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Vacation Rental Trust Works Both Ways

Written by Joan Talmadge
4.9/5 - (19 votes)

Jeff and I often go to Florida for a week or two in March just for a break from the long New England winter.   We’re so accustomed to being on the homeowner side of vacation rentals from renting out our Cape home for so many years, so it’s always interesting to play the vacationer role.  Not surprisingly, one of our biggest concerns is about trust. Are the property and its lister legitimate? Is the home a good fit for our needs? Is there anything not covered in the listing that we should be aware of before committing, such as additional fees or restrictions?

HelloRecently, I went online to find a small rental near the beach and inquired about a condo that interested me.  The property manager replied and said that the condo was available for the week I wanted.  In turn, I asked if we might have a phone conversation prior to booking, as we always recommend to our Cape and Island homeowners and vacationers alike.  Her response to this surprised me.  She attached the lease and said in her email, “I will not be taking calls.  I can answer any questions via email.  Please fill out all attached paperwork and fax back within 24 hours.”

You can probably guess that I will not be renting this condo, and I will tell the property manager why.  I do not feel comfortable renting a home without having a phone conversation with the owner or manager, and I would think that she would have felt the same!  After all, we both have the same goal in mind.  I want to know that what is being advertised will suit our needs, and she should want to know that anyone renting the condo will take care of it and leave it in good condition.  An email can spell out all the rules and financial details, but it is devoid of the personal connection so vital to trust.

Trust-quoteCall me old-fashioned, but I will not rent my home on the Cape to anyone without having a phone conversation with them.  Not only do I learn more about the rental party, but I also establish a rapport with them.  Vacationers appreciate hearing a friendly voice of someone who is willing to take the time to provide more information about the home, its amenities, location, and, yes, its idiosyncrasies.  There is nothing worse than having a family show up at your home and be surprised or disappointed. They may even feel that they were deceived.

The bottom line is that you want to book your home, but not to just anyone who happens to inquire about it online.  You want to rent to a party that is a good fit for your home, will take care of it, and will trust and enjoy their relationship with the owner enough that they will write a glowing review when they leave. Often phone conversations between the vacationer and the owner or manager are vital to achieving that happy outcome.

Have you ever entered into a rental agreement without ever speaking with the other party by phone?

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About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan


  • I’m in full agreement with you here although when I look back at some of my rentals (where I’ve been a guest), I have not always spoken with the owner beforehand although have had the opportunity to do so.

    As an agency owner, we inspect every property we have listed so encourage prospective guests to call and talk to the person who did the viewing. That way they get a first-hand account of the location, and our agent can answer all those questions that the guest didn’t know he/she had before the call. We’ve got a lot of repeat business from creating the rapport with our guests long before they book. As you say, this creates trust both ways.

    This is the issue this industry faces as it tries to standardise. No amount of Book Now buttons and online booking engines can take away the trust and rapport that is created by owner/manager and guest communicating directly. I am sure it works in areas where cookie-cutter homes all offer the same amenities and facilities – but in most, it will remain a relationship-business and I hope that will continue.

    Our family has booked a vacation home in the Bahamas in January. Yesterday, the owner called to check out vacation plans were going well, and to ask if we had any questions since we are only a few weeks away from the trip. What a fantastic gesture! We were on the phone for 40 minutes, and not only has that convinced me even more that we made the right decision in the property, I am raving about it on social media already. Win-win all round I think.

    • Hi Heather. Excellent point! There are surely vacation rental situations like you describe where such careful setting of expectations is not as necessary. Here on Cape Cod and the Islands, though, those types of rentals are not the norm, and your term of “relationship-business” is quite fitting. Homeowners who embrace and maintain trust-building practices will grow and flourish. We wish you safe travels and a fabulous stay in your upcoming Bahamas rental! Best, Shannon