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When we become so familiar with a place and its individual quirks it’s easy to forget that guests may become confused over what seems like a very simple activity or procedure. For example, lighting a barbecue when the automatic starter refuses to work, or flushing a toilet during a power outage when the electric water pump fails to start. As vacation rentals become more popular with people from around the world we need to be aware they will not be as ‘at home’ and comfortable with systems and amenities as you probably are. Here’s a few areas where it’s worthwhile delivering some extra information in your Welcome Book.
BBQ operation – most up to date barbecues have automatic starters and are easy to use, but they are prone to breakdown which can put some guests in a difficult position if they don’t know how to light them manually. You could have guests who have never used a BBQ – you may be surprised how many there are – so having instructions on how to operate it is essential. If your Welcome Guide is in a PDF downloadable format, you could include a link to a YouTube videos demonstration.
Entertainment systems – Of course you know your TV/DVD/DVR system like the back of your hand. In fact your nine year old daughter or grand-daughter can probably zip through every part of the operation of the system, so why shouldn’t your guests be able to turn the TV on and off without disengaging the satellite? After all, doesn’t everyone have this system at home? Well no, they probably don’t – at least, not your set-up. Giving guests an easy time to settle into your home means creating a quick start guide to all your entertainment systems.
Garbage separation – here’s another one that seems like a no-brainer, but every area will have different requirements for segregation if there is anything at all. This is one where it really pays to lay it out clearly and ensure guests get it right, because if you don’t either you or your caretaker may end up elbow deep in someone else’s holiday garbage separating bottles and cans. Most guests are eager to comply with local recycling regulations and they just need to know what you want them to do. If transparent bags are required, make sure you supply them, because it’s unlikely your guests will be bringing them with them.
Power Outages – it seems like it should be common sense when the power goes out, to ensure the stove is switched off, but when it happens to your guests (particularly when they have just arrived) they can be very confused. They are in unfamiliar surroundings and have not had sufficient time to find their way around. If they were cooking when the power failed, they might easily forget that a hob ring was left on, which could create a dangerous situation if they ultimately go to bed and the power comes back on. A power out information sheet needs to be placed somewhere they will see it when they arrive.
Driving regulations – Did you know that there are no 4-Way or All-Way junctions in Europe and UK? This means that your overseas visitors may sit in total confusion at a four way, not knowing they are meant to take their turn. Similarly, there are no rules governing stopping for school buses across the pond. If you don’t want your guests to arrive in a bad mood because they have been ticketed on the way from the airport to your place, send them some driving guidance before they arrive. It is always useful to prepare a Guide for International Guests that covers all the things that you take for granted, but they don’t know if they have never traveled to the US before.
Your goal should always be to be one step ahead of your guests, anticipating problems that may arise and giving them tools to deal with them before they happen, or to at least manage them with minimal fuss. Being proactive with comprehensive information is always preferable to having to react to a panic call from your guests.