The Goldilocks Challenge for Vacation Rental Listing Descriptions

Written By: Conrad
Last Updated: September 8, 2023

Nobody knows or cares more about your vacation rental than you do, and that’s great news for your guests. But having a deep connection to your property can make it tough for you to know what to include in – and what to leave out of – your vacation rental listing description.

That’s why we’re encouraging vacation rental managers and owners to take the Goldilocks Challenge. Follow these four simple steps to figure out what length for your listing is not too long, not too short, but just right. Here’s how it works.

Step One

Write a draft of your vacation listing description without placing any limitations on yourself. Don’t worry about getting it all down (that’s a waste of time), but do give yourself permission to include every detail you’re inclined to, without worrying about whether it’s worthy of mention.

Step Two

Write a second draft of your vacation listing that’s bare bones. Leave out everything but the absolute essentials, like bed and bath count and general location, plus brief mention of key selling points.

Step Three

Think about what details you included in draft one that you were pained to leave behind in draft two. In our webinar on writing content that guests really read, we talked about determining what aspects of your vacation rental you’d be heartbroken if potential guests didn’t know about. While it may seem dramatic, it’s a great way to gauge what’s truly important.

Make a list of these key pieces of information. You’ll soon find that your view of the beach is a definite keeper, but you may not need to include which board games you have stocked in the family room.

BONUS TIP: Not sure what exactly guests love about your rental? Donna Martinez of Sea Ranch Abalone Bay pastes her reviews into Wordle for a visual reference of what words her guests are using to describe her rental.

Step Four

Using this list, draft a rental listing that offers just the right amount of information.

Let’s take a look at the Goldilocks challenge in action at this Seattle property.

Step One: A listing that says too much

You will never forget your stay at this downtown condo with custom stone inlay gas fireplace with iron grate forged by 4th generation tradesmen in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, fully stocked gourmet kitchen with self-cleaning gas oven and separate range, microwave, Keurig coffeemaker with your choice of mocha, cappuccino, Earl Grey tea, and hot chocolate K-cups, and free parking. Stay in a place where your heart will soar above the Seattle clouds, with two downy-soft queen size beds and one immaculate king-size bed with Serta mattress and down comforter stuffed with feathers from farm-raised fowl. There is no location that beats this one for proximity to the city’s highlights, including the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the Waterfront, Bainbridge Island Ferry, Fremont and Gasworks Park, Lake Union, and Capitol Hill and Queen Anne neighborhoods.

What’s wrong with this listing?:

  • We learn about interesting custom details, but it’s more than we need to know!
  • This listing mentions nearly every area of Seattle as being nearby, rather than focusing on the closest specifics and the things that travelers care about most (i.e. the iconic Pike Place Market).
  • Lots of “fluff” – rather than telling guests how their “hearts will soar” and other poetic phrases, keep it focused on the concrete experience. NOTE: this doesn’t mean a total lack of creativity!


Step Two: A listing that doesn’t say enough

Fully stocked 3BR, 2BA condo in a great downtown Seattle location. All appliances, three bedrooms, and gas fireplace. Free parking and custom design.

What’s wrong with this listing?:

  • There’s no sense of bed sizes and room configuration.
  • We have no clear location information or highlights that are nearby.
  • We’ve eliminated unnecessary details about iron-forging tradesman, but now we don’t know what custom design means.


Step Three: Finding the must-have’s.

  • We know we need to give guests a clear sense of the sleeping arrangements.
  • It’s important to promote proximity to key attractions.
  • How can we talk about custom design details without boring readers?


Step Four: The vacation rental listing description that’s just right.

Handmade features and high-end finishes make this 3BR, 2BA downtown Seattle condo a modern marvel. Located in Belltown, the city’s most populous neighborhood, you can walk to Pike Place Market, the iconic Waterfront, and your pick of restaurants. In fact, we share a city block with many of Seattle’s top hotels.

Inside, many features tell an authentic story: from the hand-forged iron grate in the fireplace to the custom granite counters in the gourmet kitchen. Claim the king-size master bedroom with its cloud-like down comforter and en-suite bath. The other 2 bedrooms each have queen-size beds and share an updated bath.

What works in this listing?:

  • It provides guests with a concise summary of how they can use the space (with bed and bath counts).
  • We know how far away we are from the biggest attractions, and have a general sense of what we can expect from the surrounding neighborhood.
  • The custom design is talked about in a way that channels the rental’s character, rather than just listed with no rhyme or reason.

Ready to figure out what’s just right for your vacation rental listing description? Let us know in the comments how you fare in the Goldilocks Challenge.

Don’t miss your chance to ask us all of your copy and content questions at our free online brainstorming session this Friday.

Take The Next Step

  1. Download our free Vacation Rental Marketing Blueprint and watch our FREE training on how to build an actionable, advanced marketing plan for your rental properties.
  2. If you want to learn more about how to generate more bookings, visit our blog and read our articles. 
  3. To get started working with us, visit our contact page, complete the form and schedule a call.
  4. If you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team or other vacation rental owners/hosts!

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