Do typos matter in vacation rental communication? My short and relatively unscientific answer is yes, absolutely. This comes, of course, from someone who is a trained copywriter/editor (that’s me) and who has looked at thousands of guest-facing pieces of content over her years in the hospitality industry.
But don’t just take my word for it. “In all of our experiments, readers rated the writers as less desirable if the emails included either typos or [grammatical errors],” says the cognitive psychologist and sociologist who conducted a research study on the effects of typos on our perception.
Their article goes on to differentiate a few different types of audiences. While some could not care less about careless grammar, others definitely do care, even in subconscious ways—ways that ultimately affect their dealings with the person who sent the email.
Let’s talk about why typos matters in the vacation rental industry, specifically.
The Van Halen Effect
Remember that often-repeated anecdote about Van Halen’s backstage requirements? In particular, that they ask every venue to provide a bowl of M&Ms with no brown-colored candies in the mix?
Later, it would come out that this wasn’t diva behavior on Van Halen’s part, after all. Rather, it was a litmus test: If Van Halen found brown M&Ms in their bowl, they’d be likely to find other, more consequential mistakes at the venue, like lighting and sound mistakes—stuff that affects the fan experience.
The same principle applies to email typos.
Maybe not all of your guests will be offended by errors in your emails, or even notice them in the first place. But those who do notice might just decide to take their business elsewhere. After all, if a vacation rental management company can’t be bothered to check if they’re using the right “their” in their email, what other details will they overlook at the property itself?
The cognitive psychologist who co-authored the research study even calls out vacation rentals specifically in her article intro, annoyed at this Airbnb headline she spotted: “Your going to Hollywood!”
Count me, too, among the group who will make a booking decision based on grammatical errors—especially when I’m choosing between two properties on relatively equal footing.
Sure, I write and edit for a living, but the potential hiccups go beyond offending us literary types. Sometimes typos are so bad, they actually hide your meaning or set you up for trouble.
For example, take this line about a pet policy: “We are pet-friendly and except dogs that are less than 35 pounds.” A guest could skim that line, arrive with a Tibetan Mastiff, and have grounds to claim they thought the policy meant the vacation rental accepts dogs—except for dogs that are under 35 pounds (which a Tibetan Mastiff certainly is not).
How to avoid typos in your vacation rental business emails
Of course, typos happen—especially when you’re working in a fast-paced environment, as many vacation rental companies are. But there are ways to cut down on how many errors you or your team puts out into the world.
Email templates help tremendously—just be sure to proofread thoroughly before setting them. Software like Outpost helps to standardize your email communications, too, so that you don’t have to add “typo monitoring” to your list of daily tasks.
When I taught college English, I encouraged students to read their work out loud. It really does help! Sometimes, when reading to ourselves, our brains will skip over the errors, while actually reading out loud tends to call them to our attention.
Of course, that would be difficult to do every day, with every email. But if it’s an important email template that your team will use in early guest communications—that is, when they’re still deciding whether or not to book—reading out loud will help you catch errors that could jeopardize the booking.
It also helps to let your team know that typos matter, and why. Calling out typos sometimes gets some side-eye from those who think you’re just being nitpicky, so explain that you want to present total professionalism to potential guests.
Posted in: Email