One of the best ways to improve your VR guest experience is to be a guest of other owners. Not only is it great vacation fun, fellow owners are an excellent source of ideas and inspiration. My family and I had the opportunity to be VR guests on a recent trip to London and Paris. We are a family of four with two daughters ages 13 and 11. In both cities, we were incredibly fortunate as these owners delivered exceptional and unique guest experiences.
Meet Carol-Anne & Thierry, owners of the flats in London and Paris respectively. Carol Anne owns London’s Black & White House that was given to her by her grandfather. She has been in the vacation rental business for four years and got her start after striking up a conversation with a woman at the fish counter who had recently taken the plunge. Carol-anne works hard to provide a warm and friendly environment for her guests. Thierry is the owner/operator of Parisbestlodge and has been in the vacation rental business thirteen years. He strives to make sure there is humanity in our business and includes special touches for guests such as periodically hosting a wine party www.parisbestlodge.com/pblfriends.html.
We began our guest experience by searching to find the best combination of location, price, and amenities. Once we narrowed the options, reviews played a critical role in our final decisions as we could see how the places met and exceeded the needs of other similarly sized families. All of this research led us to Carol Anne and Thierry’s properties.
Both owners did many things well before and during the vacation, but here are a few top themes from both experiences.
Exceptional Guest Communication
Both owners were excellent communicators before and during the stay. Emails were promptly returned and answers were succinct, helpful, and clear. Carol-anne’s property manager Mia was the primary communication there and she proactively setup car pickup for us at Heathrow from their regular driver. We gladly accepted this service as we were traveling all night before. Both owners met us at the properties when we arrived to walk us through everything and make sure we settled in smoothly.
Clean, Quiet, & Convenient
Cleanliness was extremely important to my wife, two daughters and I. Both properties were exceptionally clean. Bathrooms and kitchens tend to be a challenge but everything was spotless. While we didn’t spend much of our days in the flats, the evenings were about quickly unwinding and going to sleep. The areas and buildings were very quiet which allowed us to recharge for another great day in the city. The location of the flats was excellent and instructions about how to get to key attractions were provided to help us along.
Attention to Every Detail
This was the most impressively delivered aspect of the experience. It was clear to us that everything was well thought out. The cupboard was stocked in England including thoughtful Easter candy for both of my girls. Laundry detergent and dishwasher tablets were included. The decorations were truly impressive. The London flat was themed to musical stars and the hallways contained super cool light fixtures and hanging decorations.
Once inside the flat, the British themed mirror, rug, and pillows really made you feel a part of London. These special touches made the place memorable and special. We enjoyed living London as Londoners do.
The Paris Flat(Abelard) was steps to Notre Dame. It was very modern but themed to the timeframe with fantastic décor. It included stained glass, many period antiques and an amazing view of the cathedral.We truly enjoyed throwing open the big windows that went to the ceiling to hear the sounds of the sidewalks below and the tolling of the Notre Dame bells on the quarter hour. Thierry’s investment in unique decoration and attention to detail made us feel very much a part of the local scene. You just can’t get this kind of local experience from a hotel.
Effective Vacation Rental Branding
Branding as a highly effective way to be remembered by guests. Carol-Anne’s property brand is memorable as the Black & White House. Everything from the front walk to the hand soap continually reminded you that were staying at the B&W House. We will always remember her brand and look forward to returning one day.
The Paris flat featured a bust on the front door to announce the Abelard theme. All the décor was tied to the period and there were constant reminders throughout the place including a keychain with an “A” to make sure you didn’t forget Abelard. As context, Abelard was a French Philosopher who spent significant time around the Notre Dame Cathedral in the 12th Century.
I asked both these owners what advice they would give to other vacation owners. Carol-anne says to make your place a home away from home by providing those things that you would like as a traveler. Good wifi, great bathroom/shower, and conveniences such as stocked cupboards or a preloaded cell phone are examples. Thierry recommends every owner to listen deeply to guests to keep improving and providing just what they need for an unforgettable vacation.
Hats off to both these owners as my family gave them an A+ grade for great accommodations and helping to create unique Europe memories that we will never forget. We also picked up some really great décor and guest experience ideas for our VRs. We can’t wait to go back! Book a one of a kind property from a fellow vacation rental owner for your next getaway.