I’m gobsmacked every time when I hear a short-term rental owner say they have never stayed in a vacation rental.
To me, that’s like opening a sushi restaurant having never tasted raw fish and seaweed. How do you know what’s a good combination for your visitors? How do you know what flavors go together? What will make even the most sophisticated connoisseur gag?
You can tell which restaurants are simply into the daily grind - passing out barely edible food to an empty restaurant for a small profit margin and they’re just getting by. Or worse- going into debt.
Contrast that with my friends Liz and Bill, who own one of the most popular restaurants in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They had to turn down the Food Network because they are already too busy. Bill cares. He’s in there every morning prepping food, tasting, getting things perfect.
And Liz...she’s upfront with a smile on her face, training and retraining the staff, carrying dishes, or doing whatever is needed to make sure guests have a great experience. She is a customer service rock star.
When Liz and I get a chance to go out, she orders a plethora of dishes, sampling them, and making notes on them to take back and use as inspiration in their restaurant, The Kill Devil Grill.
Just like Liz checks out the competition, we need to do the same thing. If you’ve never been on a doorstep.. uncertain if you are in the right place...calling the owner because they didn’t give you the keycode...and they won’t answer their phone, it’s hard to be empathetic when the same things happen to your guests.
You have to sleep around. Try a variety of places and take notes. What did they do really well that you could incorporate into your business? For example, Yonder, in Asheville, provides to-go coffee cups in their downtown lofts. You’re in the heart of the central business district (CBD) and you don’t want to waste a minute of time in artsy Asheville. It’s brilliant and simple.
And easy to replicate.
You also need to sleep in your own places, regularly. Every bed. You could be totally surprised. Pillows that you thought were terrific in the store could be miserably hard. The mattress could be sagging. That cobweb on the ceiling? Yeah, your guests see that, too. The water stain above the bed? Where did that come from?
You’ll learn from each experience, the good ones and the bad, what you can do to up your game.
BONUS: Download and/or print out this Inspiration Worksheet and fill it out the next time you stay at someone else’s vacation rental. Watch your business reach the next level!