Friday, August 9, 2013

Vacation Rentals by Owner - Don't do this!

I told you I would do a post on what not to do if you are on the deed side of a vacation rental by owner, because its important for beach home owners to get feedback from those who rent. All to often, renters will simply find a better place to stay next time around instead of complaining, and beach home owners are left scratching their heads as to why they don't get repeat customers and their calendar is turning whiter and whiter as the "available" slots seem to multiply.

confused man

 Truth is, all the little touches in the world can not make up for these  egregious mistakes. Experience has taught me that simply owning a beach home does not necessarily make one good at it. Here is a list of 7 things you want to avoid doing after you check the listings of beach homes for sale.

1. Don't fail to make repairs/updates on an older home. Be assured that beach vacationers have many, many choices and most folks want to stay on a place that is nicer than the home they left, with at least the same amenities. Make sure the showers are running properly, the sliding doors open easily, and the televisions are flat. Don't make your guests feel that they've downgraded, or every single day will feel like a punishment because they do not have the things they are accustomed to.

outdated kitchen

2. Don't assume your management company (if you have one) is going to continuously do a good job unless you check up on them. If you cannot make it to the property yourself occasionally, have a neighbor check in for you, or solicit feedback from your most recent guests. Some management companies have a fantastic reputation and work hard to keep it, but some companies fall victim to human nature of laziness when it comes to repairs and cleaning, and unless you speak to the guests or have some other way of checking, you will only know something is wrong when its too late.

making a checklist

3. Don't falsely advertise your home. I kid you not when I tell you that we once stayed in this one floor home with broken sliding doors out to the pool (we had a toddler) and old fashioned, poorly working televisions described in the listing as a mansion. The entire house was a disappointment for many reasons, the first of which was because I was expecting so much in the first place. The description had the opposite effect the owner intended. If only they had told us we were getting a modest home on the gulf, I could have overlooked so many flaws and focused instead in the great location.

ugly beach house
The "Mansion"

4. Don't fail to update the decor. Be prepared to spend a little money on some new sofas, lighting bedding, and rugs.  Like Don't #1, you need to remember that your guests are looking to stay in a place that feels new, upgraded, posh, and even luxurious. If your guests sleep in a bed that squeaks with a comforter that looks like it came from Goodwill, you can guarantee they will be staying elsewhere next year. It's worth the investment. This room could really look fabulous with a few stylish pieces to update the décor.

outdated beach house
Why settle for this?

updated beach house
When it could be this?

5. Don't forget that you are in the customer service department.  If you or your management company are slow to respond to requests or complaints, or have otherwise poor customer service, you might not only lose your current client, but you also turn away all the potential clients that they could send your way. People talk; and I know I would gladly recommend a beach home to my many friends looking for something new if I, myself, enjoyed the stay.


6. Don't neglect the outdoors. Upgrade your patio furniture to standards commensurate with your interior furnishings. Clean up your landscaping. Add to your usable square footage by improving your "outdoor rooms" both visually and functionally. This plain, ordinary patio could feel like an extra amenity with a rug and some outdoor bar furniture. Check out our Pinterest Board called Outdoor Rooms for some inspiration.

outdoor room

7. Don't forget you are in the sales/marketing department. Consider how you can set yourself above everyone else; package your beach home rental in beautiful packaging, and tie it with a bow. You are selling an experience. Show that in your descriptions, your photos, your small touches. Don't expect your guests to know the gem you have created if you can't communicate it effectively.  I have a feeling, based on the updated furniture and décor, that this condo it actually quite stylish, but the photos don't do it justice at all!  It looks dark and small and not the chic space this owner has created and wants his/her potential clients to salivate over.

beach condo

This tip is last because once you follow all my advice above, you'll want to convey it to your potential clients and see the bookings start rolling in.  Let help you!