Denis and Julie were keen property investors. Throughout their professional lives they’d identified and purchased homes that provided a good income, and covered most of their costs – something they hoped would see them well into their retirement.

They also had a family holiday house in a busy coastal town that attracted visitors year-round. They realised they hadn’t been making as much of their coastal digs as they could, as their careers had both taken off – and taken up a lot of their time.

The house was sitting there, empty – but still needing its mortgage to be covered.

One of their friends mentioned their own success using online holiday rental sites to self-manage occupancy and after a bit of investigating, they thought they would give it a go.

Denis – an accountant – did the numbers and saw the potential for the holiday house to cover its mortgage.

The House

The property was a 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2 living space stunner. It had everything you could dream of in a holiday house: open fireplace, chef’s kitchen with the latest appliances, a beautiful garden, hot tub and covered outdoor dining area complete with a top of the range BBQ.

On top of that, it was 150 meters from the beach and a short five minute walk to local shops and restaurants.

They put the property onto HomeAway (formerly Stayz) with some photos Denis took on his own camera.

Denis and Julie knew the property was premium – its size, facilities and location were all you could want – so they decided to price it at the top of the market.

Love at first site?

This is how I came to meet Denis and Julie for the first time.

We were looking for somewhere to stay for my mother’s birthday and came across their beautiful home which seemed perfect for us and how we like to relax. The fireplace looked like it would go down well with a nice bottle of red, and the outdoor heated spa looked amazing for a late-night dip.

It wasn’t cheap – but this was a special occasion so we booked for to coincide with mum’s birthday. We felt it would be a magical surprise and a memorable weekend, and so, out with the card to pay our deposit.

The first email from our host Denis explained that if we wanted the spa heater going it would be an extra $50 to cover power and water.

Well, that was the first we’d heard of this additional cost! Having paid a premium already for what we thought was everything, this email had left us with a bit of a bad impression. We almost cancelled the booking at this point, on principle, but I kept thinking of how much mum would love the house – and so against my better judgement we kept the booking and paid an extra $50 on top of the premium price we already paid for the two night stay.

The second email we received from Denis was a request to pay the balance ahead of our stay.

SO now, two emails in and our much anticipated weekend was tarred with a feeling that the experience of staying in someone else’s home, in a beautiful place, was all transaction, no heart. It was missing the human element.

We arrived on the day very excited about the weekend away and the birthday celebrations.

After settling in and doing a bit of exploring, my father – a country boy and retired winemaker as fond of a roaring fireplace as I am, commented on the tiny amount of firewood that was in the carport. There was barely enough to get us through the night.

Not long after I received a call from Denis – not checking to see if we’d gotten in ok, or had any questions – he had called to tell me to take it easy with the firewood would as there would be no more delivered. I was a bit irritated by this – Denis was starting to seem like my landlord not my host!

But my curiosity got the better of me so I kept Denis talking and found out how he and Julie had come to own this home.

A brilliant weekend…. despite our host

The weekend was as special as we’d hoped – spending time together, away from our usual day-to-day was enjoyable. We all enjoyed the celebrations and had plenty of laughs along the way. We discovered some nice, and some ordinary local restaurants. Denis’s home with its excellent facilities added to the occasion.

But – would I return, or recommend this house to friends and family? NO.

The holiday experience should begin from the moment someone makes a booking.

They are giving you their hard earned cash, and that brings a big responsibility for you, as a host, to deliver above and beyond the physical space.

Denis and Julie were great people, and their home was amazing, but they didn’t know how to go that extra step to create an amazing experience.

What are your opportunities to create a great experience with your guests?

When you:

  • Respond to the enquiries
  • Confirm their booking
  • Welcome them on arrival
  • Answer their questions during their stay
  • Thank them for their stay

If you think these are your only opportunities, you’d be wrong. There are actually many, many ways to help create a first-class experience for your guests, before, during and after their stay to ensure they return time and time again, tell their friends about you, and leave you a glowing review.

Remember – it’s your home, but it’s also a great opportunity to make a healthy and consistent return on an investment.

If you’re doing these already, ask yourself – are these exchanges with your guests “first class”?

Return on Investment takes heart and smarts

Owning a holiday home can be incredibly rewarding – both emotionally and financially. But you have to remember who your audience is, and focus on the details that see that audience come back for more.

I’m passionate about the details – I love nothing more than rolling up my sleeves and understanding the challenges and opportunities that you might be facing, and your goals for your investment.

If you would like to know more about owning a holiday house, or need to understand the opportunities for increasing your rental income you can contact me through happyhouz.com.au.

I’d love to hear from you.

Joe Tricarico

Happy Houz