How to become a re-invited guest

by November 7, 2008 • 2 comments

Having been on both sides of the vacation rental door, I’ve discovered what it takes to be a re-invited as a guest. As an owner, I already know what I expect from my guests, and how to be diplomatic about those expectations. But how do I convey this to my potential guests without sounding like an overprotective harpy? Well, like I said, I’ve been a renter as well, and the number one attitude I’ve come away with is – treat it like it was mine, better yet, treat it like I had guests coming too.

Wherever we’ve stayed, we’ve always been good about leaving our hotel room or vacation rental, in good shape. But we’ve also felt like if we damaged anything, that we’d be honest enough to inform the owner. We observed the rules during our stay, and went beyond the general checkout cleaning procedures. Maybe I’m insecure enough to not want others to think badly of me. So we’d clean, pick up, fold, wipe down the shower, you name it. But that’s just us. Here I’ll discuss a few ideas of what it takes to make your rental landlords want you back.

As owners, we’ve been quite fortunate to have only a few instances of wear and tear…ones that are hard to avoid from regular use. We’ve had spoons sacrificed to the disposal (I’ve done that myself, DOH!). A few suitcase scuffs on the hallway walls (I highly recommend those miracle sponges!), and red mystery drink spills, presumably from someone’s toddler. These little hiccups are halfway expected and life happens. One time, we got a call from a frantic guest that as they sat and watched television, a picture hanging between the patio doors just slid down the wall and crashed to the floor, breaking the frame. She didn’t want us to think they were negligent in any way. Well, truthfully, I’m surprised it hadn’t happened before. It was not a logical placement and was probably knocked off the hook by the opening and closing of the vertical blinds. We replaced the picture with a small tin wall hanging…one that even if it did fall, wouldn’t break. So no harm, no foul.

Here are some important pointers guests should consider when renting a vacation home.

  1. You are not in a hotel. This is someone’s home, whether it is a condo, townhouse or full-sized home. The owners have a mortgage, insurance, association fees, housekeeping staff and more. Replacing or repairing items can be costly, time-consuming and can interrupt their flow of guests. They may not have alternate rooms, condos or homes to let should a major repair come into play. All renters should be respectful of that.
  2. If you damage something, please let your owners know about it. Don’t make them guess who the culprit was. If it’s minor, they’ll just be happy you were honest enough to tell them. It may be an item they planned to replace at some point anyway. If it is a costly accident, even more reason to call the owners. You will probably have to pay – this will come off your deposit, or may go beyond your deposit. But they will appreciate your honesty, will be fair with you and even though your accident was claimed, because you were upfront about it, will still be invited back. It depends on the incident.
  3. If you are a student and you are allowed to rent during spring break, expect a higher deposit and stricter guidelines from the owner. Be respectful of all rules and put yourself in the owners’ shoes. If you feel compelled to “let loose” while on your vacation, don’t do it in your rental! Just because you’re out of your parents’ care and away from the dorm, doesn’t give you permission to destroy other people’s property. A crime is a crime, and willful destruction of property has no excuse.
  4. Pay your fees and deposits as requested. Don’t aggravate the owners by being delinquent in paying your balances. You may even end up losing your deposit and your booking. Whatever date your rent is due, pay it by then or before. If you feel you may possibly not have it by the due date, don’t reserve until you know for sure. Rental owners need to keep their availability calendars up-to-date so that their prospects can know what dates are open. So try to be sensitive to that. If your balance is due 30 days before your arrival, pay it by then or before. It is up to the owner to be flexible, or not. And it depends on how well, if at all, they may know you. Don’t assume they will bend just for you.
  5. During your stay, keep your doors locked when you are not there, and at night while you sleep. Whether your resort or rental has security or not, it’s not up to the owner to guarantee that nothing will happen to your personal property. But you are obliged to protect theirs.
  6. Follow the checkout guidelines given to you. Go beyond it if you can. Remove food and trash from the premises. Flush the toilets, at least rinse down the sinks and showers. Sweep the floors of excess sand or dirt. If the owner expects stripped beds, do it. If you launder the bedding and remake the bed, leave a note that you did so. And please remove lint from the dryer’s lint trap. But remember, the housekeeping staff and the owners probably have a system of their own anyway. Check all drawers and closets for your personal items. Remove media from players and return them to their proper place. Wash any dishes, or at least run the dishwasher, or put things away. Did you microwave popcorn? Won’t take a minute to wipe down that butter splatter!
  7. Okay, here is a sensitive subject. But I owe it to you, and owners, to discuss this. Children. If you bring diapered babies, please ensure that “overflows” do not occur on mattresses or furniture. Now hopefully, the owners have thought to use moisture shielded anti-microbial covers on mattresses and pillows, but why tempt fate? If they supply a crib or playpen, use them! Imagine you are an owner and your housekeeper calls you four hours before the next guests are due to arrive. “I was changing the bedding and smelled urine. There’s a big wet stain on your mattress. What do I do?!” Well, I can tell you, your little family probably won’t be invited back, at least until your little angel is potty trained! Sorry, it has to be said.
    • Continuation of “children”: Brought your PS3? Cool. But that big ole 52” LCD doesn’t like to have a gamed paused on it for three hours while you all go to dinner. Have the kids turn it off when they aren’t playing. In fact, don’t leave the TV on when you’re not watching it. More and more owners are furnishing their rentals with higher-end electronics for their guests. Those things don’t come cheap, and neither do the extended warranties and insurance.
    • Furniture: Do you let the kids walk on the furniture or run through your house? Fine, let them at your home. But you’re not home. This is someone else’s home as well as a business. It’s a business that comes with a busy season and quick turnaround for the housekeeping staff. You may be paying a cleaning fee, but don’t push it. You didn’t pay for the extra hour it takes to remove chocolate handprints from the sofa. You’ll likely be charged extra, I’m just warning you.

If you liked your accommodations, and you wish to return again, it’s for a reason. Do the owners a favor and refer the home to your friends and family. Let the owners know it too. As you develop that relationship as repeat customers, you may find yourself recipients of specials, extra amenities and a whole lot of self-respect. You know, the whole “golden rule” thing.

Well, I hope I given you just a glimpse of what you can do to be great guests. It’s not an exhaustive list, but one that will put you on the road to having a good reputation as a responsible guest. Yes, vacation homeowners need your business. But vacationers also want good rates, smooth transactions and great memories. Respecting the vacation homes you stay in will make this possible – and you’ll find that owners will be inviting you back year after year.

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1 John November 11, 2008 at 8:16 am

Lori –
Another great and informative article, thanks !

Do you have anmything on how “independents” can
reap the benefits of the various events and
promotions we have here?

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2 Lori November 11, 2008 at 8:41 am

Thanks John!
What do you mean by independents? For the owners, checking the upcoming events in their area, and then promoting specials of some sort for guests is always a win-win. Glad you enjoyed this article. I could have gone on and on, but then I’d put you all to sleep! 😉

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