Recently I’ve been looking to book a family holiday for one week in July, so I turned to the listing sites where I could deal directly with the owner. Thinking this would be the easiest, quickest, and smoothest way to book. Sadly, my recent experience as a guest, is a lesson in how not to behave as a holiday home owner. An important lesson that I must share.
As a guest you have certain criteria. In my case exact dates, location within a 7 mile radius, 3 bedrooms, wifi, sea view. Then a list of nice to haves but not necessary; for me a private pool instead of a shared pool, a smart interior, a dishwasher and walking distance to the nearest village.
It took hours to narrow down my search so once I’d found my first choice villa that ticked my must-haves and most of my nice-to-have criteria I felt very excited. My search was over that “look where I’m going on holiday” excited feeling began.
But that feeling was short lived.
The next step of my holiday booking journey should have been easy.
I’d send a quick email to the owner to say I’d like to book and all I needed was an email back to confirm they’d accept my booking, pay my deposit paid and sit back excited and relieved with the fabulous holiday accommodation I’d found for my summer holiday.
But instead this happened:
Property 1 – no reply after 24 hours, re sent 24 hours later still no reply, so moved on (that was 4 days ago and still no reply).
Back to the drawing board with more research and short listing (again and again).
Property 2 – received a reply saying the property is “not available during those dates”. Yet the availability calendar clearly showed it was!
Property 3 – owner emailed to say that a possible long term let was happening so he wasn’t taking weekly bookings at the moment.
Property 4 – received a reply to say yes it was available but he needed €2000 upfront as a security deposit (the cost of the week was €1000). No way was I going to hand that much money over as a deposit.
Property 5 – the owner wouldn’t accept my booking as the price I had been quoted on the listing site was much lower than her peak rate – €1300 difference. Making this villa too expensive for my needs.
Property 6 – fingers crossed, at the time of writing my booking has been accepted and I’m just waiting for the owner to send me bank details so I can pay my regular 25% deposit and secure this booking.
Eventually, as a guest I have found and booked a property that I’m delighted with, but what a long, frustrating and time-consuming process I had to go through.
So what lessons as owners can we take from my experience?
Be customer focussed. Think of your guest at all times. Be mindful of the process they have gone through to select you. When they are ready to book it’s only right and respectful that you’re ready to accept this booking.
Respond within 8 hours. I appreciate a reply cant always be immediate but my enquires were sent in the evening so I’d expect a reply some time the next morning.
Keep your calendar up to date AT ALL TIMES. If you’ve got a possible long term let happening, then book that out of your calendar, regardless if it’s confirmed or not. Don’t waste other guest’s time on those dates.
Correct pricing. I totally agree that an onwer shouldn’t accept the price quoted to a guest on a listing site. If it’s your peak week then you should expect to receive this amount of money. But do make sure your prices are accurate, or as near to accurate as they can by, not 50% incorrect as in my experience.
Security deposits. OK you may have had a bad experience in the past but don’t assume that all future guests are going to damage your property and certainly not €2000 worth of damage! Keep the security amount reasonable to avoid alienating guests.
I’m such an advocate of the owner-guest relationship that I feel let down by my fellow owners and only hope my experience was a one-off, that I’d been unlucky and that it’s not the experience of other future guests.
Fellow owners – we’re in this together and we all have a joint responsibility to proove to guests that their holiday experience can only be enhanced by dealing directly with us.
So pull up your socks and think of your future guests at all times!
Have you had any similar poor booking experiences? Please comment below.