Whether you are a seasoned host or new to the realm of hospitality entirely, it’s important to note the distinction between a good listing and a not-so-great one. You only have a few seconds to grab a vacationer’s attention, so use your words wisely. Here are 14 things you should never use in your vacation rental listing.
“A Trip You Will Never Forget” Never use never, even if it sounds like a positive thing. The word has a definitive connotation and you should avoid sounding like a host who deals with everything only in “black and white” terms. Accommodating guests is a top priority in hospitality and often, there are some grey areas that may require deviating from “the usual procedure.” Try using words that are a bit softer and that provide more than two extremes. “A vacation to remember” sounds much more inviting than one “you will never forget.”
“Expect Your Dream Home” Guests’ expectations can be rather high when it comes to taking a timeout from life. Often, renters have very specific assumptions of what their experience will be like and it can be difficult to meet those expectations. As such, disappointing guests is not always due to an oversight of the host. You can help your renters set realistic expectations in the rental description by leaving out the word “expect.” This way, there is less risk of a letdown. The word may stir up some kind of anticipation, either good or bad, and can often leave potential renters with a bad taste in their mouths.
“A Cute Apartment Located in the Busy City of LA” Many people researching for an upcoming vacation are looking for an escape from the chaos of their day-to-day and are hoping for a quiet retreat. However, there are also those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life and thrive in fast-paced environments. While it makes perfect sense to direct language towards these “busy” folks, be tactical about how you do it. An apartment in a “busy city” sounds much less alluring than one in “the center of it all.” Odds are the type of person planning a vacation in surroundings that are similar to their own may be more attracted to a listing that sounds different. On the other hand, the person who is straying from their norm may be intimidated or turned off by blatant language like “busy.”
“Keep kitchen cupboards closed due to broken hinges.” It’s unwise to use this word! It might seem like a very obvious mistake, but it’s still important to mention. Again, this is where tact comes into play. While there is value in telling the truth, there comes a time to re-evaluate. If the toaster breaks, discard it. If it’s not possible to replace right away, simply edit your rental description to take out any mention of a toaster. It is very important to remember to update your listing. Any misleading information (even the smallest thing, such as listing an appliance that is actually not usable) can very easily cause disgruntled guests or bad reviews.
“Old Victorian Charm” History is quite often a driving factor behind a vacation, and who wouldn’t want to stay in a place that has been around for decades or centuries? The chance to go back in time will always remain a coveted experience – one that excites vacation goers. However, words like “antique” and “historic” have a better chance at provoking the curiosity of potential renters. On top of that, analytically speaking, people tend to use more specific terms when searching online for a place to stay. “Antique victorian with vintage charm” is more likely to show up at the top of search results rather than a title beginning with “old.”
“Friends Will Be Jealous of this Spectacular Getaway” This is probably true, especially if your listing is a bungalow by the sea. While this word may seem like a way to draw renters, on second glance, it doesn’t offer them much. Making friends jealous is a plus, of course, but it’s probably not the main reason people are looking at the listing. Booking a getaway is for getting away, not making people jealous! Stay on point and keep the message relevant to the end goal of filling up your rental calendar.
“Don’t use the disposal.” While there are ways to insert this word into positive statements, it is best to avoid using it in your listings. This word can sometimes come off as harsh and dismissive, which is very unappealing to potential guests. Even if the intention is meant well, like the example above, seeing this word while planning a relaxing trip can be off-putting. “Please refrain from using the disposal as it is currently under repair.” This example shows the host is much more reliable than one who may have used the statement above; there is more information and it gives a vacationer confidence that the listing is updated often. (Remember: keep your listing updated as the state of things change!)
“We are sorry to say no pets allowed.” This is a polite enough statement, but what is there to be sorry for? A no-pets rule is perfectly acceptable and understood among renters. In conversation, saying “No pets, I’m sorry,” is another thing entirely. A professional rental description should stick to the basics, including any ground rules you’ve established for your tenants. Keep the language friendly and open, but there is no need to apologize for any necessary conditions. “Please leave your pets at home” is polite, names a rule, and is respectably stated.
“You’ll find everything you need.” The word “everything” gets thrown around a lot when it comes to vacation. While it may not seem like a big deal, promising “everything” to your guests can set you up for trouble, as you could be setting yourself up for an opportunity to under-deliver. Instead, make promises to do your best to provide for a guest’s needs. Create an opportunity to over-deliver instead of the opposite.
“We hope you’ll enjoy your stay!” “Hope” can be a tricky word because while it seems positive and inviting, it can also insinuate you’re not confident about your hosting abilities. Of course you hope your guests will love their stay with you, but verbalizing it alters your appearance as a competent host in your listing. Rather than saying “hope,” use words like “know” or “confident.” Something like, “We’re confident you’ll love your stay with us” sounds better than, “We hope you’ll enjoy your stay.”
“Get Ready for a Good Time” / “There’s a great beach a short walk away.” It’s easy to fall back on “good” and “great” to explain your vacation rental or the locations near them. However, it’s also easy to overuse these words. The English language is full of other descriptive words, so branch out a little. Instead of saying, “There’s several great restaurants nearby,” opt for, “There’s several delicious restaurants nearby.” Instead of saying something is “good,” explain that it’s “fantastic,” “superb,” or “exceptional.” Get creative!
Any word that is misspelled should never be included in a listing. In the age of Spell Check, misspellings should not be overlooked. There are times even technology misses a thing or two, which is why it’s important to proofread – more than just once.
13. Local Jargon
Inserting local jargon can seem like a fun way to engage renters, but – especially for foreign guests – this can be a bit confusing. Stick to general terms and language, but if there is something specific to the listing that needs to be included, be sure to offer some kind of explanation or insight as to what it means.
14. Bad Photos
They say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and in the online world, nothing is truer. Keep the toilet seat down, make the bed, put the kids’ toys away, and clean the countertops. Check your images carefully for things you might have missed when you took them before posting online. Whipping up a rental listing might seem like a daunting task. Truthfully, the only thing you need to remember is you are providing the most important thing for vacationers – a place to stay. Do your best to represent your property as you see fit and the rest will follow. Now put out the welcome mat! Need help getting your vacation rental ready for your next guests? Set up a time to have one of our fully-vetted cleaners make your space sparkle and watch the rave reviews stack up.
I could not agree more with 14 – we photograph vacation rentals and hotels all over the country. Of course I think that professional pictures are important from a selfish point of view since thats what we do for a living but since we travel 50,000 – 70,000 a year, I see t from both sides. Like other guests we depend on the photos and online reviews to choose where we stay.
I especially hate seeing photos of places with beautiful views but the photos have blown out windows or are overexposed so the windows are bright and the rooms look like dungeons.
Consider hiring a professional photographer who specializes in vacation rentals but if you dont find someone that does that, look for a photographer who specializes in real estate or other commercial photography. You may be surprised at how affordable it can be and how big a return on the investment it is.
One hint if you aren’t going to hire professional photographers for your listings is to take the pictures at DUSK when the sun isn’t glaring in the window. Makes a huge difference.
Agree with all of these but for me the biggest mistake is to use the word “luxury “. It is a word that is far too subjective and may set up all sorts of expectations which can’t be met. At the most basic level, someone who lives in a very modest apartment may consider having two bathrooms to be a luxury but someone who lives in a mansion is unlikely to be satisfied even with one bathroom for two bedrooms. Ditto kitchen equipment, furniture, decor etc.