Customize your experience by selecting your role:
Owner, Property Manager, or Traveler
So we had a very interesting call last week from people checking in. They said the home was not “up to their standards” and are not staying. I asked them what was wrong and they sited some of the window sills were dirty and they said there is some mold on the shower ceiling. I told them I would be happy to send my house keeper over within the hour to address any concerns they had. They refused and left. This is the first time we have had this issue. Now here is the odd part, later that day I get an email from the outgoing guest that same day, just gushing about how great the house was and what a wonderful trip they had. She went on and on even stated how well kept and clean it was.
So hard to believe two groups could walk into the same house and feel so different. The folks that refused to stay never asked for a refund, but I returned it anyway. My house keeper went by to see if they had left and check on the home and she said it looked great. The “mold” they said was on the ceiling was a small piece of lint and the sills were clean on the inside, but a little dirty between the screen and window on a few windows.
Anyone else had people that refused to stay?
Wow, I hope they were not using your dock for the day and needed a place to shower! You have a beautiful home and there was another issue probably not related to the stay something like they just got in a huge fight or something.
Weird. We have never had anyone refuse to stay - mostly they say the house exceeded their expectations. However, we did have one married couple who had booked at the reduced rate for sharing one master suite announce that they "couldn't sleep together" and either wanted the other bedroom pod too at the same rate or wanted a further discount. Our greeter politely told them they could certainly go elsewhere and the guests backed off and even left a nice review! However, one of them did sleep on the twin couch made up as a bed. No one really wanted to know any more details about their sleeping habits!
Think you went above and beyond giving them a full refund!
Thanks. While I certainly had no obligation to refund their money I thought it the right thing to do. It's funny because if they would have asked for it, I would have said no. The fact that they were willing to walk away and did not expect a refund made me want to give it. I would never want someone to stay in our home that was not comfortable there. We have 38 stealler reviews so I know it is not the house.
Totally off topic, but SML, I noticed you advertise on vacationrental.com. Do you get much traffic on that site? Am thinking of adding a third place and wonder if it's worth the cost?
We get a few bookings from it. This year we got 4 and last year (2011) we got 6. HA and VRBO are far better for us, but just one weekend in the offseason pays for itself. We are also trying Filpkey but it is too early to tell if it will be any good.
hkquinn: Sign up for Flipkey.com, not vacationrentals.com! We've done both; Flipkey is MUCH better! Plus, Flipkey has unlimited photos, instead of limiting them or charging for extras, AND they don't charge for "Special Deals," unlike vrbo, homeaway, vacationrentals (owned by homeaway/vrbo). It's $299/yr. for all that, and we get plenty of inquiries and renters from them, though not as many as vrbo or homeaway. We got only a few each year from vacationrentals.com. If you use Flipkey correctly and maximize your photos, specials, etc (a special doesn't have to be a traditional "discount," it can be a free welcome gift, a waiving of a fee, etc.), you will get a good response. But they don't gauge for every little thing, like vrbo. I tell my consulting clients there are really only 3 sites worth their salt: vrbo, homeaway, and flipkey. (We've tried them all and more; we were suckers for every little company when we started). If you're deciding between vacationrentals.com and flipkey, it's no contest: pick flipkey!
Just want to add I started advertising on Flipkey July 25th and have had great response - fully booked August and September, half booked in October, two bookings in November, two coming up in December, two for May, one for July and 15 days booked next August. Given that this is Vancouver, BC where it rains a lot from September until the end of March I am incredibly happy. I rented my two bedroom garden suite unfurnished for 26 years starting at $850 a month and latterly for $1200 a month and now make way more than than with the place rented 10 days a month. Can't complain so far!
I agree that your guests departure likely had nothing to do with your place. They "created" a reason to leave. Something similar happened to me last year with a 3 week reservation. They arrived and immediately complained that it was lightly raining and the landscaper was on the courtyard! The husband seemed content but the wife opened every kitchen cupboard, etc. searching to find something to complain about. They told me they'd stay the night and decide in the morning! I couldn't believe it. Next morning he was hiding across the street while she informed me that "no hard feelings but it isn't our cup of tea". Upon further discussion, it was revealed that he had an ear infection and couldn't take the flying lessons he'd lined up at the local airport, and she was going to get her meds at the nearby clinic as planned, and they'd then leave town to go stay with friends. But they tried to tell me those reasons had nothing to do with their departure. Instead, the 2 minute walk to the pool wasn't what they expected, etc. The loss of 3 weeks income in the slowest time of year hit me hard, but so did the dismissive snub of my villa. As you said, it's hard not to take it personally, but you must know, especially with your other guests' high praise, that your place wasn't the reason they left. Consider it as just more experience in the vacation rental business, and focus on your other happy guests and reviews.
On the other note in this thread: FlipKey has proven to be a very good site for me, too.
I'm sorry, but I don't understand: why would ANY of you give a full refund to guests who "just decided" ON THE DAY OF ARRIVAL, that they've changed their mind and don't want to stay? I mean, Bestsies..., are you saying that you gave them a FULL refund for THREE weeks rental that you had virtually no chance of re-renting? I just don't see why you would do that, especially since you seemed to understand that there was no valid reason on their part. Doesn't this just reward jerks for being jerks, and create a bad precedent for vacation rental owners in general? I can see (maybe) if you gave them a partial refund, like for the third week, or something, but why on earth should you lose the first week's rent, that you can't possibly re-rent? Did you try to tell them they'd have to forfeit something, and all hell broke loose, or what? No offense, please, I'm on your side, but I'm just trying to understand. Myself, I could never afford to refund their booking, nor would I, on principal. Nor would I worry about a bad review, since I think it would be obvious to the public, if you respond properly to the review with the facts and have all other positive reviews, what happened. If you had a proper contract, with a normal cancellations clause (even a hotel would never refund all of their money), they wouldn't have had a legal leg to stand on to claim a full refund. I know it's up to you, of course, but I am very, very curious as to why you would feel you had to refund all their money, if you did. (I only assume you did because you said you "lost" 3 wks rental). Thanks!
That's just how I do business. I had every right to keep there money, but did what I thought was right since they never spent a night in my home or asked for a refund. I find the the less you worry about the money, the more you make of it.
Thanks for the feedback. I haven't had a nibble AT ALL from Flipkey. They keep extending my free months of listings because I haven't gotten a thing. Not even inquiries. Odd. Oh well. In regards to the picky guests, I guess we all need to have thick skin and know we can't please everyone.
Last summer we had a family rent our home. First sister, husband and kids arrived. They loved the house. Then when my main tenant arrived, 5 hours later, she called me and said the house was not up to their standards and were leaving and wanted their payment refunded on the spot.
I explained that I did not walk around with thousands of dollars in my pocket. Asked what was wrong, they said they did not like the furnishings. Asked if they had looked at my pictures on the website and they said they did not. Asked what thery did not like about the house, their reply was they did not like a floral sofa. I quickly realized I was getting nowhere fast.
I explained that they had rented my home in the height of the season and I offered to return their payment minus the $1000 non-refundable deposit (so stated on all websites). They claimed they would live a bad review.
I agreed to return their full money. Check was sent to them on the following week. Sometimes a first loss is the best loss.
The first part of the family used my pool, my hot tub and made dinner for the family which they ate in my dining room. They left dirty dishes in the sink and bed comforters uncovered.
Unfortunately, this is the only time we have ever had such an experience. I guess the longer we are in the VR business, the more likely we are to encounter looney tunes.
WOW...that is way worse than mine. I think if a guest demanded their money back I would not do it unless it was really for a valid reason. I do not think one bad review is going to make a difference as long as you have many other positives. In some ways it helps validate the review process as most people understand you cannot please everyone.
I second that! No way should their behaviour be rewarded, so they can screw over the next poor vr owner. So what if they left a "bad review;" it would have spoken for itself. We had ONE bad (one star) review and 28 5-star reviews (nothing in between) in five years. I too was very worried about the one bad review, like you marilyn. So I responded to it, on Homeaway (or vrbo), as they allow you to. I explained the truth of the situation (he was getting revenge for my keeping $50 of his $250 deposit for $400 in utility overages, using heat and AC at same time w/windows and doors open, etc., which we knew because we live there) in my response. Homeaway told me they thought this review would be GOOD for us! They reasoned that if you have all five star reviews, people think they must be fake somehow. But if one really BAD one squeaks in there, then people know you don't really have control over it, it's real, which means all the OTHER ones are real, too. The Homeaway guy said: "If you see one bad review, with a really good response, and dozens of 5 star reviews from happy renters, who are YOU going to believe?" You know, he was right. To this day, renters tell me they had "a good laugh over that 'crazy guy's' review, and 'loved' my response." It actually helped, rather than hurt. No one believed he was credible. Something like you described, Marilyn, I'm surprised you gave a dime back, especially since they dirtied your house! (hope you at least got the cleaning fee!)
I am really thankful that we do so many rentals and have so many wonderful repeat renters, that to sweat one stupid renter is not worth my time and energy. No did not keep the cleaning fee. Just wanted to be rid of these people and their bad energy.
Sometimes your first loss is the best one.
It was helpful to read about your experiences as I just had my first with guests checking out after one night few days ago. The young couple said that our mountainous location intimidated them and our house manager confirmed that it was unusually misty that day. I guess what attracted most prior guests proved the opposite this time. I thought the listing description and photos were clear enough but there was no point in arguing, they had made up their mind and I did not want unhappy guests in our house. Although I have a no refund policy clearly stipulated, I offered that we split our respective losses since I would not be able to re-rent the house on such short notice. They said that seemed fair, so the 50% refund for the 2 week booking hopefully left no hard feelings on either side.
When I related the message to my traveling husband, his response was that preferences naturally vary and it was bound to happen that someone out there would not be delighted with what we consider an oasis, even in the best of circumstances. Each case is different, no doubt. I guess how we chose to take it or respond may soften the blow...