Blog

What Do Your Guests Want?

A look at social psychology and how to appeal to your guests.


I furnish, equip and decorate short term rentals. What I do is not rocket science. It’s simple, it’s direct and it’s measurable. As far as I am concerned, there couldn’t be an easier job. Why? Because those who frequent vacation rentals have already said what it is that they want and it is the same across the board.
 
They want a home. They want to be able to make food in a kitchen, relax in a living room, wash clothes, have privacy...the list goes on and on. We all know it. Basically, they want what they already have, just in a different location for a few weeks a year.

The rub is they not only want these things, they want to “feel” that they have these things. It’s not just a matter of supplying furniture, equipping and decorating. It’s not only location, or square footage, or amenities. It’s perceived value and it’s emotional.
 
And therein lies the ticket.

That’s the difference between vacation rentals, the difference between a booked property and one that just doesn’t seem appealing to those looking.
 
To really understand the reason someone would choose your property over another we have to look at social psychology. Social psychology was proposed by Kurt Lewin who stated that Behavior is function of a Person and that person’s Environment.

B = f (P,E)
 
It’s the study of how people are influenced by those around them, whether presently in their lives or not. Their behavior, their judgment and decision processes, is a result of their interactions with others.
 
People have an acceptable standard of a vacation rental based on their own experiences and perceptions. For example, a young, just out of college and traveling young adult is going to have a different idea of traveling than your target market. Why? 
 
Because they are influenced by their social circles. Unless you are running a hostel, the demographics of your target market are quite different.

Your target market are those individuals over 30 years of age, mostly college educated, and making $80,000+ per year. These individuals have a specific set of criteria they wish to have met in a 
vacation rental. It runs on a scale of mid-end to luxurious depending on their social influencers i.e. those people who are around them, what they watch on television, and even what they believe people think about them. Simply put, your guests want “what they already have, or what they perceive is better than what they have.”
 
They want what they want. There is no need to delve into their past as to find out why-- that is not our concern at all and, frankly, none of our business. Our concern is to give them what they are seeking, for whatever reason they are seeking it. Our concern is to hear them and to acknowledge them.

So what is this demographic seeking? Status, luxury, accomplishment, a sense that they deserve a certain lifestyle and that they belong to that lifestyle. They have a set of ideals that they want fulfilled. They work hard for their money and want the most value for their dollar. They are spenders but not wasters (well sometimes everybody wastes a bit) of money. They have goals and dreams of acquiring more than what they have or what they perceive as better than what they have.
 
Consider this equation:
 
SVR=f(W+ A)

A successful vacation rental is a function of the right combination
of guest wants and the application of those wants.

When it comes to decorating, one of the best ways I know to give guests what they want is to stay safe and adopt the attitude that “less is more.” Less accessories, but really make a statement with the accessories you employ. Less ornately designed furniture will ensure the clean lines have timeless appeal.
 
Be luxurious only when it is demanded-- i.e. linens, towels, cookware, knives, king bed, flat screen TV. Spend less on items that are not on your guests’ radar. Those are items where the quality is not as important as the functionality. i.e. garbage can, cutting board etc. Ensure you have what guests see as nonnegotiable (i.e. WiFi, security). Invest in natural stone countertops, great faucets and a good quality tile. These items will go a long way in presenting a certain lifestyle and will last for many years to come.

Lastly, show them these items, describe them, sell them, because you are not only describing your vacation rental, you are describing the guest.

There is a huge difference between a property that is slapped together and one that is prepared with forethought; so much so that even photographs show the difference.

Vacationers in your demographic will know the difference immediately. The photos will “speak” to them and they will instinctively know if this is a property that matches with who they are or who they want to be.