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War zone triage..
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Managing your guests
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AngloDutch



Joined: 11 Jul 2014
Posts: 715
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:14 am    Post subject: War zone triage.. Reply with quote

There's muddy marks along a bedroom wall, a burn mark through the new sofa cover, one of the fan's rotation mechanism has been broken and behind it, a gash in the wall. We're missing half of the hand towels and face flannels, a couple of the bath towels, all of the kitchen towels as well as the bath mat. The garden is full of pieces of water balloon and littered with cigarette butts, two garden chairs are broken, the parasol bases are covered in chewing gum which has been purposely spread across them and the fire pit looks like it’s been bulldozed. Inside, parts of the dishwasher rack are missing, the lid of the recycling container has been smashed, the duvet cover and under sheet of one of the beds is covered in large patches of blood and the bucket in the bathroom has been shattered.

It’s 11.00 a.m. and the guests have finally left, an hour late. In about four hours’ time, the next guests will arrive. They will be our first guests coming via Booking.com and we want to make a good impression so that they leave a nice review.

I feel like a surgeon having to triage the casualties from a battle. Just what do you tackle first? Apart from all this, we have to do the changeover as well – ten guests have just departed and thirteen guests are coming in, including three small children. Unfortunately I’ve only got my twelve-year-old to help today. She takes one look at the bed with the blood, asks if someone has been murdered and legs it down the stairs.

While I am surveying the carnage that was once a garden, the next door neighbour appears to say that the other neighbours across from the accommodation told her that they had been kept awake by constant yelling, screaming and views of kids urinating in the garden. I wished that they had told me about it.

Well, how did that day eventually turn out? I worked like a ‘bat out of hell’ and took no breaks, but even so, for the first time in 13 years, I had to ask the incoming guests to come back a little later, as I wasn’t quite ready for them at 4 p.m. when they turned up. They actually came back an hour and a half later and found two bottles of wine waiting for them. They seemed very understanding when I told them that it had been a large group with some ‘unruly children’ that had just left, and that it had taken me just a little longer to prepare the accommodation for them this time. The lady did ask me though why I was so out of breath (‘It’s warm’, I said).

It was over 30’C that day as well, but I had managed to scrub most of the mud off the wall, used up every chemical we had to combat the blood patches (ended up washing the bedding three times to get it all out), hid the burn mark on the sofa cover, replaced the garden chairs with some of the former ones that we hadn’t disposed of yet, and even managed to rake most of the balloon bits out of the grass in the garden.
When the incoming guests asked when they arrived whether there was a BBQ, I gave them ours. It took me an hour to clean the two BBQs from the previous guests, as they had obviously used them constantly but had never emptied them or cleaned them at all.

So, it seems that I had gotten away with hiding the fact that we’d just had the ‘group from hell’. In total: over €300 in damages, not including the repairing/repainting of the walls. I had a €200 security deposit from them. It seems that this amount (that we have not found necessary to increase since 2005) is no longer adequate.

Later, most of the towels that they had taken were posted back to us (‘taken by accident’, so they said) and they also did accept the fact that they were not going to get their deposit back. Although I have written to them that we need another €100 to cover the extra damages/missing items, I have though heard nothing further.

When I had asked them about who had been murdered in the bedroom, they said that one of the children had been angry and had hit his hand so hard against the wall that he had broken it (his hand, not the wall). Unfortunately, he had also hit a nail sticking out of the same wall as well, the reason for the state of the bedding. We had been none the wiser, as this had happened late at night and fearing a large bill from a Dutch hospital, they had taken the boy back across the border to a German hospital, where he had been operated on.

Actually, during their stay we had already helped them, as another child had forgotten his asthma medicine and although I arranged with our local medical centre for the child to get replacement medication, these guests had been unwilling to pay for it and had even asked me to cancel the appointment. When I told them that they would then have to return to Germany to get asthma medication, they grudgingly agreed to pay out for the child, especially once he had had an attack whilst here and there was no medication for him.

I have always said that you often do not know who or what you are going to get in your accommodation and just what is going to go on inside.
We had noticed the messy garden while they were here and gave them a broom to sweep up, but had no idea of the level of damages inside until they were leaving. I did a walk around with them just before they left, saw the state of the walls, bed and general filth everywhere, and told them how unacceptable this was and asked them why hadn’t they given us the bedding to change as soon as it had occurred? But we did not see the burn mark, broken chairs or fan until they had left.

To cap it all, they had even done an ‘auto-channel sweep’ on both TVs (wiping all the channel grouping and channel naming that we had laboriously done), deleted all the preprogrammed Apps and even reset the menu language to German while here.

They also left behind their own towels, a pair of flippers, a tent and a ‘thank you’ present for us, which was a large basket containing a variety of German beers and spirits all wrapped in plastic. Truly bizarre, and yet another chapter for the book I am going to write when we eventually retire from all this.

Can anyone suggest a title?

Maybe, ‘The Trials and Tribulations of a Holiday Home Owner’......??
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farley



Joined: 29 May 2014
Posts: 119
Location: Poitou Charentes

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’m speechless, it saddens me that guests can be so irresponsible.
I do hope the new ones are wonderful and treat you and your property with great respect.

As for the security deposit, I agree an increase is probably essential for next season. If only as a deterrent.

Do hope you can now put your feet up for a well earned rest 🙂
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AndrewH



Joined: 12 Sep 2013
Posts: 1436
Location: Kefalonia, Greece

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The stuff of nightmares. I just mean that, but as an afterthought it could be a title for your book Very Happy
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AndrewH



Joined: 12 Sep 2013
Posts: 1436
Location: Kefalonia, Greece

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The stuff of nightmares. I just mean that, but as an afterthought it could be a title for your book Very Happy
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Giraffe



Joined: 26 Jun 2016
Posts: 410
Location: Cornwall, England

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AngloDutch. So sorry this has happened to you. Give yourself a huge pat on the back for sorting it out the way you did. Title for a book - Reflections on Nightmare Guests ??
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AngloDutch



Joined: 11 Jul 2014
Posts: 715
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, everyone for your support and those book title ideas! Very Happy

@farley - I think we will go to €300 on the security deposit. As we have 5 bedrooms and sleep 12, I think guests will find that acceptable.
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Moliere



Joined: 08 Mar 2007
Posts: 4716
Location: Magalas, Languedoc

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AngloDutch, I recently rented a five-bedroom holiday home, sleeping 10, and the damage deposit was Euros 800. I think in the light of that, you could easily up yours to € 500 at least. Crikey, I used to ask £200 fifteen years ago!

Horrible experience you have had, my sympathies, but in my opinion top-end rents and hefty damage deposits do lead to better-behaved guests.

Mols
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AndrewH



Joined: 12 Sep 2013
Posts: 1436
Location: Kefalonia, Greece

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moliere wrote:
Horrible experience you have had, my sympathies, but in my opinion top-end rents and hefty damage deposits do lead to better-behaved guests.

+1. If it is possible to work things that way for a rental property.
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PW in Polemi



Joined: 21 Oct 2012
Posts: 1780
Location: A village in Paphos, Cyprus

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What an awful experience for you, but very well done on handling it so capably.

I agree, your damages deposit seems rather on the low side for the size property and number of guests. My cottage sleeps 4 and I ask a €250 damages deposit, so on that basis, you could easily double or triple what you currently ask for.

Book title - AndrewH's suggestion is a good one. Catchy, not too long and extremely descriptive. 😀
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AngloDutch



Joined: 11 Jul 2014
Posts: 715
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Mols & PW

Thanks for your advice on the security deposit.

This has always been a difficult one for us.

When you are getting €1,450 for a week's stay in the high season, obviously you can ask much more than the €200 we do now.

But when guests are staying 3 nights midweek low season (for maybe, €425), I'm not sure if asking for a €400-500 security deposit would put people off?

Maybe the best thing to do is ask a €250 security deposit until a rate of around €700, and then a percentage after that, maybe 25%? So, around €725 on a booking value of €2,910 (2 weeks high season)?

There are of course many guests on a budget. Although they (hopefully!) will get the security deposit back, many seem to calculate it in the cost of what they need to find to book the accommodation in the first place Laughing
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Moliere



Joined: 08 Mar 2007
Posts: 4716
Location: Magalas, Languedoc

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AngloDutch, I think your split rate runs a risk of upsetting your high-value clients. I can readily see them saying, I'm paying more for the holiday, surely I'm a more desirable client, so why is my damage deposit higher?

How about if you charge a damage deposit of €250 per week? So 1 week = €250, 2 weeks = €500, etc. That way you can respond that there's twice as much time for damage to occur, which has some logical basis at least.

Mols
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Ecosse



Joined: 29 May 2014
Posts: 802
Location: Saint Gervais les Bains, France

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AngloDutch wrote:


When you are getting €1,450 for a week's stay in the high season, obviously you can ask much more than the €200 we do now.

But when guests are staying 3 nights midweek low season (for maybe, €425), I'm not sure if asking for a €400-500 security deposit would put people off?



Our damage deposit remains the same regardless of the overall length and/or cost of the stay. My reasoning is that while there may be more opportunity to cause damage during a week long stay, in reality, most damage happens within the first 2 days when guests are both unfamiliar with our property, and excited (read: careless) about being away from home. Our deposits (600€ damage + 200€ cleaning) are only a percentage of a peak week price, yet they add up to almost the same as our ski weekend price of 950€. We've never had any complaints.

Incidentally, we've only had to deduct from the damage deposit twice: once for a bunch of students who left the place a tip and once to cover the cost of resanding our oak dining table after meths from a fondue set spilled on it, stripping the varnish. Both groups were weekend groups.
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SPJ



Joined: 28 Dec 2015
Posts: 258
Location: Aquitaine

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ecosse +1. Our latest guests have managed to break stuff (nothing serious fortunately) all within the first 2-3 days - just careless and getting used to the place.
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Moliere



Joined: 08 Mar 2007
Posts: 4716
Location: Magalas, Languedoc

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ecosse, SPJ - I agree with you both, but AngloDutch is looking for a way to increase the damage deposit without (a) frightening off "budget" guests and (b) annoying high-paying guests. My suggestion was simply a plausible lie which might serve that purpose. Can you perhaps make some alternative suggestions?
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SPJ



Joined: 28 Dec 2015
Posts: 258
Location: Aquitaine

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I may be over-symplifying Moliere but it seems to me that a large gite with all that that entails in terms of the costs of any damage to furniture, fittings, equipment, linen, etc etc merits a large deposit, with no need to feel reluctant / embarrassed / apologetic about it. If guests are not willing to pay what after all comes back to them if they have taken care of the place then I would question whether I want them as guests.

Think of car hire companies and the amount they demand these days as a security deposit. And very often it's the cheaper hire car companies who demand the higher deposit - possibly because they know their customers!
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