The Power of The Review

reviewsI am always on the lookout for topics that will interest both vacation rental owners and renters  …  this article focuses more on owners, however, it also gives vacation rental guests a glimpse into some of the challenges that rental owners face.  Granted, there are owners out there who are aware of their property’s  “shortcomings” but most owners, especially the ones that manage their vacation home from a distance, are very concerned about their guest’s vacation experience and may not be aware of shortages or maintenance issues.  Perhaps a phone call to the owner, or their management company, will quickly remedy an issue and improve your rental experience and most likely save a great property a bad review.

As the owner and manager of Vacation Rentals of the Desert, I often run into issues that I was unaware of until reported by a vacationing guest.  Unless the owners actually spends time “living” in their vacation rental home, it is sometimes difficult to identify problems before they arise.  For instance … a broken toaster that the previous guest felt uncomfortable about reporting or simply forgot;  when the next guest finds that the toaster is not working, it may appear that the owner or management company simply does not care, which usually is absolutely not true.  Same for a chipped serving bowl shoved in the back of the cabinet or a torn sheet in the linen closet full of sheets.  Rarely will an owner or management company inventory and check the operation of every item within a property between each and every vacationing guest.   Unfolding every sheet to inspect for tears, pulling every dish out of the kitchen cabinet to check for chips and wear; it takes hours and hours and is usually done once a year, typically during the “off season”

If you are a vacationing guest, the best way to handle issues that arise during your stay, is to report it immediately then write your review of the property based on how the issue was handled.  That being said, I absolutely understand that you are on vacation and do not want to be bothered with repairmen or want to wait around for replacement sheets or towels, etc.  But, if the owner or management company is making every effort to find a happy solution, then you might just think back to how things unexpectedly go wrong at your own home.  It happens in every home … appliances and air conditioners break, sheets tear, dishes chip, toasters stop working … “stuff happens!”

For home owners, whether you handle your own vacation rental or list your home with a professional management company, the following article should be of particular interest to you.  The very slightest problem in an absolutely beautiful and pristine property, could result in a devastating review that plummets your property’s desirability.  Vacation Rentals of the Desert has experienced each and every one of the issues mentioned in this article, avoiding them whenever possible, but ultimately it is the owner who makes the final call on recommended upgrades and replacements.

So I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to read this wonderful article posted May 23, 2014 by Mike Bayer of CottageBlogger.   It perfectly demonstrates “the power of the review.”



Oh no…..a negative review! The day you get the first of these is never a happy one and there’s always a knee jerk reaction that will throw you into defensive mode. How dare they? Don’t they know what damage publicly displayed bad feedback can do? It’s completely unfair and we have to get it removed.

But hold on a moment. Take a deep breath and take some time to consider what prompted the negative comments. Could it have been easily prevented by taking a proactive approach? Although some situations are impossible to predict many complaints arise from completely preventable scenarios and taking steps to avoid them can save you time, stress and the potential for negative reviews.

Here’s a few you may want to consider. Some have examples drawn from real Flipkey reviews.

  1. The property was not as described

Giving a misleading impression or being economical with the truth of a situation will generally come back to bite you with a complaint that the property was not ‘as described’. Nobody wants surprises and if the reality doesn’t match with the description and photos you’ve provided, because you have omitted a significant feature, a complaint is bound to follow. Being transparently open about the shortcomings of your property can bring you more satisfied customers because people appreciate honesty and candour.

Prevent this by: Being upfront with the negatives as well as the positive of the property

Click here to read entire article ….


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Girlfriend Retreat !!

c226729a-2578-476a-b1d0-514c4474fc5e.1.10Hey…I missed ya’ll last week!

Well … maybe just a little.

This past weekend I took a vacation … a “girlfriend weekend” at a vacation rental at Lake Arrowhead. This was my very first experience actually renting a vacation home.  After almost 19 years managing vacation properties it was time to turn the tables. The photo above is a picture of the lake taken from our Lake Arrowhead cabin’s wrap-around porch.

The owner of one of the properties I handle in Palm Springs also has a vacation cabin in Lake Arrowhead. Personally knowing the owner, I felt comfortable renting the cabin for a short weekend trip. With my girlfriend Lori from Redlands and Lynn from Carlsbad, we headed up the mountain on Friday afternoon to spend a weekend of shopping, girl-talk and catching up on each other’s lives. The three of us met and worked together at an advertising company in Orange County in the mid-90s. Over the years we have stayed in contact and our families have grown close, but getting together for large family gatherings over the holidays and during special events left little time for the three of us to connect as girlfriends. Sometimes we get so involved in the “business of life” that we lose track of time and the friendships that we’ve forged along the way. See my post May 11, 2014 “Plan a Destination Event for Family or Friends.”

So Friday afternoon we rendezvoused at Lori’s house in Redlands, piled into her SUV and up the mountain we went … leaving temperatures of 100 plus, heading for the low 80s with a breeze off the lake … heaven! Once we found the cabin, we quickly unpacked the car and explored our weekend home. It was absolutely perfect! Three bedrooms, two baths, a spacious and comfortable great room with fireplace, a large flat-screen TV … and a fantastic view of the lake from every window and French door. Once settled we took inventory of the kitchen supplies, salt, pepper, aluminum foil, etc. then headed to the grocery store in the quaint village of Lake Arrowhead.

Over the weekend we had dinner out at an excellent Mexican restaurant overlooking the lake, shopped and purchased souvenirs (for me, a picture of a cow for our kitchen much to my husband’s chagrin … yes there is room for one more picture honey), a movie at a theater in Blue Jay (“Maleficent” in 3-D … great girlfriend movie), cooked, relaxed, drank wine, talked and even caught an old Audrey Hephurn movie on TV. We caught up on each other’s lives … for the most part, shared our accomplishments and told more than a few secrets. We had a fabulous weekend and vowed to make it an annual event.

Discoveries I made as a 1st time vacation “renter”   ….

1) Shop for groceries and supplies AFTER you take assessment of the supplies at the property.

2) Be sure to write a review on the property. This is HUGE for the property’s success. If the property is managed by a vacation rental company, you may have to write your review in the form of an email sent directly to the company. You may want to ask whether the company will send you a “review request.” If you are renting directly from the owner (VRBO or any rent-by-owner site), you will need to go to the on-line listing to post a review.

3) If you have minor suggestions for the property … consider putting your ideas in a separate email … not in the review. Depending on how the review is scored, noting the lack of insignificant items such as coasters or a flashlight, might bring the rating down. If the property was absolutely perfect “except” you wished there had been a cookie sheet … perhaps a separate email with your “suggestions” would be more helpful.

4) Our experience would not have been the same in a hotel. Being in the “business” I already know this … but here is a great opportunity to drive home this point! Three grown women sharing one room and one bathroom would have been cramped unacceptable … three separate rooms would have been expensive. Visiting would have been uncomfortable and eating every meal at restaurants … costly! At our vacation cabin we had the luxury of relaxing in our PJs till late morning and visiting in a comfortable living room setting or on the porch overlooking the lake, the pine trees and at night, the stars. We had loads of fun and saved costs by cooking most of our meals in the fully equipped kitchen, then stashing dirty dishes in the dishwasher. We relaxed and had wine without having to draw straws for who would be the designated driver. When planning accommodations for more than one … consider a vacation rental !!

5) Don’t wait for someone else to suggest a family or friend get away! Lori, Lynn and I have been friends for over 23 years and this is the first time we have gone away on a “girlfriend only” weekend. Was it worth the cost? Oh heck yeah … absolutely. Split three ways …. about $200 each! We had a blast and created memories to last a lifetime … it was a bargain.

Hey Lori and Lynn … 358 days and counting!

Oh … and here’s my cow!



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