Owners I think I have got it! In fact, after a month of frustration, reading manuals, tweaking this and tweaking that, I understand (sort of) how it all hangs together. Windows 8 that is! And along the way I began to really appreciate what it’s like when we take familiar landscape and functionality and transfer it to a totally new environment. As vacation rental owners we have the same expectation of our guests as Microsoft has of its users – we think they will arrive for the first day of vacation and spend time exploring until they get the hang of where everything is and how to work new (and often unfamiliar equipment). What we sometimes forget is that they are there on vacation and may not be too pleased with having to spend 3 hours of day one trying to get the TV/internet/microwave to work or even 5 minutes looking for the potato peeler.Of course, we aren’t able to make our vacation rental properties clones of our guests homes, and why would we want to do that anyway, but we can help them to acclimatize to an unfamiliar layout quicker. Where’s the Quick Start Guide? The first thing I wanted when I got the new laptop was a quick start guide just to help me find the way around the new look of the screen. Of course there was nothing there – or at least I haven’t been able to find it, so I spent another hour searching for a book online which was great except it was indexed badly and made finding specific things difficult.So, enough of the analogy – I think you’ve probably get where I am going with this one……let’s just move on to how we can use this to make our guests experience better.Where’s the Remote? Think about the first things you guests will want to do when they arrive and make it easy for them to find stuff. I have one for winter guests and another for summer visitors, as their needs will be different depending on the time of year – in winter we always light the wood stove before our guests arrive, but if they are late, they’ll want to add another log to get it going well. Because most people are unused to the intricacies of a wood stove, we have the instructions on the first page of the Welcome Book. Summer guests need to know how to set the air conditioning, and where to find the life jackets and watercraft instructions because that’s where the kids will be heading. Then we remind them of the most efficient way to use the fridge as they have a tendency to whack the fridge temperature down to the coldest, which then clogs it up with ice. We also leave the stereo on a classical channel because it just sounds so good to open the door and hear soft music in the background. However, it’s not to everyone’s taste, so there’s a list of alternative radio channels clearly displayed next to the stereo.Information on getting the TV on and internet set up needs to be clearly visible in the Welcome Book – parents may want to just sit the kids in front of the TV while they unload the car, so if you have a gazillion remotes, make sure you have a handy-dandy quick start card available.I’m not a fan of sticky notes, and lists of rules stuck on the fridge – there’s plenty of discreet alternatives like these: Fix a laminated card with important information to the inside of the most-used cupboard doorCreate a Quick Start to Your Vacation sheet as the first thing they see in the Welcome BookEmail a PDF version of the Quick Start the day before they leave on vacationIt was interesting how my excitement at opening the new laptop, faded quickly to frustration at not being able to find my way around the software. Let’s not allow our guests’ positive first impression do the same.