19 Idiotic (But Real) Travel Complaints

shutterstock_146971178I could not resist sharing this post circulating on Facebook.  One of these days I’ll compile some of the comments we have received at Vacation Rentals of the Desert … like wanting a full refund since it rained.  Sometimes it is really, really hard to keep a straight face!  

A vacation is supposed to be your time away from the crazy. Remind me never to travel to any of the same vacation spots these people have booked. I’ll take that upgrade and trade you a bus tour of “OH MY GOD THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS!”–

These are actual complaints received from dissatisfied customers by Thomas Cook Vacations (based on a Thomas Cook/ABTA survey):

  1. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
  2. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”
  3. “On my holiday to Goa in India , I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”
  4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”
  5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”
  6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”
  7. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”
  8. “No one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”
  9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”
  10. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
  11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”
  12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”
  13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”
  14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort’. We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”
  15. “There were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”
  16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”
  17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”
  18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”
  19. “My fiance and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”

What’s your most memorable vacation nightmare? People, place, or thing?

Facebook post shared from:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blogdramedy/idiotic-travel-complaints_b_4073107.html

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Why Should You Go With a Pro?

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The following is a post I am sharing from the Vacation Rental Managers Association’s Blog dated April 23, 2015 by Trisha Howarth. There are many reasons to consider professional management of your vacation home. Trisha has just about summed it up … but there are additional benefits and you will find a few below her post in the comments section. The final comment I submitted yesterday. As a vacation rental owner, there are many points mentioned below that you will want to consider when making your decision on professional or self-management.

Why Should Homeowners Go With a Pro?

Thinking about renting your own vacation home? Here are some things to consider.

It may be tempting to place your home on a “for rent by owner” website and attempt to handle the rental of your home without using a professional agency. While saving on agency fees may be tempting, are the savings really money in the bank?

Time is money. The value of having an agency handle rental for you allows you to focus on the enjoyment of your second home versus the rental and maintenance aspect associated with home ownership. Filtering inquiries, booking reservations, greeting guests, servicing the guests while they are in your home, maintenance calls, trust accounting, tax submissions, and marketing all take a large amount of time. How does the return on the time it takes to do all these items compare with your regular earning potential during these hours or to the value of time spent doing things you love?

Security of your investment is key. On-site personnel is essential for assuring that your home is in good order and guests have left the home as they found it. What if something does happen during a guest’ stay? Handling collections and legal issues surrounding damage or an event can be difficult especially if the issue isn’t caught in a timely manner. How will you know if your home is secure and maintained without hiring some to check it for you?

Attention to you and your guests are the focal points of a professional agency. Vacation rental management companies are in business to bring agency, homeowner and guest together in business transactions that benefit all parties. It is what they do. Agencies hire full-time employees and provide them with professional and legal training as well as stay knowledge about industry trends. Agencies also have systems in place to take care of owners and rental guests. Some agencies also may have an attorney on staff to assist in daily decisions regarding rental receipts and advise on issues that arise.

Exposure through marketing brings awareness and results in bookings. When you list your home with a website provider you become limited to one stream of exposure. A professional agency may list your home on the very website you are considering and pay the associated fees; however, an agency invests money in many forms of advertising including web, print, direct mail and public relations.

Satisfaction comes in many forms. In the short-term the savings may seem worth it; however, peace of mind is worth something. “For rent by owner” sites taut booking results, but what about your personal experiences with rental guests and the overall experiences of the guests themselves? Taking the worry out of maintaining a home you visit several times a year, the challenges of customer service and all the various components of renting a home is what a professional agency does.

Before listing your home on a “for rent by owner” site, research rental agency firms and weigh your options. Vacation rental management companies with proven track records can offer a way for homeowners to enjoy their second home instead of manage it.

 

Comments

By: William LeMasters

On: 04/28/2015 12:31:37

Additional benefits of professional management comes with stronger vendor relationships that a management company develops which results in faster response times and better pricing on repairs and supplies.
Additionally a management company works with larger data blocks and can be more effective setting and adjusting pricing to maximize revenue.

By: Erin Mitchell

On: 04/28/2015 13:34:58

William brings up a very good point. Strong vendor relationships is huge and can ultimately make or break a guest’s experience if something does go wrong. We have had last minute issues with pools, appliances, AC- you name it and our strong relationship with certain vendors helps us solve these issues much quicker. In Hawaii, this difference is especially exaggerated as there is a very small vendor pool to call as it is and repair parts are often not in stock.

To add to the point about “Time” – No matter what, someone always has a question in the group (where’s the extra TP, can you recommend a cab, what time is sunset, do the trees block the view, etc.) and having a professional manage your property means you have some available to answer the many questions a guest has and at all hours.

By: Vickie Murguia

On: 05/23/2015

Another advantage would be in handling city ordinance regulations and the oversight of short term vacation rentals. It is difficult for an owner to manage their property from a distance when city ordinances have strict monitoring regulations. Many cities require a responsible party be available twenty-four hours a day and within an hour’s drive if a code enforcement violation is received. It is also beneficial to have an advocate of vacation rentals present at HOA and City Council meetings to represent absentee owners and their rights. Attending these meetings, I have noticed that some of the most vocal complaints from residents opposed to short term vacation rentals, site absentee owners who manage their properties from a distance and feel that there is no oversight of the tenants reflecting a lack of concern for their surrounding neighbors. Vacation Rentals of the Desert makes it a practice to pass out our business cards to neighbors of the vacation home and encourage owners to do the same. I have found that when neighbors feel that their concerns matter and have a local professional company that can be contacted directly, it has often circumvented complaint calls to city officials, and saved the owner costly fines. It will also generate a better relationship between the vacation rental owner and their neighbors.

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Furnishing a Vacation Home

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Shop consignment stores! A few vintage pieces can add charm and interest to your decor … but be careful not to go overboard creating a “dated” look to your vacation home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So … you just purchased a vacation rental home.  If the property is unfurnished, you have a blank slate and the perfect opportunity to choose furnishings and amenities that will draw tenants.  If you plan on using the property yourself, of course you will want to furnish the property to meet your needs, but it is also important to consider the needs of prospective tenants.  Through my years in the vacation rental business, I have seen gorgeous properties sit vacant while a lower-end property next door was constantly rented.  There are more factors in making your property desirable then decorator décor.  Location, pricing, bed configuration and amenities, weigh heavily in attracting inquiries.  I have a few suggestions for those new to vacation rental ownership and suggestions for areas that are often overlooked.

First … It is very important that you read through the city’s vacation rental ordinance.  Even if you plan to have a professional management company handle your vacation home, you as the property owner, are fully responsible for any ordinance violations.  Most cities have short term vacation rental regulations that limit the number of occupants based on the number of bedrooms.  It is important that you know what the city considers a bedroom or sleeping area.  There is no use adding sofa-beds in living rooms and dens if the city sets occupancy limits.  For example, here in California, a room without a closet is not considered a bedroom.  So if one of the bedrooms has been converted to a den and the closet has been removed, it is not a bedroom.  If your plans are to use the space as a bedroom or sleeping den, to be on the safe side, you may want to consider adding a closet.  Ordinance violation fines for exceeding occupancy limits can be significant.

Bed Configuration:  You need to do your homework and be fully informed on your particular demographic.  Review area rentals on the internet.  Look at the occupancy calendars of properties your size and in your immediate area.  Note the typical length of stay, bed configuration and amenities offered.  You can also talk to local vacation rental companies.  Even if you plan on handling your own rentals, vacation  management companies are a wealth of information.  Here are a few things to consider when setting up your bedrooms:

  • I would ALWAYS advise a king in the master bedroom! This is a big deal breaker for many people.  Two reasons:  If the tenant has a king bed at their own home, they will want a king bed in their vacation home too.  If the tenant is tall, they will need a king bed to be comfortable. Vacation Rentals of the Desert manages several vacation homes with queen beds in the master … and believe me … this IS a big deal and we see a significant difference in desirability.
  • Did you know that two twins can easily be joined to make a king? When advertising, you should always describe the beds as “two twins that can be converted to a king.”  Twins-to-king conversion kits can be purchased at Bed, Bath & Beyond or online at Amazon.  There are increased costs but it will also make your property suitable to a wider audience.  You will need complete bedding for both twin beds and a king bed … mattress pads, sheets, blankets, bedspreads.  You will also need to ask tenants how they would like the beds set up for their stay.  Note:  If you are with a management company or are a long distance owner, you will probably have to pay extra for the beds to be joined or parted and then for the beds to be made up with the correct bedding.  Another note:  I would never cut corners and push two twins together and advertise it as a king bed.  It is likely that the tenant will feel the hump in the middle and you will probably get a complaint call or worse … a review saying that the bed configuration was falsely advertised.   Full disclosure is your best bet.
  • If you have a large guest bedroom you may want to consider two full or queen beds. This is much more appealing to a renter than two twin beds.
  • A single full size bed should only be used if you do not have room for a larger bed. It will not be appealing to a couple.  If at all possible you want each bedroom to have the ability to sleep two people comfortably.
  • I am not a huge fan of bunk beds. Couple of reasons:  First … safety and owner’s liability are big concerns.  Second … it pretty much limits the room to children only.  Adults will shy away from even sleeping in the lower bunk.  However, in some communities bunk beds may be a plus. Before buying I recommend that you check with your insurance company on possible liability issues.
  • Sofa-beds are rarely comfortable but adding a very thick, quality mattress cover will help greatly. Sofa-beds are best used by children or for short stays.  If your demographic caters to adults, beds are preferred.

We have several three bedroom condominiums where one bedroom has been “purposed” as a den/office.  For our demographic, this makes sense.  As I mentioned, most of our tenants consist of one or two couples staying for one month or longer.  They may think that a three bedroom property is unnecessary and will not even consider it … but a two bedroom with an office/den is a space that they will use.  It will also work for families that come out for shorter stays where a sofa-bed can be used for a few days or by a child.  If you know what the typical renter in your area is looking for in a vacation rental, you will be able to better determine how to furnish your vacation home to attract attention.

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A small desk tucked into a corner creates a handy work station for your guests. Look for a desk that compliments your decor and avoid student computer work stations.

Desk or Office Space:  Have you ever stayed in a hotel that does not have a desk?  Now more than ever, a desk is a welcome amenity.   You can bet your tenants are bringing their laptops, iPads and Notebooks.   From correspondence, to bill paying, to keeping up with the stock market and even those who are on a “working vacation,” having space to set up their computer is huge.  Unless your property is advertised as a bare-bone; wilderness experience … you absolutely MUST have Wi-Fi.  Note:  Choose a nice home/office desk that will match your décor, such as the one pictured here.  Avoid the inexpensive student style computer desks that will conflict with the beauty of your home.

Living Room Furniture:  Rule of thumb … at least enough comfortable seating for the maximum amount of tenants who will be staying at the vacation home.  If you have a three bedroom home that sleeps six, then you want seating for six … and that doesn’t mean wedging four people on a sofa.  Imagine three couples watching TV.  They will not be comfortable on top of each other.    Same goes for the dining room and patio furniture.  You should have seating for the maximum number of people your property will accommodate.

Flat Screen TVs:  If you have an old boxy TV … throw it away.  Even if it works … throw it away.  It will lose you rentals … guaranteed.  When a tenant sees an old TV they immediately think that the owner is cheap and does not keep up the property.  We hear this every day!  It may be the farthest thing from the truth, but that is how a prospective tenant will perceive it.  A flat screen TV in the living room, den and all bedrooms should cover all the bases.  You will never lose renters because you have too many TVs … but you will for not enough.  If they have children, bedroom TVs can be a big deal.  With the cost of TVs these days, it is an investment that will pay for itself quickly.  Best Buy typically has adequate 32” TVs for less than $200.

DVD or Blu Ray Player:  I recommend Blu Ray players.  They are now inexpensive ($10 more than DVD), and they will play regular and Blu Ray discs.  This past year I went with two long time girl friends on a three day vacation to the mountains.  We had planned one stay-home evening of wine and chick-flicks.  We were really disappointed that there was no DVD player of any kind at the vacation home.  This isn’t even considered an amenity anymore … it’s a necessity in a vacation home.

Lighting:  I know … I love those little decorator bedside lamps with the dark colored shades that match the bedspread … but can you read a book in bed?  Look for those really great bedside lamps that you CAN ready by … maybe the kind that uses three-way bulbs.  Recessed lights in the ceiling are great for lighting an entire room but not so great for reading.  You should have table lamps in the bedrooms and in the living room.  Furnish your vacation home so that every tenant can read in bed or in living areas and you’ll never get a complaint about lighting.  If you do not have the space for a table to place a lamp, I recommend one of the standing lamps with three directional lights.  It can be stored in a closet, but easily moved by tenants wherever needed.

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Ceiling fans in living areas and bedrooms will help to cut your air conditioning bills and add beauty to your vacation home.

Ceiling Fans:  EVERYWHERE if you can.  It’s not a necessity, but will make a huge difference in your air conditioning bills.

Full Length Mirror:  Somewhere in the property you should have at least one full length mirror.

Door Hooks:  I cannot tell you how many owners do not think to put hooks behind bathroom doors.  Tenants often mention the lack of hooks to hang their robes or sleepwear.  Or worse … owners will return to their properties to find that tenants have taken it upon themselves to put up a stick-on type hook … which the owner may not be unhappy about.  It is always best to put up the hooks that you desire and that will match your décor.

Area, Bath and Kitchen Rugs:  Always purchase non-skid rugs for safety purposes.  If you have tile inside the front door, back door or sliding glass doors, you should have a non-skid rug to prevent slipping accidents when the guests enter when raining or wet outside.  I usually recommend machine washable rugs whenever possible.  This will save you a little money in professional carpet cleaning costs.

Throws:  If you decide to purchase throw blankets … I recommend the kind that can be thrown in the washer.  They will need to be cleaned.  This season we had mishaps at two properties where tenants washed wool throws, not noticing the dry clean only label.  The owners now have very expensive kitchen hot pads!

For more ideas and helpful hints, read through some of my earlier blog posts.  The posts that address furnishings in particular are, “Dress for Success,” posted February 8, 2015, “Make Cents?” posted June 22, 2014, “Furnishing Tips … What You Don’t Know May Cost You,” posted February 23, 2014 and “Kitchen Rehab,” posted February 2, 2014.  A complete copy of Vacation Rentals of the Desert’s Minimum Requirement List, which may be helpful when purchasing your basic needs, can be found in my December 14, 2014 post titled “A Perfectly Appointed Vacation Home.”  Of course you may have additional needs based on your area and demographic, but our list may be a good starting point.  As always, I would be happy to answer any of your questions asked through this blog or at Vickie@vacationrentalsofthedesert.comHappy Sunday!

 

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Photos:   http://www.kitchencabinetssandiego.us & http://www.palmfanstore.com & http://adonishoffman.com

How to Make a Vacation Home Work for You

bedroomIt has been a surprisingly busy week for this time of the year and apparently my creative juices have been spent. Seems my voice has as well. So today, Mother’s Day, I’ve decided to take the easy route and share a great story published on the FlipKey Blog dated May 21, 2014. For those of you who are, or know someone who is contemplating a second home purchase … vacation rentals just may make it affordable and even profitable. Vacation Rentals of the Desert joined up with TripAdvisor about five years ago and listed all of the properties we manage on their vacation rental site, FlipKey at no charge to the property owner and it has generated thousands of inquiries from all over the world.  I think my readers will find this article very informative. Happy Mother’s Day!  

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May 21, 2014

As always, the housing market was the backbone of the economic turnaround in 2013. With the market in recovery, real estate costs have been skyrocketing in both urban and suburban locales. Combine that with rising interest rates, and you can see how volatile the market has become. Due to these obstacles, people who own not only one, but two homes are finding it more difficult to keep up with the costs despite the benefits, and people who have always considered second home ownership are thinking twice about purchasing.

The good news is all is not lost – there are ways to keep up your quality of life without breaking the bank, and perhaps even make a profit: renting out your vacation home. That house on the beach or cabin in the mountains is attainable. More second homeowners than ever are renting out their second or vacation home to travelers, turning the industry into a $85 billion cash cow. For owners it provides a revenue stream that allows second home management to be a lucrative business venture. Listing a vacation rental can be personally as well as financially rewarding. For travelers it is extremely convenient, private, provides all the amenities of home, and is often cheaper than staying in a hotel. By staying in a vacation rental, travelers also have access to remote locations they may not have been able to visit otherwise and they will gladly pay for the right to do so. This arrangement clearly is a win-win for both sides.

The better news is renting out your second home is not nearly as hard as it seems. With the options of insurance and property management you can be financially covered and simply pay a property manager a commission to do the heavy lifting for you if you choose. You still have the option to visit your vacation rental as often as you’d like throughout the year too. Renting out your second home could start off as a hobby, but end up as much more if you become extremely successful.

When it comes to advertising your rental and generating leads – listing your property on FlipKey is all you’ll need to do. FlipKey by TripAdvisor is a vacation rental marketplace with more than 240,000 rentals around the world. We help travelers find the perfect place to stay for their trip, and get great value along with the space, privacy and amenities of home, and we help owners fill their vacation rentals with guests.

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Just Clowning Around

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Bozos from left to right … Joaquin, Vickie, Mary, Trish & Kathy.

My first thought when I saw this picture was, “I Think We’re all Bozos on this Bus!” Funny how a comedy album from the 70’s immediately popped into my mind. It was the name of the album and the titled skit and if you are older than fifty … you may even remember this comedy troupe, the Firesign Theater. I just looked them up on YouTube. I guess my sense of humor was a bit different forty-something years ago.

Well, Friday I think we were all Bozos in this Office! Sometimes you just have to let your hair down and that’s what we did. Over the past few years we have hired a seasonal reservationist to cover our busiest months, October through April. This was Mary’s first year with Vacation Rentals of the Desert. She was an immediate asset and fit comfortably into our office dynamics. But the season passed swiftly and on May 1st we had to say good-bye to Mary … actually we said, “see ya later” since Mary is planning on returning in October. So we had the perfect excuse for an office luncheon, cake and … Bozo noses, to commemorate her last day.

In the vacation rental business you MUST have a sense of humor and find ways to blow off steam or else you won’t last through your first year. When most days consist of almost 100% customer service, it can be very stressful. We walk a fine line with three masters to serve … property owners, tenants and the vacation rental company itself. It’s not all about taking reservations … that’s just the fun part of the job. Once the tenants have arrived we spend a great deal of time answering questions, solving problems, scheduling repairs and replacing missing, damaged or broken home supplies ranging from measuring spoons to refrigerators, bath mats to pool heaters. One thing is for sure … we never know what the next phone call will bring. Below are just a few challenges that we faced … and the thing is that these are not out of the ordinary in this business.

  • A tenant calls two weeks before his arrival date to say he has just been diagnosed with cancer. He has been a repeat tenant for years and he’d like his money back. The tenant did not purchase travel insurance … and he is especially near and dear to our hearts! 

  • A tenant falls very ill just days prior to their departure date. They call to extend their stay but we have new tenants arriving to their property on the same day as their scheduled departure … and we are otherwise booked solid!

  • An owner calls to tell us that he is listing his property for sale. He agrees to let the current tenant stay but insists that we move the following month’s renter out. That particular month is March, which is the most popular month of the season and all of our properties are booked for the month … now we have the wonderful job of telling the fully paid tenant!

  • The A/C breaks down during tenant occupancy and needs to be replaced. Between ordering the unit, obtaining country club permits and scheduling a crane (it’s a roof unit), it will take at least four days to install. It’s over 110 degrees during the day and in the 90s at night … we have an emergency!

  • A tenant who insisted on having full range of cable channels for his three month stay, calls daily for assistance with the cable box. He keeps hitting the wrong button on the remote with throws the entire system off cable … who’s going to pay for all those trip charges?

  • It comes to our attention that an older tenant staying with us is not well and can no longer take care of them self … a very delicate situation!  

So vacation rental management … it’s a big job and a big responsibility. We are entrusted with our client’s homes, our tenant’s hard earned vacations and retirement dreams, and at the same time we are trying to keep owners and tenants happy, we must generate enough money to pay our overhead and staff. At Vacation Rentals of the Desert we are professionals, we take our jobs very seriously … but sometimes … we just have to put on a red rubber nose!

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