Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things a Vacation Rental owner should do to make your guests comfortable

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  • Get a good reliable maid to service the place in your absence. Negotiate with her a rate for regular cleaning as well as all extras - e.g. if she is going to cook, do the laundry, dishwashing etc. Ensure she is flexible on timings and is willing to come in early or late based on the guest preferences. Email these rates to your guests in advance and let her know that you will be doing so to all guests. Encourage the guests to tip her to keep her happy in addition to this if they choose to. If possible work out a deal where the maid comes in 1 hour before the guest is supposed to arrive and also runs them through all the gadgets and do and don'ts from a pre-printed checklist.
  • Provide a PDF printable small map of the local area with guesthouse location, address, and telephone number of your caretaker marked. List nearby hospitals, grocery stores and numbers for taxi providers you know are reliable on this map. If possible get brochures from India tourism - freely distributed - outlining touristy things and leave them there. If you are in a bigger city, I would also recommend subscribing to TimeOut magazine and leaving all the past issues in this place. If you can list out a list of must-do things and keep it in your email to send out to all your guests it will make a big difference and show that you really care!!
  • Provide a set of menus for home delivery places as well as fast food joints like Dominos and McDonalds who are willing to deliver.
  • Provide photocopied and laminated list of rules, hints, and instructions (how to use hot water heaters, which switches area where, how to use the A.C ., no of guests of guests in hall/dining room, etc).
  • Keep an inventory list of kitchen stuff and cutlery that your caretaker can check before and that the guest can inspect when they check in.
  • If offering meal or laundry service, make sure providers are aware of new guest arrivals and needs.
  • If you have a 'dhobi' service, please inform guests that laundry service in India can take up to 7 days to be returned, and inform launderer of new guests so clothing will not be lost or returned to wrong household. Tell them to ensure that they have noted down what all items they have given to the 'dhobi' as frequently they don't give any bills.
  • If possible try and get the maid to agree with the guests on a time when she can come and clean which would be convenient for them. Discourage them from asking her to come when they are not around and make sure in writing that you will not be responsible for any loss of items if they chose to do so.
  • Mark your switches so that guests know which switch turns on what light or appliance.
  • Ensure your watchman and security is aware that you are using your place as a vacation rental so that there is no confusion.
  • Put up a sticker on the exit door reminding the guests to shut off all A.Cs, lights and water before they leave.
  • Provide cleaning materials for the loos, kitchen etc. of a high standard. It is not ok to provide an old t-shirt for scrubbing the dishes. Have the maid ensure that she cleans the scrub before she leaves and replenishes the supplies. Provide western brooms and mops t to make life easier for your guests. These are easily available in any Big Bazaar etc.
  • Ensure that you have toilet cleaners and have shower curtains fitted in the bathrooms. If possible when you change your toilet tiles, use a non slip material or else have a mat fitted for better grip. Our Indian tiled bathrooms are very slippery for most foreigners.
  • Provide top and bottom bedsheets, since blankets/comforters are washed infrequently. If possible, get the airline quality thin blankets and multiple of them so they can be given for a dry clean or wash after each guest stay.
  • Always talk politely to guests, and discuss personal issues or concerns respectfully and in private. Be prepared with politically correct and non offensive answers in case you want to decline any guests based on their religious preference, sexual orientation or size of group. It is your choice who stays but you have a duty to be nice while you exercise your choice.
  • Try and have the caretaker resolve issues quickly, professionally, and respectfully (politely). Be available on email to handle any issues yourself in case they arise.
  • Respect guests' privacy and don't probe too much or get too friendly. If you are going to visit the property ensure that you let them know and visit at a time convenient to them.
  • Keep closets and drawers clean and dirt free so that guests can store clothing without it becoming soiled or foul smelling. If possible buy a safe that is linked to any credit card - available for 5000 Rs. - and install it in the bedroom for the use of guests.
  • Lastly, be warm and encourage your guests to review your property on www.HomeStaysDOS.com - tell them it will improve your business and you appreciate them doing it.
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