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Archive for February, 2013

My Adventure as a Guinea Pig at a Vacation Rental

A Guinea Pig Vacation Rental Guinea Pig on a missionat a Vacation Rental

There has been a lot of talk lately regarding the best ways to discover if you are meeting your guests’ expectations by going on your own vacation and analyzing your experiences.  Whether you decide to do this in another vacation rental or in your own, applying all you’ve learned can be invaluable.

I decided to try this experiment myself and see what I discover.   I rented a short term rental for one week.  Booking just like anyone else I found a location, looked at photos, studied the cost, checked reviews and then made my decision.

Taking a different approach in property selection

I took a different approach though.  I decided to “go all out” and book a property I would not normally book.  My philosophy was that if I book a property that meets all my expectations, I would take everything for granted.  On the other hand, if I were to stay in a property that is lacking, the conditions would force me to take notice.  So I found one with the following:

  • Location:         Good – Check – (I did want a nice location)
  • Photos:            Rooms missing in photos (bathroom, second bedroom), completely original, 1980s décor, oh….tube TV – Check!
  • Price:               Same as others in the area; no less, no more – Check
  • Reviews:         Could be better – Check

Yes my vacaiton rental getaway is awesome!Booking was a breeze.  It couldn’t have been easier.  The owners were very pleasant and wonderful to work with.  Entry upon arrival was smooth and all instructions for departure were conveniently placed on the breakfast bar.  The guest information book was a bit dated and could have used a cleaning, but some of the most important numbers (i.e. emergency, dining out) were included.  YES!!!

After such a wonderful reception from the owners and easy entry I was very optimistic about how my experience would unfold, but I quickly went

From this:                                                                                To this:

 Easy cooking at vacation rental kitchen                    Kitchen nightmare at vacation rental

in a matter of two days.

Not wanting commit Hara-Kari while I was there (and I’m also not a Samaria) I made the best of it and jotted down anything that I found hindered my vacation experience hoping that my findings will help others and I didn’t expire in vain.  The result was this table.   These are items that were missing from the rental or items that could have used updating.

Complete your analysis and start your own list

Take from this what you will; create your own – add your own missing items.   I hope it helps you get started on your own analysis should you choose to do one.

Kitchen: Comments
  • Cabinets/Countertop
 Not securely fastened
  • Ceiling
 Water spots or stains
  • Sink
 Leaks, caulking
  • Stove, Fridge, Microwave
 Fridge – poor working order, stains, rust
  • Large pot
  • Colander
  • Sharp knives
  • Salt and Pepper shakers
  • Grater
LR, DR, Bedrooms, Hallways:
  • Walls/Trim
Cracks, water damage
  • Closets
Poor alignment
  • Stairs
Loose handrails
  • Door
Misaligned
  • DVD player/Blu Ray
  • IPod docking station
  • AM/FM stereo
  • Television
  • Furniture
Rips, stains
  • Sturdy furniture legs
  • Extra batteries/light bulbs
  • Clean remotes and guest info book
  • Linens free of stains
  • Flat sheet
  • Fitted sheet
  • Mattress protector
  • Pillows (not enough)
Miscellaneous:
  • Washer/Dryer
Stains, rust
  • Fire extinguisher
Didn’t really need this personally, but thought I might for a minute and it wasn’t there
  • Floor fans
  • Broom & pan
  • Laundry hamper/basket
  • Fly swatter
  • First aid kit
Didn’t really need this either, but an after thought when I thought I might need an extinguisher
  • Mop/Pail /Cleaners
  • Beach/Pool/Hot tub towels – one per adult person
  • Cooler
  • Overall cleanliness

So, all in all, yes, staying in a vacation rental and analyzing my experience was well worth it and is highly recommended.  Thank you Mike Bayer of Cottage Rental Services for your article Don’t Just Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk. I took your advice, learned quite a bit and came out winning.  We take many things for granted until they are no longer around.  The best way to know if you’re missing something is to miss it. Here’s hoping all your guests smile like this.

Anita Ericksen Author of FF&E

Anita Ericksen is the author of FF&E, Furnish and Equip Your Vacation or Executive Property in 5 Days.  You can find out more about her at www.anitaericksen.com.  Photos are clip art and the guinea pig is not mine though I wish he was.

Where to find luxury accommodation in New Zealand

Luxury Accommodation New Zealand

Luxury Whare Kea Lodge in Wanaka New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the top travel locations in the world not only due to its pure beauty and breath taking scenery. By travelling in New Zealand you can have a chance to view spectacular sights and enjoy unique offerings that can be found nowhere else in the world. To top off such a great vacation, you will want luxury accommodation and New Zealand can certainly offer you that.

The Wonders of New Zealand

The best reason to travel in New Zealand is that you will be exploring a place that is truly unlike any other in the world. New Zealand spent a long period of its history isolated from the rest of the world, which gave it a unique environment of its own. There are many rare animals and plants in the country and the land is filled with drastic changes in terrain. You can enjoy skiing and surfing in the same day by just traveling a few miles. The country is a great vacation spot and is always at the top of the list when experts discuss the best places to visit in the world.

Great Mercury Private Island

Great Mercury Island. Photo a courtesy of Gordon J.B. MacGeachy

New Zealand is very much a land of wonder and beauty. When you travel to see the many breathtaking sights, you should make sure that your accommodations are just as luxurious as the places you are going to visit. Through excellent organizations like Seasonz Travel, you can make sure that you have the time of your life while being treated to all the comforts and lavishness that you know you deserve.

Luxury Lodges New Zealand

Blanket Bay Lodge Glenorchy New ZealandSeasonz Travel offers the best in luxury accommodation in New Zealand, beginning with a wide array of luxury lodges for you to stay at. You can enjoy all season lodges such as Whare Kea Lodge in Wanaka, which provides both privacy and a gorgeous view. If you want a more grandiose feel to your travel accommodations, you can try Blanket Bay Lodge in Glenorchy, which looks like a castle from the outside and has the best in comfort and accessibility on the inside. Blanket Bay Lodge is also at the foot of the mountains that serve as the gateway to Milford National Park. These are just a few of the many fine luxury lodges in New Zealand, each possessing its own unique charm.

Private Villas New Zealand

New Zealand offers a great deal of variety, and many people prefer a mobile vacation that allows them to see as many sights as they can. If this is the vacation style for you, then Seasonz can still help you find the very best luxury accommodation in New Zealand in a number of elegant and comfortable private villas. Eagles Nest Sacred Space retreat is set within a 75 acre estate atop its own private ridgeline offering spectacular views of the Bay of Islands and is within easy walking distance of the historic town of Russell, the birth place of New Zealand.

Eagles nest sacred space villa new zealand

Private Islands New Zealand

Great Mercury private island luxury accommodationIf you are looking for the absolute finest luxury accommodation in New Zealand then you can take a trip to a private island that offers seclusion in the Pacific Ocean and give you a chance to really look at the wonders of the world around you. One such island offered through Seasonz is Great Mercury Island which is located 25 minutes by helicopter away from Auckland mainland. This island features gentle rolling hillsides, beautiful white sand beaches, and a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean that simply can’t be matched anywhere else. The island is diligently maintained to make sure it stays in its natural state, giving you a chance to view New Zealand in a unique way while still enjoying the very best in luxury.

Luxury Accommodation on a Private Island in New Zealand

If you were going to New Zealand what luxury accommodation option fits you the best?

An empty vacation rental calendar leads to double booking

Why keeping your calendar up to date is so important?

empty calendar leads to double booking

Empty calendar? Chances are you will be double booked

Updating a vacation rental calendar is a tedious task we all dread.

What is even more time consuming is replying to inquiries for dates that are not available. While I have had clients who were considering changing their dates from time-to-time, it is not common place at all. However, failing to  update your calendar at all is a mistake. Inevitably, you will end up sending replies about unavailable dates and updating your calendar anyway.

To solve this problem, rentini recently released a new version of a calendar synchronization tool that makes it very easy to set things up so you can focus on other priorities.

A New Calendar Synchronization Tool

Here’s how it works, quite simple.

Step 4 of Create Your Listing page flow now has two options:

  • Update manually
  • Setup HomeAway calendar synchronization

If listing(s) is/are already created, then simply click on the Calendar link under Helpful Links on the Dashboard, then you see

update calendar manually or via synchronization tool

Two new options on the calendar page

Who wants to do anything manually nowadays? Let’s discuss how to setup the synchronization.

First login to VRBO or HomeAway and find the Export Calendar section.

Login to HomeAway.com or VRBO.com and find Export Calendar Data

Find the Export Calendar Data section

Then just copy/paste the link – very easy!

copy-paste the link from homeaway or VRBO

As simple as copy/paste

This will create a set of blockings that will show dates unavailable. Along with the existing reservations from Rentini it may look like a christmas tree. See how my calendar for the month of February looks like. I selected two properties to show and the final result is a merge of reservations with different statuses and synchronized blockings. Fun, huh?

Merged vacation rental calendar for two properties

A merged calendar with reservations and blockings for two properties

From the first sight it looks a bit overwhelming but once you know what every color means it becomes very simple to deal with multiple types of entries on your calendar. Check it out here:

Colored indicators

Every color indicates a different status for each entry. Blockings are shown in red.

We are interested to learn from your experience:

  • How do you keep all calendars up to date?
  • Where do you keep your primary calendar?
  • Can you share what are the biggest challenges with your calendar synchronization method?
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