Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting the Best Value AND Price on Sanibel Rentals

As the marketing "manager" of our two vacation rental properties on Sanibel Island, I correspond with dozens of vacationers each week. Despite the fact that I do all my marketing on the internet, the majority of rental inquiries are quite complex and one of the reasons I have created this blog is to try to help renters simplify their search.

As the economy totters and prices escalate, those still willing and able to travel are largely looking for a good value for their holiday.

But the best value is not necessarily synonymous with the lowest cost, at least in my experience it is not.

Having stayed in hotels, resorts and self catering condominiums, I have found myself regretting having taken a discounted or cheaper accommodation because of the lower cost. The money saved did not make up for the inconveniences and/or discomforts encountered. My husband and I insist on clean, convenient and comfortable in our own places because of our experiences with lodging that was lacking. It is never worth a couple of hundred dollars to us to sleep on lumpy mattresses, have no quality electronic equipment, be forced to eat out every meal because essential dishes and cooking utensils were missing and, (ugh!) encounter dirty and/or badly stained furniture and bed coverings.

So I ask lots of questions to establish the level of maintenance and supply of any place we, ourselves, rent for our trips and take no umbrage when renters do the same on our properties.

Similarly, when a renter politely asks if there might be a discount on our places, there is no insult taken. We all want the best deal possible.

But there should be a realistic approach to this process of negotiating.

If a renter is booking months in advance for a high season week, it is unlikely I am going to discount. Last minute bookings---- though risky if a renter wants to assure getting a quality rental---- are much more likely to produce some savings. However, if a week in question rents for, as an example, $1700, an "offer" of $500 will not be taken too seriously. It practically costs that much to carry a rental between utilities, cleaning, maintenance and commissions.

Similarly, when renters approach the subject of a discount based solely on their need for one ("I work for a non profit", "we are sending our kid to college", "I had a pay cut on my job"), I can easily empathize and feel for the renter. But not to the extent that I feel any need to cut my price.

Aside from last minute requests, those reasons I would consider discounts include return visitors, multiple week or multiple month bookings, an iffy week or month for a booking (such as September), a small party booking (only 1 person) or a referral from someone I know.

Like with all negotiations, arriving at a discount is more often than not based on cordial communication and each party getting something in return.

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