084: 10 Things I didn’t know Before Becoming a Holiday Let Owner
I’ve learned a lot since becoming a holiday let owner – some more surprising than others, and I thought it’d be fun to share ten things that I didn’t know and didn’t expect to have to know. Some are big, some are smaller, all have had to be negotiated and worked around in my journey so far – and I’m sure there’ll be many more realisations moving forwards!@holidayletpod Ep 084: 10 Things I didn't know before becoming a holiday let owner - listen now #podcast #holidaylet http://bit.ly/10thingshls Click To Tweet
Let’s get into it – here’s my top 10 things I had noooo clue about before I became a holiday home owner!
1. All Bed Linens Are Not Created Equal
Something that surprised me was that some bed linens, despite the price being on par, or close to, some of the brand names such as John Lewis and Dunelms top range high thread count, are not going to work.
I went through several high priced sets of sheets and each had an issue – despite them being high quality, easy iron, or high thread count they were either soooo difficult to iron they still didn’t look good even after being ironed to near death.
I bought some from online that said easy iron – not exactly true, they were well priced and were super white in colour. However they were a weird material that kind of slippy and shiny, a kind of mix between satin and normal cotton bedcovers.
The next set were high thread count, pricey but never looked good as they were near impossible to iron.
I finally settled on and have great success with a mixture of the following:
Most properties – I have a linen company who wash and lend me the sheets and towels. They are then responsible for ensuring the quality and pressing and so everything always looks good. If my housekeeper notices anything starting to looks shabby or if there are any marks or stains, she simply informs me and I let the linen company know and they replace them! Job done. This has of course given me an ongoing cost. Unavoidable though as the rate we turn over.
One property – this one is in the garden of my home. I’m a way away from the centre of Worcester where the majority of my places are and this holiday home is a small garden studio so only takes about an hour to clean. I don’t always like to bring my housekeeper all the way out here for just an hours work. She’s usually busy with the places in town and therefore in the main, unless I’m really stuck unavoidably, I do the changeovers on this one myself.
I therefore have my own sheets and wash and press everything here. Most success I’ve had is with sheets from Dunelm Mill – their easycare range – these press well, are really white, look and feel good, are great value and have lasted a long time! Win !
2. Not Everyone Reads The T&C’s
There are people who won’t read all the terms & conditions, let’s face it there are loads of T&C’s to read with every move you make on the internet, we can see why people neglect to read properly in this area. That said – holiday’s/trips away are slightly different and I for one always read what I’m getting in to.
People who want to cancel 5 mins before check in, for a full refund.
People who are still asleep an hour after check out. (eye roll)
I always have a link in my emails to our T&C’s, a link on the invoice and of course they are on the website.
My short term rental contract that every guest gets also pulls out the key points and refers them back to the full T&C’s
3. Bed Bugs Exist
I know. I wasn’t prepared to find out about these little critters, and I’m very glad I have never personally come across one in any of my holiday homes. I do treat the bedding every 3 months, after my very best BFF, who runs a large holiday home in the gorgeous Provence region of France, sent me some spray which ensures there is absolutely no chance of getting them.
When me and the very same BFF were staying in a very swanky hotel in London, we had the misfortune of staying in a room with some of them. Bleurgh.
I didn’t get bitten so felt a bit bad when my BFF’s ankles were nibbled to pieces by them. We had to treat all of our luggage and move rooms, with the assistance of a very unsympathetic hotel manager. No names shall be mentioned, I’m very forgiving.
But this gave me a renewed boost to treat like crazy. Do not skip this step. Hope for the best absolutely – but definitely use the treatment whilst hoping for the best, don’t take any chances here. The horrible little monsters can come in on your guests luggage and take up residence, once in place you are looking at pest control and closed property. Not good.
4. People Don’t Always Take Heed of Your House Rules
Yes it’s a shocker.
I try to always have minimal signs. I wanted to have my places looking homely and lovely with absolutely no signs whatsoever directing people to do/not do things. I found this to not be possible.
After the toilet and sewage system blocking for the 4th time after people had put sanitary products down the toilet, even though I’d made it expressly clear in their contract and had it highlighted in the guidebook, still it happened. This particular property is very rural, we are not on mains sewage and there is a macerator involved, I think that’s as far into the detail as we want to go, believe me.
Same with smoking – 1 particular property seemed to have the same issue over and over. Large windows guests seemed to think that the outside air doesn’t mingle at all with the inside are and that as long as you’re hanging out of the window you’re not technically smoking inside. Nope.
In both instances I had to resort to signs. It fixed the issue.
I added signs that were in keeping with the decor of the property, weren’t intrusive and didn’t stand out from a mile off. More they could be noticed when in the vicinity of the area where the crime is likely to take place.
ie Next to the loo. Next to the very large sash windows people like to hang out of and smoke from (argh)
5. Listing Sites Change The Rules. Often.
You’re well on your journey to becoming a Holiday Let owner with a successful business! You can be going along merrily about your business, your places listed nicely on all the most well known listing sites and suddenly. Rule change.
You are beholden to the site to have to their bidding.
Algorithm change? But it’s a secret how to cooperate with said algorithm.
Instant booking? Change entire way business operates and role out across all channels, ensuring every calendar is up to date, employ channel manager.
Guest booking fee comes in. Your prices remain the same, but you find yourself having to drop them to counteract the guest booking fee. But if the guest is paying for the use of the system and the advertising of the channel, what are your commissions paying for???
Commission rise? Or worse still – commission rise, then an option to pay an even higher commission to beat your local competition.
If listing sites are your only way of bringing in bookings, you and your business are at the mercy of these giants. And as they continue to grow and merge, as more shareholders are being answered to, prices will continue to rise, goalposts will move and you and your business will be affected.
You need your own marketing strategy, I found this out after my first few months as a holiday home owner – starting with my own website.
6. I Need a Website For My Holiday Home
Yes it’s a fact – in becoming a Holiday Let Owner – I soon found out I needed my own website. I go into detail about why you need your own website as a holiday let owner over on the blog post of the same name, it includes a video where I break down the reasons, so definitely had over there and take a look.
A very quick run down, as I do in this episode of the podcast, includes – it’s your home hub, you can show professionalism, build trust with potential guests, build you email list and most importantly – Take direct, commission free bookings!
Need your Own Holiday Let Website? Get Online Today with our Website Builder Course – Click Here to Learn more and Enroll!
7. I Need To Be A Marketer
Yes, you need to market your property yourself as well as using the listing sites. The listing sites have their place and they are definitely the place to start as a new holiday home owner.
But there is so much more you can do as your confidence builds and your guests start flowing through the door!
8. You Can’t Please Everyone
It’s a painful and upsetting lesson when you put your heart and sole into providing a beautiful place for your guests to enjoy. But sadly there are some people who will never, ever, be happy. No matter how hard you work, how pleasant you are, how much information and assistance you provide, how well you manage your listings, and how good your housekeepers are.
Some people are just horrible. And you can’t please them.
I had one man come to my door, he was staying in the holiday home I have here on the property, his arms laden full of all the carefully selected items I’d left for him and his wife to use. A welcome pack to ease their arrival and hopefully take the pressure off having to go back out and get the things they would need straight away. So they could relax upon arrival and have a cup of tea and plan what they would do next.
He rudely and aggressively shoved them all into my hands and loudly complained how they were taking up too much of his space.
I was taken aback. Surprised at his rudeness and aggressiveness and upset this horrible man was going to be on my property for the next few nights – not something I expected from my journey into becoming a holiday let owner.
I had to not take it personally, accept he was horrible. Be thankful I would never see him again after those few days. And be grateful that I would never have to live a life of misery that this man was hell bent on living.
As Jim Rohn said ‘There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally’
You will inevitably get a bad review. Someone will complain. You have to respond professionally, do your best to put it right and don’t take it personally.
9. Some People Will Not Respect Your Property
Another painful lesson when becoming a holiday let owner. But almost inevitable.
When people are staying away, they are in holiday mode. Even if they’re away for work as is the case with some of my places, they aren’t always thinking the same way they would be thinking if they were at home.
Something will get broken, so don’t leave anything sentimental or too valuable.
Someone will thoughtlessly spill something, coffee or wine usually.
Someone will leave a window open or a door unlocked or won’t bother to take out the rubbish.
Some people will leave an absolute tip in their wake. Your cleaner will be unhappy, you will be unhappy.
Chalk it down to experience, don’t invite them back
Chalk it down to experience, don’t invite them back, join the Facebook group that warns of bad guests and look after your community of fellow holiday home owners.
Then get on with looking after your next guests. Forget it. So important, or they will affect your business, as you won’t be working at your best and you’ll be mulling it over, being upset and not focussed. Don’t let them do any more damage. Move on.
10. Your Housekeeper Is a Hugely Important Member Of Your Team
I can not stress how important your housekeeper is. They are the front line, your eyes and ears to any issues or niggles with your holiday home/properties.
A great relationship that is respectful in both directions, with both parties able to give and receive feedback is key to a successful partnership.
As are checklists, trust and ongoing support.
I wasn’t sure when I was taking the first steps into becoming a holiday home owner, how I was going to get my places cleaned. I’ve had a few cleaning contractors who weren’t employed, but the biggest change has been having my housekeeper employed by me. I wanted someone who would be invested in keeping doing a great job because the employed position meant both sides were invested.
This seems to be working so far!
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