Hopelessly Stuck in the 80s!


I had known “Betty” for as many years as I had been in the vacation rental business.  As the manager of her vacation rental property we had developed a wonderful relationship however her property had a less than stellar rental history.  The property was “dated.”  This vacation home was immaculately clean, meticulously cared for, well-loved but hopelessly stuck in the 1980s.   Foil wallpaper that matched heavy floral-printed drapes, low back peach color velvet sofas, brass and glass, carpet throughout to include the bathrooms … I’m sure you’ve got the picture.

We lowered the rental rates to compensate for the dated décor but the repeated comments from guests were… the owner obviously “did not care” and would “not spend the money on updating the property for her guests.”   I tactfully discussed these comments with “Betty” and she agreed to do a few updates … we installed new carpet and had tile laid in the bathrooms, I purchased a few shabby chic pieces to add a little charm and we replaced the old TV  in the living room with a new flat screen.  Despite the improvements the negative comments continued.  On her next visit to the desert we met at “Betty’s” vacation home and after telling her that we were still experiencing challenges due to the dated décor …. she told me this story …..

“Betty” and her husband had bought the property in the 1980s when it was newly updated and absolutely beautiful.  It was to be their retirement home and they dreamed of the day when they could finally move to their desert home, put their feet up and enjoy life.   Unfortunately “Betty” lost her husband before he reached retirement age.  With tears in her eyes she explained that this was why she did not want to change anything about this home.  For over twenty years visiting this home took her back to happier days with her husband and their dreams of the future.  Now it all made sense to me.  With Betty’s permission I changed my approach.  All silk flowers, porcelain love-bird designed vases, knick-knacks and heavily ornate furniture pieces; I carefully wrapped and stored in the garage when preparing for guest arrivals.  Then these items were put back in place prior to Betty’s visits.  Uncluttered, the property took an immediate turn and we had a dramatic increase in reservations.  This plan worked well for many years.   Not long ago “Betty” joined her husband.

Every property has its own story … sometimes there is a much bigger picture than we see!


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