Are You Dialed In?

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Inner Circle
IDEA

Last weekend, I met a woman who rents out the studio above her garage and despite having ZERO other marketing, this woman is so insanely dialed in.

There are no better words to describe the professionalism of an owner or manager than being 'dialed in.'

The level of thought this woman puts into her hosting was more 'dialed in' than many property managers I've seen.

Hand-written welcome notes, fresh limes from the tree out back, essential oils made by her niece, coupons for the local coffee shop, an events calendar and introductions to necessary people in town.

Being 'dialed in' means you are super connected with and proficient at your craft. It means you pay attention to details (and in our industry, those really make a difference).

I think the phrase originated with the adjusting of an old radio dial until a station was perfectly clear. Even if you were off by a tiny bit, you'd get static and therefore not the cleanest listening experience.

I like the phrase for vacation rental professionals because if you're already doing the right things, fine tuning any given area can have disproportionate rewards.

ACTION

You are likely 'dialed in' to the areas of your business that you enjoy the most. (This passion is imperative.)

Which means you're less thoughtful about the areas you don't like. Hence some ideas get you dialing in to them all:

+ Get more dialed in to guests by listening carefully and reading between the lines of reviews in order to improve the experience

+ Get more dialed in to your team by asking for their input, sharing guest reviews, and rewarding them for extra good work

+ Get more dialed in to the technology you use for important jobs (the market for these products and services has never been so robust).

+ Get more dialed in to your community: your ear close to the ground means you know what's going on

+ Get more dialed in to your financials to reduce unnecessary costs and realize profit

+ Get more dialed in to regulation by creating or supporting a local advocacy group before it's too late

+ Get more dialed in to future travelers by making eco-friendly investments and promoting inclusive stays

Have you ever gotten a little more dialed in and received a big reward?

Ever paid small attention to detail that earned you something big?

I am sure there are other interpretations of getting 'dialed in' -- what does it mean to you?
 

Craig

Counselor
Inner Circle
Why do people still cling onto the business model that everyone needs freshly squeezed limes and essential oils for $50 a night? In business there are so many different models. I still see people killing themselves trying to provide boutique levels of service at insanely low rates. In my business we focus on good quality, family and pet friendly properties without providing the bells and whistles. Our guest would rather have reasonable prices than the frills. Dialled in for me means knowing what our customers really need rather than what they want.
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Inner Circle
Why do people still cling onto the business model that everyone needs freshly squeezed limes and essential oils for $50 a night? In business there are so many different models. I still see people killing themselves trying to provide boutique levels of service at insanely low rates. In my business we focus on good quality, family and pet friendly properties without providing the bells and whistles. Our guest would rather have reasonable prices than the frills. Dialled in for me means knowing what our customers really need rather than what they want.
Craig the cool thing (at least for me) about these kinds of gestures is that anyone can do them (easy, cheap) and they mean something to guests (thoughtfulness as a ‘luxury’). As you point out, I think it’s the accessibility and flexibity of our style of hosting that means anyone can be dialed in (in their own way).
 

Catherine

Envoy
Inner Circle
Managing/hosting my property remotely has been difficult, and dialing in to the community requires a hands-on approach, I think.
Because my property is outside of the city limits, I've tried to create a place full of amenities to improve the guest experience:"everything you need and want" approach" that guests initially loved. I even paid my cleaner a bonus for every 5 star review on cleaning. That worked-for a while.
My dialed-in guest-experience approach has resulted in theft and damage.
Since Covid hit I have started to allow dogs. That has saved my bacon, but I'm still 400 miles away.
 

RuthM

Envoy
Inner Circle
Managing/hosting my property remotely has been difficult, and dialing in to the community requires a hands-on approach, I think.
Because my property is outside of the city limits, I've tried to create a place full of amenities to improve the guest experience:"everything you need and want" approach" that guests initially loved. I even paid my cleaner a bonus for every 5 star review on cleaning. That worked-for a while.
My dialed-in guest-experience approach has resulted in theft and damage.
Since Covid hit I have started to allow dogs. That has saved my bacon, but I'm still 400 miles away.
I'm so sorry for your theft and damage. My experience is that you may need to raise your rates AND your security deposit.
 

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
Sorry, but this drives me crazy!

Many owners can not do so many of these types of things cited in Matt’s post. I run a VACATION rental. I don’t take vacations at home. D’uh!

My properties are thousands of miles away. I break myself just making sure the guests have a great stay without little touches that are prohibitively expensive or impossible to administer without being onsite to waste an hour or two on them at my own cost of time only (and perhaps money too!). I’m not there to do nice little gestures that are unique and can only work with an owner/host's touch. I’m not retired with nothing to do. It’s damn near impossible getting cleaners/managers to do anything outside the ordinary. They don’t care and they don’t have time. And if you can get them being done, then they’re off doing them at all the other properties they do (can you say towel animals?) and they’re no longer unique and just another expected ho-hum.

Anything that a business owner/manager implements in their business, has to be something that people of average intelligence and capability can do, otherwise it's not something that can scale. Think of how McDonalds delivers Billions of Burgers each year to customers in an incredibly consistent fashion, all around the world, no matter how capable the particular staff at any one location are or are not. The system is what allows a consistently high quality (for what it is) product to be delivered, just about anywhere. It isn't dependent on getting just the right chef in to cook the fries!

This idea of high touch ‘coddling’ is an Airbnb centric thing, totally based on the idea of welcoming people into one’s home, bed'n'breakfast, or boutique hotel. I’m not doing that! It’s not my business model!

I see these types of things, while very nice, as an intrusion into the vacation rental space. A foreign approach that is wonderful, yes, and totally great and appropriate in some settings, but when foisted on the VR business it just creates another unreasonable set of expectations in the guest's mind when they do rent someone’s vacation home!

I’m letting people rent MY vacation home! I’m sharing with them my place of joy, relaxation and respite. My treasure. They get to vacation as I do. When I arrive there, no one welcomes me to my own home. That makes no sense. Who is going to do that? I can't welcome myself, and leaving a fruit basket for my wife would just make her mad at me for 'wasting the money on it'.

High touch is completely inconsistent with the fundamental nature of most people's vacation homes!

Sure it’s nice to greet guests and play the host, but that is not what a vacation rental is! If an owner/host is on site nearby, then it’s not a vacation rental! It’s a bed'n'breakfast without the breakfast, a boutique hotel, or some different mythological animal created by internet sites content to make billions off of millions of people providing a service through consuming their own time and resources, and not being properly compensated for it.

Just check out the costs of having flowers or fruit baskets, or loads of firewood delivered. FedEx a handwritten card to a different country and pay someone to go place it, nicely presented, beside that $125 basket of fruit you just ordered. Oh yes, and pay someone else to wait for it, open it, refrigerate it, and present it on the counter just before the guest's arrival. Provided of course it didn’t first spoil in the heat sitting on the door step.

I know that there are ways to accomplish some high-touch things at a distance, but most of them turn out to be far too expensive or impractical, especially for the rates my guests are only willing to pay.

Perhaps it is time we instead start educating our guests about the value and incredible opportunities we are providing them, stop raising expectations beyond reasonable standards and practicality, and feeling guilty because there is no way to possibly do enough to compete with a fictional rich little-old retired lady renting out her empty nest as a hobby to keep herself entertained and interested. ('Fictional' because that is not meant to imply anyone at all, only an impossible situation that in my experience REAL vacation rental owners can’t possibly keep up with.)

There! I said it! Now, let’s start a thread about possible high touch practices that ARE possible at a distance, both practically and financially! But if they are dependent upon the gem of a friend/neighbour/unusual property manager that can’t be replicated in other locations, it doesn’t count!

What say you, oh members of this great forum? Does anyone agree with me? Or am I just crazy on my own? And not being driven there?!?
 
Last edited:

DMartinez

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
Sorry, but this drives me crazy!

Many owners can not do so many of these types of things cited in Matt’s post. I run a VACATION rental. I don’t take vacations at home. D’uh!

My properties are thousands of miles away. I break myself just making sure the guests have a great stay without little touches that are prohibitively expensive or impossible to administer without being onsite to waste an hour or two on them at my own cost of time only (and perhaps money too!). I’m not there to do nice little gestures that are unique and can only work with an owner/host's touch. I’m not retired with nothing to do. It’s damn near impossible getting cleaners/managers to do anything outside the ordinary. They don’t care and they don’t have time. And if you can get them being done, then they’re off doing them at all the other properties they do (can you say towel animals?) and they’re no longer unique and just another expected ho-hum.

Anything that a business owner/manager implements in their business, has to be something that people of average intelligence and capability can do, otherwise it's not something that can scale. Think of how McDonalds delivers Billions of Burgers each year to customers in an incredibly consistent fashion, all around the world, no matter how capable the particular staff at any one location are or are not. The system is what allows a consistently high quality (for what it is) product to be delivered, just about anywhere. It isn't dependent on getting just the right chef in to cook the fries!

This idea of high touch ‘coddling’ is an Airbnb centric thing, totally based on the idea of welcoming people into one’s home, bed'n'breakfast, or boutique hotel. I’m not doing that! It’s not my business model!

I see these types of things, while very nice, as an intrusion into the vacation rental space. A foreign approach that is wonderful, yes, and totally great and appropriate in some settings, but when foisted on the VR business it just creates another unreasonable set of expectations in the guest's mind when they do rent someone’s vacation home!

I’m letting people rent MY vacation home! I’m sharing with them my place of joy, relaxation and respite. My treasure. They get to vacation as I do. When I arrive there, no one welcomes me to my own home. That makes no sense. Who is going to do that? I can't welcome myself, and leaving a fruit basket for my wife would just make her mad at me for 'wasting the money on it'.

High touch is completely inconsistent with the fundamental nature of most people's vacation homes!

Sure it’s nice to greet guests and play the host, but that is not what a vacation rental is! If an owner/host is on site nearby, then it’s not a vacation rental! It’s a bed'n'breakfast without the breakfast, a boutique hotel, or some different mythological animal created by internet sites content to make billions off of millions of people providing a service through consuming their own time and resources, and not being properly compensated for it.

Just check out the costs of having flowers or fruit baskets, or loads of firewood delivered. FedEx a handwritten card to a different country and pay someone to go place it, nicely presented, beside that $125 basket of fruit you just ordered. Oh yes, and pay someone else to wait for it, open it, refrigerate it, and present it on the counter just before the guest's arrival. Provided of course it didn’t first spoil in the heat sitting on the door step.

I know that there are ways to accomplish some high-touch things at a distance, but most of them turn out to be far too expensive or impractical, especially for the rates my guests are only willing to pay.

Perhaps it is time we instead start educating our guests about the value and incredible opportunities we are providing them, stop raising expectations beyond reasonable standards and practicality, and feeling guilty because there is no way to possibly do enough to compete with a fictional rich little-old retired lady renting out her empty nest as a hobby to keep herself entertained and interested. ('Fictional' because that is not meant to imply anyone at all, only an impossible situation that in my experience REAL vacation rental owners can’t possibly keep up with.)

There! I said it! Now, let’s start a thread about possible high touch practices that ARE possible at a distance, both practically and financially! But if they are dependent upon the gem of a friend/neighbour/unusual property manager that can’t be replicated in other locations, it doesn’t count!

What say you, oh members of this great forum? Does anyone agree with me? Or am I just crazy on my own? And not being driven there?!?
Rob you said: I can't welcome myself, and leaving a fruit basket for my wife would just make her mad at me for 'wasting the money on it'.

In that case- at least for your wife- Might I suggest then a small bouquet of flowers...or heck just pluck some found in your front yard and plunk into a vase (no vase? how about a beer bottle with a ribbon? Or a special brew or wine or even a pop bottle). I had a dear friend who used to live by a cemetery. He'd on occasion would pop by some fresh burial and snag me a flower or two that way. Nope didn't marry him but more than 50 years later don't you know I still remember him!
 

RGozdziak

Envoy
Inner Circle
I think there are many types of travelers.
Matt may never be interested in my rental because I don't offer personal touches.
Donna might not be interested in my rental because I'm not placing stolen flowers in a Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle with a bow ( Im no Martha Stewart..... )
I have guests who were pleasantly surprised by the view and accommodations and have been loyal.
I may never be "dialed in", but I'm OK with that.
I do what I do to make my guest's stay stress free and worry free.
Does that mean their vacation is any less special than Matt's vacation or Donna's vacation?
I don't think so.
I do value the exchange of ideas.
 

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
Rob you said: I can't welcome myself, and leaving a fruit basket for my wife would just make her mad at me for 'wasting the money on it'.

In that case- at least for your wife- Might I suggest then a small bouquet of flowers...or heck just pluck some found in your front yard and plunk into a vase (no vase? how about a beer bottle with a ribbon? Or a special brew or wine or even a pop bottle). I had a dear friend who used to live by a cemetery. He'd on occasion would pop by some fresh burial and snag me a flower or two that way. Nope didn't marry him but more than 50 years later don't you know I still remember him!
Thanks Donna. Free flowers are good...

My wife's name is... Donna! I cherish and adore her.

What she wants to do in Florida is go for walks, so I go with her. No matter how busy I am (and I am) we always go for a walk every day. Minimum 4 miles. And I hold her hand, and tell how much I love her, because I do! And 44 years into our relationship (married for 36 of them - we were 12!!), she still remembers me! :giggle:
 

Tristan Webb

Attaché
I'm pleased at the reaction to this topic. I too struggled to decide what bonus "wow" gift I could offer my guests. In the end I did not purchase an arrival gift or try to create some super duper service. I did what Matt suggested as action items. One example to "Get more dialed in to guests by listening carefully and reading between the lines of reviews in order to improve the experience" was realizing for one property guests repeatedly got lost on the drive and called in for help (especially international travelers who did not have enabled navigation). To "dial in" I added an automated email specifically for driving directions to this home with pictures of the frequently missed turn location. This was a one time, low effort action that resulted in better experiences for every guest thereafter.
 

Catherine

Envoy
Inner Circle
Sorry, but this drives me crazy!

Many owners can not do so many of these types of things cited in Matt’s post. I run a VACATION rental. I don’t take vacations at home. D’uh!

My properties are thousands of miles away. I break myself just making sure the guests have a great stay without little touches that are prohibitively expensive or impossible to administer without being onsite to waste an hour or two on them at my own cost of time only (and perhaps money too!). I’m not there to do nice little gestures that are unique and can only work with an owner/host's touch. I’m not retired with nothing to do. It’s damn near impossible getting cleaners/managers to do anything outside the ordinary. They don’t care and they don’t have time. And if you can get them being done, then they’re off doing them at all the other properties they do (can you say towel animals?) and they’re no longer unique and just another expected ho-hum.

Anything that a business owner/manager implements in their business, has to be something that people of average intelligence and capability can do, otherwise it's not something that can scale. Think of how McDonalds delivers Billions of Burgers each year to customers in an incredibly consistent fashion, all around the world, no matter how capable the particular staff at any one location are or are not. The system is what allows a consistently high quality (for what it is) product to be delivered, just about anywhere. It isn't dependent on getting just the right chef in to cook the fries!

This idea of high touch ‘coddling’ is an Airbnb centric thing, totally based on the idea of welcoming people into one’s home, bed'n'breakfast, or boutique hotel. I’m not doing that! It’s not my business model!

I see these types of things, while very nice, as an intrusion into the vacation rental space. A foreign approach that is wonderful, yes, and totally great and appropriate in some settings, but when foisted on the VR business it just creates another unreasonable set of expectations in the guest's mind when they do rent someone’s vacation home!

I’m letting people rent MY vacation home! I’m sharing with them my place of joy, relaxation and respite. My treasure. They get to vacation as I do. When I arrive there, no one welcomes me to my own home. That makes no sense. Who is going to do that? I can't welcome myself, and leaving a fruit basket for my wife would just make her mad at me for 'wasting the money on it'.

High touch is completely inconsistent with the fundamental nature of most people's vacation homes!

Sure it’s nice to greet guests and play the host, but that is not what a vacation rental is! If an owner/host is on site nearby, then it’s not a vacation rental! It’s a bed'n'breakfast without the breakfast, a boutique hotel, or some different mythological animal created by internet sites content to make billions off of millions of people providing a service through consuming their own time and resources, and not being properly compensated for it.

Just check out the costs of having flowers or fruit baskets, or loads of firewood delivered. FedEx a handwritten card to a different country and pay someone to go place it, nicely presented, beside that $125 basket of fruit you just ordered. Oh yes, and pay someone else to wait for it, open it, refrigerate it, and present it on the counter just before the guest's arrival. Provided of course it didn’t first spoil in the heat sitting on the door step.

I know that there are ways to accomplish some high-touch things at a distance, but most of them turn out to be far too expensive or impractical, especially for the rates my guests are only willing to pay.

Perhaps it is time we instead start educating our guests about the value and incredible opportunities we are providing them, stop raising expectations beyond reasonable standards and practicality, and feeling guilty because there is no way to possibly do enough to compete with a fictional rich little-old retired lady renting out her empty nest as a hobby to keep herself entertained and interested. ('Fictional' because that is not meant to imply anyone at all, only an impossible situation that in my experience REAL vacation rental owners can’t possibly keep up with.)

There! I said it! Now, let’s start a thread about possible high touch practices that ARE possible at a distance, both practically and financially! But if they are dependent upon the gem of a friend/neighbour/unusual property manager that can’t be replicated in other locations, it doesn’t count!

What say you, oh members of this great forum? Does anyone agree with me? Or am I just crazy on my own? And not being driven there?!?
Yes yes yes! I've tried various things to differentiate my one property in the 'burbs of Atlanta to "delight" my guests, and make them happy that they didn't pay more to be closer to the city where there's venues that they want to visit: the zoo, GA Aquarium, etc.
I've spent $25-40 on gift baskets that contain local products; a slew of added appliances like crock pot( where did it go??); a bunch of dig toys and treats ( some have been stolen); a portable grill for a whiny guest who didn't clean it; toys for kids that got destroyed or stolen:...yada yada.
I manage remotely so personal touches don't happen. I replaced my keypad ($200-) because the first one was hard to use; bought a security camera that costs monthly for videos; Ecobee smart thermostat that i can manage remotely to keep my utility power bill down...
I spend a lot of money on expenses just to manage my home, and more on "special touches" to stay competitive. Did I mention about $500 (to date) to professionally clean carpets, rugs, couches because guests and dogs have stained my new, beautiful carpets and rugs- drinks and urine.
This is all just yo manage and clean and delight.
Guests are needy and entitled. The more we do/give, the more they want. We have been coached and coerced in to trying to provide a 5-star hotel experience, and I cannot raise my prices beyond what guests perceive as a good deal. I was bashed by a VRBO guest( they're the worst) with 3 stars, because she thought my amenities were "hard to get to"...??? Huh? 2 bikes($200) and a grill are in the garage. I paid someone $25 to bring her a high chair that was not mentioned in her review.
Did I mention 7 bath robes, 2 tower fans, hair wraps, Cuisinart, 2 coffee-makers, tea kettle...
I'M DONE!..with guests and this post...lol!
 

Catherine

Envoy
Inner Circle
I'm so sorry for your theft and damage. My experience is that you may need to raise your

Thanks Donna. Free flowers are good...

My wife's name is... Donna! I cherish and adore her.

What she wants to do in Florida is go for walks, so I go with her. No matter how busy I am (and I am) we always go for a walk every day. Minimum 4 miles. And I hold her hand, and tell how much I love her, because I do! And 44 years into our relationship (married for 36 of them - we were 12!!), she still remembers me! :giggle:
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Inner Circle
Sorry, but this drives me crazy!

Many owners can not do so many of these types of things cited in Matt’s post. I run a VACATION rental. I don’t take vacations at home. D’uh!

My properties are thousands of miles away. I break myself just making sure the guests have a great stay without little touches that are prohibitively expensive or impossible to administer without being onsite to waste an hour or two on them at my own cost of time only (and perhaps money too!). I’m not there to do nice little gestures that are unique and can only work with an owner/host's touch. I’m not retired with nothing to do. It’s damn near impossible getting cleaners/managers to do anything outside the ordinary. They don’t care and they don’t have time. And if you can get them being done, then they’re off doing them at all the other properties they do (can you say towel animals?) and they’re no longer unique and just another expected ho-hum.

Anything that a business owner/manager implements in their business, has to be something that people of average intelligence and capability can do, otherwise it's not something that can scale. Think of how McDonalds delivers Billions of Burgers each year to customers in an incredibly consistent fashion, all around the world, no matter how capable the particular staff at any one location are or are not. The system is what allows a consistently high quality (for what it is) product to be delivered, just about anywhere. It isn't dependent on getting just the right chef in to cook the fries!

This idea of high touch ‘coddling’ is an Airbnb centric thing, totally based on the idea of welcoming people into one’s home, bed'n'breakfast, or boutique hotel. I’m not doing that! It’s not my business model!

I see these types of things, while very nice, as an intrusion into the vacation rental space. A foreign approach that is wonderful, yes, and totally great and appropriate in some settings, but when foisted on the VR business it just creates another unreasonable set of expectations in the guest's mind when they do rent someone’s vacation home!

I’m letting people rent MY vacation home! I’m sharing with them my place of joy, relaxation and respite. My treasure. They get to vacation as I do. When I arrive there, no one welcomes me to my own home. That makes no sense. Who is going to do that? I can't welcome myself, and leaving a fruit basket for my wife would just make her mad at me for 'wasting the money on it'.

High touch is completely inconsistent with the fundamental nature of most people's vacation homes!

Sure it’s nice to greet guests and play the host, but that is not what a vacation rental is! If an owner/host is on site nearby, then it’s not a vacation rental! It’s a bed'n'breakfast without the breakfast, a boutique hotel, or some different mythological animal created by internet sites content to make billions off of millions of people providing a service through consuming their own time and resources, and not being properly compensated for it.

Just check out the costs of having flowers or fruit baskets, or loads of firewood delivered. FedEx a handwritten card to a different country and pay someone to go place it, nicely presented, beside that $125 basket of fruit you just ordered. Oh yes, and pay someone else to wait for it, open it, refrigerate it, and present it on the counter just before the guest's arrival. Provided of course it didn’t first spoil in the heat sitting on the door step.

I know that there are ways to accomplish some high-touch things at a distance, but most of them turn out to be far too expensive or impractical, especially for the rates my guests are only willing to pay.

Perhaps it is time we instead start educating our guests about the value and incredible opportunities we are providing them, stop raising expectations beyond reasonable standards and practicality, and feeling guilty because there is no way to possibly do enough to compete with a fictional rich little-old retired lady renting out her empty nest as a hobby to keep herself entertained and interested. ('Fictional' because that is not meant to imply anyone at all, only an impossible situation that in my experience REAL vacation rental owners can’t possibly keep up with.)

There! I said it! Now, let’s start a thread about possible high touch practices that ARE possible at a distance, both practically and financially! But if they are dependent upon the gem of a friend/neighbour/unusual property manager that can’t be replicated in other locations, it doesn’t count!

What say you, oh members of this great forum? Does anyone agree with me? Or am I just crazy on my own? And not being driven there?!?
I always liked @Sallie ‘s assessment of this predicament the most: in “are we creating an arms race of impossibly spoiled guests” she rightly points out the obstacles but also the strengths/weaknesses all hosts have depending on where they are physically based (Sallie literally lives above her rental): https://www.vrmb.com/are-we-starting-an-arms-race-to-create-impossibly-spoiled-guests/
 

TeenaNH

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Ever paid small attention to detail that earned you something big?
YES!!! Professional pictures about 10 years ago! (@Matt Landau )

I'd also like to add to the convo that I have never have left a gift basket, flowers, snacks, or even linens! Even if I wanted to get listed on an OTA, they wouldn't accept me because of what I don't provide. No soap, spices, shampoo, or anything consumable. I'm a microbiologist and the thought of using something that was used by someone else is a deal-breaker for me. ;)

I promise my guests that my home will be spotlessly clean and meticulously maintained. I do not do "deep cleans" because for me, it's an ongoing process. Paint is touched up between guests, door frames are washed regularly, everything is dusted every clean, windows are washed lots of times a year, etc.

My guests are like me, the beer and peanuts crew and they drive a couple of hours to have a fun vacation. My style wouldn't work for everyone.
 
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CelticCutie

Attaché
Asheville Hosts
Sorry, but this drives me crazy!

Many owners can not do so many of these types of things cited in Matt’s post. I run a VACATION rental. I don’t take vacations at home. D’uh!

My properties are thousands of miles away. I break myself just making sure the guests have a great stay without little touches that are prohibitively expensive or impossible to administer without being onsite to waste an hour or two on them at my own cost of time only (and perhaps money too!). I’m not there to do nice little gestures that are unique and can only work with an owner/host's touch. I’m not retired with nothing to do. It’s damn near impossible getting cleaners/managers to do anything outside the ordinary. They don’t care and they don’t have time. And if you can get them being done, then they’re off doing them at all the other properties they do (can you say towel animals?) and they’re no longer unique and just another expected ho-hum.

Anything that a business owner/manager implements in their business, has to be something that people of average intelligence and capability can do, otherwise it's not something that can scale. Think of how McDonalds delivers Billions of Burgers each year to customers in an incredibly consistent fashion, all around the world, no matter how capable the particular staff at any one location are or are not. The system is what allows a consistently high quality (for what it is) product to be delivered, just about anywhere. It isn't dependent on getting just the right chef in to cook the fries!

This idea of high touch ‘coddling’ is an Airbnb centric thing, totally based on the idea of welcoming people into one’s home, bed'n'breakfast, or boutique hotel. I’m not doing that! It’s not my business model!

I see these types of things, while very nice, as an intrusion into the vacation rental space. A foreign approach that is wonderful, yes, and totally great and appropriate in some settings, but when foisted on the VR business it just creates another unreasonable set of expectations in the guest's mind when they do rent someone’s vacation home!

I’m letting people rent MY vacation home! I’m sharing with them my place of joy, relaxation and respite. My treasure. They get to vacation as I do. When I arrive there, no one welcomes me to my own home. That makes no sense. Who is going to do that? I can't welcome myself, and leaving a fruit basket for my wife would just make her mad at me for 'wasting the money on it'.

High touch is completely inconsistent with the fundamental nature of most people's vacation homes!

Sure it’s nice to greet guests and play the host, but that is not what a vacation rental is! If an owner/host is on site nearby, then it’s not a vacation rental! It’s a bed'n'breakfast without the breakfast, a boutique hotel, or some different mythological animal created by internet sites content to make billions off of millions of people providing a service through consuming their own time and resources, and not being properly compensated for it.

Just check out the costs of having flowers or fruit baskets, or loads of firewood delivered. FedEx a handwritten card to a different country and pay someone to go place it, nicely presented, beside that $125 basket of fruit you just ordered. Oh yes, and pay someone else to wait for it, open it, refrigerate it, and present it on the counter just before the guest's arrival. Provided of course it didn’t first spoil in the heat sitting on the door step.

I know that there are ways to accomplish some high-touch things at a distance, but most of them turn out to be far too expensive or impractical, especially for the rates my guests are only willing to pay.

Perhaps it is time we instead start educating our guests about the value and incredible opportunities we are providing them, stop raising expectations beyond reasonable standards and practicality, and feeling guilty because there is no way to possibly do enough to compete with a fictional rich little-old retired lady renting out her empty nest as a hobby to keep herself entertained and interested. ('Fictional' because that is not meant to imply anyone at all, only an impossible situation that in my experience REAL vacation rental owners can’t possibly keep up with.)

There! I said it! Now, let’s start a thread about possible high touch practices that ARE possible at a distance, both practically and financially! But if they are dependent upon the gem of a friend/neighbour/unusual property manager that can’t be replicated in other locations, it doesn’t count!

What say you, oh members of this great forum? Does anyone agree with me? Or am I just crazy on my own? And not being driven there?!?
I agree and my rental is attached to my home. However, I am disabled and going much far beyond what I am doing, would be difficult both financially and physically. You don't always get the response you are hoping for. For example, I put fresh flowers in the entry, the bedroom and the bath. Of all the years I have been doing this, only 1 guest mentioned them in the review. While I really do it for me, it was a pleasure to finally have them mentioned. In addition, I had a couple who stayed during his birthday and their wedding anniversary. I put up two banners and got them cards. They were thrilled but yet they still have not reviewed me. Go figure! All that being said, every review I have received is a 5 star except for one which was a four star. What really seems to make a difference to everyone is the cleanliness. It is the one aspect that they mention in every review. It is also the main reason I do not relinquish the cleaning to anyone but me. It sometimes takes me 3 days to clean to my expectations which is why I stick to mostly weekend guests. I would not be able to handle cleaning the space twice in a week.
 

Lynne Harty

Counselor
Asheville Hosts
I agree and my rental is attached to my home. However, I am disabled and going much far beyond what I am doing, would be difficult both financially and physically. You don't always get the response you are hoping for. For example, I put fresh flowers in the entry, the bedroom and the bath. Of all the years I have been doing this, only 1 guest mentioned them in the review. While I really do it for me, it was a pleasure to finally have them mentioned. In addition, I had a couple who stayed during his birthday and their wedding anniversary. I put up two banners and got them cards. They were thrilled but yet they still have not reviewed me. Go figure! All that being said, every review I have received is a 5 star except for one which was a four star. What really seems to make a difference to everyone is the cleanliness. It is the one aspect that they mention in every review. It is also the main reason I do not relinquish the cleaning to anyone but me. It sometimes takes me 3 days to clean to my expectations which is why I stick to mostly weekend guests. I would not be able to handle cleaning the space twice in a week.
What makes me really crazy about the stars is that I've had guests rave about my place, compliments galore, then leave me 4 stars, effectively bringing me down in the ratings. Thanks anyway!
 
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