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    Raising the Bar on Vacation Rental Quality

    We often hear the saying “quality over quantity,” but what does it really mean for vacation rentals? And how can your company raise the bar?

    While attributes like a clean, well-designed, or extremely luxurious home play into the definition of quality, quality is something more. It’s an experience—an experience that inspires more travel while delivering high standards that guests come to trust.

    From the moment a guest visits your site to book their home, to when they’re on the phone with a friend reliving their trip while unpacking, the quality of their trip comes down to one thing: the experience. 

    Beginning from the start of their journey to the very end, they want their needs anticipated and have three non-negotiables during their travel: seamlessness, exceptional service, and consistency. 

    Every single guest interaction is a way for travelers to determine a company’s quality level. 

    Let’s walk through how a quality experience works. 


    In today’s world, where booking a trip, paying for an excursion, checking in, and leaving a review can be done at the guests’ fingertips while on their mobile devices, they have high expectations for each experience to be seamless. 

    So, how can your company provide a seamless experience? 

    For one, don’t overcomplicate the process. Simple is best. Two, ensure your homes can be booked instantly. Three, confirm your listing descriptions and amenities are accurate—no surprises (unless it’s a welcome basket!). Four, send a thorough pre-arrival email. This will eliminate unnecessary questions and back and forth between the guest and your team. Five, provide everyday household items and supplies. Don’t force guests to make a run to the store after a long day of travel. 

    Safety and security also provide a sense of seamlessness when a guest is traveling. It’s no surprise they value safety over price. 

    Once the above has been implemented, you’re well on your way to raising the bar in vacation rental quality. 

    Exceptional Service 

    Every guest interaction has a big impact, so providing a high level of service is not only important but critical. And exceptional service, at that. 

    Guests should inspire the work you and your team do. Exceptional service should be at the forefront of how you interact with guests. Your team should strive to remove friction and personalize each experience. Exceptional service can also turn a negative situation into a positive outcome by applying the LEARN method. 

    Listen. By listening to the guest, you’re reinforcing that you care what they’ve just experienced.

    Empathize. Empathy is essential to the LEARN method.

    Apologize. Apologies are the best way to reiterate that you’re empathetic to their experience.

    React. Empower and train your team on how they should react to certain situations.

    Notify. Notify your team, and the guest, about next steps. 

    Tackle your next situation by applying the LEARN method. 

    One way to ensure exceptional service is delivered to our guests is by partnering with home management companies that understand the importance of and embody exceptional service in their current operation. 


    The “secret sauce” to building and sustaining loyalty members and ensuring them a quality experience every stay is being consistent in everything you offer. From tangible items like bed sheets, towels, and hairdryers to intangible services like a warm welcome, seamless check-in, recognition, and resolution. 

    Consistency should be the foundation of how you’re raising the bar on vacation rental quality. 

    While each one of your vacation rental homes will have a unique look and feel, there should be consistency in the amenities you provide, as well as your level of service. 

    Raising the bar on vacation rental quality is all about a quality experience for your guests. And a quality experience can be linked to three key indicators: seamlessness, exceptional service, and consistency. When these are the foundation of your brand’s operational standards, you’re certainly going to raise the bar. 

    Annie Holcombe is the director of business development for US/CAN at Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy. Holcombe has over 30 years in the hospitality industry starting out at hotel front desk and working her way up through sales and marketing, moving into vacation rentals. 

    Keven Wishard is the head of global and continent operations at Homes & Villas by Marriott. Wishard has over 35 years of experience in the travel industry with stints in both the airline and hotel business. He has been with Marriott almost 30 years starting his tenure in the hotel sales discipline before transitioning to hotel operations.

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