When Things Go Wrong

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Wouldn’t it be great if life ran smoothly all the time; everything went according to plan and the story always ended happily ever after? That is what vacations should be about – no traffic, fabulous weather and the kids behaving like little angels 24/7. And for vacation rental owners, a perfect day is when guests check in on time, they love the place and don’t present any surprises like inviting 10 extra guests or arriving with a menagerie of pets when none were expected.

The reality is that sometimes things go wrong that affect either guests or owners, or both. Handled sensitively and rationally, most situations can be dealt with and brought to a mutually agreeable conclusion; however if anger or frustration get in the mix, a simple problem can have a much more serious outcome.

Issues that arise can be as minor as a dripping tap that doesn’t get fixed; a promised feature that isn’t available or a lack of information that results in misuse of an amenity, all situations that can probably be resolved amicably with a reasonable and rational response. Here’s some tips for getting to this type of conclusion:


Remove emotion

This is the most challenging aspect of dealing with a problem when you are closely involved.  Don’t enter into a discussion when you are angry – take a little time to step back from the situation and look at it rationally before responding. Guests can be understandably frustrated if a promised feature like a hot tub breaks down, but before unleashing anger on the owner, remember it is not their fault if a previously operational amenity fails unexpectedly.

Don’t be defensive

It’s easy to move into defensive mode if you are being challenged but so much better to be open to listening to the problem and work towards a solution that is agreeable to both parties. Stick to the facts and aim to be objective rather than taking the issue personally. If a guest is unhappy about an aspect of their vacation, focus on that alone rather than bringing other issues into the mix.

Be prepared to compromise

Both parties should be prepared to compromise on a solution to a problem. For example, let’s say the barbecue runs out of propane in the middle of cooking an evening meal and the spare is empty. From a guest perspective this can be beyond annoying and there’s a tendency to demand the owner fixes it right away. However, this may not be practical or possible so a compromise would be to accept it’s not going to happen that night – while the owner could offer a delivery the following day together with a gift pack of BBQ meats and sauces, to make up for the disappointment and inconvenience.


It’s worth remembering if you are a guest, that the property you are renting is probably owned by an individual rather than a faceless organization; and if you’re an owner, your guests may be new to vacation rentals and the more personal approach that accompanies it. Getting a relationship right from the start can really help if a problem occurs during the stay.


Posted in Bayer's Blog, Tips for property owners

3 Responses to When Things Go Wrong

  1. This is such an excellent article. I will definitely recommend this article to my friends.

  2. You are right Bayer. One should follow these tips for a staying away from problems and should always be prepared to face any kind of situation.

  3. JAYNE says:

    I have a question maybe you or one of the others can answer.
    I recently had guests who came for a graduation, booked my house for three nights. One couple was contracted to arrive on friday and stay one night, then go elsewhere, while the rest of the family three other couples were contracted to arrive on Sat.
    The couple coming in on Friday decided not to stay, but had paid and asked if it was okay for one of the other couples to take their place on Friday. I said okay but they needed to confirm. The last I heard was that no one was coming in on Friday.
    Then Friday at 10 30 I get a call from my Property MGR that the guests are at the house…4.5 hours before our stated check in and with no confirmation that they were coming.
    They have experience with rentals. In fact they have a rental!
    It was okay in the end except that the house wasn’t ready and when it came time to refund the security deposit they reminded us that they left it cleaner than found!
    They also really cost me a lot in time. It was the most labor intensive booking I have ever had…back and forth…pressure to let them have a graduation party on the property and got yelled at when I said no…
    So, if I do not have an early check in fee in my contract, can I charge them for arriving at 10 30 instead of 3? I am an out of town host and the were already settling in when i was called by my p. mgr.

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