"For the want of a Nail" - Details make all the difference
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Most of us are familiar with this childhood poem and it is not very difficult to see how this applies to managing your rentals, hosting your guests and getting rave reviews.
It seems very intuitive, doesn't it, yet so often we hear back from renters about little details that were missing, tainting an otherwise wonderful vacation. In these days where on line reviews of everything from toasters to TV's count for SO much, continuing success as a rental owner demands some attention to the details. The GOOD news is that often there is very little cost associated with this. Very inexpensive items can make a world of difference to guests and often make the difference between poor reviews and great reviews. In terms of "bang for the buck" advertising money, these can't be beat.
We've listed some examples here, but it is by no means an exhaustive list.
Pillows and blankets - make sure there a plenty on hand - in addition to being used for sleeping, pillows might make their way to the living room during a family movie night. A couple of extras might provide some impromptu comfort.
Garbage bags and cleaning supplies - Sure, guests might bring their own, but garbage bags are pennies each. Isn't it just good sense to have plenty on hand? Same goes for food plastic wrap, tin foil, salt and pepper. Spices are a little more in terms of initial cost, but the availability of the basics will be much appreciated by the family cook.
Garbage tags - if you are in a municipality that requires purchased tags for each bag, make sure your guests have an ample supply. For the want of a few dollars, why leave your guests with a frustrating experience of not knowing where to buy them, or worse, trying to cram all their garbage into 1 or 2 bags because that is all they are allowed. The worst case is that you leave them in the situation of having no room in their car upon departure and left deciding what to do with extra refuse.
Games, puzzles etc. - These items are very inexpensive in many stores and provide hours of family fun. It is imperative, though, that they be clean and complete. The completion of a puzzle is a source of pride for many, while a missing piece or two, undiscovered until the very end, will result in a definite let down. For the cost of dollar or two, is it worth the risk of having the latter effect?
Flashlights and spare batteries - Available at dollar stores for, well, for a dollar. Cottage country can be dark and often guests don't realize HOW dark until they get there. Buy several. If one or two disappear, you'll have spares.
Toilet paper - need we say more?
Personal items like soaps, toothpaste, shampoo - while guests are often asked to provide these items themselves, it is an inexpensive means to providing an "all included" feeling. Even if you don't want to provide these as a matter of course, it is a good idea to have a stash on hand in case of emergencies, and it's fair to ask guests to replace what they might use in this case.
Beverages - When your guests arrive after a long drive (perhaps after a detour or two), they will be tired and thirsty. A few dollars makes coffee, tea and a 6-pack of soft drinks available to them upon arrival. What a welcome feeling that is!
Welcome gifts - these are not mandatory, but again, for a very small cost you can set the tone for the guests' experience. Even a simple note of welcome, hand-signed by the owners, make guests feel special and welcome.
Some of our owners even go so far as to leave a doggie treat if they know Rover is coming. Again, many of these can be purchased in bulk at the start of a season and included as necessary.
Last Fall during a cycling tour, I arrived at a B&B after 100 km in the saddle, on a very hot day, to discover that the operators (knowing I was arriving by bike and likely to be thirsty), had two cans of cold grape juice on ice in my room. That simple detail made for a fabulous impression, and made the potentially major issue of no hot water in my shower a very minor detail. It made all the difference in my stay.
Let's change the poem...
With a happy child, a mom was comforted.
With a cheerful mom, a dad was relaxed.
With a relaxed dad, the BBQ supper was magnificent.
With a great meal under their belts, the family had a wonderful evening at camp fire.
After a great stay, the family wrote a great review.
With great reviews, the owner attracted more wonderful families.
And all because of a 75 cent soft drink...
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