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Reserving a Vacation Rental

The process of reserving a vacation rental.

Recently I’ve discovered a somewhat disturbing trend in vacation rentals. I’m seeing a lot more postings from dissatisfied guests. The issues range from infestations of insects to out and out filthy properties. I think many of these issues would have been cleared up with a simple request.

I have talked about “more pictures please” at and without fail everyone agrees that recent pictures are a great way to help make a decision. I’m in the process of updating The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals for 2010 and I’m considering putting in an entirely new request in the “Before” section: “send me a video.” Thoughts?

I have no idea how this is going to be received by the owner group out there, but I think the request is reasonable and easy to accomplish. Frankly, to walk through a house with a video camera rolling will take all of about four to five minutes; transferring it to a computer another five minutes then posting it to the site only moments. So the entire process, not including commute, is less than 15 minutes.

If the property has internet access and the owner/manager has the necessary equipment, they could get the recording, transferring and posting to the site done with one visit. The additional benefit to them is that they now have a recent video to use to market the property.

Some vacation rental sites already have videos posted. I usually find them helpful, some more than others. I saw one in an area of the world I was familiar with and the video, if I were renting the place, would have sold me.

The owner did a fantastic job of not only walking through the condo but also went to the patio and did a panoramic shot describing everything I was looking at, including restaurants and other businesses she thought would be useful for the potential renter to know about. She even pointed out a few things that were new to me and I thought I knew the area like the back of my hand.

It think videos also add to the “personal touch” I like so much about vacation rentals. Remember, we are dealing, usually, with a mom and pop operation who just want to provide the best accommodation for the best price.

Make some trails!

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I think one of the reasons why vacation rentals have not caught on as rapidly as many would have thought, is there are too many choices and we don’t have enough time to make what we think is a great decision.

We want to follow through on the idea to rent a nice house, with certain amenities, in a certain area, for a certain amount of time.  Then, within a reasonable amount of time, see what vacation rentals are available, reserve a vacation rental, get a confirmation email and get back to work.

Sad to say this isn’t happening right now with vacation rentals.

The sooner the industry figures out how to quicken this process the better it will be and the renter (you and I) will reap the benefits.

So as we wait for (push) the industry, hopefully, can make the process easier and more enjoyable for you.

Tell me how you would make the process of renting faster and easier.

More to come.

Make some trails!

Terry Gronenthal

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Tell me I’m wrong: When you’re looking for a vacation rental you’re not interested in seeing pictures of pelicans flying or a deer standing in a mountain meadow; you wanna see pictures of inside of the vacation rental, right?  So when a vacation rental owner posts non-relevant pictures I get suspicious.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m a big fan of deer and pelicans and sunsets and furry puppies and for that matter, a rippin’ guitar solo… but that has nothing to do with our vacations.  Same idea; irrelevant… don’t write about it.  So, back to the picture thing and why it’s important…

In my humble opinion, far too many vacation rental property owners show far too many irrelevant pictures that have absolutely nothing to do with the rental property.  I’m not talking about “the view” picture.  “The view” pictures are sometimes the most important pictures.  But they better be taken from the porch, or deck or balcony of the vacation rental or they are worthless.

It’s amazing how, in today’s hyper-competitive vacation rental industry, there are owners who show images of stuff that you and I could care less about.


I was reviewing a post this morning where the renter was upset with the owner because the vacation rental was Significantly Not As Described… a SNAD.

When the renter showed up there wasn’t a pool or a jacuzzi as the description of the property said there would be.  The url of the vacation rental listing was in the post so I clicked through.

When I got to the vacation rental page the first thing that caught my attention was a picture of two boats on the water! WHATHU?  It was obvious that the picture wasn’t taken from inside of the vacation rental.  So why show it?

As I looked at the other pictures I found the angles of the shots to be odd and, even curiouser… all of the blinds were closed.  Hmm.. two of the five pictures had nothing to do with the specific vacation rental.  So tell me, why, when space is limited, and the market is so competitive, would someone have 40% of their pictures be of @#$% that doesn’t matter?  BIG RED FLAG.

The post went on to talk about how the place was filthy and run down and the furniture was way out of date except for the dining room and two pieces of furniture in the TV room.  Guess what?  The three pictures of the inside of the vacation rental were of the dining room and the TV room… two of the TV room at different angles.

Bottom line: when you see a vacation rental listing on the internet where the pictures have nothing to do with the property itself you may want to either move on to another listing or, at the very least, get your guard up even higher.

How do you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?  We know how and it’s free and easy to use.  It’s a two step strategy.

We have developed a series of proven, time-tested strategies and tactics you can use to help you through the vacation rental process.  The before, during, and after strategies based upon 10 years of practical experience in renting vacation rentals and having unbelievable vacations.

The answer to the question above is in this course.  The course, The Vacation Renters Guide.  What to do Before, During, and After You Rent a Vacation Rental will be available March first.


Make some trails!


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People post their complaints about their bad vacation rental experiences all over the internet.  Below are a few paraphrased lines from some of the complaints and the dollar amount of what I call the Vacation Renter Penalty.

Without fail, I believe, each and everyone of these incidents listed below could have been avoided.

“I gave a deposit for a 5/3 vacation rental and when I showed up it was a 3/1…”
Vacation Renter Penalty: $625.01

“When we got to the vacation rental it was in foreclosure and we were told we could not enter…”
Vacation Renter Penalty: $1200.01

“We were charged to fix a leak in the bathroom…”
Vacation Renter Penalty: $90.01

“We had to pay to have the service company come out…”
Vacation Renter Penalty: $150.01

“When we arrived the place was filthy…”
Vacation Renter Penalty: $?

“The listing said it was a villa.  When we showed up it was a ‘cando’ (mobile home)…”
Vacation Renter Penalty: $550.01

“I am not able to say anything further as there is a court case in process…”
Vacation Renter Penalty: $FILL IN THE BLANK!!!

“I told the listing agent I was too busy to read the contract but I sent them my money anyway…”
Vacation Renter Penalty: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Editorial note on this one… Uh, how do you spell stoopid?

These are written by (apparently) well educated, probably well compensated, and otherwise savvy people.  For some reason the allure of the image on the screen and “the pitch” can suspend reason.  The result: the Vacation Renter Penalty.  You may even call it a Vacation Renter Stupid Tax.

This is not an indictment of neither the renter nor the property owner.  I am only reporting what I have read.

Nevertheless, stick with us and we’ll help you walk through proven vacation rental strategies and tactics on how to make your next (and all of your future vacations) Vacation Renter Penalty Free!

Make some trails.


p.s.  Don’t even try to find these on the internet; I’ve changed them so much that you won’t.  They are real though and the dollar amounts have been changed by only a buck or two.

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Vacation Rentals at the last minute

Tell me this has never happened to you.

It’s late in the work week, say 10:00 AM Monday morning, and YOU JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!  If you get asked “do ya got a minute?” (which turns into 35 minutes that nothing comes from) one more time, somebody is going to be enjoying the business end of your Swingline?  Nooo… never!  Yah! Right.

Then you start thinking about the weekend and it gnaws and saws at you so much that the feeling of “getting away from it all” is already there.  You’ve got the frequent flier points so travel will cost you next to nothing or, if you don’t, you can drive a piece and “be away.”

Okay, you don’t fight it and you jump over to your favorite mega-travel site (I have one but I ain’t tellin’.)

You drill down into those “last micro-nano second deals” only to realize the room they want you to stay in for $99.99 a night was decorated when last night’s episode of Leave It To Beaver was today’s water cooler fodder or the view is “colorful” because it looks out over the city dump… aargh!

Or you start looking at $99.99 a night but quickly realize it’s going to be more in-line with $299.00.

Your desire continues to burn and you keep on surfing and sleuthing and then all of a sudden you find yourself on a page looking at a vacation rental.  How you found yourself there you couldn’t tell an interrogator if your life depended on it but there you are, and there IT is, and IT is PERFECT!

Perfect number of bedrooms, awesome view, an HDTV bigger than yours, it has a Jacuzzi, a huge kitchen, it’s less than a three hour drive away, it’s available, the reviews are all five out of five AND it’s cheaper than your more in-line hotel room cost.  It’s more expensive than the last-nano-second-deal but it has way more to offer.

Then you start thinking… “this has got to be a scam.  How can someone rent out THAT for THAT cost?”   This is where, I think, most of the vacation rental property owners really go wrong.

In my example this is a vacation rental with positive reviews.  Many vacation rentals (if not most) don’t.  However, many posted reviews are old.  And, let’s face it, since it’s so darn easy to sit down and write a quick review these days, even an old raving review might be perceived erroneously.

“The most recent review of this place is 18 months old.  Why aren’t there any new ones?”  Good review… BAD perception.

Back to the working day…
The Marco Polo in you raises his “let’s go!” head and you forge on.

Then something terrible happens… fear of the unknown sets in.  However, in an attempt to clear that lingering fear you “consult” with a friend… “hey, have you ever stayed in one of these vacation rental things before?”… “nope.”

“Your friend” looks at the vacation rental listing with you but the result is exactly the intended opposite.  Your friend not only adds fuel to your fears but adds her own fears to yours and the next thing you know you’re confused about rental deposits (I don’t need a deposit when I stay in a hotel.. do I?) and rental agreements (I don’t have to sign a rental agreement when I stay at a hotel… do I?), and pet policies (I don’t even have a pet!) and how to get the key (key? isn’t there a front desk?,) and blah, blah, blah.

Suddenly you hear “hey! You got a minute?”… “(sigh…) Yup.  Hang on… (sigh…)”

You jump back over to the mega-travel site window that you left open, and in less than a minute (probably quicker than that cuz the mega-travel site already has all of your personal information including your credit card number) you book the “room with a view”  and “click click” your confirmation email is in your in-box.

Your all set for your weekender in a “been there done that” room somewhere.

YEAH!  Have fun!  But, wait up a sec before you go….

don’t forget your Swingline!



Reserving a vacation rental is easy.  It may take you a little more time to do than the mega-travel site but it can be worth every moment.

You HAVE to do your research (and that’s why I’m here… I’ve done weeks worth already.)

You HAVE to know what you are obligating yourself to (again, I can help you with that…I’ve read tons of rental agreements and signed dozens.)

And you HAVE to take the step and make a vacation rental reservation.  It’s a small step and as one sage old man told me a long time ago…

“That ain’t no step… for a Stepper… TERRY.”

More to come.

Make some trails!


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