I just came across a great article by Heather Bayer on how to find the best vacation rental. Her points are very well taken and give a perspective from an owner's point of view, that potential renters should consider when choosing a vacation rental. Read on:
There are many thousands of vacation rental properties available on web sites, through rental agencies, and listing sites. Finding the perfect one for your vacation can be quite a challenge, and sometimes even when you feel you have found just the right one for your family, there is a good possibility that someone gets there before you, and you lose the week you want.
Here's a few secrets from vacation rental owners that may help you find the perfect place, create a great relationship with the owner, and have the most amazing vacation.
1 Remember that you are not reserving a hotel room. Owners who rent out their homes are real people who have spent much time and effort on making the place comfortable, ambient and fully equipped for their rental clients. A good rental will provide you with all the comforts of home, a well decorated environment, entertainment systems, a kitchen with everything you need to create family meals, and comfortable bedrooms. The owners are likely to be very proud of their home and only want to rent to people who will appreciate it. This means that if you treat them as you might a hotel or resort reservationist, they might just turn your request down. From my own experience, I like to have people in my cottage who I think will respect and enjoy the experience of staying there, so I want friendly renters that I can chat to on the phone and assess if they are right match for my property.
2 When you speak to the owner or agency, don't be vague about the number of people in your rental group. When they ask 'how many people do you have', don't reply with, ' I'm not sure yet', or 'we haven't decided how many people will be coming', as this will start alarm bells ringing in the owner's mind. One of the greatest fears that a vacation rental owner has is that they will rent to a group of people who see the property as a 'party house' and invite all of their friends to come along and share the accommodation. Be specific about the people who will be in the rental group and respect the owner's accommodation limits.
3 Accommodation limits are usually determined by several factors. Firstly, the owner may simply decide to set a limit on how many people he will accept in the property based on the potential for wear and tear. This is his choice, and should be respected. So even if the property listing says it has five bedrooms, however the accommodation limit is set to six, resist the temptation to argue that since there are beds for at least 10 people, that is how many you will bring, as this will not endear you to the owner who may well end of the conversation there and then. The second factor is one that is common to many country properties that are not serviced by township septic and drainage systems. These places will have holding tanks or septic tanks, both of which have capacity limits which will place a restriction on the number of people the property serviced by the systems can accommodate. These limits are usually based on headcount so there is no difference between adults, children or babies. We often hear rental clients saying, 'they're only babies, they don't use any water, and they are in diapers anyway'. Even though it's quite a long way in the past, I can still remember that I bathed my babies quite regularly, and usually in the bath tub using more water than a shower would take.
4 Before you start e-mailing or telephoning an owner with a long list of questions, please check that the answers are not already shown on a web site or rental listing. Many owners have comprehensive web sites that provide all the information you need, and although they are happy to answer any additional questions, it is very helpful to them if you have already read the listing. If the property is very attractive and popular the owner may be receiving numerous enquiries every day and may be very selective about who they will rent their property to. Bombarding them with questions about features and facilities that are clearly shown on the listing may not result in a favourable response.
5 Many vacation rental owners welcome pets; many do not. Please don't expect an owner of a non-pet-friendly property to accept your 'adorable, well-trained, hypo-allergenic, Labra-doodle-poo', even if it is crated, kept under control at all times, and 'never allowed on furniture or beds'. If the owner doesn't like dogs or cats, you won't change his mind by pleading or asking in a dozen different ways. It would simply be better to either accept you have to put your pet into kennels, or find another property. In any case, wouldn't you prefer to bring your much loved pet to a property where he or she is welcomed with a few dog treats?
I have owned several vacation properties over the past 20 years and have met many people, some of whom are now good friends. Along the way, I've learnt a lot about my rental guests, what they expect, and how I should provide a space that is just right for them. As a responsible owner, I work hard to create that space and offer good value for money, and in return I simply look for respect for my property and an appreciation of the special nature of a rental vacation. This type of vacation is not right for everyone, and if you are looking for the type of sterile, impersonal environment found in many hotels and resorts, then v not be right for you. On the other hand, you may find that once you experience vacation rental for your family, you will never take any other type of vacation again.
Heather Bayer is CEO of CottageLINK Rental Management, specialising in cottage vacations in Ontario and Southern Quebec. http://www.clrm.ca. She is a sought-after expert on vacation rental and writes regularly at Cottage Blogger
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