beach, and private gardens where we picked our own fruit and herbs. There were four of us + baby, and this cost $356 per night – just under $180 per couple. Last night, for the two of us, we paid $215 for a cramped studio with a tiny kitchen, no storage space, a double bed (which was advertised as a queen) that had a bloodstained bedspread, and thin walls separating us from the warring neighbours who screamed at each other for an hour around midnight. Not really the special last night of vacation I had been looking forward to.
I’d read a lot of reviews before booking the place, and since most were very complimentary, I guess my experiences with vacation rentals have spoiled me thoroughly. We are so used to the space, individuality and uniqueness that comes with a rental home, to get back to bland décor and basic furniture and furnishings is a bit of a shock.
What I was seeing in most of these reviews were travelers who didn’t have the contrasting experience to draw from; who had never enjoyed the benefits of self-catering in a home environment. I should add that this particular resort hotel has no restaurant on site although there are several within walking distance, and has no real facilities other than a shared beach and swimming pool.
So, how do we encourage vacationers to change their ideas about where they should stay; how do we wean people away from this type of vacationing and introduce them to our particular brand of accommodation? Is it that there is a familiarity or a feeling of security that comes with having a security guard on the gate, and a unsmiling receptionist to check you in, that makes people feel more comfortable?
The media has a big role to play. Check through any of the airline magazines, or freebie mags sent out by credit card companies or even the popular monthly publications and you’ll see lots of hotel and resort reviews but rarely any reviews by travel writers on holiday rentals. We need to change this and to encourage the travel press to explore other options more regularly. We’ve hosted travel writers (and their families) at our rental properties in the past, and when something was published, there was usually an immediate upswing in enquiries and conversions.
Please make a comment if you’ve ever hosted a member of the travel press or can think of a way to encourage them to come and stay at your place. What other ways are there of promoting vacation rentals to this huge audience who may have never considered it before?