I’m of the generation that used to have a television with knobs. You know…..the ones that turned the TV off and on, and changed the channels from NBC to ABC. I also remember when TV only came in two colors – black and white – which is even more dating! So, why am I bringing this up today when no-one ever has to get up from the sofa to switch from one reality show to another? Well, the first guests at my new vacation rental home called yesterday to say they couldn’t turn the television on, let alone find the Olympic highlights, and it drove home the importance of having clearly explained instructions rather than just supplying the manuals.
I listened to my husband trying to explain the intricacies of managing three remote controls to bring together the TV, DVD and sound, over the phone to guests (of my generation) who admitted they did not have a TV at home. After twenty minutes of patient instruction my husband gave up, grabbed his car keys and headed down to the cottage which, fortunately, is only 3 minutes from our home. When he came back an hour later, flushed with success at educating our guests in changing modalities from TV to DVD to displaying the photos from their camera on the big screen, we got down to discussing how important it is to never take for granted that visitors will intuitively understand how things work.
We get so used to the stuff we have at home; the familiar operation of the coffee machine, the BBQ, the music system and myriad small appliances so essential to everyday life, it’s easy to forget the frustration we probably experienced the first time round. When guests arrive at your place they are faced with multiple opportunities to feel frustrated as they attempt to get comfortable in a new environment in a short space of time. It’s our job to make that transition easy for them; to deliver instructional information in easy to follow bite size pieces, and to be available to resolve problems…not always an easy task.
Our solution is to create an addition to our Welcome Book – a separate folder with laminated step-by-step instructions for each appliance and amenity. Rather than expect guests to struggle through the often badly written manuals, providing user-to-user guidelines is much more likely to invite understanding and customer satisfaction.
As owners, we are all about promoting this style of vacationing as superior to hotels and resorts. We can provide privacy, space, a feeling of home away from home, and an abundance of unique and individual facilities. What we are unable to do, unless we live close by, is to offer the immediate service an on-site 24-hour team is able to do. Giving guests the means to be fully independent is our responsibility too.