As a holiday cottage owner, have you ever felt that the only time you can take a holiday is between November and February (other then Christmas) because you need to be there for your guests? It can be a problem I know - or even the cause of a guilty conscience as you have fun abroad while news of gales at home filters in.
Take heart! Wendy Boast from Peak Cottages, a long-term subscriber to My Favourite Holiday Cottages, an owner of two immaculately presented holiday properties in the Peak District, found time to take a long holiday without it proving a problem. Here, she happily shares her Top-10 Tips for owners to make it less daunting for them (you) to take a longer than usual break. In Wendy's case, this was a holiday in Norway for almost a month.
Here’s her handy checklist that helped things run a bit more smoothly: Take it away Wendy!
1: Take a note of the contact details, arrival dates and check out dates of all guests arriving and leaving during your holiday. Get in touch with them all before you leave and explain that you are away and that you may be responding a little more slowly than usual.
2: Ask them if they have any questions about their booking before you go away; do they know how to get keys or access the key safe; do they know how to get there; what else do they need to know? Pre-empt as much as you can before you go away. Explain to guests that you will be returning damages bonds within a period of 5-7 days (your choice but give yourself more time than usual)
3: Make sure someone has a spare key in case the guests lose theirs -and make sure guests know who this is and how to contact them.
Make sure your guests and/or Housekeeper know where every 'off switch' is!
3: Who needs to know what you know? Speak to your cleaner, house-keeper, cleaning team, laundry team, handyman, plumbers, gardeners etc and tell them when you are away and which dates may be especially difficult for them to get in touch with you. Make sure they all know, or have a list of, where things like stop-cocks, fuse boxes, timer switches and any other things such as Wi-Fi passwords can be found.
4: Email guests a list of contact numbers in case of emergencies.
5: Set up an email auto-responder (don’t give the dates you are away though) indicating that you will respond to emails within a certain time frame. At Visit Peaks it is normally within 24 hours, but this was extended whilst in Norway.
6: Do a thorough maintenance review of the holiday cottages before you go away, e.g. checking light bulbs, smoke alarms, loose drawer handles etc to try and minimise any issues that may arise. Check stocks of bin liners, tea towels, washing up liquid etc and make sure all are amply supplied.
7: Don’t let your marketing slip! Visit Peaks uses Buffer to schedule social media posts. Almost 5 hours of scheduling was needed to cover the 3 ½ week holiday period but it was worth it to know that the marketing was carrying on behind the scenes.
8: Check in advance if any bills are going to come through whilst on holiday, for Visit Peaks it was things like Calor Gas and oil deliveries and when the window cleaners would be turning up. Get in touch and explain that it may take a little longer than normal to pay bills.
9: Finally don’t feel guilty about going away. People are generally understanding and this is exactly what Wendy found. There were a couple of minor hiccups like an electric shower on/off button not working but as the guests had the plumbers details they got in touch with him and it was dealt with.
10: If you put out the bins and will be away during a collection day, make sure you have someone who knows what, when and how to do this
11: Bonus tip: Bring back appropriate thank you presents for all concerned in looking after things in your absence so that they'll be happy for you to go away again!
12: Duh! (Another one) Tip: While on holiday, don't ever send your guests a postcard to the cottage that implies you are having a sunnier, more relaxing time somewhere else than they are (If you do - don't worry - it will arrive late, but it may worry your next guests, so best not).
A valley view from Valley View!
Have you any more tips you would like to share with your fellow holiday cottage owners to make it less stressful for you and your guests to take some time off while the business carries on? Email your tips to Rick Bond and he'll add them to this blog.