With a billion-jillion shiny programs and thingamajigs vying for our budgeted spending dollars, how do you decide what is not just worth the expense but what will be a good investment?

Vacation rental owners run into a multitude of choices and money spending dilemmas on a regular basis, and arming yourself with a plan of how to determine what is important, before the money flows, will increase your bottom line.

There are two important questions to ask yourself to determine if you should fork over the dough for a service, renovation, or a shiny whatnot:

  • Is this a deal breaker for my guests?
  • Is this a deal maker for my guests?

Before you can answer those questions, though, you have to know what the deal breakers and deal makers are.

Urquhart Castle, ScotlandWhat is a deal breaker?

This would be an item or service that a guest desires in a vacation rental, but you don’t have it, so the traveler moves on to another property.

Note here that the deal breakers will be greatly determined by your location and the type of traveler you cater towards. A deal breaker could be a service like wifi, an amenity like a walk in shower, or even a location such as being on the beach.

The big deal breaker for my family when we look for a vacation rental is a king size bed in the master bedroom. If there is not a king size bed for us, then we will not choose that property.

How do you figure out the deal breakers for your guests?

First, listen to their questions.

Many guests will ask their deal breaker questions in their initial inquiry. They want to verify 100% that you have their deal breakers, even if you have already talked about them in your listing and even shown them in your photos.

Don’t get upset that the guest did not read the listing or carefully look through every single photo. Remember that they are searching through several listings, and not everyone enjoys making a spreadsheet to document what each place does and does not have.

We once rented a property near Gulf Shores that was wonderful, and I thought it had everything we needed. But when we arrived, there was no wifi for the property.

I wasn’t too happy with the owner until I realized that I had confused the property with another similar place. I survived the week without the wifi and also learned that I probably should have double checked the listing or asked the owner about it, just to verify I was booking the place that had everything I wanted.

Second, listen to why they did not choose your place.

Sometimes guests will tell you your place was lovely, but they chose your neighbor because of “xyz” amenity.

I know I have lost a handful of guests for our Branson homes to our neighbor because we do not have a private hot tub.

If there is a specific thing that travelers are asking for, and you are losing the bookings, and have holes in your calendar because you don’t have that thing, then open your wallet and get the thing!

If you can’t spring for it immediately, plan it into the budget to get it as soon as possible. The thing may or may not be expensive, and it may or may not be easily purchased or set up, but the deal breaker is worth the money or headache because of the additional bookings it will result in.

Now, am I going to be getting a hot tub for my places since I know the hot tub has been a deal breaker for several potential guests? No, I am not.

“Gosh, Tyann, you are losing bookings because you don’t have one! Didn’t you just say that the deal breakers are worth the investment?”

I did say that. But, the other factor of deciding if the deal breaker is something you really, truly need is if you have holes in your calendar. We don’t have room for additional guests, as we are booked solid for the high season and highly booked for the rest of the year.

Update: Fall 2019 we added hot tubs to keep up with competition!

We have enough deal breakers that I now concentrate on the deal makers.

wafflesWhat is a deal maker?

A deal maker is that little extra push for a traveler to choose your property over another property, especially when the properties they are deciding between are very similar.

Last summer when we were looking for a beach house, one of the things that sealed the deal for our family was the master shower with dual shower heads. Who wouldn’t want that extra luxury while on vacation?

But the deal maker doesn’t have to be big or expensive…even a small appliance in the kitchen like a waffle maker to make breakfast time more fun for your guests is a good deal maker.

Seriously, who doesn’t love being able to quote Donkey:

“…and in the morning, we’ll make WAFFLES!”

The deal makers get your guest excited about your place. Last year I had a guest who was such a K-cup fanatic that she brought her Keurig with her to my place. This year when she called to book her girls weekend, I mentioned that we added the Keurig at the house, and she was over-the-moon happy.

Once I realized how addicted our target guests are to their K-cups, I made sure to mention the Keurig machine in every single inquiry reply, making it even easier for travelers to choose our property.

Once you have the deal makers, though, don’t assume that a traveler will scour your listing and see every single awesome point about your property.

Point the deal makers out.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

But the absolutely biggest deal maker, which can definitely be a deal breaker if you don’t do it right, is your hospitality, your customer service skills. Simply treating every single traveler with kindness, respect, and enthusiasm, making a personal connection with them, will go a very long way.

Whether you communicate by phone or by email or whether you are able to greet each guest personally or have a little gift on the table for when they arrive, you are a major deal maker yourself.

Tell me, what are your guests’ deal breakers?
Do you have any deal makers that seal the deal with your guests?

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Tyann Marcink