We manage the rental of about 120 cottages at CottageLINK Rental Management so weekends are pretty busy here in the office as families check in. We ask that guests let us know if they have any complaints, or need to report something that needs repair or maintenance, within the first 24 hours of occupation and very occasionally there is a call that does raise concern. More often however, the calls give us valuable feedback on how owners prepare for their guests, and what they can do to manage the settling in period.
This past weekend was no exception. Given the amount of families starting their vacation, it was a quiet one, but the few calls we did get were interesting as they highlighted areas where guest education could be improved.
A client called to complain about the food that had been left in the cupboards – cans; packets of rice and pasta; jars of herbs and spices etc. She wanted to know what to do with the ‘food garbage' she had emptied from the cupboards. If the cupboard had been packed like it is in the photo I would have agreed it was unacceptable – guests need a to be given a lot of shelf room for the food they have brought with them. I hate waste of any sort though and don't always clear out food items our guests leave behind, but I do give my next clients the option to use or not and mention it in the Cottage Guide like this:
We occasionally use the cottage ourselves and you may find non-perishable food items in the kitchen cupboards. We have kept them to one side so there is plenty of space for your own food, however if you have forgotten anything, please feel free to use our supplies providing you replace them with something similar before you leave.
The same guest also commented about some black stains in the kettle and coffee maker, saying appliances were unusable and she had to go out and buy new ones. There was a similar complaint from another client last week about perceived water quality that could have been prevented by the following:
The water in the cottage comes from a drilled well, and is tested frequently for potability. There is a high degree of iron content and you might occasionally notice a sulphur smell. If you prefer not to drink it, we have supplied a water cooler and a complimentary jug of water. Boiling the tap water may leave a black residue in the kettle and coffee maker, which is a normal occurrence.
Calls are common from guests who check through the cottage manual on arrival to ensure everything is where it should be, and fail to find an item such as a spare propane tank, oars or paddles, boat safety kits, etc. One of the most common causes of panic phone calls is failure to find the remote control for the TV. All of these minor issues can be sidestepped by having a thorough changeover checklist to ensure that moveable items are all returned to their appropriate place before the next guests arrive.
We always expect more complaints when guests arrive in bad weather. Their mood is affected as the anticipation of quickly unloading the car and rushing off to the water for a first swim is quickly altered to a feeling of disappointment. They will spend more time exploring the interior of the cottage looking for a reasons to justify those feelings, and griping at minor issues, such as dust bunnies under beds, and insect corpses in window frames. This is why attention to detail on the changeover and cleaning between renters is hugely important.
Spending an extra ten minutes at the end of a changeover, pretending to be an incoming guest, is a great way of anticipating potential problems. Have a thorough checklist for each room and tick off each item, and your new guests should have no cause for complaint.
If any readers would like a copy of the Changeover Checklist I include in my book Renting Your Recreational Property For Profit, leave a comment with your suggestions on how to avoid complaints, and I'll send you one! I will collate all the suggestions in a later post.
Photo by smallestbones on Flickr