Friday, April 27, 2012

Is the Social Concierge the Answer for Hotel Social Marketing? | News Archives

Guests want local information, things to do. I wonder, though how many are listening to lodging providers for this info though, and if our help translates to good word of mouth or not.
Is the Social Concierge the Answer for Hotel Social Marketing? | News Archives

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bed sizes explained

I can never remember which California vacation rental has a California King bed and which one has a (Eastern) King bed. I've also had trouble figuring out why some sheets fit well, and others don't, most notably Ikea sheets on non Ikea mattresses.

You see, I did inventory today at my beach rental, AND I need a new mattresses for the king beds at the beach, and in the desert. So I measured the mattress, and then had to look up what the measurements meant. Turns out it's a California King at the beach condo.

Mattress size (width × length)
Single/twin 39in × 75in
Twin extra long 39 in × 80 in
Double/full 54in × 75in
Queen 60in × 80in
King 76in × 80in
California King 72in × 84in

A couple of things I learned:
-two twins do not make a king (wider & shorter)
-two twin xl do not make a king (wider, but same length)
-Ikea sheets are made for Ikea mattresses not US (the sizes are completely different)
-no wonder sheets don't always fit right

Maybe I'll figure out the depth of mattresses and sheets that fit them next?

I know this is an odd thing to fixate upon, but these things matter when you deal with people and their sleep needs on a regular basis!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Lost Art and Science of Front Desk Yielding | News Archives

Any article that mentions yield management in the lodging industry usually gets my attention. It's something I've had a gut for long before Escapia and others started talking about it at VRMA meetings, and something that I wish I could afford a computer model to do for me. That said, it always surprises me when vacation rental managers and owners don't know what their lowest available rate for their place is at different times. Not the published rate, but the lowest they are willing an able to take based on their variable costs/guest stay and booking, as well as their tolerance for risk (damage, etc). Here's a great article on how it applies to hotels, and something vacation rental owners and managers (and software/property management system providers) really need to think about as guests become more and more last minute and mobile oriented.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Five Questions About Last Minute Lodging Bookings

Reading this piece about how much the booking window (how far in advance a guest confirms the booking) for hotels has continued to decrease raised more questions than I realized I had... "A recent Priceline survey showed that 60 percent of customers with mobile web access booked their stays within 20 miles of their lodging. Of those travelers, more than a third confirmed bookings just one mile from their hotel." according to: Fighting the Incredible Shrinking Booking Window | News Archives.

1. Is this nuts or what?

2. Or do people just not really care where they stay?

3. Or has the traveling public bought all the press about "last minute deals" during the last 3 years of recession?

4. Or is it because we CAN book last minute as the author suggests?

5. What happens when the economy recovers and there is no room at the inn? Will the quality of service at lodging establishments decrease because management cannot plan staffing adequately?

Bonus Question: When do vacation rental managers get an automated RevPar based pricing model in their property management systems based on mathematical modeling, not our guts? Escapia has a clumsy tool, but it's far from the norm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

10 Questions to Ask Before Booking Your Vacation Rental

10 Questions to Consider Before Renting Vacation Accommodations Direct from an Owner or Property Manager:
  1. Where exactly is your vacation rental cabin, condo, or cottage located? Can I see a map and or have the address? You want to ask details about location, not generalities.
  2. Look at all the photos online and then ask (if it isn't clear) When was this rental last renovated or updated? With this question you are trying to find out if the owner has taken good care of their property. Renovations are not as important as a continual investment.
  3. What are all the fees associated with this vacation rental? Be sure that you know how much you'll be paying for cleaning, tax, security deposit and anything else. Agencies often add on booking fees. Also find out when payments are due and what the refund policy is.  Purchase trip insurance if need be.
  4. Do you have an online guest book for your vacation rental (these may be on their website, on TripAdvisor/FlipKey/HomeAway/VRBO - check them all)? Or Do you have any references I can call or email?
  5. Do you have a list of furnishings and amenities in the vacation rental? This will help you plan what you need to bring.
  6. Do you clean or have the place cleaned between guests, or is this something the guests do? What kind of departure cleaning is expected? How do you ensure your place is clean?
  7. Does the rental include parking passes, private beach passes, private country club membership? Or any other pass you might need.
  8. Do you accept PayPal or Credit Cards? These payment methods offer the guest more security if after all your research, the place is fraudulent. Keep in mind that it is up to you, the guest, to make sure your vacation rental by owner or via a property manager is what you expect. Individual owners cannot offer refunds just because you don't like the weather, decor, or the area. Property managers may not be able to move you to an alternative property.
  9. What time can I arrive and what time will I need to depart? What should I bring when I check in?
  10. Last but not least: make sure that you and the owner or property manager complete a clear contract and/or that you read the terms and conditions when you make the reservation online. It is in everyone's best interest to have a record of expectations and the contract.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Meeting Guests' Expectations for Vacation Rentals

I hear potential vacation rental guests worry about the same thing over and over again: confidence that the property will be as advertised. The truth is whether they know it or not, guests worry if the property will be as they expected.  I've found that the only time the typical vacation rental guest is unhappy is when the property they rented turns out that it's not what they thought they rented.

Guest expectations are comprised of many factors, only some of which are under the vacation rental owner or manager's control. For example: everyone expects a sunny day when they visit the Palm Springs area, but guess what? It  occasionally rains in the winter, and when it really rains. You can't control the weather, but the more information you give guests, the more you can control their expectations, and in turn be a honest AND successful vacation rental owner or manager.

Check out this video our our Palm Desert golf condo from this summer to see what anyone can do with a camera and a computer:

With a 1 minute video, you've shown them what they'll see when they first arrive, where they'll sit outside, what kind of BBQ they'll have, what their views will be, and where they'll be able to have fun (including the size of the pool - there are 46 at Palm Valley Country Club).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm Lost or Not?

I arrived in Portland Maine sometime after 11:30 PM which is about 12 hours after I left my home in San Diego. My Maine camp is just 45 miles north of Portland, so I set off in the rental car happy to be "home." Alas, there were some obstacles to overcome, minor for me, but major had I been a first time guest to Maine.

It's drizzly and the roads are wet. This instantly makes signs harder to read. First stop: toll plaza: $1 please. Thank goodness for the crumpled up $1s in my purse. Who carries cash anymore? Next stop taking 295 which seems confusing, and another $1 toll.

I had forgotten there are two seasons in this part of the country: winter and construction. As usual there is plenty of road work and signage to distract anyone on this dark night. The lane markers and the lack thereof add to the discomfort. Mind you,I know where I'm going,but it's been 2 years. I'm driving a rental car and still figuring out the windshield wipers and trying to remember I'm heading north with the water on the right instead of south. By the time I get to exit 31 for Topsham I'm Doubting my memory. The local landmarks are reassuring and I'm feeling good. Until the first detour sign for Rte 1 north. I followed the signs faithfully and end up by Bowdoin, fortunately I knew the way from there because the signs disapparated.

By this time it's well after 1 in the morning and the rest of the winding lightless drive seems so much longer than I remember. When I arrive at the end my signs are illegible and the camp as dark as night. I would be very discouraged if I were a first time guest to this vacation rental. All I could feel was "I'm in the middle of nowhere and it's damp & dark. I wonder how our guests ever get there!