Outer Banks Blogs

The "Perfect" Vacation Home ... Is there such a thing?

Village Realty Blog - Fri, 04/24/2009 - 09:10
FONT size=4/FONTBRBRA href="http://www.villagerealtyobx.com"IMG src="http://images.quickblogcast.com/41500-38006/ultralight.jpg" border=0/ABRBRFONT size=4nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; Searching all over for that "perfect beach house"?nbsp; BR/FONTBRPoring over brochures, looking at various websites and perusing the Outer Banks Message Boards for advice and information?nbsp; You are not alone, that is what thousands of people do each year in the quest for the Outer Banks vacation rental that they feel will be right for their family. BRBRWe will give you our perspective on how to find the best home for your group.nbsp; All of our vacation specialists answer calls and emails all day, every day from folks just like you.nbsp; We make notes when we visit a home and a community... we evaluate each home annually and rate it (we arenbsp; happy to share that rating with you when you call) and we pass on our suggestions to the owners about what they need to do for the following season. BRBR UL LIPick your week.nbsp; If there is only one week you can come,nbsp; determine whether you need (or will consider) a Saturday or Sunday check in day. Some homes do allow Friday check ins...something to think about if you want an entire weekend to recover from your vacation. /LI LIIf you have some flexibility with when you can come on vacation, do your homework on the website first. Enter your criteria but do not enter a date,nbsp;pick your favorite homes and then check availability/LI LIWhat kind of vacation do you want to have ... lots of activities? Fishing every day? Golfing...or do you just want to kick back and relax at the house?nbsp; All important things to think about. If you want peace and quiet ...consider South Nags Head. You will feel like you are away from it all but are actually a few minutes away from stores and attractions.nbsp; Want to have lots to do, places to go, things to see? Corolla Light, The Village at Nags Head and The Currituck Club are excellent choices. /LI LINightlife...yes or no? If you want to take in some music, dance or just sit at the bar and mix with the locals then Kill Devil Hills or Nags Head are the better choices.nbsp;nbsp;/LI LIIf you are a repeat guest to a particular company, call or email them and let them know that. They can pull up your history and get an idea of what you are looking for. Repeat guests are very valuable to the rental company/LI LISign up on the websites to receive emails and notices of special offers/LI LIDetermine who is coming on vacation. Make sure there is a bed for each person ....not a sleeping bag on the floor or kids sleeping on the couches.nbsp; Most homes havenbsp; septic tank and if you start overloading the home you can have serious problems/LI LIDetermine what amenities you are looking for--those you have to have (ex: hot tub or pet friendly) vs. those you would like but are not a necessity (ex: Internet or private pool)/LI LIDecide on a price range, the bottom line. Keep in mind that some companies (us included) post the inclusive price on their website. The figure you see could include everything but the taxes (no way to avoid paying them) and the optional trip insurance so there are no surprises when you "check out" on the web page or get the final total due from the resevation agent on the phone/LI LIWhere do you want to stay? Which town? Corolla, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills?nbsp; Do your research on these areas and don't hesitate to ask your reservation agent what they think is the best place for your group.nbsp; A lot of good info on the towns can be found on the rental company websites and on other websites devoted to the Outer Banks./LI LIDo you have to be on the oceanfront or will you consider oceanside or even the "other side" of the island--the sound side? It is very beautiful on this side of the Outer Banks and you get a lot of house for the money.nbsp; /LI LIIf you are bringing kids along, consider a community that offers a lot for them do including community pools, tennis and other activities. Several have playgrounds and offer weekly programs during the summer months. /LI LIIf you find a great rental company, consider sticking with them. If you love the house you are staying in, think about pre-reserving it for the following year. /LI LIIf you have specific needs, share those with your vacation specialist.nbsp; I know that we will go to the house if we don't know the answer to your questions. Examples are someone in a wheelchair needs to know the height of the lip on the doorway. Or, you have to be close to the Nags Head Pier or you are highly allergic to pet hair so you need a home that not only does not permit pets and be assured that the owners of that home do not have pets either.nbsp; Is the rental company willing to go the extra mile for you to get those answers? /LI LIPictures! Are there lots of them?nbsp;Ask if they are current.nbsp; If the house advertises a view, can you see it? /LI LIIs there level by level information available on the website that tells you which bedroom is where? That is important if you have little ones with you since you do not want them to be on the first floor and you on the third (most likely)/LI LIOnce you make your decision, read your lease carefully.nbsp; Ask any questions. Get your first payment in on time!nbsp; Very important./LI LIDiscounts.nbsp; Specials and so on. We, the rental company, do not set the rental rates; the owners do. We suggest to them what we feel they should charge but the decision is theirs. It is also their decision whether they want to offer a discount or not.nbsp; This is where it also pays to do your research/homework. Get on that website and see which homes have specials going on. /LI LISo you want to call in and ask for a discount...? That is fine. However, most likely the person on the phone will then have to transfer you to someone in thenbsp; office with a NC real estate license because unless they have anbsp;license they cannot negotiates rates with you. They may have to callnbsp; you back with an answer after the owner has been contacted.nbsp; /LI LIIf you can come to the beach in the early spring or summer or early fall, you will not only save money but you will be here when it is not as busy. /LI LIAsk your friends and family which company they have rented from and what their experience was like. Word of mouth is still the best advertisement there is. /LI LIDoes the owner of the home have a personal website? This is always nice because it gives you even more information and also provides a personal touch from them. /LI/UL PWhen all is said and done, every vacation has the potential to be perfect. You are on a beautiful island with your loved ones. No matter who you are renting from be assured they want you to have a stress free week. They want you to come back.nbsp; BRBRSo, take lots of pictures and enjoy.nbsp;nbsp; We hope to see you at the beach soonBRUntil Next TimeBRYour OBX Bloggers/P Pnbsp;/P Pnbsp;/P Pnbsp;/P Pnbsp;/P
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

One Man's Trash is ... still Trash

Village Realty Blog - Thu, 04/23/2009 - 11:21
BREarth Day 2009 has come and gone but that does not mean that any of should forget what it stands for. So turn out those lights, cut back on the AC, use paper instead of plastic and recycle when you can.nbsp; BRBREvery year the Village Realty People pick up trash on Earth Day and then we have a cook out. Yesterday the weather was great when the pick up began but after an hour or so the wind kicked up and it was lightning. Then came the rain and even some hail!BRBRNags Head and Corolla are now much cleaner and we will continue to do our part to Go Green.nbsp; Thanks to everyone who picked up trash and also to the chefs who cooked us lunch. BRBRWe had decided to donate $5.00 for every reservation made on Earth Day and that means the Nags Head Wood Eco Preserve will get a check from us for $205.nbsp; BRBRFrom the Nature Conservancy Website:BRBR"FONT size=2STRONGNags Head Woods Ecological Preserve/STRONGBRDesignated as a National Natural Landmark in 1974, protecting the maritime forests of A href="http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/northcarolina/preserves/art5618.html"Nags Head Woods/A was one of the Conservancy’s first priorities in North Carolina. Now at more than 1,000 acres, the Preserve features trails through dunes, marshes and wetlands, as well as wonderful views of the sound—and of the development pressures facing the area. More than 50 bird species nest here and the marshes offer habitat for otter, muskrat and waterfowl. In fall, look for salamanders, screech owls and pileated woodpeckers."BRBRThe Village Realty Trash Brigades ... we always have funBRBRIMG src="http://images.quickblogcast.com/41500-38006/Trash_Pick_Up_20091.JPG"BR/FONTBRIMG src="http://images.quickblogcast.com/41500-38006/Trash_Pick_Up_2009_corolla21.JPG"BRBRIMG src="http://images.quickblogcast.com/41500-38006/earthday41.JPG"BRBRThanks for doing your part to save our planet.BRUntil Next TimeBRYour OBX Bloggers
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Outer Banks Vacation Rental Companies ... We are NOT the bad guys

Village Realty Blog - Wed, 04/22/2009 - 09:15

One of our jobs in the Web Services office is to read Message Boards pertaining to the Outer Banks.  There are two that seem to be the most popular and active:

OBX Connection   and OBX Bound

The OBX Connection site requires that you join in order to post a question or comment on the Message Board, OBX Bound does not. Both are free and both get a lot of traffic.   NC Beaches is another great site to get information about the Outer Banks and the entire NC coast.   They do not yet have a message board but they do allow reviews from anyone.  

Getting to my point, several people read these boards and we do respond to questions from posters if we know we can answer their questions. It could be anything from "What is Corolla Light Resort like" to recommending restaurants.  Many times people are asking about specific rental companies and want to know good and bad experiences others have had. Fair enough ... they are going to spend a lot of money on a vacation home and want some feedback.  Happy to help.

However,  anyone who works for a company, owns a business here, etc has to be careful because the rules are pretty strict. You can't actively and overtly promote your company ... cannot use the Message Boards to advertise in other words.

Sometimes the threads on a particular topic can get quite heated.  Recently I ran across one that was really slamming the vacation rental companies here on the OBX.  There were a lot of people spouting off how horrible "we" all were; that we do not care about guests, only want their money, terrible customer service and so on.

I watched and read the posts for several days as they got more and more hateful (and untrue) and I finally had to post my own response.

There are vacation rental companies here who do care about the guests. Many of them.  There are other companies besides Village Realty which I would have no problem recommending to friends or family (IF we did not have anything available of course!).  The owners have good reputations, are ethical and well respected.

One bad, or even horrible, experience does not mean that everyone who works in this business is out to get you or screw you over.
I am sure I can safely say that we (all the rental agencies) do want our guests to come back, want them to enjoy their time here and of course hope they refer us to others.   We all appreciate that you (the guests) have chosen to rent from our company and we want your time here to be as carefree and relaxing as possible.

We are not meeting every week to decide whose vacation we are going to ruin or which home we will sabotage. Honestly.  Nor do we know when the AC will decide to quit working or the refrigerator will go down.   Stuff happens. If the guests before you trashed the house then we will not be able to give you the keys before check in time.  If the carpets need to be cleaned, same thing.

Our website is as up to date as we can get it. If any guest has a specific question about a home that we do not know, we will try to get that answer for you.  Our reservation agents personally go to the homes in the off season to evaluate them and make personal notes.  Plus, we now allow online reviews and ratings of each home, by the people who stayed in them. Guests who have rented from us receive a link to an electronic survey and are asked to please fill  it out and submit it. We go through each one and unless there is profanity (have not seen that yet) or someone just goes on a rant (nope, have not had that happen yet either) then we post it live.

So please, if you reading some negative posts about the people here or the vacation rental industry as a whole --remember that the OBX locals love it  here and we are  happy to share our beautiful island with visitors.  Yes, we are competitors but we are also business associates and in many cases good friends. 

The owners of the homes are not the bad guys either. They are our partners in this venture and want the same thing we want; happy guests.  This is a business and of course we need to make money and the owners need to make money. There is the mortgage, the utilities, the insurance, the maintenance, refurbishing that the owners are responsible for. They depend on us to market their home, get it rented, take care of their (and our) guests and to clean and maintain their  homes.  Many owners have developed long term friendships with their guests and they exchange holiday cards, call each other and keep up with family events. That is always nice.  Some of our owners call their guests while here, send or leave them gifts and furnish their homes with the guests comfort in mind.  It is always nice to feel appreciated and know that you are welcome.

Do I think Village Realty is the best real estate company here? Yes, of course I do and I hope everyone at every other company feels the same way. 

Short and sweet ... we appreciate our guests and we want you to feel welcome and return to the Outer Banks many times.

Thanks for listening
Your OBX Blogger
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Earth Day and The "Green Village"

Village Realty Blog - Tue, 04/21/2009 - 10:35


Wednesday, April 22 is Earth Day.

From Wikipedia:

"Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It is held annually during both spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year."

I always feel guilty because I know I am not doing all I could to "go green".  Yes, I turn off the water when I am brushing my teeth, I take short showers and I turn off the lights when no one is in the room. But I don't recycle at  home.

At work, it is another story.  We are full on Green.

  • Recycle soft drink cans
  • No paper brochure, all electronic
  • Leases are signed electronically online OR can be emailed to guests
  • We recycle office paper
  • Pick up trash on Earth Day
  • Turn off computers at night
  • Re use file folders
  • Combine trips to other offices
  • No paper confirmations sent (unless guest does not have email)
  • Email confirmations, payment receipts, etc are sent instead of snail mail
  • Cleaning products are eco friendly
  • Paper products in our office and our homes are recycled
  • We use glassware and dishes in our kitchen--not paper cups or plates

In honor of Earth Day tomorrow we are donating $5.00 for any reservation that is made on that day, whether by phone or online. Our donation will go to the Nature Conservancy to benefit the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. 

So if you are thinking about booking a home this week, why not do it Wednesday and do your part to help Save the Earth.

Thanks for reading.
Until Next Time
Your OBX Blogger

Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Hold It ... Really

Village Realty Blog - Wed, 04/15/2009 - 09:01
Once again we have used our powers for good ... we now let guests Hold a vacation home they find online.  The hold is for 24 hours and gives them time to contact cousin Joey and Aunt Harriet to make sure everyone is still coming to the beach, show them the house  (using our online brochure or by sending them a link to the house using EMail a Friend) and get the "Who Pays What" details worked out.

FYI we do allow holds for guests who phone in too ... same rules apply. "Hold It" seems to be very popular ... from the stats I have seen on this.  

We still call each guest who books online to go over any questions they may have and make sure they understand when their first rental payment is due, when the balance is due and so on.

Our powers are working overtime lately because we also have two new applications that will benefit guests who have already made their reservacations.

Guest Web allows a guest to (a) see their lease and all terms of the agreement on line, anytime (b) make a payment online, anytime (c) check their balance due (d) contact us in a secure manner (you know, like the banks do .... they never email you to give you the information ... they email you to ask you to log into your account and then you check your emails there).  Guests can either enter their credit card information ... again, all secure ....or print out a coupon to send in with their check. Or or course, they can still call us. Since the lease is accepted either at time of booking online or when a guest goes to the GuestWeb site ... we are also saving paper!  Village has been "going green" for some time now and this is just one  more step. And last but not least, this is guest friendly and also saves our staff a lot of time.

RezMail Pro has automated our email contact with guests, giving us more time to answer phone calls, questions and concerns and provide better customer service.   Guests will get an email when they book a home (whether onine or by phone, etc), when payments are due and five days before they check in. That email gives them directions and information they will need once they get here.

Then, emails go out to our guests after they leave thanking them for staying with us and asking them to complete an online survey. Finally, six months later the final email goes out asking them to come back!

More "greening" of our reservation processes. Emails instead of mail (although we do call or snail mail guests who do not use email) saves time and paper and emails are more likely to get read quickly as opposed to mail that you throw on the counter and open later.

More good stuff on the way.

Hope you are having a good week and making plans to visit the OBX soon.

Until Next Time
Your OBX Blogger

Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Quilters OBX

Village Realty Blog - Fri, 04/10/2009 - 13:40
Cindy Mattingly in our Accounting Department has been quilting since the early 1990s. Cindy collects fabrics that she buys at quilt shows, online or at shops in the course of her travels. She has made lap-size quilts for every family member and needed to find another outlet for her quilting “habit.” In 2005, after adopting her black Lab, Buster, from HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team) in Fairfax Station, VA, Cindy began donating quilts to HART for their annual silent auction fundraising event. In 2006, Cindy began making and donating quilts every year to the March of Dimes Signature Chefs silent auctions. She recently attended a meeting at the invitation of local animal rescue groups, including the Dare County SPCA, which are in the planning stages of a fundraising event for fall of 2009. Once again, Cindy will create her beautiful quilts and donate them so that others may benefit.

I have seen the quilts she has donated to the March of Dimes fund raisers and they are simply beautiful. Perfect for a baby gift or new home gift or any time at all. I wish I had the patience to do this type of craft but since I almost failed Home Ec in high school I am pretty sure that is not in the cards for me.

There is something so comfortable about a quilt, very welcoming and homey. I love them!

We have many talented people who work with us and will tell you more about them in future posts.

Here is wishing all of you a safe and happy holiday. The beach is coming alive again with visitors and they are very welcome back!

Until Next Time
Your OBX Blogger

Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Mixed Bag

Village Realty Blog - Thu, 04/09/2009 - 11:15

Been a busy week ... as always.  Lots to talk about so here we go ...

Corolla Wild Horses

Karen Gregory, one of our seasoned vacation specialists in the Corolla office is always one who is willing to help out those in need.

Not only is she willing to drop off towels for a guest on her way home, helping out her fellow co-workers is very common. During the winter she has also been known to stop by houses on her way home where a guest may be arriving late to turn on the outside light for them. In addition she is also a volunteer with the Carova Volunteer Fire Department, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, and a volunteer for the Network of Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST).

Last week while on the way to work, we received a call that she was going to be late. It turned out that she was the first one on the scene when she spotted a stallion that appeared to be severely injured near the ramp to the Carova Fire Station. Many thanks were extended from the director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund to Karen who took the time to set up stakes and yellow tape to keep people back and call for help. Unfortunately it appeared that the horse may have been hit by a vehicle in the previous night’s fog, and had to be euthanized because of the extent of the injuries.

In a small community such as Corolla and Carova, it's the dedication and efforts of the many locals that make living in a small town such a wonderful place.

We all appreciate Karen’s hard work in the Corolla office as well.

Great Vacation Giveaway 2009

The Great Vacation Giveaway has begun! For the third year in a row Village and OBX Connection are co-sponsoring this annual Sweepstakes.   This year the property is a luxurious, brand new condo in Kill Devil Hills. 

Some of the Amenities at Croatan Surf Club

Large, Oceanfront Pool
Indoor Heated Pool with Fireplace and Translucent Roof
In ground spa
“Spray Ground” for kids
Dune top Gazebo

No purchase necessary to win. You will need to go to www.OBXConnection.com  and register. Please read the sweepstakes rules. The winner will be announced after July 8, 2009. Date of stay is the week of August 22-29, 2009.

Hold It

We now allow guests to "Hold" a home for 24  hours; either by phone or online. We just launched the online capability a few weeks ago and have had a great response from our home owners and our guests.   Since we can email leases or  have a guest accept the lease online, hold its can be converted into confirmed bookings quickly once we have a payment.  Guest Friendly!

Are You Ready?

For taxes? I am not ...filed an extension.
For Easter? Me either
For Guests to come back to the beach? YES!

Speaking of Easter ... the Easter Bunny left a nice surprise for the Web Geeks ....a basket filled with goodies. Gourmet crackers and jelly beans, chocolate, cheese straws, yum.  The Easter Bunny has not disclosed her identity yet but we have a pretty good idea who it is. It has to be a woman ... we do know that. She has to be generous ... kind and caring.  I think her initials are Maggie but until she fesses up I cannot be sure.

Until Next Time
Your OBX Bloggers

Categories: Outer Banks Blogs
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