wallet.jpgHi everyone,


This weekend the tables were turned for me again. Instead of receiving  and responding to inquiries on my homes, I was sending some. Going to  the other side always gives me a different perspective on things.


We’re going with our son for his first official college visit in  Daytona Beach. We’re only going to be there for two nights (yep, I know  most people have 3 night minimums) but honestly I would much rather stay  in a condo instead of one hotel room with the three of us.


Owning beach properties myself, I know that November is likely dead for  most people there. So I figured I’d give vacation rentals the old  college try. I went to HomeAway.com and found that many 2 bedrooms, 2  bath properties were available for the same price or $25 dollars more  than the Hilton or Marriott hotels nearby. I thought this was very  reasonable. But then I looked at cleaning fees. Many properties were  charging more for the cleaning fee than for the night’s rental rate! I  totally understand because my cleaning fees for my beach properties are  similar. But being on the other side of the coin now gave me a different  perspective.


This really made me think about my rentals during the fall and winter.  Is it reasonable to expect renters to pay a cleaning fee equal (or close  to equal) to one night’s rental rate? It seems a bit exorbitant (now).  Would this be a barrier that might make a renter choose a hotel over a  vacation rental? I bet it would!


So, a cleaning fee of $150 during the summer on a week-long rental of  $1500 might be reasonable. But that same $150 cleaning fee on a 3-night  booking during the winter when your rates are $150/night might be a bit  much. So what are we to do? You have to have the place cleaned right?  You have a couple of options. You can ask your housekeeper to scale her  rates according to the season or length of stay. Or you can split the  cleaning fee with the guests to nab a booking during the otherwise slow  (or completely dead) season. Me personally, I think I’d opt for the  second choice. I’ll try it and see how it goes.


Stay tuned for the results,



Hi Everyone!

This past week was a good week for inquiries and bookings for my cabins in the Smoky Mountains. I have been successful in filling a couple of gaps in my calendars with a few last-minute travelers.

It's kinda funny, the last-minute guests seem to be more appreciative than any ol' guest who books a few months in advance. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps it is because they have looked and looked and everything else was booked, but I like to believe they're happy to find my diamond in the rough.

This month is a big sales tax month for most vacation rental owners. For most of us who file quarterly, sales taxes for the summer months are due in October. Reminder, if you own along the Gulf Coast and received claims money from either BP or GCCF, you do not have to remit sales tax on the monies received from your claim (the state and counties will be filing their own claims). You only have to pay sales taxes on actual rentals.


Under the Weather

Posted by christinekarpinski Oct 5, 2010

relying on service providers when you are under the weatherHi Everyone,

It’s been a little while since I have written a blog post. I have been a bit under the weather and took some days off to recoup. Let me clarify: by days off I mean off from my day job at HomeAway. Unfortunately, vacation rental owners never get to take “sick days.”

October is the busiest month for my cabins in the Great Smoky Mountains. I’m generally booked every single night of the month with 4-5 night back-to-back rentals. So all maintenance better be done before October hits because there is no down time whatsoever. Toward the end of September, I talk with my housekeeper and maintenance people, and we go through our checklist of things to be done before the October busy season.

So let me set the scene. It's October 1st, the first day of my busy month and I’m at home, in bed, with a terrible cold. My husband is on the sofa (also sick) and our son is upstairs in his room because, yep, you guessed it, he’s sick too. The phone rings. Everyone is feeling too icky to answer it. It goes to the answering machine and we hear, “This is your guest in your cabin, we’re having a problem, we’ll call you on your cell….click…”

My cell phone rings. Surprise! It’s my guest who says, “None of the fireplaces are working. I have checked all three and none of them will work. Is there a special trick?”

Ughhhh, no there is no special trick. It’s my bad. I forgot to have the maintenance guy come over and turn on the fireplaces (we turn them off for the summer). I call my maintenance guy to see if he can come over but he’s sick too (sounds just as bad, if not worse, than I do). I tell him not to worry; I can call my back-up maintenance man. I called him but his message says he’s on vacation (figures!). So I called my main maintenance man back to see if he has any friends I can call. He says he’ll check and then call me back. About an hour later I get a call from my maintenance man who said he just got dressed and went over to do it himself.

I was so grateful. And if he felt as bad as we did, then he gets extra kudos for helping me out in this pinch. I have said it again and again. We could not run our vacation rental business without our good help. We have to make sure that we have committed, dependable and reliable staff.

Guess who is going to get a little extra in his check this month?

Happy October!

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