Sunday, September 7, 2008

Being a Virtual Inn Keeper

Owning vacation rental properties on Sanibel Island and doing all the marketing and communications attendant to this role is virtual inn keeping.

For me, the pleasure is not just in the owning, decorating and promoting the condo and house, but in communicating with our guests.

Though there are some guests who are pure business, and that is also fine with me, many other renters want to transact business in a much more personal way.

They ask many questions, make suggestions, and tell me a little about themselves.

The more conversant the person, and the more sharing they are about who they are, the easier it is for me to help them as the "inn keeper", and the more likely it is that we will keep some level of communication going into the future.

Because of the depth of the relationship that builds on-line with repeated emails, I learn about our guests reasons for coming to this wonderful resort island.

Some are there for a family vacation, and during the summer, that is the majority of rental requests that I receive.

Couples frequent the island at any time of year for a romantic get-away or to celebrate a special event. We have had honey mooners, birthday celebrants and those marking an anniversary rent our places. On these occasions, I feel a sense of joy along with the renters.

And there have been sadder reasons for vacationing as well.

One family gathered at the house as a reunion to mark the passing of a dearly beloved. They held sunset services on nearby Bowman's Beach many nights that they were there.

Another couple rented the condo for what they believed would be their last vacation together as one of them was terminally ill. They took boat cruises around the islands to keep their spirits up.

One woman came on her own to come to grips with her recent divorce. She struck up a friendship with another divorcee by the pool at the condo, and felt the conversation was very helpful to her.

At these times, I am happy to have a nice place to offer our guests, but I do feel their losses and admire their strength. I often get more from than I give to our guests, and I thank them for all their kind communications.

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