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Those Guests from Hell - Part 1

By William May
Published: 08/11/03 Topics: Comments: 0

Most owners and managers work hard to make their vacation rental homes great places to stay. But it seems no matter how perfect your place there will always be a small percentage of guests who find fault with it. Sometimes those complaints are legitimate and usually of a minor nature.

In many cases, however, guests seem to expect accommodations, services and other perks that simply were never offered. There are even some visitors who will waste their time and yours running you through the mill in an attempt to steal a few nights bookings.

Carole from Palm Springs writes, "The Family from Hell !!!!! Mr. O Calls and Mrs. O yells in the background the whole time, screech, Yak, Yell. 10 Days they stay. Apart from the Initial I can't find this, I can't find that call - all is well for about 5 days. Then they have trouble with the Jacuzzi heat - we walk them thru - They can't get it!! We talk them thru -They don't get it. We explain and explain - Nope they don't get it (they say they do) When they leave they leave a Broken Thermostat, Yanked off Pool handle and inside a lot more Minor but annoying stuff. But a very Broken Spa (luckily under Warranty..)"

Carole says she returned their deposit less the damages and then she gets a complaint for things they found wrong with the home, "After their Vacation was over !!!! 2 months later !!!"

Here is a Sample.

- The Yard was overgrown. (Its an English Country Garden)

- The Bed smelled of Cheap Perfume. (We spray our pillows with Lavender for Guests)

- The shower Curtain was torn (Yes when they left)

- The Carpets were not cleaned (Its 90% Tile Floors)

- It hadn't been cleaned. (They arrived early and the maid service was still there)

Carole adds, "And it hurts because you know its fabricated and they can cause you grief. We need a "Bad Guest" List" - we need to all stick together" on such guests.

(Good news - we do have an "Unwelcome Guest" list on the (Vrai.org)Vrai.org website)

Well don't feel bad Carole. Anyone who deals with the public will think vacation rental owners are getting off easy.

I had a secretary some years ago who had managed a video store and you can imagine some of the deadbeats who walk in there. Especially the ones who frequent that little room in back with the curtain that says, "No minors allowed." Her favorite story was the fellow who rented five adult videos and didn't return them for a full year. When he came back he said, "I didn't really enjoy them, so I don't want to pay a late fee and I want my fee back too because they didn't have the desired effect." She didn't ask him what effect that was.

So why do we have these (thankfully infrequent) guests from hell? There are two main reasons:

First, we're in a somewhat new and informal industry. Most guests understand the rules in other industries like Hotels (even though hotel operators have stories that make ours seem tame by comparison). But even folks who really enjoy their stays don't always know what they should expect from a rental home and what they should not. For example, most owners don't offer 24 hour a day phone support, immediate handyman services or refunds because there were mosquitoes at the lake, or not enough snow at the mountains or not enough sunshine in the Caribbean that week. (And yep we've heard all those from owners)."

The second problem is that we as an industry have not set standards and haven't of course adhered to any. Worse - we haven't publicized those expectations (good and bad) to the general public. So guests simply don't know what they're getting. Some are delighted with anything that's clean, comfortable and pleasant. Others expect a million dollar suite for a dollar a day rental rate.

In some ways you can't blame the guests for thinking they're getting one thing and are then disappointed when it proves to be something else. The Vacation Rental home business is growing especially fast right now. And for good reason. Owning your dream spot in the mountains, at the lake or beach is something many folks long for. And renting it out to help pay the bills is logical way to attain that dream.

But it is not always an easy way to bring in rent. Like all enterprises there are details to master, contingencies to lay and preparation for the best and the worst to come.

I think its high time Vacation Rental Owners work together to set the rules, insure that our members are doing good work and then demanding that guests also behave and limit their "Issues" to those they bargained for.


After all this complaining you're probably hankering for some meat and potatoes. So in the next newsletter I'll give you a list of hints about what seems to work for other owners. Lots of good, easy and cheap methods and procedures that will save you grief and time and money. I hope this newsletter has given you a taste of what to expect.

In the meantime, send me your war stories about your Guests from hell. At the least it should be therapeutic to get those beasts off your back.

***** As always I seek your feedback. Please share you thoughts, stories, compliments and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at Director@Vrai.orgDirector@Vrai.org.

Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0024 – 08/11/03

Comments: 0

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