Handling Hotel Expectations in a Vacation Rental World

Jonathan Murray —  April 23, 2013

hotel expectationsThe contract explained that snow would be cleared from the driveway and up to the front door. But what was MyVR’s Mike Stachowiak to do when his renters called one day, after a snowstorm, to ask that someone come dig out the hot tub, too?

Meeting guest expectations is a top priority for a lot of vacation rental owners. But how can you manage hotel expectations — when any service they want is just a request away — in a vacation rental world?

Requests that land in the grey area

“Sometimes, it’s difficult to know exactly when to draw the line,” Steve Young posted on LinkedIn. “We always try to exceed guest expectations but, at the same time, we feel they have a responsibility to be reasonable in their requests.”

In Stachowiak’s case, he’d done what he could to prepare: Made arrangements to have snow cleared, and told his guests what to expect. In the end, he chose to make arrangements to have a path to the hot tub cleared, too. Sometimes, however, you just don’t have that flexibility.

Cottageblogger’s Heather Bayer also had guests waylaid by snow — but for her, it wasn’t just a matter of calling someone for some extra help.

“We tell all our guests that if they rent in winter [getting snowed in] is a possibility,” she commented on LinkedIn, explaining that her cottage is at the end of a road that’s a low priority for local plow trucks.

One stormy day, however, heavy snow left friends of her guests stranded. “We got a call in the morning to ‘book’ the snow plow,” she recalled. “They would not accept that we couldn’t conjure up the means of removing the snow immediately.”

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh

Despite your best efforts, it can be hard to predict what random requests will come your way. Sometimes, a quick phone call or trip to the store is all that’s needed. Other times, you’ll just have to let it go — and so will your guests.

Vacation rental owner Wendy Kapp had had “a very busy season in which I did my best to cater to every little need of my guests (after all if the hair drier is not working I should run out and get them a new one,” she explained on LinkedIn.

One day, “a guest called and me told my kitchen was very ill equipped because it did not have any soft boiled egg holders,” she said. “All I could do was burst out laughing. They did not seem to understand what was so funny.”

Melba Gunnison, another owner, takes it all in stride. “My all time favorite guest is the one who pulled me aside at check out and in a quiet voice said I ought to check the refrigerator because the light doesn’t go out when the door is closed,” she recalled.

“My question is, was he sitting inside? Turns out nothing was wrong with the refrigerator and light behaved as it should.”

What random requests have you received, and how did you handle them? Tell us about your favorite guest requests in the comments section below.

Jonathan Murray

Jonathan Murray

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Before starting MyVR, he co-founded Lift Media (acquired), a lead generation company that worked with clients like American Express, Netflix, and Fandango. He started MyVR after being frustrated with setting up his own Sonoma cottage as a vacation rental. He studied engineering at Bucknell University and received his MBA from Stanford University.
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