Handling crises and complaints efficiently in your rented out holiday property

Having prepared your holiday home for guests as best you can, things will inevitably still go wrong. Household essentials such as washing machines, ovens, microwaves, tumble dryers etc will inevitably give up at some point, even if they worked fine the last time you tested them. Drains will get blocked (particularly if people are not used to a property), swimming pool heaters and filters can need fixing etc etc. Clearly if it is a small item like a vacuum cleaner, kettle or iron, this can be quickly and easily replaced – and it is a good idea to make sure that you, or your agents do so the same or immediately following day that this happens. Similarly damaged linen.

Larger items such as washing machines or boilers are more difficult to replace or repair quickly and can really spoil a holiday if they are not working – particularly failed central heating in the winter. Do what you can to put contingency plans in place. If your property is managed by a large company, they may well have engineers on hand to make all but instant repairs and may even have a stock of ‘white goods’ ready to put into the various holiday properties that they serve. If you make a substantial income from your holiday property, it may well be worth even storing such items, pre-bought to keep the household running efficiently.

If you are on your own in managing your property, again have some reliable tradespeople on hand (ideally a couple in case one is on holiday) to step in to mend faulty boilers, unblock drains, fix washing machines etc.   Ensure that your water heating system has an immersion fitted so that hot water is not lost in case of boiler failure. You will just have to swallow the extra electricity bill until you can get things fixed.   Ensure some safe and reliable heaters are available too to keep a property dry and cosy until the main heating can be fixed. If a washing machine breaks, you or your agents may have to offer a laundry service, or certainly offer a discount on the holiday. No one wants to spend their holiday in a laundrette – but they should do so with reasonably, if they know that you will compensate them for this.

Essentially, people do accept that things go wrong in even the most well organised situations, though they may not be overjoyed if this happens. It is your efficiency and attitude that will make or break such a situation on a person’s holiday. Actively tell guests to make contact if there are any problems, and that they should not to just ‘live with it’ as is often the British attitude. For you as a business, it is better that your guests tell you, rather than a review website about problems.

It is a very good idea if you own a holiday home to leave a ‘comments’ book for your guests so that they can suggest improvements that might be made to help towards a more perfect holiday.   As a business person, you will not take these to heart in a personal way, but you should act upon them if you feel they are fair (or they are mentioned a few times in the book). A comment mid season such as ‘the pool heating could be a bit warmer’ or the ‘bath towels are a bit small’ can be rectified instantly for future guests and you can add these types of items to your future ‘is everything alright’ list that you ask guests on their arrival and during their stay.