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If you like reality shows, two are worth checking out - Hotel Impossible and Restaurant Impossible.  Both shows highlight a failing business with the expert called in to save the day.  They don't have a lot of time to figure out a solution and in most situations involve mom and pop businesses.  It's easy to make comparisons to owners of vacation rental properties and ones that lack good strong property management.

 

When dealing with owners, the manager's job is to point things out, educate them how to make the most of their property to attract guests and stand out in the vast inventory available on the Internet.  If you have a fantastic slope side property or an amazing beachfront home, or even a cabin in the woods, shouldn't you do everything in your power to make it the best it can be?

 

Just like hotels, in the vacation rental industry there are many areas to focus on.  If you don't have a lot of experience it can be overwhelming to decide where to focus your attention.  In some cases it's just damage control, running from one crisis to another.  Owners sometimes choose the wrong thing to focus on, something that might not have the most impact on the guest experience.  Why bother with crown molding if the furniture isn't in excellent condition and stylishly put together?  The owners of these properties are generally good people.  They may be highly educated and successful but they don't understand the vacation rental industry.  They've spent a lot of money to buy a vacation home, decide to rent it, but then are resistant to their property manager's advice as to what improvements are critical to success.  They are not dumb people; they just don't understand the industry.  Would you try to open a dental office just because you liked the office location but knew nothing about being dentist?

 

The property manager is put in the unenviable position of being straightforward with owners.  Sometimes it almost requires doing back flips to get an owner's attention.  There are lots of websites that suggest what you must do to be successful with you rentals.  Some are much better than others.  Steer clear of the ones that request you to "like" their Facebook page and they will then "like" yours.  Stick with the serious business issues.  You must have a property that looks welcoming to guests from the moment they arrive.  The furnishings must be in good condition and reflect current trends and styles.  It's always surprising that owners lose sight of these basic things. 

 

When the revenues are down what's the first thing they do? Stop spending any money on improvements on their property.  As though that is somehow going to magically turn things around.  "Let's hold off on cleaning the carpet."  "Let's not replace the sagging worn sofa until the income increases."  "If we put in a flat screen TV in the living room how much can we raise our rate?" 

 

Let me break the tough news, a couple of upgrades are not going to result in a higher rate.  At best, it might help to maintain the current rate.  Over time and with continued upgrades the rate will increase but it depends on your particular market.  You can jack the rate up to the sky but if every other property in the area is renting for less, guess what's going to happen?

 

Companies with written standards and regular evaluation or rating programs have a much greater success rate with getting owners to improve their properties.  They understand the business.  They have a knowledgeable staff member running the department, someone that is genuinely interested in educating owners as to the trends and their market.  They can present their reports to owners in a non-threatening and respectful manner.  There will always be legitimate reasons that people cannot spend money so it is up to the manager to come up with creative solutions to accomplish the impossible.  Nothing is gained by not being honest and direct.  But you also have to listen and be compassionate when needed.  Over the years I have seen a number of my gifted property manager clients accomplish the impossible simply because they had excellent rapport with their owners.  They tell the owners what they need to hear and in return the owners trusted their knowledge and advice.

 

I am conducting 3-Day Intensive Training Seminar in Palm Coast, Florida on September 9-13, 2012.  Discounted registration is available until July 25. 

For further details see 3-Day Intensive Training for Property Managers

 

 

 

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