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CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR VACATION RENTALS
When guests start to arrive in your vacation rental property, you will encounter some issues in accommodating them. Phyllis and I have tried to provide many indoor activities to keep people busy.
Some guests just want to stay at the cabin and chill out. Everybody enjoys evenings at home with their group involved in activities for all. We provide many card and board games in a designated area with a game table and six hi-boy chairs. We also have a ping-pong table and a Foosball table in the garage and a hot tub on the back patio.
Guests will leave items such as towels and clothes and rarely ever mention this to the host. However, our guests have left expensive shoes and electronic devices which they will call us about after they have left. Our policy has always been to ship these to the person at no charge to them, as we feel it is excellent public relations. In 2-1/2 years we have shipped about 5 or 6 items---a small investment towards good will.
Our losses due to theft and breakage have been minimal and if something does not work properly, they will tell us and we get it corrected promptly. We have local contractors and our housekeeping service to take care of these items. We also have redundant systems as much as possible, to eliminate any inconvenience for guests.
Our keys are left in a push-button combination lockbox that hangs on the front door. We also have 2 back-up sets of keys hidden around the house, and we tell the guests about 1 of these. So far, nobody has had to use the 3rd set to gain entry. The house has Wi-Fi which is a must and our policy is to phone the guests one day prior to arrival or the day of arrival and give them the door combo and the Wi-Fi password. The check out time of 12 noon is posted on the kitchen wall as a visible reminder.
We have various hard plastic signs about 4" x 8" with simple instructions - secured with screws - both inside and outside. These are in discreet areas, nothing posted on the front of the cabin. These name the various switches and knobs in the cabin. We have received compliments on these easy to understand signs. We leave a guest book on the foyer table and encourage guests to write in it prior to leaving. We always love to read the comments when we go there. It helps us keep the place spiffy.
Phyllis has prepared a comprehensive instruction book that stays on the kitchen counter for all working items in the house. Each bedroom has its own TV and we have Netflix and cable instructions typed and secured to the wall in each bedroom. Cable, Netflix (another must) and DVD/VCR can be played. We supply some DVD movie disks.
We have a double set of sheets, pillowcases and blankets for each bed---so they can change if needed before their stay is ended. With 2 washers and 2 dryers guests have plenty of cleaning capacity. We ask them to run a load of towels and washcloths in the washer and dryer and leave them in the dryer so as to expedite the housekeepers work at the end of their stay.
It is important to hire a housekeeping service and keep them informed of all guests arrival and departure schedules for each month. An individual housekeeper is not as reliable and if they get sick or have a problem, our cabin does not get cleaned. Not a good thing. You need back-up. Yes, it may cost more, but when you are long distance you cannot tolerate a dirty house, and neither will your guests.
Our housekeeping service provides small repairs also, which is quite handy. It would be best if you can hire something like this to keep things humming for you since you are not local.
Yes, you can hire a vacation rental manager and their fees run from 25% to 40% of the revenues. We elected to rent the cabin ourselves since we were in this business in Louisiana and the only issue was cleaning and repairs - which we have managed quite nicely long distance. By using 3rd party web sites for the booking, all income is electronically deposited in our bank account - so we never see the guests.
When using workers and contractors at your vacation rental town, and you live away - far away - it is bet to find out in advance if the workers will accept personal or business checks or credit cards. We found some workers that would only take cash, and we’re not prepared for this. If you want to use them and know this in advance, you can make arrangements to bring some cash ahead of time. The workers will need to have local bank accounts so they can deposit or cash your checks.
We trust our guests to take care of the cabin and so far after almost 70 groups they have not let us down. We have a small sign in the kitchen that states "Treat This House As If It Were Yours" and this seems to have helped. We use VRBO and Airbnb for reservations with good results. Hope these tips from our experiences benefit you.
David S. Martin
David Realty Company