Dealing with complaints

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Owner advice > Managing rentals > Guest complaints

Dealing with complaints

With the best will in the world, occasionally you will get a complaint, it happens to us all. As your busiest time of the year begins, it is a good idea to have a procedure in place so that you are not caught unawares.

The following advice will help you minimise the likelihood of a complaint and should the worst come to the worst, have a definite plan in place to help yourself and your guest to come to a positive resolution.

How can I stop a complaint before it starts?

  • Communication is key. Make sure you keep in touch with your clients regularly from the start. If you say you will respond to them once you have received their deposit or contract, then make sure you do so, even if it is just to see if they have any further questions. They will be much happier about the booking if they feel you are approachable and they already have a rapport with you.

  • Be upfront. If you have house rules and booking procedures, be sure to mention them all in your booking contract, and booking procedures in your booking contract. That way, everyone will know what to expect. E.g. pets, smoking or parking.

  • Keep your advert accurate. If something does not work or breaks, remove it from your advert altogether until you get it fixed – after all, you can always add it back in! If there is a major issue for example, such as no air conditioning, be sure to contact anyone due to stay at the property so that they know what is happening and what steps you are taking to fix it.

  • Keep in touch. Make sure that your guests have a number where they can either reliably reach you or your property manager in case of any help they might need. Hopefully, if everything has been orgaised well, they will not need to, but they will feel far more relaxed to have it should the need arise.

  • A clean home is a sure fire route to a happy guest. Ensure that between each stay the property is cleaned with all linens changed, floors swept and so forth. Remember, these holidaymakers have seen photos of your property looking its absolute best on your advert so don’t disappoint their expectations!

  • Accidents happen. If during the previous guest’s stay something was broken that cannot immediately be replaced, explain the situation to the new guest and share with them what plans are afoot to sort the situation out as speedily as possible. People are generally very reasonable; chances are they will feel content just to know that you're working on a solution. It's lack of information that causes frustration.

What should I do if a guest does complain?

  • Listen and engage. Whatever the issue, however small it seems to you, to your guest it is important so be sure you listen and acknowledge the problem. Try and empathise with how they must feel, and do not take it personally. They are your customer and they are not attacking you so try to remain calm and be as helpful as you can.

  • Fix it. Resolve the issue as soon as you possibly can. If it is late at night then assure your guest that you will be looking at it as a priority first thing tomorrow. Depending on what is wrong, consider whether or not you need to find them some emergency accommodation. Be sure to follow up with contact and a progress report as soon as you can. Even if you have no solution yet, people generally like to be kept in the loop so update them until the situation is resolved.

  • Be on hand. If you cannot visit the property personally to assess the situation, ask your local contact to do so as soon as they can so they can keep you informed. Ask them to report to you as often as possible with a progress report so that you in turn can keep your guests updated. Having your finger on the pulse (albeit at a distance) instils confidence!

  • Rapport with your guests. Use the relationship that you have built up prior to the holiday to help you handle the situation. Direct communication and a professional approach to the issue will make a good impression and give the holidaymakers faith that they are in good hands. It is in both of your best interests to rectify the situation as soon as possible, for you, keeping a paying customer happy. For them, being able to enjoy their holiday with full confidence in you.

  • Learn from it. If you get many complaints about the same issue, accept that you should address this area seriously and look to have a long term improvement in place as well as your immediate fix. This may mean some in between season repairs, or a change of cleaning company.

  • Follow up. When your guests are back home, contact them and follow up the issue to see how they are feeling about it. You may want to offer a slight refund or a discount on a return visit as a gesture of good will if you feel it is appropriate. Remember, the holidaymaker has the opportunity to leave a review regarding their stay and your positive approach to any problem will reflect well on you, encouraging more people to book with you.