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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!