It struck me twice in 24 hours.
The first time was yesterday morning, whilst chatting to a friend of mine, who said: “All facts are truth, but not all truths are facts.”
The second time was this morning reading a thread on Matt Landau’s vacation rental group. In responding to the increased competition they are facing, one of the members, Sherry, said:
“We have decided we are going to not only survive. We are going to do WELL. We have some surprises for our guests.”
The concept is simple: many vacation rental owners will compete on facts, but only the most successful will compete on truths.
Facts are concerned with the sometimes-dry what and where of vacation rentals. Elements such as price, distance to the beach, number of bedrooms. These are important. But they aren’t usually long term differentiators.
That’s where truth comes in.
Truths are concerned with why and how. Elements that trigger a feeling in your guest’s belly. They are long term differentiators because they define you.
Vacation rental truths aren’t your unique selling points (USP’s).
Well, they are, in the strictest sense. But they run deeper.
We work with many owners and managers who define their USP as “We’re beachfront” or “We have a games room.” Those are indeed USP’s. But they are factual USP’s.
How about the owner who describes the games room like this:
We vacation in our home once every year and always gravitate to the games room with our family each evening before dinner. We’ve ensured that the games room is equipped with the latest cool stuff, rather than old and broken equipment. It’s a great way to spend some time with the kids and then head upstairs for grown-up time later!
As a guest, this tells me 2 things:
1. I won’t arrive and find the table tennis net is broken, or bats are missing;
2. This owner gets what it means to vacation with kids… to enjoy them but also to escape them!
Combine the 2 and you have your truth. You have triggered a feeling in my belly. I’m well on the road to believing that my stay in your home will be everything I’m looking for…because you communicated it to me in a personal, believable way. And I trust you.
You’ve established your pricing, you’ve described your home, and you’ve hopefully identified your USP’s.
Now, how do you add the deeper layer: the truth?
It’s all about defining what you bring to the experience.
If you’re struggling to identify that, here are some tips:
1. Read through your past guest reviews. Many guests will talk about why their stay was so special, and often it’ll go beyond the facts of your rental. It’s unlikely someone will say, “I love this home because it has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath!”
But they might say, “We loved the thoughtful decor. It really felt like home.” Or “Sarah took extra time to share her favorite local restaurants, and her top pick was a hit with everyone.”
Those hint at your truths.
2. If you don’t have many reviews, consider asking your past guests for some personal feedback. It’s also a great way to re-engage in a positive way, i.e. asking them purely for their view.
3. Talk to friends and family. They often know you better than you know yourself! Ask them what they feel defines you (and your rental, if they know it). Caution: Be ready for a few “home truths“!
4. Consider the choices you make at your rental. Why did you add that backyard fire pit or that new handcrafted dining table? Why bother with a fresh set of bath amenities for every guest? (Think beyond bookings/revenue here!) Communicate your reasons with your guests and they’ll get a hint at the “truth” behind your home.
It sounds painfully simple. Your truths must be true. This is certainly not a game of spin! I may well be on the road towards booking your place, but I’ll also have high expectations as a result.
Never say anything that attempts to spin a situation, or is borderline misleading. Not only are you in for a tricky guest management experience, but you’ll also likely have delivered yourself a negative review, killing any short term gain.
Instead, simply write with honesty and with passion. It’s a combination that will ultimately define your vacation rental truth!