In June I wrote a post here about the vacation rental industry’s biggest myth, SNAD (see “PhoCusWright Debunks Major Vacation Rental Myth: SNAD”). It stands for “significantly not as described” and refers to a seemingly widely held perception that, all too often, travelers arrive at a home or condo they rented for their vacation to find it is, well, significantly not as it was advertised to them.
Just a few weeks later a piece appeared in The New York Times Home & Garden section entitled “Summer House Horrors : On a Private Lake in Maine, No One Can Hear You Scream,” which details a series of horrific vacation rental experiences. I wrote a letter to the Editor. The New York Times has not published the letter, so we have decided to reproduce it here.
Letter to the Editor: Summer House Horrors
To: Editor, The New York Times
Re: “Summer House Horrors: On a Private Lake in Maine, No One Can Hear You Scream,” by Joyce Wadler, Home & Garden, July 8, 2009:
This article artfully details a series of nightmarish experiences of vacation home rentals, where unsuspecting guests arrived to find their accommodations significantly not as advertised. It may be accurate in the reporting of the examples provided, but it does not in fact reflect overall guest satisfaction in the vacation rental industry. PhoCusWright’s Vacation Rental Marketplace: Poised for Change has found guest satisfaction to be very high. In a 2008 survey of more than 1000 U.S. adults who stayed in a vacation rental over the past two years, we found the following:
- The mean level of satisfaction was 4.3 on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being extremely satisfied, and 1 being extremely dissatisfied;
- 89% intend to rent again within three years;
- 87% would recommend vacation rentals to family or friends;
- Only 1% of respondents indicated they would not rent again because of a previous bad experience with a vacation rental.
Imagine what air travel would have to be like for airlines to achieve a comparable level of customer satisfaction!
This article perpetuates a perception of rampant fraud and homeowner misrepresentation in the vacation rental industry, a perception that our research clearly dispels as a myth (I call your attention also to “Practical Traveler – Skirting the Pitfalls of Private Rentals,” by Michelle Higgins, October 5, 2008). Such examples are statistical outliers and do not represent the experiences of the vast majority of vacation home renters. And yet very real indeed is the negative impact such media coverage can have on the thousands of professional property management companies and hundreds of thousands of vacation homeowners who serve millions of satisfied guests every year.
Senior Director, Research