Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vacation Rentals & the Little Things Guests Will Appreciate

Neat as a pin and looks like home -- even though
it's in Tuscany.

When a guest comes to your vacation rental for the first time, they're stepping into a home they've never been in before. They don't know where everything's at, and they certainly don't know how everything works. This is especially true when it comes to little things. While nearly everyone can figure out how to run the dishwasher or microwave, figuring out how to turn on a ceiling fan or get the TV to play a DVD can sometimes cause unnecessary frustration. Also, there are other "little things" you can do to make your guests stay easier. Here are a few tips and hints:

Labeling. Small labels can help guests quickly and easily know which switch turns on the ceiling fans, porch lights, garbage disposal, etc. Also, labeling can help them find the trash can in the kitchen, as well as various supplies (trash bags, paper towels, etc.). Of course, labeling too much can cheapen the look of your vacation rental, so you don't want to go overboard. Think about what might confuse a guest in your property and label when needed.

While the view would be enough, the potted cacti
and lovely patio set give this stunning balcony
a touch that makes it feel warm and inviting.
Instruction Sheets. Think about the instructions you leave for the house sitter when you go on vacation. The instruction sheets you leave for your guests should be similar. First, keep them short--the front of one page at the most. Second, write them in bulleted lists--short sentences--and categorize them area or function of the house (for example, "kitchen," "garage," "beach supplies,"). It’s the type of thing a guest may never read, but having it on hand will give them a reassurance that they have a place to turn if they have a question (and may save you some middle of the night phone calls),

Be sure to leave detailed instructions on how to operate the remote controls for the TV, as well as other entertainment systems. While you may be familiar with them, others won't be, and each one is different.

Frequently Asked Questions. Along the lines of instructions sheets, prepare another 1 page sheet of Frequently Asked Questions about the unit or the area.

Cigarette Butt Containers Outside. Even if your property is non-smoking, people may still step outside to smoke. Give them a discreet and safe place to dispose of their butts. The location of these containers are the type of thing that can go into the instruction sheets. You'll find that most smokers will be glad to use the containers you provide.

Provide Quality, Working Clock Radios. In every bedroom, be sure to keep a clock radio. Even with all the smartphones and cell phones, people still like to have a clock radio on hand. Your main competition, hotels, motels and resorts, offer them, and so should you.

It almost goes without saying. If you have a pool,
it should look this pristine and clean.
Stock the Kitchen with Basics. Have spices on hand for cooking, including local spices your guests might enjoy. Salt, pepper and sugar are essential. Have a couple of regional cookbooks on hand--bookmark your favorite recipes so your guests see them. Make sure there's coffee and filters (coffee drinkers will love you for this, especially if they get in late and don't have time to get their own at the store). Keep fresh dishwasher detergent on hand (sometimes, it can get wet, which causes it to harden and become unsightly). Again, think about the basics needed for a kitchen to function. You don't have to go overboard, but if you go the extra step, guests will appreciate it.

Make sure you have enough silverware, plates, glasses and coffee cups for the number of guests your vacation rental can accommodate. All other utensils should be checked and replaced if necessary before each new arrival. Besides a coffee maker and a microwave, consider offering other appliances such as an espresso maker, blender, automatic can openers, mixers, etc.

Have Bathroom Essentials on Hand. Travel size tubes of toothpaste and a new, unopened toothbrush is another small touch that can pay big dividends in terms of guest loyalty. Many hotels offer free toothbrushes and toothpaste for travelers who forget theirs. Soap and small bottles of shampoo, air freshener and plenty of toilet paper also give guests the feeling that they're welcome in your vacation rental.

Of course, there are other things you may want to do to make your guest feel special--gift baskets, bottles of wine upon arrival, that sort of thing. Those are great too. But you'll likely make the biggest impression by ensuring that a guest feels at home in your rental immediately. Making them comfortable by paying attention to the little details will do just that.

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