When setting expectations for your guests, it is important to be realistic about what they will experience once they get to your property. Setting unrealistic expectations may get them to your property, but it will not turn them into satisfied, long term guests. You may win the battle, but you will lose the war.

A few years ago, we booked a condo in Lake Tahoe for a family getaway. My husband booked it on VRBO and it looked great. It slept 8 people and was just off the lake. We arrived with high hopes, only to check in to a unit that was a fraction of what was promised. The deck was old and peeling, the porch furniture consisted of one ratty old chair, and the coffee pot was a small little four cup coffeemaker for a unit that slept 8. The lake are near the unit, shown as full of water and waters sports enthusiasts in the photos, had been dry for years.

Park owners can easily make the same mistakes. Just recently we were working with someone who suggested they were not going to use the photos of their site when setting up their online booking page. We were stunned and suggested they NOT take this approach. In fact, the only time we do this is when a park is under construction. We use true to life stock photos and we make the change as soon as the park is open and we can take real photos of the functioning sites.

First of all-this is a sure sign that something is amiss about your sites. It is like looking at a real estate listing of a home, but they never show the interior.

Secondly, if you do get the guest to book, you are surely going to hear about it once they arrive. Furthermore, in this day and age of social media-the whole world will hear about it as well. As soon as I returned from my Lake Tahoe trip, you better believe I let any future renters know that this condo was not all it was cracked up to be.

Lastly, it you know your park is sub-par, do something about it. A little paint, soap, water, and tightly held rules and regulations can go a long way in putting “Lipstick on a Pig.” In our condo’s case, a $100 set of porch furniture, some deck stain, and a $12 coffeemaker could have made up for many of the ills we had with this unit. Showing accurate pictures of the lake area would have allowed us to make a more informed choice.

When setting guest expectations, be clear, be accurate, and take care of the little things that can go a long way!