Discrimination In Vacation Rentals?

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A study by three Harvard researchers found “widespread discrimination” against people with black-sounding names on Airbnb. Credit Matthew Millman for The New York Times

 

Discrimination by Airbnb Hosts Is Widespread, Report Says

DEC. 11, 2015

Airbnb likes to refer to itself as less a company than a “community.” To that end, it has made trust between real people a cornerstone of its business strategy in short-term home rentals.

But new research suggests that when users get real, racism can result.

A working paper by three Harvard researchers found “widespread discrimination” by hosts against people with black-sounding names seeking rentals. Fictional guests set up by the researchers with names like Lakisha or Rasheed were roughly 16 percent less likely to be accepted than identical guests with names like Brent or Kristen.

“Clearly, the manager of a Holiday Inn cannot examine names of potential guests and reject them based on race,” the authors wrote. “Yet, this is commonplace on Airbnb.”

Airbnb, valued by investors at roughly $24 billion and based in San Francisco, said in a statement that it was “committed to making Airbnb one of the most open, trusted, diverse, transparent communities in the world.”

Last July, the researchers sent housing requests to roughly 6,400 hosts across five cities: Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington. Renters with names that sounded African-American got a positive reply about 42 percent of the time, compared with roughly 50 percent for white guests.

The results “are remarkably persistent,” the researchers wrote, with whites discriminating against blacks, blacks discriminating against blacks, and both male and female users displaying bias.

The authors suggested the solution is simple: Don’t require users to reveal their names.

With more than two million listings across 190 countries, Airbnb has robust data on the reliability of its hosts and guests, from verified profiles to reviews of fellow users. Benjamin G. Edelman, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School and one of the paper’s authors, argued that those metrics are what should count when evaluating whether to go ahead with a transaction.

“Compare that with whether the guest’s name is Barack or the guest’s name is Bono,” Mr. Edelman said.

“At some point you say, ‘You know maybe it’s nice to see people’s names and faces, but gee, think about the harm that this causes for some people.’”

Airbnb, a standard-bearer of the so-called sharing economy, has argued forcefully that anonymity is incompatible with building trust between users. The anxiety attached to letting a stranger into your home, the argument goes, is lessened by a name and friendly face.

“Access is built on trust, and trust is built on transparency. When you remove anonymity, it brings out the best in people,” Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb, said in 2013. “We believe anonymity has no place in the future of Airbnb or the sharing economy.”

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A Great Way to Add an Extra Bed

 

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Have you seen these CordaRoy’s sleepers yet?  May be a good idea for a little extra room in your rental property.  Heck … I’m thinking of purchasing one for my home!  Has anyone out there tried these out yet?  I’d love to hear your opinion … or email me at vickie@vacationrentalsofthedesert.com

 

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Keep Calm and Do the Right Thing

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It is my belief that the recent popular quote that pops up everywhere …  “Keep Calm and Carry On,” stems from the realization that despite “an ounce of prevention”, “Murphy’s Law” often manages to foil the “best laid plans.”  How’s that for a cliché … or two?

Managing a vacation rental property is all about “keeping calm.”  When Plan A … which is the best case scenario … you prepare and everything goes off without a hitch … i.e. the property is perfect, tenants are happy, property owners are happy.  But when something does go awry, it all comes down to how you handle Plan B.

I have found that when deficiencies are reported by a tenant, people often have a knee-jerk reaction.  This ugly reaction may be human nature or it could be what we “perceive” as negative feedback, we take too personally.  For example, the reaction to a broken toaster … How did the tenant break it, or a leaking toilet when it was not leaking during the owner’s visit just days before is blamed on the tenant.  When a tenant reports an issue … our reaction and solution can ultimately define a tenant’s stay and us as vacation rental managers.  Many posts ago, I told the story of an owner who we called to report that her vacation property’s dishwasher was not working.  Even though it was within our power to make the repair without consulting the owner (it is a required appliance), due to the older age of the dishwasher, we wanted her involved in the event she preferred replacing the dishwasher rather than repairing a twenty year old model.  The owner’s knee-jerk response was to inform us that she would not repair or replace the dishwasher, but asked that the tenants wash dishes by hand.  This said after the owner had received $14,000 for the three month country club rental.

Sometimes we all have to step back and “take a minute” as they say … but it is often how we respond to “issues” that defines us.   How you or your management company reacts when forced into a Plan B, as mentioned above, defines you and the rental experience of your tenants, which is almost always going to show up in a property review that can either enhance or damage your property listing and effect future rentals.  It’s totally up to you!  This is what I do …. I put myself in the tenant’s shoes and try to do the right thing.

Everyone at Vacation Rentals of the Desert wishes you and your families a Merry Christmas!

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A Picture Pretty Vacation Home!

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Coming up with fresh new stories for this blog each week is sometimes a challenge.  With almost two years of Sunday posts, this being the 101st, sometimes I am inclined to cheat a little and just post pretty pictures.  Today I am doing exactly that … and I happen to have some very pretty pictures of a fantastic condo.  This home recently signed up with Vacation Rentals of the Desert and just had professional photos taken two days ago.

Know anyone looking for an amazing vacation home?

This home is located in Indian Wells, California in a great gated community … Casa Rosada.  It is a 2,100 sq. ft. condo with two bedrooms with private en-suites, a powder room, a cozy den with fireplace, an amazing great room and faces South, offering spectacular mountain views and lots and lots of sunshine.  This is not your “typical” vacation rental.  It has been furnished with the amenities and quality you would have in your own home.  In other words …. no corners have been cut … from the quality furnishings to the beautiful cookware and table setting … this home is absolutely flawless! 

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Micromanaging? Are You Shooting Yourself In the Foot?

 

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Today’s post addresses situations that we, as vacation rental managers, go through daily.  Property maintenance, repairs and upkeep of supplies, but more pointedly, how owners handle these issues and the charges they incur.  I will give you two examples that came up this week.  If you are a property owner, you will want to take note.

First I will say that Vacation Rentals of the Desert is perhaps a bit different than other vacation management companies.  When a maintenance or repair call comes in from a tenant, we try to contact the owner to give them a heads-up on the issue and let them know how we plan to address it, or in the event that we can speak to the owner, discuss how it can best be handled.  I believe that it is best to give owners a heads-up rather than blind-side them with an unexpected bill on their statement.

So in this first example, an older, retired couple called to report that a smoke detector is chirping, indicating that the battery needs to be replaced.  We call the owner and leave a voice mail message as well as send an email.  We call our handyman and send him over to change the faulty battery.  When changing batteries, rule-of-thumb is to change ALL the batteries.  If all the batteries are the same age, typically they will run out at the same time.  This practice will most likely save multiple trips as each battery dies out.  We did not hear back from this owner until she received a bill for $40 … and absolutely threw a fit!  Apparently she had changed all the batteries two months ago and she did not want to pay for this maintenance.  I calmly tried to explain that the majority of the charge was for the handyman fee and that between the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, four batteries were replaced.  She informed me that in the future, for non-emergency calls, she would like to speak to us BEFORE we send out a handyman.  She said that she knew people that would have done the job for about $10!  Here is my view … this was an emergency as far as the tenants were concerned.  A chirping smoke detector would drive anyone crazy!  The batteries the owner had purchased a couple of months ago … at least one was bad, leading me to think that the others would have gone soon and an additional trip charge for changing a battery the next month would have been even more irritating to the owner.  You may think that the owner should have supplied replacement batteries in the property but think again … you absolutely do not want tenants, climbing up on a chair to change the batteries, older retirees, or young … it is a liability risk to the owner in the event of a fall.  The cost for four batteries was about $15, leaving the handyman fee at $25.  Try to find a reliable handyman for $25!  Local handymen typically run from $45 to $125 per trip.  And finally … REALLY!  The tenants paid over $3,000.  Owners need to remember that there is a “cost to doing business.”

My second example comes from a gorgeous property, completely remodeled and updated, hence a high-end rental rate.  The couple staying at this property are just lovely, and when asked how they were enjoying their one month stay, only had one negative to report … no toaster.  There was a toaster oven but as I’m sure most of you know, toaster ovens do not do a good job toasting a piece of bread.  They told us that their toast came out hard as bricks.  On our “minimum requirement” list, we note that properties need to supply a toaster or toaster oven.  Not any more.  I’ve changed that … toasters are a must!  So, we contacted the owner who promptly told us she was not going to buy a toaster and that the toaster oven was fine. This time of the year is not the height of rental season.  It is difficult to find tenants for the month of November and early December … they come few and far between.  Our season does not kick in until late December … so a tenant now is a very welcome bonus to an owner’s season and generates several thousands more to their annual gross.  But … alas for this property, even after loaning a toaster, from one of our employees much less, this owner has lost a repeat customer.  The tenants have already found and secured an alternate property for next year.  Now there is no guarantee that a $30 toaster would have secured these tenants for next season, but you can bet that over the long run, there will be other tenants with the same complaint.

I know this post sounds like I am venting … and I am, I guess.  Owners sometimes ask me how they can improve their rental income and my answer is always the same … give us a nice, well maintained property … then let US manage it.  Sometimes owners unknowingly, get in their own way and cost themselves money.  Spending $30 or even $100 to secure a repeat tenants that generates thousands of dollars would seem to be a no-brainer!

There are a few important facts that owners have to keep in mind.  #1) This is a “business” and owners must learn to separate their feelings from the property when rented.  Whether you manage it yourself or have a professional … tenant’s needs and wants should not make you angry.  Basic needs are not negotiable.  Expect to spend money … continually … as you do at your own home.  When a smoke detector chirps, toilet leaks, toaster is requested … this is part of the deal and if it makes you angry, you are in the wrong business … period!   #2)  This is important for those who have a management company: If an owner constantly challenges or blocks maintenance issues, repairs, minimum required supplies and is basically difficult to work with … common sense is that when prospective tenants inquire about rentals and a reservationist has multiple properties available … guess which property the reservationist is going to push?  The path of least resistance, always … the property where repairs will be made and supplies kept up, where owners won’t call yelling and upset about repairs and the properties where the tenants won’t call upset with the reservationist that recommended that property.  This is simple human nature.  I don’t know why all owners don’t see this.   #3) For professionally handled properties … we, management companies, don’t make our money by addressing maintenance, repairs and various issues.  In fact these events hurt our company and may damage our reputation, as well as the property itself due to bad reviews.  We do not make these things up!  We do not like coordinating work and repairs, taking pictures, sending employees to verify the damage or that there is a missing item … that is not our primary business.  We do not like sending owner’s bills.  We do not like having to explain how the tenant did not cause the sink to leak or the batteries to expire in their smoke detectors or why they would need a proper toaster.  So when issues arise, most companies just want to get them handled as quickly and inexpensively as possible so that it does not ultimately end up in a bad review.

So I’m letting off steam.  This is a post I have wanted to write for years but have avoided for fear of upsetting vacation property owners.  It is very upsetting when working hard for a property owner, to watch the owner shoot themselves in the foot with a bad call.  I would say about 50% of our property owners take any “constructive” comment from tenants personally and in a negative light.  I spend a lot of time walking eggshells, soothing hurt feelings and justifying repairs and the costs associated.  It is one of the worst aspects of my job.  I really hope my owners are reading this post!

Photo:  http://hubpages.com/family/Things-My-Mother-Said

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Mythbusters: The Vacation Rental Edition

scrooge-mcduckI hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday!  

Now … back to business!

Today I’m sharing a wonderful post from TripAdvisor’s blog … Vacation Home Rentals.  For years, Vacation Rentals of the Desert has listed the properties that we manage on FlipKey, the vacation rental division of TripAdvisor.  I am very happy to see TripAdvisor post articles, such as the following, that shines a positive light on the vast majority of vacation rentals. 

 

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Mythbusters: The Vacation Rental Edition

Vacation rentals come in all different shapes, sizes, and locations and, while it’s easy to become a bit overwhelmed by the variety of properties online, you shouldn’t let that get in the way of finding the rental of your dreams. Still not convinced? Here, we’ve debunked five of the most common myths plaguing the vacation rental experience.

Myth #1: Vacation rentals are too expensive for the every-day traveler, and are only available to those who swim in seas of gold like Scrooge McDuck.

The truth: Vacation rentals can be a very affordable option for travelers looking to get the most out of their money. While some rentals do range from super affordable to excessively lavish, that range means there is something available for travelers no matter what their price range. To compete against larger hotel chains, most vacation rental owners/managers offer lower rates, more amenities and no hidden fees that pop up at check-out. A 2014 study by Statista showed that 53% of respondents said that they chose vacation rentals over hotels because they actually ended up offering lower rates than hotels. So, think twice before you rule vacation rentals out based on cost – they can offer a great savings, especially when they replace a group’s need for multiple hotel rooms.

Myth #2: That luxury, beachfront villa will turn out to be more like a shoebox with a view of the highway sign pointing in the direction of the beach.

The truth: In reality, it’s only the most negative experiences, which are few and far between, that actually get any press. Although it is very common among travelers to fear that the vacation rental will be “significantly not as described” (SNAD) the majority of travelers who’ve stayed at a vacation rental have positive experiences. According toPhocuswright’s industry study, Vacation Rental Marketplace: Poised for Change, nine in 10 vacation rental guests intend to rent again and would recommend the experience to a family member or friend. Vacation rental owners and managers take great pride in accurately showcasing their properties, and if the rental isn’t measuring up to be quite as picture-perfect as the photos indicate, it will be evident in the reviews for the property.

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Myth #3: Locking down a vacation rental requires 10 different email exchanges, 5 phone calls and is overall too difficult.

The truth: With the emergence of safe, online booking platforms like ours, finding and booking a vacation rental has gotten a whole lot easier in recent years. Simply pick your destination, compare properties that pique your interest, and inquire on or book the rental of your dreams. You can even pay directly through the site using a credit/debit card or PayPal, so that your vacation is protected and you don’t have to worry about any SNAD myths coming true. Finding and booking a rental is so simple now, you’ll finally have a reason to use the Easy button gag gift collecting dust on your desk.

Myth #4: You need to bring your toolbox on vacation because you’ll be all alone if something goes wrong at the property.

The truth: Most owners/managers take preemptive measures to make sure that their property is in tip-top shape for renters, because no one likes to deal with emergency maintenance issues – even owners/managers. Rentals are typically professionally cleaned before check-in and after check-out and some are even cleaned throughout your stay, so you don’t have to worry about the state of the rental. Whether you’re renting from an individual owner or a property management company, you’ll likely have access to assistance around the clock, in case any issues arise. It could be an on-site property manager or the personal cellphone number of the owner, but either way you’ll be covered when you need help.

Myth #5: If your stay is less than 7 nights, don’t bother inquiring because no one rents for less than a weeklong stay.

The truth: As the vacation rental marketplace has expanded enormously, many owners/managers have relaxed minimum night stays making rentals perfect for weekend getaways and short-term stays. The great, unique thing about vacation rentals is that you’re often dealing directly with the property owner and every owner has different policies. Accepting one, two and three night stays is a great way for owners/managers to fill last minute openings and availability during the off season. It never hurts to ask when you find a property you love for a quick retreat from reality.

March 10, 2015  By Meg Schulte

Article and Photos:  http://www.vacationhomerentals.com/blog

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Start a New Thanksgiving Tradition!

turkey-on-grill-corrected-728x444Happy Thanksgiving!

This will be a short post today.  I’ve brought a truck-load of work home that I need to tackle.  Our rental season is here, holidays are fast approaching, tomorrow we have a new employee to start training and everyone at Vacation Rentals of the Desert is busy, busy, busy!

wedding-chefs-4I’m hearing weather reports … up north, some states are getting not inches, but feet of snow already!  So here’s my sales pitch … we still have a few vacation properties, kitchens all decked out and ready for your family Thanksgiving holiday!  Our weather is perfect … in the 70s with lots of sunshine.  No snow to shovel or family to worry about navigating icy roads on their way to grandma’s house … we’re not bundled up in coats and huddled around the fire.  While you’re slipping and sliding around in the ice and snow we’re golfing, enjoying a morning swim or bike ride.  Thanksgiving is taken outdoors with a big fat turkey cooking on the barbecue and friends and family enjoying the perfect weather on the patio while kids play in the pool and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or football game are playing in the background.

 

The perfect Thanksgiving to some … skip the cooking and exhausting clean-up, and have dinner with the Indians … at a casino buffet.  This is what my family does every Thanksgiving.  We have many Indian casinos in the Palm Springs desert and most offer an amazing Thanksgiving Feast.  With one vegetarian, a couple of picky eaters, various degrees of dieting and at least three guys with voracious appetites, the variety, quantity and simplicity of a buffet is a no-brainer for my family.  Only down side is … no leftovers, however eliminating the stress and mess of cooking for a huge family is so well worth a trip to the deli if the urge for a turkey sandwich hits. 

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So think about it … maybe it’s time for a new family tradition … something your family can look forward to all year long.  Give us a call, it’s not too late for this year or to plan for next!

I wish you all a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner!

Are You Renter-Ready for the Holidays?

family-cooking-thanksgiving-dinnerIt’s a busy time of the year for Vacation Rentals of the Desert and with just ten days until Thanksgiving and about six weeks until Christmas … owners should be asking themselves if their vacation rental property is ready for holiday guests.  Today’s post contains tips, and what I call “Rules-of-Thumb,” that I share with all of my property owners.  Following these tips will assure that your property is well supplied and comfortable for your holiday guests and throughout the year.  No owner or management company wants to be pulled away from their Christmas Eve festivities when a tenant calls requesting a roaster for their holiday turkey.   A little thought and preparation may be all it takes to make everyone’s holiday care-free.  Who knows … your vacation home may become an annual tradition for a happy family.  Now wouldn’t that be perfect?!

Rules-of-Thumb!

Rule of Thumb #1:  Your kitchen should be equipped with ample cooking, baking and serving supplies to serve at least twice the number of people that your property will sleep.  In other words, if your property sleeps six … it should be equipped to serve twelve.  And when I say “ample supplies” I mean, turkey roaster, enough pots and pans to cook up to four vegetables, bake-ware for casseroles, muffins, cakes, pies, potato mashers or electric hand-beaters, etc.  You should have ladles, tongs, oven mitts and pot holders, cutting boards, good cooking knives and utensils.  And this also means setting a nice table with matching placemats, dishes, silverware, cutlery and glasses.  If your guests are entertaining they will want to set a beautiful table of which they can be proud.

Rule of Thumb #2:  Never “Pinch a dollar to save a penny”:  I see this all the time and I cannot stress this enough … if you balk at supplying the above for your holiday guests then maybe you are not suited for the vacation rental business.  If spending an additional $100 to $200 on beefing up your kitchen is out of the question for a $2,000 rental … please explain to me your thought process.  There are two facts that you should be looking at here:  1) Creating repeat tenants.  If your kitchen is ill supplied the tenants will not return … no matter how much you’ve discounted them!  2)  You want a good review.  I’ve mentioned in past posts just how powerful the review is.  If a prospective tenants reads a review from a past tenant saying that says the kitchen was disappointing and not well supplied … it will definitely cost you rentals.

Rule of Thumb #3:  Even if “this” tenant is not cooking or entertaining, a well equipped kitchen is never a deal-breaker … however a poorly equipped kitchen is definitely a deal-breaker!  Quick side story … a few years back, my husband and I rented one of our owner’s vacation homes while we were having work done at our property.  It was a two bedroom property that would sleep up to four people.  The kitchen was equipped with six sets of silverware, six sets of dishes, etc.  I had to wash dishes between each meal since I could not justify running the dishwasher with just a few dishes.  Since we stayed at the property a full four months, we purchased more kitchen supplies and left them as a gift to the owners.  Your typical tenant would not do this … they would have called the owner for more supplies and perhaps noted the deficiency in their review of the property. 

Rule of Thumb #4:  It is not necessary to provide holiday décor.  If you have tenants booked over Thanksgiving or Christmas, they will decorate as they see fit.  A live poinsettia or holiday candle left as a gift is appropriate if you are feeling the “holiday spirit,” but putting up a tree and holiday décor can be off-putting to a tenant even if you do know their religious persuasion.  I have seen this happen over and over and often tenants will comment that it was a nice gesture, but they would have preferred not having the various decorations … many people go way overboard on holidays … especially Christmas.

Tips!

I do a lot of shopping for our properties and spending other people’s money can sometimes be stressful.  I’m always looking for furnishings and supplies that are substantial and look expensive but do not break the wallet.  Below are a few of my favorite shopping tips.

Tip #1:   Everyone loves Corning Ware and it can save you lots of money and cabinet space.  Corning Ware is perfect for the table as a serving dish and can be used in the oven and microwave.  If you have white dinnerware (which I always recommend since they are easy to replace … even miss-matched white dishes and plates can work!), white Corning Ware is a perfect complement to any table setting.  I usually look for the boxed set with lids, available at Bed, Bath & Beyond … and of course use a 20% off coupon.

Tip #2:  You should have a large bowl for serving salad … not wood and not plastic.  Home Goods is my “go to” for white porcelain serving dishes, all of which can be purchased for less than $10 each.

Tip #3:  Make sure all your silverware is matching and of some quality.  I recommend a complete service for twelve including serving pieces.  Always turn the forks and spoons over to make sure the back is finished.  This week I purchased a complete 65-piece set with twelve place settings from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $99.99 and with a 20% off coupon the cost was $79.99.  You don’t need to spend a fortune … you just want it to look like you did.

Tip #4:  That sterling silver that you hate to polish is NOT a good option for your vacation rental property!   Believe me … your tenants do not want to polish it either.  Pack it up and put it in the attic!

Tip #5:  Matching placemats are a must!  I recommend the type that can be thrown in the washing machine and matches your décor and serving pieces … no plastic or woven straw type materials.

Vacation rentals are not as easy as one may think and tenant’s expectations are very high.  I’m faced with new challenges every day and tenant requests ranging from egg-cups to humidifiers, rolling pins to electric mops.  Some requests are justified, some funny and some just make me shake my head and say “what the heck?”  But remember … the customer is always right … even when they’re not!  As always … please feel free to contact me.  I’m happy more than happy to share insights, information and tips.

Photo:  http://www.hercampus.com/school/conn-coll/6-best-things-do-thanksgiving

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Things to Consider When Considering Pest Control

vlcsnap-2013-05-29-23h55m12s89Antmania!

So today I wanted to talk about pest service … extermination.  Often my weekly posts will reflect events of the prior week.  This week it’s all about ants.  We had about six properties with ant invasions since last Sunday’s post.   You wouldn’t think ants could cause such a commotion, but to our tenants, it was like … The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  The worst case … an emergency call at about 8 p.m. one night.  The tenants reported that their kitchen was literally crawling with ants and they either wanted us to move them to another property or to a hotel.  Since we didn’t have a property to move them to and the option of a hotel was not only costly but would further inconvenience the tenants, we sent our handyman over with a big can of Raid and the hope of solving the problem until the exterminators could be called the next morning.  Surprisingly, there are no 24-hour emergency extermination services!  Thank goodness, the tenants were troopers and settled in for the night without any further problems.  First thing the next morning, our exterminator went over and found a huge nest under a stone slab in the interior atrium and slayed the offending critters.  He later told us that he had never seen such a bad case of ant invasion inside a property!  So the final cost … besides the inconvenience to the tenants … the emergency handyman fee and a can of Raid, the exterminator, about $60 in lost pantry food, the cost of cleaners for a deep clean in the kitchen to remove dead bodies and insecticide, and the tab for two breakfasts at a near-by diner, where the tenants escaped during the cleaning.  I guess we’ll see how tolerant the tenants are when we receive their review.  In this case there was nothing that the owner could have done to prevent the invasion … nothing was overlooked, the property was spotlessly clean … it was just the time of the year … reseeding of the golf course.  Happens to us every year, but this year has been particularly bad and may also have something to do with our current drought.

So this is just a story to demonstrate how things can suddenly go wrong and quickly get out of hand.  The appearance of creepy crawling critters is very disturbing to vacationing guests, but bugs are a fact of life wherever you go.  How quickly they are addressed … now that is up to you and will definately be reflected in the tenant’s review.  I have found that a small pest control company is often more desirable than a large nation-wide company when it comes to fast service, and in the vacation rental business, everything needs to be dealt with fast.  The small, local pest control service we use is not only more accessible, but can fit in emergency service quickly.  For example, I have the owner of the company we use, Insect Eliminator’s, on speed-dial.  This past week, I called him immediately after sending our handyman out to deal with the ants.  I left a voice message hoping he could squeeze us into his morning schedule … which he did …  and by 8:30 the next morning he was knocking on the tenant’s door.   We have many clients who are signed up for monthly service through larger pest control services such as Western, and it typically takes a day or two before they send a tech to deal with an emergency.  I prefer mom-and-pop size services for just about everything.  I’ve found that they often provide a more personalized service, are more accessible and flexible and have more competitive rates … all of which are important when managing a vacation rental home.

This finally brings us to the topic of monthly pest control.  I often am asked by new vacation property owners whether they should sign up for monthly extermination.  My usual answer … maybe no … or at least not until you find that you have an ongoing pest issue.  Basically I have found that most tenants do not want to be bothered by an exterminator during their vacation and many are afraid of or are allergic to the chemicals in the pesticides.  If you decide to sign up for a monthly service you will want to make sure that the service tech calls you first to set up an appointment.  When your exterminator calls and your vacation home is occupied, then you understand how tricky this can be.  You will have to track down your tenant for approval and a time that is convenient for them.  Not everyone will be keen on the idea of a contractor, even if bonded, entering the property when they are out.  So with this in mind, you can see why I prefer an “as needed” scenario over monthly service.

Ahhh … the many joys of vacation rentals!  This week …  Antmania!

Picture: http://www.disneyfilmproject.com/2011/11/tea-for-two-hundred.html

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Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

 

Why you absolutely need pillow protectors!

 

article-new-thumbnail-ehow-images-a07-k4-v7-prevent-pillows-turning-yellow-800x800With all the bed bug stories on TV and in magazines you better believe your guests are inspecting  your beds with a magnifying glass.  Surprisingly it’s not bed bugs they are finding but something almost as disturbing … stained pillows and mattresses!  I’ve said this before … one open-mouth sleeper and the pillow is ruined.  Might as well throw it away.  Short of replacing pillows between each guest … and there are those who do … it is best to purchase quality pillow protectors.  Guess what a spilled cup of coffee looks like on a mattress?  A mattress is an expensive furnishing to replace so protect, protect, protect.

My company, Vacation Rentals of the Desert, requires pillow protectors on all sleeping pillows, including the extra pillows you store in the closet, AND mattress covers, including sofa-beds.

The protectors are relativity inexpensive and can be washed between guests.  I usually pick up quality pillow protectors and mattress covers from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  They should be water resistant but NOT plastic.  The plastic covers will definitely protect your pillows and mattress but will most likely be removed by your guests.  They are very uncomfortable, hot and make all kinds of sounds when moving around in your sleep. If you’ve ever spent a night in the hospital you will understand.  If they are removed, their purpose is defeated.  I would also avoid the low end protectors.  You will be basically paying “lip service” to the idea of a protector.   This would be equivalent to using two pillow cases and provides very little protection against moisture, oils and sweat.  My opinion … you’re wasting your money … and be prepared for phone calls from your guests!

I found the following information on http://www.ehow.com  

article-new-thumbnail-ds-photo-getty-article-81-9-78634363_XSHow to Prevent Pillows From Turning Yellow

Pulling off your pillowcase only to find a yellow-stained pillow underneath can be a bit disheartening. After all, your pillow is where you rest your head for the night. Pillows turn yellow from body oils, sweat and saliva that seep into the pillow while you sleep. Since you can’t really control these natural bodily functions, take other preventative measures that will keep your pillows from turning yellow.

 

  • 1  Keep a pillowcase on your pillows. Wash the pillowcases once a week along with your sheets.
  • 2  Put a zippered pillow cover on your pillows over the pillowcases. Not only will these covers help protect the pillows from yellowing, they will also help to keep dust mites out. Remove and wash the pillow covers once a month. Take note that pillow covers are different from pillow cases. They are made of materials that don’t allow body oils and other fluids to seep into the pillow itself.
  • 3  Wash your pillows three to four times a year. Check the label on the pillow to see if it’s machine washable or needs to be hand washed. Make sure the pillow is completely dry before putting pillow cases back on.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_8000487_prevent-pillows-turning-yellow.html#ixzz2vVIOC4Bc

If stained pillows are your biggest concern you are lucky … your guests could be finding bed bugs! 

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