New morning! New guest!

Over the past 3 years, I’ve hosted thousands of guests from hundreds of cities around the world in the homes I manage. I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience, but a few very bad experiences. Nothing colossal, just very unpleasant. People lie, they bring more guests than they booked, they throw parties, they treat your home as a disposable commodity and then refuse to take responsibility for their actions. It can be quite anger-inducing and very disheartening, especially if you are someone who seeks to see the beauty and good in all people.  

I’ve learned to look out for the red flags that may indicate someone will be a bad guest, I’ve learned what policies to outline in order to communicate my expectations for guests, and unfortunately along the way, I’ve let my heart become a little less trusting in the process. Some of this is called wisdom, some of it is cynicism, but regardless, I have developed a motto that I seek to operate by:  “Treat every guest as a new guest.

The quality of your hospitality and your spirit as a human being depend heavily on giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. I know, I know, you’ve been asked 300 times if someone can check-in early because they have an early flight. Why can’t people read the rules!? However, you must again put yourself in the guest’s shoes. I am not advocating that you ignore a guest’s previous reviews, by the way. Be wise, but is this the same guest who soiled your valued rug?  Is this the same guest that threw the raging party a few weekends ago? Is this the same guest that had a laundry list of complaints at a property that doesn’t normally draw complaints? In all likelihood, it is not the same guest. Remember that. Respond again with the same generous patience. Be grateful you have another guest. Remind yourself this is someone’s vacation, which they probably spent many hours working to take! Be kind, be merciful, and tell yourself it’s a new day! Hospitality requires renewed kindness each day for the long haul.   


 

The tone of hospitality: how to make your guests feel warm & fuzzy in the digital age

There are all different sorts of vacation rental hosts, from the distant and hands-off to the ever present host in residence type, but most of us share a desire to provide a level of hospitality that goes far and above a generic hotel experience. The challenge is that many of your guests will actually not want you to be physically present, therefore much of your conversation will be through text.  

It’s much easier for your guests to enjoy a keyless and self-guided entrance to your home than have to coordinate schedules with the host to retrieve a key and go through the awkward exchange of travel-weary pleasantries. That said, how do you give guests the sense that you are personally invested in their enjoyment of your place?  

It’s all about your tone! Be sure you go almost overboard with the excitement in your written voice. Think about the fact that your business won’t survive without their patronage. Think about what it’s like to be in their shoes after a long day of traveling and speak to them in a way that shows empathy. You may not be an excitable person, but exclamation points in your text will greatly emphasize the warmth of your tone. We all know how it feels to receive a reply of “Ok.” versus “Ok!” It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed or inconvenienced by your guest’s questions or conversation over text, but it is critically important to the enjoyment of their stay that you remain graceful and positive. You never know what someone may be going through. Everyone has a story, and if someone is difficult to deal with there’s usually a reason for that. It’s incredible the change you can take part in by simply responding in a way that is the opposite of what you feel they deserve. This is paramount in showing true hospitality.