VRS122 – Handling Vacation Rental Complaints and Staying Sane

Once upon a time, vacation rental accommodation was called self-catering, and that is what people did.

They self-catered. They were self-reliant and generally looked after themselves.

If a light bulb went out, the guests were happy to change it; if the toilet paper ran out, they would go out and buy some more, and if something broke, they would improvise until it could be fixed.

Guests today are more demanding; they expect higher standards in accommodation and service, and when they don’t get what they expect, they complain.   And in the course of modern complaining they will head to social media where they will share their angst with their entire following.

Having said all that, complaints come in all shapes and sizes like these from some of our own archives:

“A mosquito bit my baby and we weren’t warned there were mosquitos in cottage country. We had to leave and want our money back.”

“There were two light bulbs not working and we should not be expected to change them ourselves.”

“The road into the cottage was icy and we hadn’t expected this – it was very stressful.”

“The leaves should have been cleared from the steps – they were wet and slippery and my mother-in-law tripped and hurt her ankle. She was not able to put weight on it all week and this impacted our vacation.”

“The website said the fishing was good at the location, but the lake was all iced over and we couldn’t use the advertised boats.”

“No-one told us the boats that were tied up at the dock next door were not for us to use, and someone came and shouted at my children to get off them. It was very distressing for them and we didn’t want to stay after that. We should have been told how unfriendly the neighbours were.”

In this episode I talk about these complaints and how we dealt with them, together with sharing my views on why guests complain and how to recognize a serial complainer.

I also discuss:

  • How to cover your bases and make the property complaint-proof
  • What you need to do to tighten up Terms and Conditions
  • Why a comprehensive house book is so important
  • The importance of staying objective when dealing with complaints
  • Why you should keep replies short and to the point
  • Sticking with to facts and avoiding emotions
  • The benefits of picking up the phone
  • How to avoid getting offended and scoring points
Terry Whyte

Heather, great topic loved listening and I was laughing to myself for most of it. It is great to hear how others handle difficult situations.

Marea Edynak

It’s funny except when it happens at your place. I once had a very upset guest at my home in the Florida Keys. She was distressed that the ocean tide came in and went out every day. She said that I should have told her before she rented the house.

Rosana Sorensen

First of all, love your podcasts! We are new to vr’s (January this year) and have learnt so much, so a big thanks. Love the head’s up (and humor) on handling complaints. Here’s is a question from this newbie. Regarding reviews, how many times should you ask a guest for a review? Trying to find the balance of friendly reminder and pest.

Heather Bayer

I love that and have filed it away in my weird complaint file!

Heather Bayer

Sorry – missed this one Rosana…glad you are enjoying the podcasts. Try leaving a note in your checkout list for them to review the place as part of the leaving process. Most people read the check out stuff the day before so it reminds them before they go and while it is fresh in their mind. Send one personal note after they leave with a link to wherever you want them to do the review…then leave it at that. That’s what I do.

Heather Bayer

We all have them Terry – they are just funnier when they happen to someone else!

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