The Vacation Rental Revolution

It all started with the internet. Like many other industries, the vacation rental business came into its own with the advent of the world wide web. Finally, vacation rental properties could be marketed to the masses. Local property managers were the first adopters and soon every vacation rental business had a website, with online reservations soon to follow. But this just made property owners even more dependent on traditional managers. There just wasn’t any viable way for vacation rental owner’s to independently market their rental properties.

Then came VRBO and HomeAway in the mid-2000’s. They acquired several smaller listing sites and, armed with millions of dollars in seed money, went on to revolutionize the vacation rental industry. For the first time, vacation rental owners could effectively market their own properties on a global scale and deal directly with guests. The vacation experience was vastly improved as owners could now act as host and concierge, providing insider tips on everything from unique dining experiences to little known local attractions.

Enter the sharing economy. In almost every business and service, consumers are sharing their experiences through reviews and rating systems. Inferior properties (and managers) are being called out and are forced to improve their goods and services, or be labeled as a business to avoid. Most negative reviews directed toward managers are for preventable issues; a sub-standard cleaning, a broken or malfunctioning appliance, or something else that could have been easily avoided if someone was just paying attention.

Unfortunately, the missteps your manager makes directly affects your bottom line. If you search the top Big Bear vacation rental managers on Yelp you’ll be alarmed at the amount of negative reviews these companies have generated. Like most consumers, I check reviews before I purchase and I’m certain these reviews are losing them a large amount of prospective business.

Another big red flag for property owners is that most traditional managers won’t share guest information with owners and this makes it impossible to build goodwill for the individual property. This alone is one of the biggest reasons property owners should take a bigger role in their rental business. Vacation rental guests are just like other consumers, they like doing business with people they like. If they have an exceptional vacation experience at your property, they will share it with family and friends. Goodwill can only be developed if you have access to your customers.

What’s a vacation rental owner to do? Well, it’s time to declare your independence. Technology has arrived that provides property owners with ability to access the same marketing channels that traditional property managers have depended on for years. With the number of vacation rentals growing every day, property owners have to be creative and pro-active in order to be successful. There are new services available that will create the listing for your property and distribute it to all the top listing sites. Professionally trained reservationists will answer all guest inquiries and notify you when new bookings occur. You can be as involved as you want to be, or not at all.

Today’s vacation rental consumers are looking for exceptional value. I’m not talking about a low price, I’m talking about a clean, comfortable property with the amenities that vacation rentals are known for, and the information available to them to insure an ultimate vacation experience. Most guests prefer talking to the owner or a local contact that will take a personal interest in seeing that their vacation experience is the best it can be. Traditional managers just don’t have the manpower or the training in place to see to every guest request. This is why property owners need to explore their options. There’s just too much at stake.

Are you ready to join the vacation rental revolution? We’ve managed hundreds of properties over the past 25 years and our hybrid rental program is by far the best service available to property owners. We provide owners all the benefits of ” vacation rental by owner” with the peace of mind of being supported by local professionals. Contact Vacation Rental Services today and let us customize a vacation rental marketing and management program just for you. 909-856-2124

Categories: business development, industry trends, property management, rental procedure, vacation rental industry, Vacation Rental Management | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Vacation Rental Cleaning Procedure

housekeeping

Sooner or later, every growing vacation rental management company will be forced to standardize their housekeeping department policy and procedure, or suffer the consequences. Attempting to juggle the endless duties involved in vacation rental management without some sort of structured system in place can easily cause the entire management process to fail. And today the stakes are higher than ever. With the advent of online reviews, a pattern of negative comments from dis-satisfied customers can mean the difference between business success and failure. Most negative vacation rental company reviews are housekeeping related, and fully preventable

The hotel industry has adopted cleaning practices that best demonstrate the standard for hospitality housekeeping. However, the very things that make vacation rentals popular; unique property types, multiple locations and cooking facilities, present an additional challenge to vacation rental managers.

The goal of vacation rental managers is to provide a standard of cleaning that will translate to every property in their inventory. This starts with an understanding of the function of housekeeping in the management structure. A quote from a leading hospitality provider states it best:

“Efficiently managed housekeeping departments ensure the cleanliness, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal of lodging properties to the highest industry standards. The housekeeping department not only prepares and cleans rental properties on a timely basis for arriving guests, it also performs mid-stay cleaning, linen change-outs, periodic deep cleans and regular inspections.”

According to the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals, an industry association, the standards and practices of the housekeeping department are as follows:

• Pursue housekeeping excellence for their property owners and rental guests through the creation of professional certification programs for managers, front-line housekeepers, and quality assurance inspectors.

• Provide their housekeeping employees with an enjoyable working environment constantly stressing their important role in owner and guest satisfaction.

• Accurate, timely, and courteous response to all housekeeping issues of any owner or guest.
Comply with all local, state, and federal regulations that may apply to a housekeeping department.

• Inspect each unit prior to a guest or owner arrival to assure the unit is prepared to an acceptable standard and that the unit is safe and secure.

• All housekeeping staff members will be trained in proper and safe cleaning techniques and in unit security and in the OSHA Hazard Communication program.

• No member company will allow any employee to smoke at any time in or around a rental unit.

• The safety and security of its owners and rental guests will always be of paramount importance to members and thus when cleaning bathrooms, a germicide will be used in every instance.

• Managers will keep accurate Lost and Found records and items found in units will be retained in a secure location.

• Owner and guest linens will be laundered in a manner that minimizes the potential for growth of harmful bacteria.

• Each property has a set of departure cleaning guidelines that are readily available to any owner or rental guest.

For vacation rental managers, there are ways to ensure that your properties are up to the standards of your guests. This involves preparation, inspection, policy and procedure.

Preparation

Your housekeepers must be aware of your expectations and fully understand the importance that the housekeeping department has within the business structure. Your rental properties are your product and must be presented in the best possible condition.

New employees are to be trained by a senior housekeeper or property manager and policy and procedure checklists shall be distributed to each employee. Housekeepers must arrive to work on-time, dressed in clean uniforms or company approved clothing, and ready for a full day’s work.

Upon arrival to work, each housekeeper will receive a worksheet with the day’s property assignments. Housekeepers shall review their worksheet with their supervisor and make note of any special directives (gift baskets, flowers, special guest requests). Keys, lockbox combinations and access codes shall be readied for each property. Linens and towel sets for each property should be matched to the bed count and type for each property. Clean linens must be inspected for tears and stains prior to leaving the office.

Cleaning supplies should be placed in cleaning supply caddy’s along with linens, towels, vacuums, brooms, mops, brushes squeegees, cloths, etc., and placed in vehicles.

Housekeeping service vehicles shall be maintained in top condition; clean, fueled and ready for the day’s work.

Inspections

Each property is inspected twice during the reservation cycle. The pre-arrival inspection is usually performed by a supervisor or head housekeeper with the purpose of confirming that the property is ready for the incoming guest. They shall perform a “wall-walking” inspection, keeping within arm’s length of the wall, starting from the entry and following the wall of each room, from right to left, around the interior of the property, arriving back at the entry.

Inspectors are checking for:
• Lights working correctly
• TV’s, electronics, remotes and appliances clean and working
• Personal belongings or trash under furniture and behind cushions
• Closets and drawers empty and clean
• Beds properly made
• Towels displayed properly
• Soaps, shampoos, and toiletries in place
• Clean floors, walls and window coverings
• Unpleasant odors

An exterior inspection is to be performed by walking around the building exterior and then walking the property fence line, looking for trash or personal belongs. Jacuzzi’s, spas and pools should be clean and chemicals balanced. Spa covers and pool enclosures must be closed and locked if vacant or un-locked for guest use. Any repairs or cleaning must be immediately reported to the maintenance department.

The post-departure inspection follows the same “wall-walking” procedure with the emphasis is on the property condition after guest departure.

Check for:
• Furniture in original position
• Excessive wear and tear
• Missing items
• Damage to property or contents
• Excessive cleaning required
• Personal belongings (chargers in wall sockets)
• Pet stains or hair

Any damage, excessive cleaning or personal belongings must be immediately reported to the office. All post-departure inspections are to be completed within 12 hours of check-out. An inspection checklist must be completed for each property and returned to the supervisor.

Policy and Procedure

The housekeeping department policy and procedure is a clearly defined set of rules and steps that ensure each property will be maintained in the best condition possible and that guests will have an enjoyable, worry-free vacation experience. Attached is a policy and procedure manual from a large hospitality provider for use as a reference.

The main points of housekeeping policy and procedure are:
• Housekeepers will arrive to work on time, neatly dressed, and ready for a full day’s work.
• Cleaning supplies readied and placed in vehicle. Vacuums working correctly, dirt bins empty.
• Obtain keys, access codes and worksheet with cleaning assignments before leaving the office.
• Upon arrival to the unit, an initial walk-thru is performed, checking for damage or personal property (under beds and furniture, behind drapes).
• Immediately report any problems to supervisor.
• Linens and trash removed from the unit.
• Food in refrigerator and cupboards (belonging to the guest) is discarded or returned to office.
• Crew members shall divide cleaning responsibilities between kitchen and bathrooms (wet person) and dusting, vacuuming and making beds (dry person).
• Always start at the highest point (light fixtures, ceiling fans) and work your way down.
• Use appropriate cleaning solution for the surface to be cleaned.
• Sanitize bathroom showers, baths, and toilets.
• Start dusting in closets and work your way around the room.
• Polish furniture and fixtures to a spotless shine.
• Sweep and mop floors from farthest point outward to carpet or entry door.
• Vacuum from the farthest point in the room and work towards the entry door.
• Clean decks, outside furniture and BBQ’s.
• Replace towels, toilet paper, paper towels, trash liners and guest amenities.
• Check guest book and property instructions.
• Set clocks and clock radios to correct time.
• Check lights for bulb replacement.
• Set thermostat.
• Lock windows and doors, set alarm.
• Call office to report property clean and move to next assignment.
• At the end of the work day the housekeepers shall return any unused sheets and cleaning supplies to the office and prepare supplies and equipment for the next shift.

When vacation rental managers follow standard housekeeping procedures, guess work and frustration becomes rare and business owners can focus on marketing and business development. Every manager’s goal should be to have controls in place so they can work on their business, not in it.

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Vacation Rental Blogging 101

Everybody’s blogging these days – and for good reason. We’ve discovered that blogging is an excellent way to create fresh content for websites and social media. It helps businesses connect with their customers and drives traffic to websites. Regular blogging will position you and your company as an expert resource and keep you in tune with your industry.

Here are a few tips for new bloggers:

1. Write about current events, popular activities, local history, special places, anything you want really.
2. Include local trending topics like skiing, cycling, fishing, festivals, things that visitors are searching for.
3. Post weekly – 250 to 400 words.
4. Use a keyword tool – include keywords in your story.
5. Include lots of photos and videos.
6. Always link back to your website.
7. Post blogs on social media and start a conversation.
8. Read other blogs.

It takes time, but writing does get easier. When I started blogging I agonized about it. It took a while for me to find my “voice” and grasp the basics of writing. I learned from online tutorials and reading other blogs. But nothing teaches you how to write like writing, just do it!

Keep a notepad and pen handy in case a story idea hits you while you’re driving or watching TV. If you blank on a topic read the local newspaper or search for a related blog and sooner or later the ideas will start flowing. Try to write every day – even if it’s just a few sentences. If you’re still struggling do something else for a while or take a walk to clear your head and try again later.

Blogging is a lot like exercise – you just have to keep doing it – even though you may not see immediate results. If you keep at it and do your homework you’ll soon be tracking reservations back to your blog posts and ranking higher in search engine results.

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Building Your Company’s Vacation Rental Inventory

Building a vacation rental inventory for your management company follows many of the same techniques that real estate agents use for obtaining new listings. It’s all about building your professional and personal contacts, networking, farming, salesmanship, and performance.

Search Engine Rankings

Maintaining a high rank in the search engines is crucial to successful property recruitment. New prospects will want to see that their property can be found through a basic keyword search. If you’re not showing up in the organic search results you may want to consider a pay-per-click campaign. Develop a “property management” page on your website with information about your rental program.

Farming for Rental Listings

If you’re not already in real estate sales you may want to partner with a local agent or broker. Real estate agents can request a neighborhood “farm package” from one of the title companies in your area. Farm packages have a wealth of information you can use including a list of absentee owners in your service area and ready-to-use mailing labels.

Develop a postcard mailer that introduces your company and lets prospective owners know that you’re “Looking For A Few Good Partners”. Don’t send a big package of information in an envelope, it will just get thrown away. Design an attractive yet simple postcard with a brief message and a few bullet points that represent the best of your rental program. Mail your postcards to your service area every 3 to 6 months.

I also recommend sending a “just listed” card to the neighbors of newly listed rentals. It’s a great way to establish your brand in the neighborhood and let the neighbors know there’s a rental nearby for their overflow guests. If one of those neighbors needs the services of a property manager chances are you’ll get the call.

Working with real estate agents.

Start attending real estate related events and open houses and get to know the successful agents in your area. Not every agent is tied in with a rental agency and if you offer a finder’s fee you may be surprised how many agents will send you referrals.

Finders fees aren’t appropriate in every referral situation and should be considered on a case by case basis. Anyone that sends business your way really just wants to know that you’re going to take care of their referrals by providing excellent service.

Find additional rental properties for your existing customers.

Rental property owners are investors. Most investors are very interested to know when another good vacation rental comes on the market. If you’re not an agent you can still partner with someone who’s in the business and receive a referral fee out of the sales commission.

And don’t forget about your guests. It’s very common for a guest to fall in love with an area after staying in a vacation rental and decide to purchase a rental of their own. Make sure your guests know that you provide real estate services as well as property management, even if you just refer them to an agent.

Networking and word of mouth.

It never pays to be a secret agent. When you’re out at community functions let the masses know who you are and what you do. I once sponsored my daughters soccer team and the advertising on the jerseys was responsible for one of my most profitable listings.

Try to think outside the box. Get involved with a local charity or sponsor something in your community. I know a manager that writes a column for his local newspaper and the exposure has earned him expert status. If you have an opportunity to speak at a seminar or meeting, take it. The more people who know you and what you do the greater chance you have of being mentioned when someone needs a rental manager.

Be Selective.

Before you commit to a new rental listing inspect the property thoroughly. Are the beds top quality? Is the decorating attractive and fresh? Will the property be delivered to you in perfect condition? Are there any red flags like difficult access, out-dated appliances, or code violations? Marginal properties can drag down the rest of your business with negative reviews and increased liability.

If you want your inventory to continue growing you must keep your promises and go above and beyond the call of duty. This can be difficult when you’re building a business but the consequences can be devastating. The two largest vacation rental companies in one local market both have “F” ratings with the Better Business Bureau and an abundance of negative reviews, mostly service related. If additional properties will dilute the quality of your service it’s time to build your employee roster as well.

Networking, cold calling, mailings, and good ol’ word of mouth are your best bets for building a vacation rental inventory. Just remember that growing pains are part of every business. You never want to be so big that you lose the ability to provide a quality service.

Doug Meeder is a consultant and advisor to the vacation rental industry with over 20 years experience as both a rental property owner and the founder of several successful vacation rental management companies. If you would like more information on building your vacation rental business, please call Doug at 909-856-2124 or e-mail him at dkmeeder@hotmail.com.

Categories: building inventory, business development, customer service, marketing, property management, vacation rentals | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Marketing Your Vacation Rentals With Video

Video marketing isn’t anything new to vacation rentals, but the importance of including a video campaign as part of your overall marketing strategy is more important than ever. Search engines love video just as much as humans do and vacation rental managers and owners are using video to showcase properties and promote their businesses with great success. Here are a few ideas for developing your own video marketing campaign.

Do It Yourself or Go Pro?

Most of the managers and owners I’ve worked with have hired professional videographers to produce their videos. Be sure to talk to someone with experience before you buy an expensive camera and try to do everything on your own. Equipment is just the beginning of the equation. You need to get several things just right to have a polished looking video, including; lighting, staging, direction, narration, music, and editing. Your properties should be presented with professional looking video and that’s best handled by someone who knows what they’re doing.

On the other hand, I’ve seen many self-produced video tours that looked and sounded great. The friendly, folksy look and feel of a low budget video production is perfect for single properties or small rental operations.

When Less Is More

After you’ve created your video property tours and added them to your website or Facebook page think about what else your audience would like to see. Invest in a basic video camera and keep it handy for videos of local attractions, events, and activities. Try to create something that will entice potential guests to pick up the phone and book a few nights.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Spoof a TV show with something like “America’s Most Wanted Vacation Rentals” or “Vacations of the Rich and Famous”. Think of something that will make you stand out from the crowd. When people start sharing your videos with their friends you will be reaching out to a whole new audience. And that’s the goal behind all this social media stuff, to get the word out!

Make Video Your Calling Card

For more information on integrating video into your marketing campaign or if you have any questions about vacation rental management please contact Doug Meeder at 909-856-2124.

Categories: marketing, property management, social media, vacation rental services, vacation rentals | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Day In The Life Of A Vacation Rental Manager

I live in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, specifically Big Bear, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. It’s a very competitive rental market with many unique challenges. Our winters are usually nothing compared to other parts of the country but every once in a while we get big storms and lots of snow.

Several years back a 3 day storm hit Big Bear just before Christmas and the valley was buried under several feet of snow. I was freaking out because all 125 of my rentals were booked solid with multiple back-to-back reservations. I knew that I was facing a logistical nightmare.

Then things got really interesting. While checking properties in my car my secretary phoned to tell me that the snow removers’ equipment was inoperable and my head housekeeper was diagnosed with pneumonia. I pulled over to the side of the road and started to panic. I remember thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”, “I should have chosen an easier profession.”

To make a long story short I pulled myself together, bought a snow removal blade for my Tahoe, hired two housekeepers, and reminded myself that I was actually pretty good at my job. I spent the next three days clearing driveways and training the new cleaning crew. I just put my head down and powered through it and when I picked my head back up it was almost spring.

On a busy weekend I could count on being awakened at least once every night to meet a late arrival or repair a blown fuse or any number of things that seem to only go wrong in the middle of the night. I’ve busted up parties, rescued locked out guests, retrieved lost pets, delivered firewood, shoveled snow, and cleared a hundred toilets. What can I say, it’s a glamorous job.

You’re probably thinking “gee Doug, why didn’t you pay someone else to do the dirty work?” I’ve always surrounded myself with an amazing support system. I believe that’s the key to success in this business. But the fact is I was better at handling the emergencies than anyone else. You have to be “hands-on” in this business or details will fall through the cracks. I’ve learned the hard way that nobody, no matter how much you pay them, gives a damn as much as the company owner.

To be a successful vacation rental manager you need to be; a people person, a marketing expert, a problem solver, a human resource manager, a psychologist, a maintenance technician, and you need to love what you’re doing. If you’re not passionate about providing great service the burnout factor will get the best of you and your business will suffer.

I sold my management company a few years ago and my time is now spent advising other people how to market their vacation rentals and grow their businesses. I’ll probably run another rental agency (or two) some day but for right now I’m enjoying sleeping through the night without interruptions.

Doug Meeder is a consultant and advisor to the vacation rental industry with over 20 years experience managing and marketing hundreds of properties in several different rental markets. Check out Doug’s blog at www.vacationrentalservices.net for additional information on his services and tips for marketing and managing vacation rentals.

Categories: customer service, internet, marketing, property management, rental procedure, vacation rental services, vacation rentals | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Using Facebook To Promote Your Vacation Rental

Facebook is a great way to promote vacation rental properties and connect with past, present, and future guests. If you follow some basic steps and post consistently you will have an amazing marketing tool at your disposal. The only investment is your time. Here are a few tips for getting started.

Start by setting up a page for your property. At the bottom of your profile (assuming you already have a Facebook profile) you will see a link that says “Create a page”. Once you’ve decided on the perfect name you can set up the rest of your page, add photos, and information about the property and surrounding area.

The next step is to invite all of your friends from your profile to “like” your property page. It may take a few requests over time to get a decent response but keep asking for followers and they will come. Grab your guest book and go through your records and invite your past guests to “like” your vacation rental page. Every time you have an inquiry or new reservation ask them to become a fan of your property. Search for groups that relate to your destination and join the conversations. Be careful not to spam your friends and followers with the hard sell but rather be a resource for local news and information.

Post at least weekly with local events, weather conditions, things to see and do, local history, etc. and occasionally add a direct promotion. Ask your guests to post their photos and experiences. Link your posts back to specific pages of your website. If you talk about something fun to do near your rental link back to your “activities” page. If you post a special or announce a package link back to your “specials” page.

Try to create posts that your followers will comment on and “share” with their friends. Keep in mind that Facebook automatically rates all posts by the amount of engagement they create. The more engagement you have the more exposure your property will receive.

Be patient and take the time to educate yourself. There are several good books on using Facebook and you will find lots of information in the Facebook help section. The biggest tip I can share is to just get started on Facebook, because chances are your competitor is already there.

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Make Your Vacation Rental Stand Out From The Competition

Rent Me!

The stagnant real estate market is forcing property owners to produce income instead of selling and new vacation rentals are coming on the market every day. So what can you do to stand out? Here are a few suggestions for gaining an edge over the competition.

Update your description and photos. Re-write your rental listing’ headline and description to evoke a sense of what your renters will experience while staying at your rental. Consider hiring a professional photographer and be sure to stage your photos for maximum effect.

Get rid of the add-on charges. Build your cleaning, booking, linen, and pet charges into your rates. Almost every owner that has followed this advice has reported a positive response and increased bookings. Be sure to announce the “No Fees” policy at the top of your listing.

Upgrade your furniture and decor. If your furnishings and decor are getting tired don’t wait for a negative review to take action. Invest in top quality bedding and linens. Replace your carpet and paint at least every five years.

Add new amenities. It’s one thing to install a spa or pool table (great amenities for sure), but think about the little things. Find a couple of cheap beach cruisers or snow sleds to leave for your guests. Other items include: dvd and book library, bath salts and oils, doggie bed and feeding station, board games, fishing tackle, hiking trail maps, etc. Be creative!

Offer packages. Offer a free 1/2 day boat or jet ski rental with a minimum nights stay. Try a lovers package that includes champagne and a gift certificate to a romantic restaurant or a birthday package with cake and decorations. You can build packages into your rates or offer them separately. Talk to your property manager or cleaning crew about helping you create something special for your guests.

The more creative you get with your vacation rental property the more you will stand out. The most successful properties are the ones where the owners or managers have taken the time to find out what their guests want and delivering the goods.

Please share what you are doing to make your vacation rental special.

 

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Difficult Guests and Negative Reviews

Now matter how well you treat your guests or how professional your operation is, sooner or later someone is going to complain. With the advent of online reviews, if a disgruntled guest wants to retaliate they now have a place to do it. You must have a plan in place to handle the unexpected breakdowns and misunderstandings that arise out of your rental policy, rules, and regulations. Every aspect of the operation, from the inquiry and booking process to the check out and follow-up should be simple and seamless, so that your guests can focus on the vacation experience.

Policy Complaints and Misunderstandings

Be certain that the guest has read and fully understands your rental rules and policies. That means having everything spelled out on your website and on your rental agreement; cancellation policies, rules and regulations, guest conduct, adverse weather, and check-out procedures. Signed copies of your rules and regulations should be kept on file in the event of a dispute or chargeback. Post a copy of your rental rules in a conspicuous location like the back of the entry or bathroom door. If a guest has a problem with your rules or policies you must be able to show them where they signed off on the rental agreement and explain to them why it needs to be enforced.

Breakdowns and Meltdowns

Poor communication is almost always the real problem. I always ask my guests to contact me immediately if they have any questions and I make sure they know that I can fix almost any problem – if I’m aware of it. When something breaks down in the unit or the guest needs some personal attention you need to have a response team ready. If you’ve never had a phone call in the middle of the night from a guest in a panic you haven’t been doing this long enough.

To prevent a manageable problem from becoming a major inconvenience to the guest you need to be able to handle the situation quickly and efficiently. Find a local person or service to act as your emergency responder. Hybrid management companies (like mine) specialize in “for rent by owner” support services. The key is to be prepared for the unexpected.

Guest Reviews

Set up a Google alert and conduct an audit of your reviews on a regular basis. The best way to protect against negative reviews is to make sure you have plenty of positive reviews out there in cyber space. Offer an incentive to your guests for sharing their vacation experience with the world. If you receive a negative review and you were at fault – admit it. But choose your battles carefully. You don’t want to start an online spitting contest. Almost all review sites give the service provider a chance to tell their side of the story and people still appreciate honesty. If the guest was truly inconvenienced you may want to consider a small refund or some other form of compensation. Sometimes just being a good listener and offering a sincere apology is all that’s needed to put things right.

The moral of the story? No matter how hard you try some people will never be happy. Try not to take it personally. Remember that you’re in the hospitality business and the customer is king. That’s why many owners choose to work through a property manager, they don’t want to have to stand there and smile while Mrs. Angry is screaming about how the lack of hot water ruined her vacation. The best advice I can give is treat your guests with respect and sincerity – just as you would want to be treated. Happy Renting!

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Create A Welcome Book / Users Manual For Your Vacation Rental

One of the best ways to help your guests enjoy their stay at your vacation rental is to create a comprehensive “Welcome” book. Chances are your guests will be unfamiliar with your property and the surrounding area and will appreciate all the relevent information you can provide. Here’s a few tips for creating a custom welcome book for your vacation rental.

Start with a nice looking binder or book with sections separated by tabs. Use top loading page protectors to make sure everything stays in place. A picture of the property on the front cover and a hand written welcome letter as your first page are nice touches. Think about your own vacation experiences and what you would appreciate knowing if you were the guest.

Put together a “Fast Facts” page with basic essential information and place it near the front of your book – something that the guest can reference quickly for emergencies, etc.  Include sections on appliance operations, general instructions, local information, things to see and do, dining reviews, and tips for keeping the kids occupied. Your local chamber of commerce is a great resource for community and activity information.

Try to think of your welcome book as a users manual for your vacation rental. The more information you provide about the property the less likely your guests will call you in the middle of the night with questions that could easily be addressed at the property.

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