Last month, I asked 40+ vacation rental guests to participate in a survey. A whopping 11 responded. I'm grateful for each and every one of their responses, but my statistics won’t be mind-blowing. However, the quotes I got are great! All the respondents were women, moms to be specific, ranged in age from 35 to 65, and reside in Virginia, USA. All of the stays at vacation rentals were with their family, extended family and/or friends.
I asked my 11 respondents six questions about a recent stay at a vacation rental. The questions were about whether or not they experienced any problems with the vacation rental, how the problems were handled with the property manager, what was their worst vacation rental experience and what was their best.
Two Words: Clean and Simple
One of the more popular, positive themes that come out of the answers focused on two words: Clean and Simple. I kept hearing those concepts when they spoke of their best vacation rental experience. Here are a few quotes:
“This rental was awesome because it was simple but clean.”
“The house wasn’t luxurious, but everything was nice.”
“The more the house reminds of a spa, the better.”
“It should be clean, clean, clean.”
“My favorite vacation rental had updated furniture, but it wasn’t fancy. It was simple.”
Two Other Words: Tired and Dirty
On the other side of the Simple and Clean coin is Tired and Dirty. Here are a few answers to the question, “What was your worst vacation rental experience?” Notice how not being clean is the theme:
“The worst was the one with ants. It was older and had not been maintained. The bedding was ancient and not comfortable. The blankets had lost all their fluff. The couches were dingy and not inviting.”
“One year I found a pair of dirty underwear under the bed. I had scooted the bed over to make room for an air mattress on the floor and that’s what I found.”
“Mosquitoes filled top level, broken deck door, overall unclean.”
“I just don't like vacationing in tired old, dirty places - I already have that at home ;-)”
“The furniture was cloth on the sofas and was very dirty.”
“House had bugs, bees, mold, must, plumbing issues. It was dark/dim, not well maintained.”
“Went to Corolla a couple years ago and the house was awful - nothing like the pictures. Dirty carpet, nasty deck with splinters everywhere, uncovered electrical sockets, etc.”
Whew. That’s not good.
What About Amenities Like the Kind You Find at 5-Star Hotels?
My last survey question was: “Do you think having items like fancy soaps, high-quality sheets, and beach towels provided in the vacation rental when you arrived would have a positive impact on your opinion of the vacation rental?”
100% of my respondents (okay, yes, that would be 11 people, but still!!) indicated that yes, having some combination of nice soaps, lotions, toiletry items, upgraded linens, and or beach towels would have a positive impact on their opinion of the vacation rental.
One guest said, “It would be a step beyond. It means they actually thought about it more than just getting it cleaned.”
Another guest said, “Absolutely! The little details make a big difference.”
Should You Charge Extra for These “Extra” Things?
Yes and no.
Some you could charge extra for, and some items could be offered free, as nice surprises for your guests.
For example, for beach towels and sheets, you could offer the choice to the guest during booking. Using the Guest Option feature in Bookerville allows you to create numerous options, include photos, and indicate if they are taxable or not. The guest sees the price during their online booking or booking request, and decides if they would like to pay an additional fee for the extra convenience of not having to bring beach towels or sheets.
On the other hand, I think it would be lovely to provide small but luxurious amenities such as soaps, lotions, shampoo, conditioner and other small toiletry items as a free gift to your guests. If you want to start small, just provide them in the master bathroom perhaps.
I think the most compelling quote from my respondents for offering certain amenities is this one:
“Yes, having items like fancy soaps, high-quality linens, and thick beach towels would have a positive impact on my opinion of the house! It is so nice to know that you don't have to worry about linens and certain toiletries when going to a hotel; it would be nice to know that when going to a vacation rental.”
One Last Thought: If You Go the Amenity Route, Don’t Neglect the Other Things
Make sure the basics are there first before you go and add some niceties. Here’s a quote from a guest who experienced an embarrassingly squeaky mattress at her most recent vacation rental:
“Nice soaps and towels would definitely make a difference in my opinion as long as everything else was fine. Having those things in a crappy place would make me think, "You spent money on this and not a new mattress??????”
Speaking of Guest Amenities…
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