The show is a warm-spirited, lovely and beautifully filmed program that is a part travel show, and part property makeover show. Real Estate Expert Peter Lorimer, and Designer Genevieve Gorder, hosts are very engaging, non-patronizing, and so much fun to watch. Most makeover programs have a lot of drama which makes this show different from the rest and gives a refreshing change. The show is so professionally executed, and well-meaning which makes it very hard to critique it.
There are 8 episodes in Season 1. Every episode showcases one unique property in different parts of the USA. While there are episodes that have recurring themes, you need to watch the entire season since each episode has a distinct theme within itself. In one specific episode, there are some discussions about some important issues of vacation rental property owners. If you skip that episode, you’ll miss the lesson.
An example of the above-mentioned issue in Episode 6 – the Palm Springs vintage home. The concern here is from the owners’ side that they have not rented before and about potential damages to their property and theft of their museum-quality original vintage furnishings. If you miss this episode then you miss the only episode having discussions about risk management of damages, and guest vetting.
The show had me wanting to scream at my TV, “No, no, no! Do not do that!” One such positive example is when Seachange Vacation Rentals advises us on the importance of matching the sleeping capacity of the property to the capacity of the dining table. I was vindicated with the show hosts’ same advice to the Owner of the Brooklyn Brownstone in Episode 4. One such negative example is prevalent across many episodes when the show designer adds live candles to the property. It is recommended to owners that they do not put live candles in a vacation rental property.
For all the well-meaning intentions and the charm, this show most definitely is not a business show. It is certainly not something like ‘How to Guide to running a vacation rental business. It throws more light on the practical, operational day-to-day issues. It does not cover things that may be specific to each area profiled like legislative issues or permitting issues.
The show also makes valid business-focused statements of advice to property owners. One such example of the above statement is stating the value of a coordinated property design aesthetic that is driven not by the owners but by the guest’s needs. Another example is about doing your own research, which is by understanding your target guests’ demographic and knowing who your competition is, including their rates and their properties.
One disappointment for me in a home makeover show is the absence of any financial data on the time duration of renovations and the cost. The hosts did show the process of evaluating and prioritizing, in the case of operating a profitable vacation rental business, along with which renovations to cover, there was no mention of the cost, no demonstration of how the property owner would plan and see a return on his/her investment and no discussion of the impact of lost revenue while a property is off-market for renovation. There would have been valid production reasons for not including this, but a cost-benefit analysis of renovations would be helpful for the property owner.
Another disappointment for me is that the show didn’t give much importance to reviews. Reviews help an owner understand the competition. Seachange Vacation Rentals shows competitive reviews. Clear feedback on guest needs is given by real-life guest reviews when scanned for consistent patterns like what they love, and what they hate; what’s present, and what’s missing. Heather Bayer, as a vacation rental expert of The Vacation Rental Formula says, scans for surprises in the reviews.
If the guests who come to your property get a surprise during their stay, then your property photos and copy are not clear enough and aren’t matching the reality. Reviews are also important during the design and operational stages of a vacation rental. Do your own research, then have your own way of adding, displaying, and tracking guest reviews in an online forum available for the public to read. Respond to every review you receive.
Except for one episode in Paso Robles, CA, in the rural wine-making region, all the properties shown were in urban areas. The Malibu Beach House episode obviously shows a beach house, which comes closest to a coastal resort area, the location which is again dominated by Los Angeles urbanization.
The beach resort vacation rental market is a traditional beach home rental market that is being rapidly transformed and modernized by the emerging ‘Vacation Rental’ market. It would have been more informative if they had shown the challenges and effect on property owners in these remote locations too who provide service to guests from urban areas. A vacation rental business in a remote coastal resort area catering to guests with sophisticated tastes from large urban areas includes many aspects like the design, business, amenities, hosting, and marketing, which would obviously differ from the urban areas. I hope I get to watch Season 2 of this great show.
There are still many valuable lessons for property owners to learn from the show which showcases a total of 8 properties in this season. Navigating and establishing that line between showing and taking advantage of each location and property’s uniqueness while curating a property to appeal to contemporary guest needs is very well covered. Great job!
In case you plan on watching the series, here’s a link to make it easier for you: