How to Love Your High Maintenance Guests

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We like to think we have everything covered in our vacation rental cottage. A good website, pre-arrival information, a welcome letter, and a comprehensive cottage guide. We only live 10 minutes from our cottage and let our guests know that if they have a problem, they just need to call, and we’ll be there to take care of it.

So, when we get a phone call on the final day of our guests’ stay because they thought we should know the fridge isn’t working and hasn’t been all week, it is a tad annoying, particularly when the next guests are due to go in 5 hours later. They also add that the propane ran out on the first night (it was a new full tank) and that they couldn’t use the boats by the end of the week because they were full of water (it rained heavily during the week, and the boats had not been upturned as required), this just compounded the frustration. These incidentally were the same guests who called up the first night – not to tell us about the propane, or the fridge – but to complain that our rules were too strict. Apparently, our sections in the cottage guide about the importance of separating garbage, safe use of the hot tub and care of the septic system, were just too ‘stressful’ to read.

We’ve been in this business long enough to know it’s not all plain sailing, and just occasionally we’ll encounter that most challenging of species, the HMG or High Maintenance Guest. These can be spotted early on in the booking process when they ask a multitude of questions, all of which have been answered by your carefully prepared Frequently Asked Questions page; fail to pay their deposit or final balance on time, and call you at 9pm on their evening of arrival for directions because they forgot to bring them.

The calls will come regularly during their vacation. ‘What will the weather be like tomorrow”? , “Is it OK to leave the windows open at night”? , “How does the air conditioning work?” (We don’t have air conditioning), and most famously, “We can’t find the well and would like to get some water to cook with?” This last one was from a guest who told us he had spend an hour wandering around the property with a bucket looking for the well we describe in our guide: “The water comes from a drilled well and is good for drinking and cooking.” He assumed the water coming out of the tap in the kitchen was not the same as the well water, and would not be suitable for preparing food.

We love renting our places and enjoy our guests immensely. Whether it’s the lovely notes they leave in the guestbook, the ‘thank you’ email we get when they arrive home or the hilarity they cause with some of the things they do, they create the fun in this business. Even the HMGs!


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