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
Wednesday, April 22 is Earth Day.
"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