From Worst Travel Nightmare to Dream Vacation

Written by: Dan Weisman

Today, join us for the first part of a series in which we pursue vacation rental perfection by combing through thousands of FlipKey guest reviews to gain insight into the mind of the self-catering traveler. In this installment, we examine factors that worry and scare guests, and what can be done to put them at ease.

Although most of us go on vacation to relax, the planning process for any major trip invariably includes some stressful moments. For some travelers, the decision to stay in a vacation rental for the first time can be daunting; others worry about practical issues such as the size of a home, proximity to the beach, and nosy neighbors. We broke down reviews and found that travelers’ three main worries are safety, privacy, and noise. Here’s what the travelers are saying, and what owners and managers can do to help them achieve travel nirvana.

Safe and Sound

Health, safety, and security are the biggest concerns for families with children and travelers in foreign countries. In some cases, a safety concern can be addressed with a simple repair:

The only thing that worried me was that the railings on the outdoor patio needed some type of netting or an additional safety feature. I was always worried about my kids (2yrs. & 4 yrs.) falling through even with us being right there with them.

This reviewer offers the rental owner/manager a helpful tip: repair the stairs and guests will feel more comfortable about their children’s safety. Other travelers grow concerned about protecting the rental home from their young kids. It is always wise to note a property that is not kid-friendly, and keep delicate décor out of reach of young ones.

In other cases, guests become concerned about the safety of an area and may need reassurance that they will be safe while on vacation:

No complaints. Only concern was the ample notices to lock doors, felt a bit paranoid, but I guess there may be a crime issue on the island.

The issue of crime on the island aside, the best response in this situation is to make sure that guests never become paranoid in the first place. Warn them to keep the doors locked, but try to do it without creating undue stress.

Private Hideaway

Vacation rental guests generally expect their accommodations to ensure a level of privacy above that of a hotel. Many guests who book rentals in more densely populated areas do so with trepidation, worried that they may not get the escape they hoped for:

We had a wonderful time at Buena Vista Cottage and can’t wait for a chance to come back to Key West and stay there again. Having accidentally scheduled our stay during Spring Break, we were a little worried about privacy. This cottage was the perfect oasis for us while still being close to activity on the main drag.

The good news is that the privacy concern almost always turns out to be unfounded. After all, almost any vacation rental provides a kind of privacy unavailable in hotels or other accommodations with populated common areas. In your description, try to assure guests that your vacation property is a calm haven (unless it is not – in which case you should be upfront about privacy issues), but chances are they will figure it out themselves.

Loud Noises

Guests who worry about noise fall into two general categories: those who want to make noise, and those who want to avoid it. Most of the rowdy crowd are concerned about disturbing the neighbors:

This was a great home for a family group of 16 people. The neighbors to the East worried me during our stay. We were told that they will call the police or rental company if we were too loud… I was stressed each evening of my stay that they would call. The homes are within 10′ of each other! How do you keep 16 people on vacation quiet each evening?

It sounds like this particular guest kept his group out of trouble, but he makes a good point: it’s hard to keep a large group quiet when they’re having a good time. Give guests a good sense of what will be tolerated in your neighborhood. Neighbors may object to raging parties, but will have no problem with a raucous family reunion. Other, more sensitive, neighbors may object to the slightest up-tick in volume. Again, the best defense is to give guests clear guidelines in advance.

On the flip side, many travelers come on vacation expecting a peaceful retreat. They worry that the neighbors (or even the scenery) may be too loud, thus ruining an otherwise perfect rental:

Initially, I was a little worried that the resort and beach would be noisy and crowded, as we were traveling at a very busy time of year, but it wasn’t… The resort itself was quiet and relaxing.

As you can see, worries have a way of working themselves out. This traveler’s confidence may have been boosted by the advice that “the beach never gets crowded – even in the busy season.” However, the truth is that vacation rentals tend to speak for themselves. As soon as travelers reach their rental home, their worries melt away.

In fact, we found that most travelers worry only about the most important thing: that the home they loved on vacation remains in good condition for years to come.

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