Picture this. It’s the day before Thanksgiving and guests arrive at your vacation rental with a carload of kids and bags full of groceries, ready to relax after a long day of travel.
They punch in the lock box code, but instead of opening, it beeps an error message. They try a several times without luck. They double check the code. It’s what they received in their welcome email, so they call the owner but don’t get an answer. They try again. Nothing.
Hundreds of miles from home, their expensive holiday vacation is off to a nightmarish start.
It’s also a potential nightmare for you. Your guests are unhappy before they even get in the house. The initial disappointment can flavor the entire trip and result in a negative review or a dispute about money after they check out.
Working with over 9,000 owners who host thousands of guests a month, we’ve seen it all.
We’ve also learned that it’s easy enough to avoid issues like this. We’ve compiled the most-common guest complaints along with steps to prevent them.
“We couldn’t get into the property”
- The keys are missing
- The lock box won’t open
- The electronic access code doesn’t work
- The directions weren’t clear and I can’t find the key
Avoid entry issues by over communicating with guests and your guest contact. Double check that they have the correct information and create a back-up plan (like giving your neighbor a second set of keys or the entry code to your cleaning company).
You can also follow up with guests after check-in to make sure they arrived at the property without issue. If they report a problem, apologize and resolve it quickly. To really smooth things over, you might consider sending them a small gift to make up for the delay.
“The property wasn’t cleaned before we checked-in”
- The beds haven’t been made
- The kitchen is dirty
- There are cobwebs in the corners
- The towels are stained
There’s nothing that erodes guests’ trust faster than a hair on the pillow or a dead bug on the floor. Make people feel comfortable in your home by guaranteeing it’s been thoroughly cleaned before check-in.
Avoid cleaning complaints by keeping open lines of communication with your cleaner to confirm check-in dates so they never miss a booking. It’s also smart to have a backup housekeeper you can call in an emergency. Curious about what to look for in a cleaning company? Meet one our top service partners.
“Something isn’t working properly”
- The heater won’t turn on
- The oven doesn’t work
- The AC is broken
- The Wifi is spotty
Guests aren’t going to be happy if the heat works intermittently, the thermostat is testy, or they can’t take advantage of the kitchen that was supposed to be available. It’s frustrating because they paid for a comfortable place to stay.
If an issue does arise, be communicative and fix the problem. In an ideal world, issues wouldn’t arise. But leaky pipes and HVAC issues are a part of homeownership and the best you can do is conduct regular maintenance to keep your vacation rental in top condition.
“We couldn’t get in touch with the guest contact”
- Unanswered phone calls
- Long waits for a response
If something does go wrong on-site (the electronic lock is dead, the guest can’t turn the heater on, etc.), address the problem quickly. The longer guests are sitting around waiting for a response, the greater the risk of negative reviews and an escalated dispute.
The solution is simple. Answer calls day or night. If you’re not willing to make yourself available 24/7, hire a guest contact to provide additional coverage so guest are never left in the lurch. Hear directly from travelers about how communicative owners can turn a frustrating experience into a fantastic vacation.
“The homeowner cancelled on us last minute”
- The calendar wasn’t updated to reflect availability
- Someone else is staying in the property
One of the most stressful experiences for guests is receiving a notification just days before check-in that their booking was cancelled due to a conflict. Maybe you promised the house to a family member or arranged for another booking on the same days and forgot to block off the calendar.
Unfortunately, double bookings are a common issue in the vacation rental world. They’re costly mistakes, too, because they almost certainly result in a guest complaint. Be diligent about updating your calendar and if you do end up with a double booking, find a fair solution for the guests. See how one successful owner saved the day when she had a double booking.
“It doesn’t look like it did in the pictures”
- An amenity has been removed
- The furniture has changed
Guests book based on what they see in your listing. If your property has changed in any noticeable way, update your listing and communicate the differences to upcoming guests. That way, they won’t be disappointed to find that the hot tub on the terrace is gone or that your large dining room table has been replaced with a small bistro table.
Should something slip through the cracks and you neglect to warn future guests, be open to offering a partial refund or a gift card to make up for the disappointment. If it’s been a while since you updated your listing, chances are it’s time for a refresh.
“There were not enough supplies”
- There aren’t enough towels
- There are no extra blankets
- There’s no toilet paper
No one will have a five-star experience if you’re short on towels, bed sheets, and blankets. When basic comforts aren’t there and guests have to spend their valuable vacation time running to the store, they’re understandably going to be frustrated.
You can nip complaints like this in the bud by providing plenty of supplies. The additional effort and expense will be well worth it when your property consistently receives five-star reviews for having everything guests need to be comfortable. Here’s a guide to help you stock your vacation rental on a budget.
How to handle guest complaints
If a guest complains, try not to stress. Just do the right thing and see what you can learn from the situation.
- If your home wasn’t cleaned before they checked in, waive the cleaning fee and get the property serviced ASAP.
- If there’s a major maintenance problem that prevents guests from enjoying the property, refund their money and help them find another place to stay.
- If they couldn’t get in touch with someone about an issue, apologize and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Mistakes happen and it’s not the end of the world.
But you do need to maintain a positive reputation if you count on making money. You’re in the hospitality business and that requires you to anticipate guests’ needs and go above and beyond when things go wrong.
It’s a lot of work, but the end result is worth it: Happy guests, fantastic reviews, money in the bank.
Want to give guests the perfect vacation and five-star service but don’t have the time? Evolve can help you provide a professional-level booking experience without sacrificing their own time. Learn more about how we help owners earn more income with less hassle.