Cottage Rental Rates: Managing Expectations
I have written many articles on the subject of cottage rental rates. Every so often I spend a bit more time on the subject. As the popularity for cottage renting continues to grow, the demand increases. It leaves less supply on the market if the regions do not necessarily meet up with the growing demand. Yet you still see the postings, want ads, and forum discussions out there on rates that make you want to cringe as a cottage rental owner.
So many still think they can get a full service cottage rental for less than what they would pay for a hotel in the same area. It really makes me laugh. Many will pay the hotel rate. They don’t have half the space, or view or privacy, or laundry, or kitchen, or electronics, or amenities, or location, or entertainment, or lakefront, or BBQ, or property….but they’ll pay it and they won’t complain. I’ve actually heard of people not willing to pay a cottage rental owner a fair amount and not finding a place for their vacation and ending up paying a hotel top dollar instead and not getting any of the cottage experience. These same people think that just because something is privately owned it’s not really a business. They think that there are no expenses and people who own cottages are rich and don’t deserve their money. But a hotel is owned by an invisible entity and they employ locals and that’s good that their money is going to boost the local economy. What about the people a cottage owner hires to maintain the property? Or clean the dwelling? Or do repairs, reno’s and landscaping? What about those local workers? This is where many need to learn to manage their expectations.
It gets to a point where we would prefer to leave it vacant, than rent it out and lose money. Hydro costs. Water filtering is very expensive. And our property taxes are growing every year, and at a much higher rate. Someone has to replace the wood and the propane is not consistently replenished. Someone needs to clean it and take care of minor repairs… where does that come from if not from the business that we have taken a lot of time to set up.
- So what does a cottage rental cost in the summer months?
- What’s fair?
- What’s the timeframe?
- What’s included?
- What’s the occupancy?
- Where’s it located?
- What’s the property like?
- Is it lakefront?
- What’s the view?
- How’s the shoreline?
- What’s the pet policy?
These are all questions that go into managing your expectations on a cottage rental vacation. Every one of these impacts the cost, especially the two biggies: location and occupancy. No way are you going to find a place for under $1000 CAN per week if you are more than 8 people in Ontario. If you drive ten hours north of Toronto you may get lucky. However, anywhere that has plumbing, hydro, and a decent spot is going to cost you around that price for 8 people (meaning human beings – just because kids are small does not mean they do not use resources in the same way as grown-ups). So if you were that guy that posted a want ad for a cottage two hours north of the GTA for $600 CAN for the week in peak season – go to a campsite or find a cheap resort where you can listen to your neighbour snore and bring your own everything because there’s nothing included except a bad bed, and a broken picnic table. A hotel in the same area is going to run you atleast $135.00 plus taxes for one night for TWO PEOPLE – multiply that by 4 = $540 for the night OR $3240 for the week! Yeah not cheap.
And what about your sweet and loving family pet? Oh yes, there’s a cost to having a dog or a cat travel with you. Every hotel that allows pets charges extra. It frustrates me when people assume that just because they allow pets at cottage rentals, they can still squeeze the owner for a lower rate. We don’t have a problem with negotiation, however, those of you with pets and barter tactics need to understand your pet costs us money in labour in cleaning out the dwelling for the next family. If we are marketing a “clean cottage” it should be clean. Pets have allergens and pathogens. They’re animals and natural – a bit of extra labour post departure is necessary. We get it – do you?
Yes owners as well need to be a bit more realistic in their own expectations for rates. Just because their neighbour has a Five Star property and dwelling, does not make yours rich by association. Again the criteria above have a basis for establishing a reality check on your rates. Go through the list and apply it to your own cottage rental. Find out what comparable cottages in your area are going for – do a search as if you were looking for a cottage like the one you own. Check out the sites – even like cottageme.com and it should help you understand your rates a bit better. You should do this every season in advance so your quotes and rates reflect what’s fair, and your expenses are covered. Don’t gauge the public. You’ll miss out on the best part of this opportunity – the repeat guest.
Developing a rapport through the cottage rental experience can be very rewarding and very beneficial from an economic standpoint. Trust grows and so does the relationship. I would rather give my repeat guests a better deal as a reward for their loyalty – than someone whom will probably drop me for someone else for $50 CAN.
Remember – when it comes to most things, you get what you pay for in the end.
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