As a transplanted Brit I remember the comedy surrounding Butlin’s holiday camps with their regimented programmes, and rules and regulations for being a good guest. We’d like to think that way of relating to customers has long gone and we treat our rental clients with respect and trust, but I still come across evidence that vacation rental ‘guests’ are viewed with suspicion and need to be told how to behave.
I’m all for guest education, and since many of our clients are new to the idea of vacation rental, fully agree there are areas where instructions are required, but there are ways of doing this that still make people feel welcome.
One of my first experiences of vacation rental here in Ontario was coming over from UK for a short break with a group of family and friends – there were 10 of us in all. I had booked the property online and it looked fabulous – an indoor swimming pool, six bedrooms and a rec room with a pool table. We arrived in the late evening after a long flight with several small children in tow, tired and ready for a quick celebratory ‘we’re here’ drink, then bed. The owner met us and we were then treated to over an hour of his ‘rules and regulations’ for which he expected the whole group to trail around the house and listen to. At several locations in the house, he stopped and pointed to taped up notices that reinforced his message. There was one in each bathroom instructing not to flush the toilet too often and describing in detail what could and could not go down the toilet. Notices beside each thermostat warned of the consequences of raising the temperature too high (additional charges if the electricity bill was unusually high after our stay), and labels were taped to every kitchen cupboard to show what was in them and instructing that we should not put anything in a cupboard unless it was a designated space for that item. Finally, he pointed out three copies of a bound manual with this on the cover:
Rules of the Cottage
Every member of the group must read and comply with these rules and regulations.
Failure to do so may result in penalties and additional charges
Oh boy, did we feel welcome!
This is a fairly extreme example and I doubt there are many vacation rental properties that apply such draconian measures any more, however I have seen a few where the phrase Rules and Regulations is still in use. I’d love to see this phased out. Most rental clients are happy with reading Terms and Conditions of Rental as they are applied to their rental agreement, and this is the appropriate place for most instructions to go. The Guest Guide can then include the additional information in a way that expresses importance without it being seen as overbearing and dictatorial. While we want to educate our guests in what may be new experiences for them, there are ways of doing it that can be helpful and welcoming and make them feel that we really want them to be there.
How do you get your message across?
Photo on Flickr by Joe Shlabotnik