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No Vacancy: Maximizing ROI

4 Posts tagged with the amenities tag
0

The Dad Factor, as I define it, is what adds up to make all Dads 100% awesome. Each Dad’s factor is comprised of varying levels of ego, competency, age, # of children, stubbornness and many other elements. 

 

However, within the factor there are some basic certainties that apply universally to Dads, certainties that might be considered when looking at Dad’s experience in your vacation home.

 

First, what do we know about Dad’s role while in your vacation home?

  • He is usually the one to unclog the toilet (who clogged it notwithstanding).
  • He is usually the one to change a light bulb.
  • He is usually the one to fix “it” when it breaks.
  • He is usually the one to figure out how to use the TV and remote.
  • He is usually the one to fire up the grill.

 

Considering the above, there are things that we, as vacation home owners, can do to increase the likelihood that Dad will Love his stay in our home and ideally become a CFL (customer for life).

 

Here are some ideas (please share yours in a comment below):

                                                                                             

Help him be useful if he wants to be (he does), so give him the right tool for the job. 

Make sure that Dad will have no problem finding the plunger when his 4 year old princess uses half the roll of toilet paper.  Better yet, upgrade your plunger to the type intended for big clogs.  You know, the ones for heavy doodie use? 

 

While at the hardware store, it’s not a bad idea to pick up a twenty dollar basic home tool kit when you are buying that HD plunger.  Having basic tool kits in our houses has had a positive ROI by helping Dads resolve an unexpected situation for us, preventing a call to the handyman.  After all, every Dad is somewhere on the handyman spectrum.

 

Help him be the problem solver. 

Make sure there is a flashlight with good batteries so he can investigate that noise outside.

 

Let Dad replace the light bulb your property manager hasn’t noticed is out yet.  Put a few of each type of light bulb somewhere accessible but out of the way, such as an upper cabinet shelf.  Dads usually are the ones asked to reach it off the upper shelf anyway. 

 

Help him prevent meltdowns by providing basic step by step TV/DVD/Satellite instructions with the remote control so Dad can get the Disney channel on before the little one loses it.  It’s her vacation too! 

 

Provide long wooden matches or a long BBQ grill lighter somewhere in the kitchen or near the grill so if the igniter isn’t working (as they often aren’t) the burgers and dogs won’t be delayed.  BEST PRACTICE:  Give the grill a good cleaning every checkout, Dads always appreciate a clean grill.  And provide proper tools (stainless steel grilling instruments) for the job! 

 

Help him make great memories.

Help Dad easily make some lasting memories with his family while enjoying your house. Family board games or video games, pool toys, game tables like foosball or shuffleboard, or a basketball hoop can do the trick. 

 

What’s unique to your area?  Maybe you have a big lawn.  When was the last time anyone played croquette?  I have great family memories playing croquette with my grandparents, uncles, cousins and my Dad.  Those are the kind of Delightful Memories we want to provide.

 

Another delightful memory maker we’ve had success with is providing a waterproof digital video camera for our guests to use in the pool and around the house. Guests who want it willingly pay an additional $5/day for their stay and thank us specifically for it upon checkout.

 

The Bottom Line:  Dads are awesome, every single one of us.  Our experience in a vacation home should be at least as awesome as we are.  Vacation home owners can consider Dad’s experience and do a couple things to help Dad stay awesome while on vacation.  Do things to win Dad’s vote to stay at your house next time they come to town.  Help him be useful if he chooses to be, and help him keep his family’s trip from any hiccups related to the house.  Most of all, help him make some delightful memories that will further his family legend of awesome for years to come. 

 

Here’s to Dads, and to the rest of you who put up with us…Happy Father’s Day! 

 

Cheers!

 

Michael

1

Given that we now have four, yes FOUR (see sidebar) kids under 7 years old we have realized that we don’t want to, or should we say we are not able to, travel with strollers, highchairs, pack ‘n plays, Bumbos and a separate suitcase for toys and dress-up clothes.

Guess what?  Our (potential) guests don’t want to travel with all of that kid stuff either!

It turns out that giving thought and attention to the needs of the kids is great for business too because it allows us to tap into the three R’s that we all Love so much: Referrals, Repeats and Reviews.

 

Kids blog.png

Just a few reasons we have found that kids can increase ROI:

  • Kids often heavily influence their parents’ decision on which house to rent or return to.
  • Kids are fairly easy to please if you put a little effort into DELIGHTING them.
  • When we win over the kids we automatically win over their parents at guest review time and when they are sharing their vacation stories.

 

The majority of our guests are families with kids and usually one or more of the kids are under 10 years old.  There is no quicker path to a parent’s heart than through their kids. For that reason we make an effort during each inquiry to find out whatever we can about the kids in the group.

 

With the knowledge of the ages of the kids who may be staying with us we help parents and grandparents (potential guests) understand why our homes are ideally suited for grownups and kids alike.

 

Some of the kid-friendly features we have included in our homes:

 

  • Multiple strollers, two pack ‘n plays, a high-chair and a Bumbo.
  • Fully stocked game cabinet and toy closet. Best Practice – add a monthly organizational clean-out of games and toys to your PM Checklist!
  • Individually packaged kid snacks in the welcome basket.
  • Kid-friendly movies and video games for various age levels.
  • Automatic walk-on safety covers over the swimming pools.
  • Electrical outlet covers and cabinet latches where appropriate.

 

Detailing some of the features like the ones above sends a message to parents (potential guests) that “your kiddos will have fun in our home.”

 

Occasionally we’ll raid the clearance racks in the toy and clothing aisles to stock up on inexpensive treats for our little guests.  Five or ten bucks can go a long way toward the three R’s and net a pretty good ROI.  At check-in kids have found pajamas with their favorite Disney character on them, Disneyland signature books, activity/coloring books and inexpensive packaged toys just to name a few.

 

Do you have any kid-friendly features in your home?  Do you leverage them effectively during the inquiry process? How can you improve in this area?

 

The Bottom Line:  Kids are profitable!  Wait, that didn’t come out quite right.  I meant to say, kids are GREAT!  Plus, kids are great for business too.  Building Kid-Friendly features into the vacation home experience you offer will endear your business to your guests.  That means they are more likely to give you REFERRAL business, Repeat business and great guest Reviews.  We all know those three R’s add up to Maximum ROI!

 

So raise a glass of chocolate milk to the little guests and give them memories that will leave them longing for their “other” home.

 

What have any of you guys done to make your homes more kid-friendly? Please share your best practices and comments below.

 

 

Cheers!

 

Michael

 

P.S. Please forgive the shameless plug for our other newest baby, Pipsqueak®.  Remember a while back I mentioned we were working on a project? Well, Angela invented the first Bluetooth phone just for kids!  Like proud parents we’re just so excited that we want to tell the whole world about it. Thank you for your readership and please learn more and support our Kickstarter!

2

Sorry for the delay everyone, I’ve been “off.”  This is the time of year that Angela, the kids and I make the 1,350 mile drive to California for a getaway.  This time we invited another family along with us to really see things from our guests’ perspective.   

 

If you aren’t spending time “off”, as a guest, in the home you own or manage, you should be.

 

In this post I’ll share some of the things that we’ve uncovered during this trip.  We hope that you will:

 

  1. ) Benefit from some of our learnings, and
  2. ) Realize the value you can create by making it a priority to spend time as a guest in your home.Disney kids.bmp

 

We try to “get away” to our homes at least once a year.  Often we even block peak calendar time for ourselves because it always proves to be a great return on our investment (not to mention the write-off that the expenses from the “business trip” can provide).


I’m not talking about staying at your home for regular maintenance or while you remodel the bathroom.  Although maintenance and remodels are important, this time in your home is different.  This time “off” is meant to allow you to experience first-hand the joys and frustrations that your guests feel when they stay at your place.     


I’ll readily admit that it’s very difficult for us to stay in a guest’s frame of mind when there are so many things to be done as the owner.  But each time we’ve stayed it’s gotten a little easier to get away for partial and full days at the home and the insight has proven valuable. 

 

3 Useful Tips We’ve Learned:


  1. It’s easier to switch from owner-mode to guest-mode when you have Loved ones with you. 
  2. While at the home, only “work” on tasks that you personally add value to and try to plan your stay with a dedicated day or two for projects then the rest for making memories with Loved ones.  If something can be handled after you checkout or by someone else in the coming weeks, just make note of it and resist the temptation to knock it out during your stay.
  3. On your last day, sit in a comfy spot and ask yourself from a guest’s perspective, “What does this place really need to give me an experience to tell others about?”  (Read Creating Delightful Memories)

 

The Fruits from Our Stay:


  • Backyard sound system – In theory the surround sound in the family room was intended to easily provide sound in the backyard, but in practice we found that we really needed a dedicated music source outside.
  • Broken water guns are a bummer – After a two-day drive we all hopped in the pool.  A water gun fight quickly ensued only to find out that three of the four super soakers were completely non-functioning.  Went ahead and took care of this one myself…for the kids of course.
  • Fan made a slight knocking noise – This isn’t bothersome until you are trying to fall asleep under a clicking fan. I cringe at the thought that this has kept our guests awake like it did me.
  • Alarm clocks are clumsy and behind the curve – I wanted to play music from my Android but our alarm clocks were not equipped.  Most hotels offer this now; we probably should have them for $20 each.
  • Gate to the backyard was stuck – This only matters to whoever takes out the trash, but it’s an unnecessary nuisance that will be easy (for someone else!) to fix now that we know about it.
  • Half bath needs a “noisy vent fan” – Noises from a half bath downstairs make all who are within earshot uncomfortable.
  • Window glare on TV from setting sun – For about 45 minutes per day the big screen has a giant glare across it from a high window.  We found residual tape from one of our guest’s attempts to correct the same issue.
  • Additional finds:  
    • Needs more towel/closet hooks
    • Keys need a keychain/lanyard
    • Linen closet needs labels
    • Nail in the floor popped up – Ouch!
    • Toilet seats are loose
    • Several doors squeak
    • iPod cord is “lost”
    • Pack n Play is clumsy

 

The Bottom Line:  By becoming your own guest for a few days you will see your business from your guests’ perspective.  That perspective will help you make informed decisions about your business + smart investments into your business.  The output should lead to increased guest satisfaction = increased occupancy = increased revenues = increased ROI. 

 

Now quit “working” and go enjoy some time “off” in your favorite vacation home! 

 

Cheers!

 

Michael

5

The Little Things Can Make a BIG Difference!

“The drain in the bathtub was clogged.  And the toilet made noise all night.  And three light bulbs were out.  And we could have used some Scotch tape.  But other than that, it was a great NY apartment.”

 

pic 1.bmpThat is my feedback about the trip Angela and I recently took to New York where we stayed in an apartment we found on VRBO.  As a vacation home owner, maybe I’m more critical.  But nonetheless, that’s my honest response about the $625/night (peak) apartment we stayed in.  We didn’t pay near that, but will we stay there again?  Maybe.  Or maybe we’ll explore other options first.

 

How many “maybes” are your guests telling everyone but you because of neglected little things that require more thoughtfulness to fix than time or money?  What is your system for making sure the little things don’t give your guests the wrong memories (as in, not DELIGHTFUL).

 

Below are some easy ways to manage the little things:

 

1. Stay a While – We make it a point to stay in each of our homes at least once a year for at least three days, more often when we can manage. pic 2.bmp There are little things that our guests simply won’t take the time to point out. A good way to identify that the guest bathroom has a slow drip or the master bedroom door is difficult to shut is to experience those things yourself.  

 

*Best Practice – Invite friends to stay with you and ask them to be on the lookout for anything that might need attention.  This is a great way to spend quality time with Loved ones, enjoy your vacation home, and get a fresh set of eyes and expectations that will make your home better.

 

2. Check It Off the List – We have checklists for our PM’s that break out the little things.
Some items on our lists include:

 

Every CheckoutCheck Regularly and Replace As Needed
  • Tubs, Toilets, Sinks Drain Properly
  • Welcome Basket Snacks & Drinks
  • Billiard Chalk, Ping-Pong Balls, Dart Tips
  • All Light Bulbs, Spares Available
  • All Spa Jets are Working
  • Outdoor Stereo is Working
  • Electronics Remotes in Place
  • Flower Beds Refreshed
  • Dead Palm Leaves Removed
  • Central Air Filters Changed
  • Pool Toys, Rafts, Arm Floaties
  • Board Game Pieces, 52 Cards in Decks
  • Pens, Batteries, Tape, Notepads
  • Dishes, Tableware, Placemats

 

*Best Practice – For a FREE copy of our PM checklist, email Michael@USCVH.com.

 

3. Help Them Help You – Make it as easy for your guests to communicate little things that need attention. We call them “Uh Ohs” and “Oh Wells.” If they say “Uh Oh…” about something during their stay we ask them to let us know about it right away so we can try to fix it for them during their stay.  If they say “Oh Well” then we ask them to let us know at check-out so we can fix it for their next stay. 

 

*Best Practice – Three easy ways to gather feedback:

      • At check-in encourage them to reach out for any little thing - email and text messaging work great for this.
      • Hang a little dry erase board on the fridge with a note asking for the “Oh Wells.”
      • In your follow-up Thank You email/card ask them if there was anything that could have been improved upon for their next stay in your home (See my blog post on Soliciting Referrals).

 

The Bottom Line:  Minding the little things is a great way to maximize revenue through repeat business and referrals, and most little things are inexpensive and easy to manage. 

 

We all spend a great deal of time providing outstanding accommodations to our guests so they will rave about us to anyone who will listen.  If we don’t manage the little things that can detract from their stay we undermine our efforts and hurt our future business. Standing in shin high water during showers or having to go out and buy a new light bulbs can be the difference between “It was AWESOME!” and “It was alright but…”   

 

So here’s to doing the little things that make a big difference!

 

Cheers!

 

Michael