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Vacation Rental Help

Getting locked out of your vacation rental can be a drag, not only for you but the owner/agent as well. There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening, so, expect the best, but prepare for the worst and here’s how.

During the process of getting your contract finalized with the vacation rental owner or agent, make sure you get the following information: If the house is accessed only via a keypad, get the code before you get to the house. Put the code into your cell phone and at least one other person’s in your party. Ask if there is a spare key somewhere on the property. Once you get to the property, find the spare key.

Make sure, absolutely, that you have a way to get in touch with the owner/agent 24/7 on your stay. One phone number doesn’t cut it. Get two or more if you can.

That’s it! Sorry for the brief post, but it’s that easy to solve this problem before it comes up! If I’m overlooking something please post here and let me know!

Make some trails!

Remember to download Chapter 4 of The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals for free. Just enter your email address and click Sign Up Now!

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HomeAway Super Bowl Ad Review

I just finished with the entire menu of videos HA posted on their site.  The ad that ran in the super bowl is just a taste of the smorgasbord of videos they now have.  I’m only going to speak to the Super Bowl ad.

First of all, I liked the ad.  I think it could have gone further but, it’s not my dime they are spending and I’m sure they spent a few.

Let me start with the end: “Rent a house for half the cost of a hotel.”  Well… maybe.

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While explicitly saying “half the cost” is accurate in some instances, it’s not for everything offered.  I think this could create push-back from new potential renters.  But what I’m wondering is the pushback from the VR owners.  Especially those that are already discounting prices.

I’ve been watching this Super Bowl ad deal at HA evolve since October and don’t recall anyone from HA reaching out (I get their emails) to the VR Owner community  requesting feedback or suggestions.  If they did and I missed it, please let me know.  My suggestion would have been: “Rent a house for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.”  More accurate; more ability to manage expectations; less “hypie”; creates mental theatre where the viewer defines “fraction.”

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I love the idea of the Griswolds.  Frankly, it’s brilliant.  Where the idea loses water with me is that anyone who has watched any of the Vacation series knows they run into problem after problem.  It’s evident in the 30 second spot.  What is not evident, and maybe this is the gist of the ad I don’t know, is how HA can solve the problem.  But they appear to be solving a “financial” problem, and not an accomodation problem.

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I just looked at the 26 responses to the ad on HA.  One guy hates it as he has to wade through the flash video to get to checking, however, he took the time to write such.  One person said they clicked through to HA off of the add.  Many VR owners pimping their own properties.  Most everyone loves the ad.  So that’s 1 out of 26, just shy of a 4% response REMARKABLE!  From a pure mathematical stance that shows this ad is a 100% winner!

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Back to the critique: I would have liked to have them bash the hotel less and show the benefits of vacation rentals more.  Show them entering the Napolean Suite then cut to the grand kids in their spaceous rooms; show the valet kid then show the personal (and secure) garage; show the guy at the counter, then show the kids/grandkids excitedly coming out of the house to greet the grand parents.  AHHHH hell… this could go on and on.  I’m no Madison Ave. ad exec, I’m just postulating.

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Bottom line: I laughed at the ad; found it compelling and am glad that HA spent the cash to spread the word about vacation rentals.  Good job HA!

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Remember to download your free copy of chapter 4 of The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals and then get the full edition to make your next vacation unbelievable.

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You can see what HomeAway has to offer here:
HomeAway is the vacation rental network with over 115,000 listings

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Make some trails!

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Vacation Rentals For Charities

Last week I came across and was really impressed with what they are doing to help charities using vacation rental homes.  It’s about a 12 minute interview and I hope we cover everything but I’m sure we left a few things out. If you have any comments post them here.
To learn more about how you can help a charity of your choice or to learn more about you can reach them at:

Michael McFadded of Interview
“Thank you” to Michael and all the best!
Make some trails!
p.s. remember to get a complimentary copy of chapter four The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals.

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In this world of instant gratification and communication it’s a wonder why guests at vacation rentals don’t communicate better with the owners. Here’s how to make sure everyone involved in your upcoming stay remains “in the loop.”

The best way to make sure your upcoming vacation stay as a guest in a rental property is set up properly, is to communicate with the owner/agent from the start.

Tip #1: After you have made the decision to stay at a certain property, store the owner/agent’s telephone number in your cell phone.

By having their phone number in your cell phone you’ll get the dual benefit of knowing who iscalling you and be able to call them very quickly. Simple tip, but too often not done by most guests and they are scrambling to find the number in a stressful moment.

Tip #2: Know what time you can check in and check out.

Just like any other lodging business, a vacation rental has to be cleaned and prepped prior to your arrival. The property will have set check in and check out times. Know when that time is and put it on your appointment calendar.

Tip #3: If you are running late for your check in, let the owner/agent know.

Recognize that while you may be on vacation, this is a business to the owner and agent. In many cases they need to let you in to the property personally. If you are expected to be on property at a certain time but are running late let them know.

Additionally, if you communicate clearly, you may learn that the property is ready for you hours before standard check in time and you can check in early.

Tip #4: Get to know your texting function on your phone.

Ask the person handling the property for you if they use text messaging. Even if you don’t know how to do it there is probably someone in your party who does. Text messaging is rapidly becoming one of the preferred methods of communication. You can easily and quickly relay and receive communications via text messaging.

Tip #5: Over communicate.

Surprises on vacation are rarely good. To eliminate these surprises, over communicate. Let them know when you are going to be there and when you are going to leave. Understand exactly what your responsibilities are and meet them.

In the end, communicating with the property principals in a professional and clear manner help everyone enjoy their vacation and business transaction more. As in all relationships, business or personal, communication is key.

Tell them your schedule, communicate via email and text messaging and over communicate.

If you are planning an upcoming vacation and are going to be staying in a vacation rental, get chapter four, complimentary, of The Vacationer’s Guide to Vacation Rentals at


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As I scroll through countless questions related to the vacation rental world one of the most common questions is that of safety.  Not the greatest of things to talk about, but it is what it is.  Crime, like (most) taxes, never takes a vacation.  But I found two cool sites to educate you. and  If you know of others please tell me; I’m not married to these, heck, we’re not even dating, but you never know, good ole might just get lucky. 😉

The resource gives you the ability to drill down from city to neighborhood.  The search begins at by entering the city you are going to then drilling down.

In the “Learn” section click on “crime.”   At the time of writing this the map isn’t showing up (it usually does) but it does say the area I’m searching for vacation rentals, Clearwater, Florida, has a low instance of both “violent” and “property” crime.  Good to know.

On the starting point is by state.  So click on the state name, then begin the drill down.  It breaks out Crime Maps, Statistics, and Local Reports.  Click on the city you are interested in, then a map comes up showing the city. In this example, Las Vegas, Nevada.  You can move the map and drill down to the street address.  Below the map there is a historical list of crimes.

One of the cool things about is their “Alerts.”  You can sign up for a free account and put in an address and it will either email your or send a text message to your cell phone with reports on a once a day basis.

If I’m renting in a major metropolitan area I use one or both of these services.  If I’m out in the sticks, forget about it; but that’s just me; use it as you will.  The process is about 10 minutes total and when you’re done with the vacation you can reset the addresses to be your home address.

Mighty “Make Some Trails Props” to and for these services.

More to come.

Keep an eye out for The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals; What to do Before, During, and After You Rent a Vacation Rental.

Make Some Trails!


Terry Gronenthal

p.s. Tell your friends to stop and tell them I’m a swell guy!

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