What’s the scoop?

I started renting out our condo to vacationers in 2004 via VRBO.com  I tried my best to make sure our guests had a positive experience.  I started out by giving our tenants local websites so that they could pre-plan their vacation.  But I realized, not everyone is a pre-planner.  I’M NOT EVEN A PRE-PLANNER!!  So I then made copies of every page from this local Emerald Coast website and put all of the information in a binder that I left in each of our condos.  That way they could peruse through the binder when sipping a margarita, soaking up some rays, and say, “Hey, let’s rent a pontoon boat tomorrow”.

I soon realized though, that maybe the website and the binders just weren’t enough.  I was just blindly sending my tenants on their way with massive amounts of information about our area.  It wasn’t personal enough.  What if my tenants picked 3 bad restaurants in a row and had a terrible experience?  They would probably never rent our condo again and more than likely never come back to the gulf coast.  This could not happen!

I guess you could say I had a personal “AH-HA” moment when my family vacationed in Maine.  My mother’s side of the family rented an old Victorian bed and breakfast home.  I was now on the flip-side of my business. I was the vacationer in a city and state that I knew NOTHING about.  When we asked the owner about the whale tours, she simply directed us to her binder with information about the area.  I was a bit frustrated because I just wanted to ask her was the tour worth it? Do you see whales all of the time? Would I get sea-sick? Were there better things to spend my money on? And all sorts of questions that I could not get answers to simply from reading a pamphlet.  (We did not end up going on a whale tour)

I brainstormed and then created “Shelley’s Favorites” for my guests.  It was simply a list of my favorite restaurants and things to do or places to go in our area.  I emailed my tenants the PDF file and they could just print it out and take it with them.  Because I am from the Gulf Coast, who better to give an opinion than ME!  I knew that the only way my guests would return to this area was IF they had a wonderful time.  People are always asking me, “What’s that “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant that you just love? We don’t want to go where everyone else goes.”  (It’s Dewey Destin’s by-the-way….the old one on the bay).  I get that when you go on a trip and spend a lot of money, you want to eat where you know the food is good.  You want to go on a Dolphin Cruise and pay money only if you know it’s worthwhile.  With Shelley’s Favorites, I let you in on my little secrets and places that I love to go, restaurants that never let me down, activities that are always worth the money, spots that might be unknown, parks your kids will love, FREE entertainment or museums to see, and on and on.

But, I also realized that I needed to leave reviews on places that I do NOT particularly like.  I had a tenant eat at a restaurant recently that I did not like, but she did.  She thought it was not on Shelley’s Favorites because I had never tried it out.  But in reality, I just didn’t care for it.  I asked her why she liked it and she had so many good things to report.  I told her I needed to go back and give it another try.  Maybe I ate at the restaurant on a bad night when the manager just quit, 3 servers got sick, Snapper was out of season, and the hush puppy batter was made without salt?  Who knows.  Or maybe my tenant and I have different tastes.  (The restaurant is The Back Porch by-the-way…I’ll go again and let you know about my 2nd experience).

So what has birthed from my print-out is this interactive Shelley’s Favorites website.  I am just one lil’ ol’ gal.  There are many places I have not been able to experience.  So why not have a website where I can list my favorites or places I don’t like, and if my tenants have different opinions POST THEM! My tastes are different than yours and I want to know what YOU thought.  Many of my tenants have been to restaurants or been on excursions that I have yet to experience. I have never been on a dolphin cruise. Why?  Because a family member has a boat and we can see them on our own excursion. This doesn’t mean the dolphin cruise isn’t good….I just have my own boating transportation.  So let’s hear it!!

Shelley’s Favorites is for YOU, my guests at our condos at Destin West Beach and Bay Resort, www.DestinWestVacation.com   And maybe it will turn into something more one day and we can hear from all sorts of vacationers staying all over the gulf coast.  This website is meant to be fun and not taken too seriously, just like me, and just like your vacation.  Let’s experience the beautiful gulf coast together.  Post some pictures, comments, and thoughts. I’d love to hear from YOU!  If we all come together, we can make sure everyone has a great time vacationing on the lovely Florida Panhandle.

I can’t wait to hear from you!  Happy Vacationing!!!Shell-kids-stage

Shelley :)

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