"Awesome guests - would highly recommend renting to them- they left the place so tidy and really looked after it. Thanks." – a recent thank you from an owner of a New Zealand holiday home.
Across the globe short term leasing of apartments, city and country houses, spare rooms and holiday residences is under pressure from outraged fellow residents and consequently local authorities.
However, the experience for both host, guest, permanent residents and authorities can be a positive experience if the principles of etiquette, ethics and protocol are used to making this a success.
From satisfying guests, to meeting local government regulations and briefing neighbors, requires both the host and guests to have a strong awareness of respect and civility for each other.
How to Be a Great Host
- Manage expectations - provide guests prior to arrival with a thorough brief and information on the area and either house or apartment. Advise guests clearly what the rules of peaceful co-habitation are with other residents and what will happen if they abuse those rules – i.e. they will be evicted promptly and without refunding of forward payments.
- Focus on presentation – clean the space thoroughly as while you may not notice every nook your guests will. Ensure the bed linen is in perfect condition and provide a plentiful stock of good quality towels to cater for the bathroom and bathing at the beach or the pool. Stock the bathroom with the essentials plus nice touches such as lotions, excellent local soaps, washes and shampoo.
- Prepare a welcome arrival note - and include any particular information on the property including contact details should the guest need to get in touch with you. Include Wi-Fi details, nearby shops and restaurants and beach information if relevant. Be clear on any particular instructions for operating equipment from the TV to the kitchen and laundry for ease of operation, along with any Body Corporate rules the guests must be aware of and adhere to.
- Leaving instructions – provide guests with clear instructions on how to leave the residence including locking up, drawing blinds and curtains, turning off appliances, leaving no food and expiring drinks, leaving the key and with cleaning expectations if there is no house cleaning fee. Advise where cleaning materials and facilities are, including where and how to take out rubbish in provided bags.
- Create a warm welcome - have an uncluttered space for your guests to enjoy when they arrive. Place bowls of flowers in each room and add sachets of sweet smelling aromas to give off a fresh aroma on arrival.
- Think about the occasion - if you are aware of the purpose of the stay such as either a welcoming Christmas touch or new quality sun screen with a hand written card welcoming the guests.
- Store - and lock away personal and valuable items and those items you would prefer your guests are not tempted to use including alcohol. Get rid of broken and chipped chinaware and glassware, tired tea towels and bathroom towels.
- Relaxation - holiday time is often a once a year opportunity for your guests to relax. Have a selection of reading material including local guide books, maps and transport timetables. Advise of suitable apps for downloading such as for local restaurants, tourist features and the public transport timetables.
- Introduce yourself - to your neighbors and local residences, explain your plans and leave contact numbers for emergencies and disturbances. Be prepared to be called in the middle of the night to deal with unruly guests as it is your responsibility to ensure your neighbor’s have the peaceful environment they are entitled to.
- Be a responsible resident and pay all your government taxes and be prepared for new regulations and taxes as the short term market matures
The Perfect Guest
- Respect the space - remember you are staying in someone’s precious property, either home or room. Treat the space and environment with the same respect as you would in your own home.
- Exceed expectations - take note of how you find the property (both inside and out) when you arrive and at least either match or exceed the level of tidiness and cleanliness prior to departing. Some properties engage cleaners, however, the impression you leave will be a lasting one with the host, and helpful if you would like to re-book for your either next holiday or recommend to friends.
- Clean and tidy - both the bathroom and kitchen after you have used it when staying and sharing with other guests. Your fellow guests will appreciate if you wipe out the shower, bath and kitchen bench each time after using. Keep your personal gear in your room or choose a suitable place, to avoid cluttering up all flat surfaces with your gear.
- Offer - to contribute and provide food and beverages if you are one of a number of guests gathered together and sharing your rental. A generosity of spirit makes a great impression and is not forgotten.
- Thank - your host either through either the feedback process or a personal note if the stay exceeded your expectations. The host will appreciate feedback and a testimonial about the experience and property. While Trip Advisor is a valuable tool for assessing the quality of a property you may wish to choose a personal approach to provide feedback, depending on the situation.
- Daily courtesies – if you are in a foreign country learn the basics of daily greetings to say good day, thank you and farewell. It is a calming and pleasant ritual of daily life that will also assist you to feel part of the community and they will respect you for your effort.
- You are a guest – yes you might have leased the property and consider it your place of residence for the duration, but you are a guest of the landlord, the neighbor, town and country. At all times respect this privilege because it is just that, a privilege and not a right to enjoy the surroundings and their space.