Do you have all of your Christmas shopping done? Tom Aiello, division vice president for Sears Holding Corp. said "(A National Retail Federation) survey indicated 70 (percent) to 80 percent of people still had not done the majority of their Christmas shopping by the last week."
As you’re reading this, you might be thinking, "Okay Christine, have you gone off your rocker? What can this possibly have to do with vacation rentals?" Stay with me here…
Think about the most difficult person on your list. What you can you possibly buy the person who has everything? I’m sure there are millions of other people out there who are wondering, "What in the world can I get [fill in any name here] for Christmas?" Well, I have the perfect gift idea: MY vacation rental (or even yours!).
This idea came to me this weekend when I got a call from a man who was perplexed about buying his wife the perfect gift for Christmas. He had an idea that he wanted to run by me. He and his wife have rented many vacation rentals through VRBO before so he was very familiar with vacation rentals and all the strict cancellation policies that come with them. He asked me if I was willing to take a booking that might possibly change. While his wife had returned some of his gifts he had purchased in the past, he was quite certain she’d love the gift. But his dilemma was he wasn’t too sure about the exact dates they would want, though he knew it would be sometime in March.
While this is not my usual way of running business—to take a booking without exact dates, in this instance I was willing to make an exception. So here’s how we worked it all out.
We worked out some prospective dates that he thought would work and I went ahead and blocked them off but here’s the major difference: I did not require him to pay penny upfront! That’s right. The agreement we made was he’d pay the deposit after he presented the gift. I sent him a rental agreement and if his wife doesn’t like my cabin, doesn’t want to go to the mountains or just plain hated the gift, we’d cancel the reservation. Period-- no strings attached!
The best part of this story: After I worked out this deal with this man, I took another call from another renter who was buying a gift as well. He didn’t ask me for any special provisions. He was willing to take a gamble and just buy a weekend at my cabin for a gift whatever my circumstances were. I offered him the same exact deal and he was elated.
So if you want to capture some of those last-minute shoppers, go change your headline on your vacation rental advertisement to say something like: Gift Certificates Available!