It’s rare to read and watch the media and not see a report on a natural disaster or weather event somewhere. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires and volcanic ash clouds dominate news reports and our hearts go out to those affected. Add to that the potential of panic caused by health scares such as the H1N1 virus in 2009, and as Toronto experienced with SARS in 2003, and emergency planning becomes a vital aspect of our lives.
From a business perspective these events highlight the importance of having a written strategy to manage any situation that might impact on the day to day aspects of the business. For vacation rental owners it just makes sense to do the same.
Being prepared for emergencies doesn’t mean thinking of every conceivable disaster that may befall your property or your guests and then worrying for the duration of every rental in case one of them occurs. However, planning for potentially disruptive incidents can make managing them easier when they occur.
When people are out of their familiar home environment and, even worse, in a different country, even a minor emergency can induce a state of panic. Property owners may see power outages as a nuisance whereas an unexpected power cut could cause a real challenge for people unused to the way systems work in their rented property.
While your strategy should cover a whole range of events including unforeseen cancellations by either owner or guests, a primary owner responsibility is to write a ‘What to do in an Emergency’ section in the property Welcome Book. This should include:
Property address and telephone number
Contact numbers for owner, caretaker or nominated emergency person
Local emergency numbers including medical facility, walk-in clinic, plumber, electrician
Information required by local power company for reporting outages
Distance and directions to nearest hospital or vet
Location of first-aid kit in the property
Instructions on what to do in case of power outage
Location of power outage kit (should include powerful flashlight, safety candles & lighter, sealed container of fresh drinking water, solar or battery powered radio, powdered milk, etc