The Art of Vacation Planning

by Travel Safe, Jeremy Grogg, CEO

Yes, it IS an art.

Your spouse wants to be near the Sound, so he can bring his boat and/or do some fishing.
The kids want to be close to the beach.
Your parents and/or in-laws just want peace and quiet.
The only totally agreeable one in the whole bunch is the dog.
BUT, with a little patience and planning, you CAN make everyone happy.

When you know WHO is going on vacation, you can more easily choose the accommodations.
Kids? You’ll look for a  property with a separate play area or at least some games, puzzles, movies, etc.
Less-mobile people? You’ll look for a single-level property or one with an elevator.
Pets? Obviously, a pet-friendly property
Multiple Couples? Properties with multiple large beds in the bedrooms

When you know WHAT you want to do on vacation, you can create rough plans.
Want to bring the boat? You’ll look for a property that has a dock.
Want to see the local sights? You’ll look for a property that’s centrally located.
Sun worshipper? You’ll look for a property within walking distance of the beach.

Knowing WHEN you want to go on vacation, well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.

WHERE you want to vacation can mean a lot of things. Ocean side, Sound side or between the highways? Hatteras, Corolla or somewhere in between? Laid back South Nags Head or vibrant Kill Devil Hills? Good communication is the key to manage this factor.

WHY may sound weird, but it’s actually very relevant and important.
Your WHY might be to relax, recharge and enjoy some “us” time with your spouse.
Your spouse’s WHY might be to sit on the dock with a fishing pole, soaking up lots of “me” time.
Your kid’s WHY might be to lay out in the sun, go shopping and climb Jockey’s RIdge.
Your parent’s or in-law’s WHY might be to read, paint, go for walks and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Managing all these widely varying WHYs (or expectations) is the key to whether you will enjoy a harmonious vacation as a family or a chaotic mess with lots of hurt and disappointment.

Make sure you choose the right vacation rental company. It should have enough variety in properties to find the right accommodations for your group. But, it shouldn’t so big that you feel like nothing more than a reservation number. Make sure to read their policies and procedures and determine if you can live with them. Trust us when we say if any conflict arises, those policies will be the first point of reference and if they work against you, well, you may just be out of luck.

Here’s another thing to consider: What types of innovations does your rental company feature? Are they always striving to bring a better experience to their guests? Do their online reviews reflect timely and positive interactions?

KEES Outer Banks is leader in Guest Experience innovations. From our FlexStay program to the provision of linens and towels in all properties to our Beach Cabana Service, we are all about creating an exceptional vacation experience for each and every guest that books a reservation with us.

We know that our guests are our lifeblood and we will do everything in our power to keep you pampered, thrilled and returning to us.

In this era of information overload and the entire world right at our keyboards, it’s easy to think we’ve got everything in hand. And for the most part, we do.  It’s incredibly easy to log on to any vacation rental website. To narrow down our almost endless choices with the parameters provided - dates, location, number of bedrooms, pet-friendly, etc., etc.  You will undoubtedly find a minimum of 3 or 4 choices to fit even the most well-defined criteria. And that’s when the confusion starts. Which one is best? Which will my family like most? Here’s a novel thought for you. Pick up the phone. Dial that toll-free number listed on the top of the website. And ASK.

That’s why the reservationists are there. They have been in the properties and they can offer their first-hand opinions on each of your possibilities. And here’s the best part. They really LOVE helping guests choose the right accommodations. They GET that it’s a big deal. They GET that it can be scary and you’re afraid of making a mistake. Take advantage of their expertise and wealth of knowledge.

So, pick up your phone and dial that toll-free number. You will be glad you did.

Yes, we get that the rules and regulations set up by the rental company are pesky. We get that it’s your vacation and you don’t want to follow a bunch of rules. But those rules are put in place for the safety and security of all of our guests. They’re not just arbitrary.

Here are our top tips gleaned from decades of property management and every guest scenario you could possibly imagine:

a. Arrive at check-in time. If your check-in time is 4:00 pm, don’t show up at 2:00, with perishable groceries in the car.  Your rental company isn’t doing this to be mean to you. They NEED every minute of the turnover time to get each property cleaned, inspected and ready for the next tenant. They really want it to be perfect for you.
b. Check the functionality of the property and its amenities when you FIRST check in. Most importantly, if something is wrong, SPEAK UP. Your rental company really does want to know if a piece of furniture is broken or the pool or hot tub water is green. They want you to have a great experience. Don’t wait until you check out to tell them that something major was wrong. They will gladly send maintenance or housekeeping out to fix something.
c. Don’t treat your vacation home as Party Central. Your rental company absolutely wants you to relax, cut loose a little bit and have fun. But please remember that your vacation property is someone’s home and should be treated with respect. In the same vein, if occupancy is listed at 10, please don’t pack in more than that. If parking is limited to 4 vehicles, please don’t bring 5. Many neighbors have eagle eyes and missteps are usually reported. Don’t create a situation in which your rental company has to take action against you. It’s the last thing they want to do.
d. At check-out time, please follow the few basic rules, i.e.,  lock windows and doors, start the dishwasher, take out the trash, etc. We know you’ve paid a cleaning fee and we appreciate it!! But we still ask that you do these few simple tasks so that the next renter can check-in to a clean and well-stocked property, too.
e. Don’t hesitate to call if you want suggestions...for just about anything! Your rental company staff LOVES to tell you about the great stuff available in the area.

So, you’ve done all your research. You’ve found the perfect property for your family. You’ve scoped out the area and know exactly what activities and attractions you’re going to take advantage of. And now you’re there. You’re on the Outer Banks!! And for the first day, you’ve planned the perfect day at the beach. You put together all the snacks. The car is loaded up with all the beach chairs, towels, toys, even sunscreen.

You wake up that first morning...and it’s raining.

In the above scenario, this development could spell disaster and frustration. It would have the end effect of casting a pall over your entire vacation. Please don’t let that happen. You’ve worked so hard to make this a wonderful trip and your family deserves to have an amazing adventure together. Instead, keep a running list, instead of a schedule, of the activities everyone would like to experience. Each morning, over breakfast, evaluate the weather and the general mood and make your decision from there. Maybe someone will come up with a brilliant idea you hadn’t even considered. This way, a rainy day just turns into a trip to the aquarium or a popcorn and movie day instead of a disaster.

This one is simple. Don’t Facebook, Pinterest or Snapchat your vacation away. Put the phone down or at least in your back pocket on silent. Spend some time in nature, Take in a sunrise or a sunset. Go for a long walk on the beach and look for beach glass or that perfect seashell. Interact with your family in a meaningful way. Enjoy a good belly laugh. Maybe play a board game together. Throw a ball or a disc with the dog. Vacation doesn’t come around often enough and you’ll never have the same one again.

Treasure every second.