Dear Vacation Rental Agency or Vacation Rental Owner,
You put up a website full of information about your rentals and how to book them. Maybe you have given us pages of information about your area and the fun things we can do there. You may have told us the history of your farm and the buildings. But, you probably have not told us anything about you and the people who run your vacation rentals or agency.
Please, tell us who you are! I don’t want to book with an agency that does not list the names of the owners and staff on their site. Who are you? Who am I dealing with? I don’t want to stay on a farm and not have any idea of who runs the farm and lives there. Who are you? When I get there, who will be there?
And if you could include on your website a list of your prices and an availability calendar, so that I don’t have to email and ask, that would be excellent! We all have travel budgets and I don’t want to guess whether or not not your place falls into my budget.
A traveler who likes to stay in vacation rentals in Europe
I could do a 30 minute rant right now about vacation rental websites. Over the last two months I have looked at hundreds of websites for vacation rentals in Europe (I am working on Italy now) and I have seen it all. Splash-Flash pages that waste my time. Headers that keep moving and make me dizzy. Sites with lots of information about the rentals and the area, sites with a few lines of description and small out-of-focus photos. Sites that work well, sites with many broken links. Sites that are so interesting and entertaining that I read everything, sites that look like they have not been updated in a decade.
But my biggest pet peeve is that hardly any websites, for agencies or for farms, tell you much about the owners and staff. Most sites do not even give you the name of the owner! Why is this a secret? Why don’t they want us to know who they are? (I tell you who I am on Slow Europe.)
Here are three websites that tell you who they are! I would like to see information like this on all the vacation rental websites.
Castello di Montalto
www.montalto.it – Family owned historic castle and hamlet on the eastern edge of Chianti, east of Siena near Castelnuovo Berardenga, with ten apartments/houses (sleeps 2 – 6).
The Castle Montalto website tells you about the castle and their vacation rentals. Click Who We Are and you see a photo of the owners and can read about them.
Giovanni is Italian, Diana is American; we both speak fluent Italian and English and fairly fluent French, some German and a very little Spanish. We live here all year round, with more space than we need – space that we are happy to share with our guests.
Also on that page you see a photo of the person who “you will meet on your arrival” and learn the names of the people who work on the estate. They even tell you about the estate pets (although I am a little dismayed that they tell us the name of the dog, but not the names of the two cats).
www.montalcino-tuscany.com (website no longer working) – Vacation rentals in and near Montalcino.
When you book with this small agency you know who you are booking with. Click About Us to learn about Isabella and Luigi Dusi. They have more detailed pages with information about each of them.
Luigi, born in San Remo, Italia, returned to his homeland in 1994. Although away from Italy for many years he settled into the rhythmic life of medieval Montalcino and set about building a new life, leaving behind a frenetic business world – and bringing Isabella to live in Tuscany.
Isabella has written two books about their life in Montalcino.
www.intuscany.net – Agency in Castelmuzio, near Pienza. Good selection of villas, houses and apartments in Tuscany (some are agriturismo or farms/estates) from budget to luxury.
When I email or phone In Tuscany, I know who I will be talking to. Click About Us to meet the staff.
Here are a few of the people who will most likely be helping you arrange your perfect holiday. In the world of impersonal cyberspace, we feel that a face can go a long way towards building trust and personal rapport in our dealings.
This is an agency that is located in the area where they have their rentals, so they are on hand if you have questions or problems.