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War zone triage..
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Managing your guests
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Moliere



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

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once again, SPJ, I agree with you, that would be my stance too, as is pretty evident from my posts over the last fifteen years. However, for whatever reason AngloDutch is reluctant to up the deposit for lower cost rentals, so we try to help.

Mols
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GillianF



Joined: 20 Aug 2012
Posts: 803
Location: Dordogne

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitching the level of a damages deposit right is always difficult. Whilst a careful client will always have it returned in full it is money they have to find at the beginning of their holiday.

Taking the example of car hire companies. Our 'children' have both rented apartments for University, work etc. and the damages deposit required up front was always hefty - and usually a month's rental ………….
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Ecosse



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

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to reassure AngloDutch that we, too are at the budget end of the market and it still doesn't put people off. I think people understand that damage is damage and the cost of replacing (e.g.) an item of furniture is fixed: a shop wouldn't entertain the idea of charging the owner less just because their guests paid a lower rental.

Perhaps it's easier in France because they haven't yet got rid of the cheque book... mostly we get the damage deposit in cheque form, which is returned to them at the end of the week. Alternatively, do you have the option of charging it to their credit card? Some holiday rentals round here do that if they have card machines or on line systems. Other than that, I'm not sure, though perhaps another way to pitch it to the lead guest who may struggle to get the deposit together is that the deposit only amounts to x euros per guest, and would it suit their group to each pay separately?

A slight thread creep but I do this with our cleaning deposit, which is also the (weekly) price for getting the place clean: 200€ seems a lot, but it's only 10€ per guest and when they see that 10€ each gets them out of having to spend the last few hours of their holiday scrubbing the place, almost all our groups choose for us to do the cleaning for them.
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AngloDutch



Joined: 11 Jul 2014
Posts: 715
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks very much everyone for your suggestions and comments.

The reason we are now reconsidering the security deposit we charge is not just because of the huge amount of damage that we had with the above guests, but because we have seen that the numbers of troublesome guests that we are now getting is vastly increasing, when compared to say even a few years ago.

Where we used to get the odd guests who damaged things, left a mess and showed general disrespect, this seems to be occurring at a greater regularity now. We are not the only LMHers who seem to be concerned about the change in guest attitude generally (see, for example, https://www.laymyhat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=28612 ).

When I look back on 2018 (even though we're not even 3/4 of the way through yet!), many guests have been so demanding or ignored our instructions that it has caused inconvenience, extra work or damage, this due to them attempting to do things differently than how we expect them to act while in and around the accommodation.

Just to give you an idea on the extent of our problems and why we are looking to increase the security deposit, here's a summary of some of what has occurred in 2018 alone (I could start a new thread about this.... Shocked ):


- guests took parasols from the garden to the beach against that shown in the ‘guest notes’. 1 parasol completely bent and which had to be replaced

- both new parasols (the other parasol was extremely difficult to keep open, so we decided to replace that at the same time) were taken by the next guests to the same beach, leaving them extremely dirty from the wet sand. I suppose I will have to add this request to the walk-round tour that I give when guests arrive, although I am trying to keep it concise!

- guests with small children decided to use the BBQ. Concerned about their children playing around the BBQ and getting burnt, they (without asking) carried the smoking BBQ onto the side of our garden next to our washing line which at the time was full of clothes. We returned home to smoked bed sheets, all of which had to be re-washed and dried in time for the changeover the next day. Cost of the washing/drying.

- other guests broke two levers off the BBQ that held the ash bucket in place. Whole BBQ now needs to be replaced before the next season

- guests managed to remove all the colour from the seat of one of our black leather sofas (this was on the right side, the colour on the left side of the sofa was removed by guests staying during 2017). We have no idea how they do this, maybe sitting in damp/wet clothes. Cost of having to re-colour the right side of the sofa seating.

- guests do not use place mats on our dining table (place mats, cork mats and large metal coasters are left on the same dining table). We have to constantly use a steam iron to remove the white rings from the wood, but it does not look the same. This happened the last time just last week. We managed to get all the marks out, but...

- the next guests who arrived had organised an activity programme for their entire group. This involved sawing wood, making tables and then painting the end result. I discussed with them when they arrived that this all had to occur outside the accommodation. The sawing and painting took place in the garden, on a huge tarporline. When these guests left, we found beads, etc, under the dining table, so they had obviously been gluing these onto their tables, using our large dining table as a worktop. The result was severe scratching to our dining table that I have attempted to hide using special polish. The dining table is taking such a battering that we will have to replace it with something else (no more pine wood!)

- guests managed to loosen a metal strip at the top of the staircase, which they had obviously just pushed back into place (this could be seen). Extremely dangerous if it had given way if someone had placed their foot onto it at the top of the stairs. This I only discovered just before the arrival of the next guests and, in a mad frenzy, set to drilling new screws through it to prevent someone from breaking their neck

- guests removed the recycling containers from under the stairs and placed them against the wall in the kitchen, so that they didn't have to walk so far. They then remarked how many flies there were in the kitchen and that the rubbish was starting to smell. When they left, there was ketchup and baby food sprayed up the white wall (one of the reasons why the containers are under the stairs in the first place!) This happened recently and
There has been no time to repaint the wall before the next guests..

- having one fan's mechanism broken was obviously not enough (see opening post), because the guests who left yesterday started on one of the other two metal fans, and have now broken the height adjustment on it

- guests staying in our downstairs bedroom managed to rip one of the sliding doors of the clothes cupboard off its hinges. It now no longer stays on properly and we will have to see whether it can be repaired

- there is a sign above our oven (it's a large freestanding oven) asking not to place anything on top of the oven, as items can melt or ignite. Guests who left recently had obviously seen the sign but not read it (they had no problem understanding it), because they placed a large pile of plastic freezer bags on top of it...plastic fondue anyone? The oven as you can imagine is beginning to look terrible



And then there's the refusal to adhere to instructions, which causes more inconvenience to us than the cost of actual damage:


- guests asked if they could play a game of football in the field across the road. ´No’, I said, ‘that belongs to the farmer, so that is not allowed’. In the evening, I look out the window and they are in the field playing football…

- guests turned up with a camper with the intention to sleep in it. I told them they could not park on our ground, as we do not have a licence for campers, only for a maximum number of persons in the accommodation. They move it to a camping ground nearby

- several months later, a second group of guests call a few weeks before arrival date to ask whether they can bring a camper and sleep in it. 'No', I said, 'we do not have a licence for camping'.
'If you don't say anything, who will know?', was the answer I got. I said, 'Camping is forbidden here'. I thought that was the last of it. No, it wasn't, they turned up with not one but two campers, as they had called the town hall and received permission from them to camp on our ground(!) This was made as a special exception by the town hall, so they said. They also arrived with seven other vehicles. In our arrival instructions that every guest receives, it states that we have parking space for up to 4 vehicles, 3 if you have bikes with you. I took them immediately on a walking tour of our village, going from parking area to parking area and showing where they could park their entire convoy of vehicles

- as I write this, an enquiry has just come in via Tripadvisor, further to an original request for a quote that we received yesterday. Now, the guests are asking whether they can bring a…wait for it, yes - a camper - and park it on our ground, this on top of the seven adults (yesterday, it was six), 4 children and 2 dogs that will be staying. Of course, in the camper will be another two adults sleeping. I wonder how we should make this clear? On every website we use, in the terms and conditions, in the arrival instructions, put a notice up in the garden, as well as turn the campers away from the accommodation as they arrive?


One guest asked me last month whether I had other work, apart from running a holiday home. When I said that I didn’t, he looked in disbelief that running something like a holiday let could consume so much time….I think we will up our security deposit by 300% and our rates by the same amount as well....maybe it will help deter the wrong kind of guests Rolling Eyes
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SPJ



Joined: 28 Dec 2015
Posts: 258
Location: Aquitaine

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anglo-Dutch that sounds just terrible! We only have a small gite and in some ways I think it's a lot easier because we are dealing with just couples or a single family and I think they tend to behave differently. For the first time, this two weeks we have two (mature!) couples and they are behaving like teenagers! (And hence "rules" are being ignored and things are being broken) And I think the larger the group, the more likely this is to happen.

Only you of course know what your gite can command, but higher prices and better quality guests - even with fewer bookings - perhaps is the way to go?

May I make a suggestion re your table top and any other damaged furniture. I strongly recommend "shabby chic" painting. Here in France it's all the rage, looks "interesting" and hides flaws beautifully. I use Paris Grey, it doesn't show dust or dirt. Smile I sand down the edges and legs so that the underlying wood shows through. And if I get marks on the furniture I just go over it again with a bit of paint and clear wax. And bingo it looks good again. Dents, scratches etc don't matter because it's part of the "shabby" effect. The look is meant to be used/worn. Between guests all I have to do is go over the furniture with a damp cloth.
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AngloDutch



Joined: 11 Jul 2014
Posts: 715
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SPJ, yes, we normally get 2-3 families staying together, so often six adults/six children, or grandparents, their children, partners and the grandchildren.

We wish we could reduce the amount of guests we have at any one time, but if we did we would face a lot of competition from other accommodations locally that are involved in a race to the bottom price wise, as they all try to be cheaper than each other (many survive only with bookings via ABB).

It's much more hard work with larger groups, not just with the changeovers, but also with so many guests using everything.

We do give discounts for smaller groups but of course many a family of four would not see the discount, as they would not be looking at a property for up to fourteen to begin with! Actually, we have accommodations nearby that sleep up to fifty in one building (I couldn't imagine doing a changeover there!) They have kitchens/dining rooms that resemble your old school canteen!

That sounds like a good idea to solve guests damaging furniture. I will look into it. Thanks again..
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