I’d planned to write a blog that would indicate the most desired facilities that a holiday cottage should have to appeal to guests. Initially, my thoughts were turning to song and dance amenities such as hot tubs, heated swimming pools, remote central heating controls or maybe even the simpler things in life such as fluffy white cotton dressing gowns or smart TVs in all bedrooms. If not those, then some other of life’s little luxuries that temporarily elevate our status when we venture on holiday.
While doing the research I expected to find any one of the amenities above riding high everywhere I looked. And, for the most part, I did. So, imagine my surprise when I came across a blog article on the Rental Scale-Up site which listed the Top Ten Amenities in a Vacation Rental according to VRBO. If you’re a holiday homeowner, you’ll know about VRBO. They don’t publish lightly. So, here’s their list:
3. Air conditioning and heating
4. Shower and bathtub
5. Laundry facilities
6. Toiletries and toilet paper
7. Access and use of disinfectant at the property and waiting period between different stays
8. Linens, towels, washed at correct temperatures
9. Safety features such as smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and fire extinguishers
10. Well-equipped kitchens
The good news is that there’s nothing there that will break the bank when you install it. Air conditioning may be a mite over the top – but this was an American poll, where air conditioning is an absolute necessity in many parts of the country. So, for UK Homeowners, just provide good, reliable and easily adjustable heating in all rooms.
It appears that thrilled as people might be by fridges with ice-cube dispensers, essentially one of the priorities for people booking holiday cottages is the presence of things they expect to be working and well-maintained. This need for good quality amenities is the bedrock of a stress-free, comfortable holiday.
Think about it.
You arrive at your beautiful cottage and find there is nowhere to park easily. Irritating? I should say so. You’re not going to complain about it, but it’s knocked the shine off your holiday the moment you arrived.
Or: There is no washing machine. Have you ever tried to pack enough clothes for a family of four for a week without having to do some laundry? How does that make your property appeal to potential bookers?
What these amenities appear to be are ‘hygiene factors’. These are amenities which won’t see you opening the champagne when you discover their presence. They will, however, dampen your guests’ enthusiasm for your holiday property when they are not there to be found or somewhat shabby.
When people are doing their research before deciding they like to reassure themselves that every amenity they need is not only there but is perhaps of a higher standard than they enjoy at home. If you are offering Wi-Fi, it should be free and the highest possible speed you can lay your hands on.
After all, a booker knows they are making a decision for which everyone else in the party will hold them responsible. So, while there’s no doubt a hot tub or an upmarket coffee machine has guest-appeal, hygiene factors will always influence the final decision.
This understanding means you may be renewing your sheets and towels a little more often or buying ones of higher quality (which have greater longevity before they show their age).
What isn’t said, but I suspect also holds true, is that you have to offer these facilities properly – to the very best standard you can. There’s an influential, psychological difference between low-cost 2-ply loo rolls and something a little thicker and more velvety.
The good news for owners is that this list of amenities is by no means a budget buster. To make your property stand out from the crowd – it’s necessary to do a little more than tick the box.
Up your standards a little.
On the one hand, this list is telling us not just to go back to basics, it’s also telling us to do the basics brilliantly. What other basis assumptions and expectations do your guests have – and are you doing them well? IF you're providing a toaster - make it a 4-slice one!
A holiday cottage owner I much admire for her common-sense approach to cottage management once said to me
“It’s so easy to let little things slip – like mismatching or incomplete sets of wine glasses, blunt kitchen knives or crumbs underneath the sofa cushions. But you let them slip at risk to your reputation.”
Getting the basics right is one sure-fire way to encourage a first-time guest to become a regular visitor. They will know that they’ve found a place where they feel comfortable and enjoy a lifestyle a little better than home, but not to the extent that it’s daunting.
Finally, now that you know what household amenities your future guests may be looking for, if you've got them, make sure they appear:
* In photos
* In your content describing the property.
Want to suggest something? What amenities do you provide that are inexpensive, but prove to be a big hit for guests?
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