Every Owner deals with rentals differently but these tips should help to get the basics right!
COSTS: One of the first issues a guest will consider!
- Utilities: Most guests will expect the gas, electricity & water utilities to be included in the price you have quoted. If this is not the case, you MUST make sure they are aware that these will be additional fees to the initial booking costs & inform the guest how these are paid (meters etc) so they arrive prepared!
- Passes: Make it clear if the "Entertainment & Facility Passes" are included in the price you have quoted. If they are charged as an additional fee:- make sure you have informed your guest how much this will be & where they need to be purchased from. Most parks have a seasonal rate for passes, so check you have quoted the correct price for the time of stay. A guest won't thank you for quoting an off-peak price for a peak booking break!
- Linen: State whether bed linen is included in your costings or if an additional fee is charged. Make it clear as to what the linen actually includes. It's usually expected that if bed linen IS provided, this includes: bottom sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases. ALWAYS provide clean mattress & pillow protectors, whether linen is included or not.
- Pets: If you allow pets & charge an additional fee for them, ensure your guest is aware what these charges are.
- Deposits: Make sure you have been very clear as to what the deposit charge is & what it is for. Inform the guest when the deposit payment is due, along with the consequences of it remaining unpaid. If you have a time limit to "hold" dates whilst awaiting deposit payment, makes sure the guest is aware of this. Lots of guests "change their minds" & don't think to inform the Owner, who patiently sits on a "held" date, which could be booked elsewhere. One way around this is to refuse to "hold" dates at all until the deposit has been received (& cleared, don't forget cheques can bounce!):- major holiday companies don't "hold" dates without a paid deposit!
- Payment Due Dates: Tell your guest when payment is due! Again, make sure your guest is aware of the consequences should the balance remain unpaid. A little friendly reminder doesn't go a-miss a week before the balance is due for payment if no other contact has been made. Most holiday companies ask for payment in full 8 weeks prior to arrival, some Owners follow suit, others say 6 or 4 weeks. It's NOT advisable to accept "cash on arrival" - which can easily (& often does) result in a "no-show" on the day & a lost booking. If you do accept this method - ask for photo-ID on arrival & proof of address.
- Cancellation Fees: Ensure your guest is aware if any fees are charged if they cancel their booking. Usually this is just the deposit, but it's a good idea to have this as "time-dependant" as it's obviously not viable to have a booking cancelled the week before arrival with just a deposit loss. Check your park's www for their cancellation clauses & fees & be guided by that.
- Booking Forms: Always issue booking forms & ensure the guest signs it (on paper or electronically - either is legally binding.) Make sure you have a statement somewhere on there that states they are agreeing to your T&Cs by signing! No signature = no contract between you!
- Receipts: Always issue a receipt with every payment made.
- Terms & Conditions: These are an absolute MUST. Set out your T&Cs & ensure your guest receives a copy at point of booking. It's not a bad idea to have a copy in the Holiday Home. This covers both guest & Owner should any "issues" arise.
- Contact Details: You should be providing your guest with your full details at point of booking: home address, contact number and email address. You should also be obtaining the same from them. It's very easy for all contact to be via a keyboard - but this is a tactic used over & over again by the scammers.....
- Obviously ETK listings all show the verification badge to prove ownership, but this is not the case on other advertising sites, or private ads on social media. If your guests asks for proof of ownership, you'd be silly to ignore it! However, do only give basic information out as this is yet another tactic previously used by scammers: pose as a guest, obtain ownership details & use them to scam others. Usually the park will be limited on the amount of information they can disclose due to data protection, so the easiest way of dealing is to give your park a ring & warn them that Mr Joe Bloggs will be calling to verify you. Give Mr Bloggs your name & park phone number & the park will be able to say "yes, you own" or "no, you don't!"
- Cleaning: It's absolutely imperative that the property is cleaned thoroughly in-between each guest. Never rely on one guest leaving it clean for the next! Total recipe for disaster! If you don't live near enough to carry out change-over cleans, you must employ a cleaner. This also ensures any damages are noticed from one stay to the next.
- Pets: Whether you do or don't allow pets, make sure your guest is aware! If you have "rules" regarding a 4-paws holiday (not allowed on furniture etc), tell your guest beforehand! Don't state your Holiday Home as "pet-free" unless it really is and no dog has stayed at any point: some guests have allergies! Ensure a deep clean is carried out after every 4-paws holiday.
- Smoking: Most Holiday Homes are non-smoking but it's still advisable to inform the guest & preferable to have signs in the property so they are aware. It's not a bad idea to provide something outside the Holiday Home for cigarette butts, or you will find them nicely scattered around the property.
- Gas Supply: If you have bottled gas at your Holiday Home, it's advisable to install a change-over valve & always ensure there are 2 bottles of gas available. A change-over valve will automatically switch from the empty tank to the full one... which also then = your guest will not run out during their stay. Always advise your guest never to touch the gas bottles or the connections.
- Insurance: You must inform your insurance company you are renting the property.
(more details on our "Health & Safety" blog) You must have:
- 3-yearly electrical safety check
- annual gas safety check
- smoke alarms
- carbon monoxide alarm
- fire extinguisher
ETK wish you a successful 2015 season!