Cal Ripken plays his 1000th consecutive game, Brian Mulrooney is selling NAFTA to Canadians, Toronto comes of age as a global city as host of the G7summit, Nelson Mandella speaks at Freedomfest at Wembley Stadium in London, Mike Tyson KO’s Michael Spinks in 91 seconds in Atlantic City, NASA scientist James Hansen testifies that man-made global warming has begun and CottageRental.com becomes the first business in Ontario to specialize in assisting vacation property owners with short term rentals.
Well, the last one was most impressive for two young entrepreneurs about to launch a new business concept in Ontario. With backgrounds in the tourism industry in marketing and the evaluation/rating of commercial accommodation while employed at Tourism Ontario, Jan Field and Blain Taylor, joined forces and created “Cottage Country Management Services Inc.”
And from thirty years out, it appears they were right. No one else was acting as an objective, independent agent for private cottage owners, or for consumers interested in finding that perfect cottage rental – providing both interested parties in a secure and easy way to meet their objectives.
Incorporated Cottage Country Management Services Inc. (Cottage Country Travel Services). Opened their first office location on Main Street in historic Unionville ON. There wouldn’t be an internet until the early/mid 90’s and digital photography wouldn’t become common until the early 2000’s so the use of print media to promote the business to property owners and renters was the way it was done. Brochures and fax machines were the technology of the day.
Used VHS video tapes of cottages and logged hundreds of hours of face-to- face video appointments in their Unionville office each year to counsel renters on the best holiday accommodation options.
Acquired www.cottagerental.com URL and the following year, created an online presence with a ‘brochure’ style website.
Moved the office to Uxbridge, ON and developed the company’s first dynamic website allowing guests to find, sort and view suitable vacation accommodation options based on personal preferences. VHS videos and office appointments became a thing of the past.
2016 – Rebranded to CottageRental.com with an new logo and new look to better reflect the company’s product and leverage the ‘perfect’ URL for the business. The website design was also updated with the new branding information and user interface to provide a superior experience on all devices.
CottageRental.com continues to grow as families across Ontario enjoy its listings of over 260 private cottages – all managed through the new & improved CottageRental.com website.
The number of different cottages viewed and assessed since 1988
The number of completed bookings since 1988
Digital photos of cottages taken since 2000
Kilometres driven in cottage country
As one could well imagine, dealing with humans in a customer service business resultsin quite a range of situations – some very memorable ones indeed!
We’ve had requests for some unusual cottage environments – the latest one that comes to mind is a ‘haunted’ cottage. (Sorry – none of our cottages are haunted, at least as far as we know). There was the writer who wanted a guarantee of ‘absolute silence’ …again sorry, not something we can guarantee. Then there’s the allergy issues – ‘no birch trees in immediate vicinity’, ‘no screens on windows’, ‘no commercial cleaners used’, ‘nut free cottages’, we’ve had them all.
And in the not really amusing category, at least to the owner, was the couple who cut through a 10’ tall cedar hedge for about a 6’ width, to ‘get a better view’. (And yes, they did pay to replace the missing hedge).
Then there was the mom coping with a ‘wildlife’ situation… a rattlesnake, that as an endangered species could not be removed from the property when nesting. These wonderful people decided to stay and use the situation to teach their family about ‘real’ cottage country. Unfortunately, that did not involve dad accidentally cutting through the water line while chopping wood (avoiding the rear of the property due to…nesting snake). With water spraying in all directions and unable to find the electric panel to shut off power to pump, mom calls us in panic… and while walking her through the location and procedure, her little four year old son is heard yelling…”but Mom, I hafta go pee…”. Mom, pushed past endurance yells back, “OK, OK - go outside, but don’t go near the $*&%$#@ rattlesnake!”
But perhaps one of our favourites was the family at a cottage in Haliburton during the 1995 tornados. They not only opted to stay and pail water to use the washroom, use ice to keep food cool, the BBQ to cook and candles for light, they said it was the most fun their family had ever had and a cottage vacation they will remember forever, playing board games by candlelight in the evenings.
There are many stories from over thirty years, lots of wonderful people and we hope we helped in some way to create some wonderful memories.Jan & Blain
“We have been clients of Cottage Country since 1996. My father read an article in the Globe and Mail that spring about cottage rental agencies and he suggested I give it a try. I first connected with Blain who spent a lot of time finding a cottage that would fit our needs (and I have to say his voice is most charming!). In those days we faxed back and forth but we always felt we were being given as much information as possible. Not every cottage was “the one” but it only took four tries to find it. We have now been renting the same cottage for 18 years! Though it has grown substantially as a business since then, the personal service has never wavered. The few small issues we have had have been handled swiftly and to more than our satisfaction. I am amazed every year at how the number of listing grow - a sign of many satisfied customers. Congratulations on 30 years and here’s to 30 more. Sincerely,”Pam and Drew Girard
“Hi Jan and Blain,
We wanted to congratulate you on the 30th Anniversary of your business. The first time we met with you was on Main Street in Unionville. Our first rental was Koshlong Lake and that was in 1988.
We have always been very pleased with our rentals. The best part was not having to worry about what you were getting when you arrived at the cottage. We have had some surprises when we did our own rentals from owners in the past, before finding Cottage Rental. We felt that the screening you did at the properties meant that we would have a pleasant and worry-free holiday. Any questions that we had were always addressed promptly.
We would certainly highly recommend your services and have done so.”Rosa and Kevin Gallacher
“Congratulations to Jan & Blain on the 30 th Anniversary of Cottage Country. We don’t go back to the beginning, but we first met them in 1996 when we needed, on relatively short notice, a cottage for 3 weeks. We gave them our wish list and went to their office to view video tapes of the cottages they recommended. They nailed it with the first one we watched, and we’ve been there many times since. We don’t miss the video tapes as the website is so much more convenient and informative and it complements their wonderfully personal level of service. It’s always a pleasure to deal with Cottage Country and we hope continue to do so for the next 30 years!”Richard & Nancy Shallhorn
“CottageRental.com was the only cottage rental agency we knew of when we signed up to rent our cottage over 25 years ago. Little did we know at that time that their professional service and friendly care would endure for over a quarter of a century. The bonus for us is that we’ve met many wonderful people over this time and hope to continue to indefinitely.
We would have no hesitation in recommending Cottage Rental by either an owner or someone considering renting a cottage. Thanks Blain and Jan for a great partnership!”Brent & Sue Clarkson
“I am very glad to be one of your original property owners. It seems like yesterday when I first met you and started renting in 1989. I look forward to renting each year. You manage to have good people who look after and keep the cottage neat and clean after their stay.
The cottage has already been rented for ½ of the summer for 2018 and it’s only the start of the year. I’m glad to send my rental agreements in early as it seems to get quick responses from those who want to have a place for their summer vacation. I would encourage other owners to get an early start each season.
Whenever I am near your office I like to stop in to say ‘hello’ and am made to feel most welcome by the staff, making it a good reason to have my cottage rented with your company. I hope to see you soon and please pass my comments along to the others.”Art Leduc
“We have been working with Jan & Blain for over 20 years, following the recommendation of a friend. They have enabled us to book as many weeks as we wished each summer, for three different properties that we have owned. We used their advice to purchase our last two properties, and these have provided us a good return on the investment. The whole team works seamlessly to treat each customer with uniqueness and make sure everyone is satisfied with the arrangements. We have recommended their services to countless friends and I would not consider renting without using their services.”Louise Choquette