Would YOU Want to Get Cozy Here?  Part II

Would YOU Want to Get Cozy Here? Part II

That last post was not a toot of my horn for my decorating skills (or, um, my sex appeal).  My decorating skills are nothing to toot about. (Ditto my sex appeal, I’m afraid.) It was a post about marketing.

I let a number of holiday rental properties in the St Lawrence Beach Condominiums in St Lawrence Gap, Barbados.  In my “About the Author of this Blog” ditty, I state my belief that renting a holiday apartment has far less to do with selling a “2BR 2BATH, SEA VW” than it does about selling magic.

In other words: Renting a holiday apartment has everything to do with the sex appeal of the place.

To wit:

Recently I received a call from a woman in the UK inquiring about the availability of Apt #11, the holiday rental I own at St Lawrence Beach Condos.  I told her that I had availability for all but the last 3 nights of her stay in Barbados.  She immediately booked #11 and asked if I had another holiday rental she could move into her last 3 nights.

However, I offered to call a rental agent who represents other south coast holiday rentals to see if she had a 2-bedroom place available those 3 nights.

The other agent in fact did have an availability and I called the potential guest with the news.  She wanted to see photos.  Over the phone we went online together; I guided her to photos of the available apartment.

Why the View Isn’t Enough

Now, mind you, the other agent’s apartment has a gorgeous view: the blue-blue sea and sky outside are awe-inspiringly magnificent.  The apartment has two large bedrooms and two full bathrooms.  It’s on a desirable upper floor. The furnishings are less than a year old.

The woman from the UK took in the photos of the place and froze.  There was stony silence at the other end of the phone line.

She tried, but she couldn’t hold back. She blurted out, “There’s no way on earth I’m spending one minute in that place.”

She meant she’d never in a million years get cozy in that apartment … It takes a blunt ol’ Yank like me to Just Say It.

I couldn’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to “spend one minute” in that apartment, either, to be honest.  Bare, white walls; tv cords dangling; no soft fabrics; no color.  In sum, no sex appeal, despite the glorious blue sea and sky outdoors.  Well, to each his own – I’m not speaking for everyone, of course, and I’m sure the owner of the apartment loves it and finds renters for it.  I mean, to me Sean Hannity has no sex appeal, either – but he probably found someone to marry him …

100% Occupancy & How to Get It

Even though someone somewhere might rent your place, why not make it conducive to lots of people wanting to rent it??  My #11 rental has 100% occupancy.  Is it because I promote it more than the others I represent?

In fact, all the rentals I represent get equal billing (see HomeAway for examples of my listings or my own web site).  But #11 gets more queries than all of the others put together.  Why?  Because it’s cuter.  More colorful and alive.  Sexier. It has an innate feeling of luxury.  And, when the price is equal, why wouldn’t a visitor want these things??

The reasons a rental apartment owner won’t spend a little extra for the small touches?

Because he reasons, “I’m not going to put anything expensive in the place; it’s a rental for goodness’ sake; I don’t want anything broken.”

Because he thinks, “I want good linens on my bed at home; for a rental where strangers stay, anything will do.”

Because he justifies, “Why would I spend a bloody fortune on painting walls?  What does paint have to do with anything?”

And because he puzzles, “A decorative vase in the rental? What’s this for? What does a decorative vase contribute to a rental??”

Indeed, I’ve had every one of the comments above thrown at me when a property owner asks me how to get more bookings.

Throwing the Linens Out with the Bathwater

I have purchased gorgeous, high-end linens for other owners’ rentals at my own expense, knowing they would contribute an important je ne sais quoi of luxury in the mind of a guest, and had the linens taken off the beds before the guests arrive!

Is the thinking, “What’s this silly Frette duvet doing here when a polyester blanket from WalMart is so much easier to wash?” If so, I argue that this thinking is short-sighted; it’s looking at the rental from the pov of what makes the owner’s life easier and less costly instead of what will make a guest happy and eager to tell his friends about the place, writing a glowing write-up on TripAdvisor, and planning his next holiday back to Barbados before he leaves the island.

You can argue that a set of linens is not going to trigger this level of excitement – and you’re right.  It’s the linens PLUS the flattering lighting you’ve put into the place PLUS the Wustof knives you have thoughtfully placed in the kitchen PLUS the cleanliness PLUS the sweet smell of the place PLUS the amazing views etc etc etc.  All of this adds up to the magic of an experience. One that a visitor is eager to repeat.

A “Before” and “After” Example

Below is an example of a very small transformation of an apartment here at St Lawrence Beach Condominiums.  It is pretty much identical to all of the other apartments in the building.  Greg and I happen to live in this unit.  But, in case I haven’t made it clear enough yet: I want my home to have sex appeal; I want places I own and rent out to have it; I want places I stay when I travel to have it. Nothing less will do.

The “before” photo shows an initial attempt (my own failed attempt) at dressing up an apartment that is basically a square room that happens to have a fabulous view at the other end. As you can see, we aren’t always looking at the view – a view never carries a rental property; hence, the place itself needs to have some charm.

The problems with this room? The wall color lacks warmth. Too many hard surfaces. Generic wall art. Lighting coming solely from a sad little (plastic!) ceiling fixture.

The transformation from “before” to “after” took more imagination and elbow grease than money.  The only expensive item is the Fortuny ceiling fixture, which was a gift to me from someone special.

Cold fish of a rental

Before: cold fish

Sex appeal

After: Va va voom sex appeal

These photos actually make my point better than words.  The first photo is a room that services one’s needs. It’s got what people need.

The second is a room that makes people who enter it feel special.  This room is a warm, tended-to, even luxurious (albeit on a dime!) environment.

The kicker is that as a rental (when we rent it out) this place costs exactly the same as all the other two-bedroom places in the building. We don’t rent it out often, but whenever we go away for a couple of weeks, I know I can rent it in a flash.

Ahhhh, now do you agree that a little sex appeal goes a long way?

P.S. The woman from the UK ended up taking the luxurious and elegant penthouse in our building for her last 3 nights in Barbados.



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