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My family and I just spent a week in a fantastic vacation rental in North Carolina.  The view was awesome, the kitchen was spectacular, the beds comfy, and the neighborhood perfect.  Couldn’t have asked for anything more, well, maybe an instruction manual on how to run the hot tub.

One of the main criteria we have for a perfect vacation rental is that it has to have a hot tub.  On an apples to apples basis we’ll go with the one with a hot tub over the one without a hot tub 100% of the time, even if it’s more expensive.  It’s a no brainer.  But, what can put me in a mood to take another tub is when the tub has no instructions.  I know, I know, call be a baby, but it’s enough to prune my skin when I can’t figure out how to get the damn thing running properly.

Each time we jumped in the tub it turned into another experiment on “what does this button do?”  And each time I told myself to get out of the tub, go online and find the answer.  Well, I didn’t do it.  I should have and I didn’t.  I’m sure 15 minutes on the net and I could have saved myself time and frustration but when I set my mind to going to the hot tub the last thing I want to do is surf the net for answers.

The simple answer is to have the instructions either at the tub itself or in the house book.

How would you have solved the problem?

Remember to get your free copy of chapter 9 of The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals by simply entering in your name and email address.

Make some trails!

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I’ve been reading reviews around the web on vacation rentals.  Repeatedly, the listing related to those reviews and their guest comments are old.  And you may have guessed by now, the reviews on the listing are great but the reviews elsewhere aren’t.

Here’s an example: http://www.vrbo.com/159287#comments

You’ll see the comments are over two years old.  The bad review site said, among other things: “this is the filthiest place we have ever encountered.”

http://www.vrwd.org/vacation-rentals-complaints/palm-springs-vacation-rental-disaster-216.html

So here’s the learning point: if you are solely basing your decision on reviews on the listing site itself (which is a stupid idea,) make sure the reviews are current.

A site with old reviews can say a lot about the owner or management company.  There are a lot of third party review sites for vacation rentals out there.  I’ll write a post about them soon.

I write extensively about guest comments in The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals.  Go here to get your free copy of Chapter 4: What To Do When You Arrive At Your Vacation Rental.  Based on the feedback we’ve received, it’s the most important chapter in the book.

Make some trails!

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Way Cool Vacation Rental Costing Tool

I have no idea how long this tool has been up on TripAdvisor.com but it’s there and IT ROCKS!

What is it?

It’s a costing tool, (my words, not theirs) that helps you calculate “Which stretches your travel budget farther” Vacation Rentals or hotels?

Here’s how it works.

You enter the city you are interested in.  Actually just the first few letters and the Tripadvisor website will start to populate cities for you.

You choose number of adults and kids.  Then choose number of nights.

Then, and here’s the cool part, you tell it where you are going to eat.  Here are the options
We’ll eat some meals out.
We’ll eat out all of the time.
We’ll cook for ourselves.

Then click “Compare and Save” and it then gives you an estimate of lodging and meals cost, sums them, then does the math.  And shows you how much you save with a VR.

According to TA: *Estimates represent total cost for your party based on average lodging and meal costs in the selected destination. Additional taxes, fees and tips may apply.

So how cool is that huh!  At the moment I have no idea how they crunch the numbers, I’ll do some checking around and report back.  If you know how they do it, please, post here!

But THAT is one awesome tool!  USE IT!

And remember, the first thing you need to do is download a copy of chapter four of The Vacationers Guide To Vacation Rentals and then buy the full blown copy for your vacation planning, executing and following up.

Here’s the TripAdvisor tool.

After you figure out where you want to go and if you’re going to save money by renting a vacation rental, go here to choose one:
HomeAway is the vacation rental network with over 115,000 listings

Make Some Trails!

T

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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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HOLD UP! … ARE YOU SAYING A TV AD IS MIS-LEADING… THE INHUMANITY

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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!
Terry

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