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New HomeStay with detailed auto messages & onsite info yet, Guests fail to read and then leave bad rating.

Hi all,

 

As a reletively new HomeStay, for the last 7 or so weeks, it has been a learning experience to the nuansaces of Guests.

 

Example

Over time I have updated the photos with latest improvements to the rooms;

Put and placed posters and house rules in multiple lanaguages (google translate);

Utilised clever symbols to represent location and info for various things from towels, to WIFI. Updated the automessages to include a copy of the house rules and policies (check-in, check-out, where things are; health & safety; cleaning info; electric shower operation etc.)

I have now had out of 20+ reservations, at least 4 that neer heard anything, then use their misinformed attitude to then make arating which leads to false information about the property, room etc.

Its infuriating, that after all the effort to cover off on all these little and big things, that Guests can get away wit this.

I avoid replying to the ratings in any negative tone and prefer instead to explain to them where they went wrong politely so that they can learn from the mistake they have made.

I literally had 2 nights ago one french person come in very late near 1am, then this morning left (anonymously) a very bad rating. Their comments are blatantly untrue. Like no towels, not clean, complained about the checkout time.

Both the auto messages, and the in room documentation clearly states where the bathroom is and towels. As well as the poster on the hall wall.

Cleaner had literally just been in and the rooms and bathroom had another coaot of paint applied. So other than some specs of paint on the carpet, and the bathroom lino. There literally was nothing dirty.

It seems people do not think at all, are inconsiderate and seem to think they should be treated the same as if they were in a hotel. A home stay is not even remotely close to a hotel.

We are on average 60%-70% cheaper than any other option nearby (hotels, hostels, B&B). I

am in a genius program, setup on promortions, mobile users... and all these stack a % discount significantly.

 

I have been tweaking the pricing, policies, and updating photos with lots of great info for local amenities, transport options etc. We are located in a prime location connected to 3 mjor arteries for transport (Bus, Taxi and light Rail).

 

It astonds me the ratings where some grumble on things like coffee rating, location, cleanliness etc.

When they blatantly are wrong and untrue. And in somecase not even relevent about the coffee, that they got for free.

They would not do it if they werein their parents homes so why should they do it here.

"you cant be all things to all people" - managing their expectations fro mthe get-go I find is very important, hence why I tweaked the automessages to to clarify :

>>What a homestay

>>What to expect

>>What is provided

>>How to get here

>>How to connect to WIFI

>>and much more.

 

At this point I am in two minds about being open 7 days a week for reservations.

Have had , 'touch wood' only minor incidents to deal with.

A drunk guest not able to open the door when everyone is in bed.Then found eating mint choc ice cream form the freezer in the pitch blank kitchen.

A mature couple with no english not reporting spoilage (bio-material , incontenence), despite previously sending messages to me.

They then went on to slate the property in rating, and blatantly lied about their experience.

I have since followed up with partner help with a detailed timeline of thieir stay.

 

Lessons learned here and with other things was to tweak the house rules and include them into the auto messages for reservation, pre arrival, arrival and checkout.

 

I am constantly trying to keep an eye on the condition , and access tothe propery but its not fesible to do it every day and night.

If I see something to be actioned I will clean, fix or order the product I need in order to deal with it or pay a tradesman to deal with it.

Lately I try to make a point to tlak to them when they enter and leave where feasible. Not always possible if they come in late or I am out of the house.

I candidly mention the rating and feed back , asking for fair and constructive feedback. I have recently mentioned to them the bad ratings from that olderspanish couple that lied and ask them to be true and honest in their feedback. Pointing out that everyone should be readingthe messages for the booking and the on-site posters, signs and in-room documentation for the house rules, and policies.

They were all happy to do so and even commented on how clean and orgnaised I am.

Some even commented on the clever methods I have employed to give them 27/4 access and the flexible check-in/out methods.

Like having a designated area to remove thier luggage to if early check-in/ late check-out.

 

I am smart wnough to know yes people will chance their arms to try complain and get a refund.

My cleaner who does alot of work for other AirBNB and homestays even commented on all of this when I  owuld update her every week on the feedback.She was disgusted by their false ratings and feedback and how lazy they were.

I could noty agree more, its disgusting what some of them have tried to pull.

I have since learned to tweak the pricing to deal with those who want something for nothing.

I do have last minute bookings enabled but might now disable that, even though I can remotely ,automated their check-in , without being at home.

 

Yale Keyless smart lock on inside porch door, using last 4 digits of booking number.

Works with Samsung SmartThings Hub and a YALE Zwave2 module, and the Samsung Classic SmartThings app.

The rooms are all on ground floor with a poster for the room name, contact info etc.

Kitchen and bathroom are spotless and indicated in hallway.

Self Catering. No breakfast provided. However there is a second fridge/freezer, and in cupboards some basic things like tea, coffee, salt pepper, delf, cutlery, cooking equipment etc..

 

The photos on the listing include a clever way of providing local shops and transport options, a photo of the location along with a google map showing the location from the property with a line.

There is not anything else left to do  in general. I have plans for the bathroom, but that is a much bigger job and timing for a having a few unbooked days is required to redo the coating on the old cast iron bath,

Its a very old worn bath (disocloration) with some treatment done to it, but utilimately you only stand in it to use the electric shower.

 

Hopefully this helps other homestay hosts starting out.

It can seem daunting at first, setting up the website options, but you dont have to do everything in one go.

Start simple. Dont feel like you have to join every promotion or enable mobile and genius offers.

 

#homestay

#homeautomation

 

 

5 Replies

6
Isle of Wight …

Hi Barry

Sounds like you're experiencing the usual things that all new hosts experience.

 

A couple of tips:

  1. Don't do "cheap" - you'll attract the wrong type of guests - be "on a par" with other properties
  2. Block out your property and do the bath - if a guest finds one thing they don't like, everything can become a problem to them - don't wait, do it now
  3. Guests often print the Booking Confirmation page without checking their inbox for messages / directions / access information. Go to Property > View Your Descriptions and scroll down to The Fine Print and click on "Can't find what you're looking for above?". This will allow you to add some fine print to the Booking Confirmation page that they print. Ours tells our guests to check their Booking.com Inbox for directions and access information.
  4. Require a damage deposit. Booking.com do not collect this for you. If you have recently joined, your policies may restrict this to cash only. Contact Booking.com and ask for the damage deposit to be Bank Transfer to protect your property and to protect future guests. They will refuse, but you will have opened a dialogue, at which point you can ask that the Damage Deposit is mentioned in The Fine Print and that guests must pay by bank transfer. BDC will not change The Fine Print to say "damage deposits must be paid by bank transfer" unless you have that discussion with them and get their agreement.
  5. Keep It Simple - if guests can't find towels, put them on the bed - put tea and coffee out by the kettle so that guests don't need to look for them
  6. One simple guest handbook is enough - make sure you have a "Customer Care" section asking guests to contact you if there's a problem so that you can resolve it - guests really appreciate it if you resolve a problem the same day and the last thing you want is to find out about it 2 weeks later when you read a review

 

 

If a guest gives a poor review, it is not them trying to get a refund, they are simply saying how they felt about the property (and especially it's cleanliness). I had issues with the cleaning company I used saying "the guest was just trying his luck to get a refund" - I had to point out that no, the guest was saying you missed this, missed that etc and you need to improve the cleaning.

 

I did spot checks and pulled the cleaners up (politely) on a few things here and there. They upped their game and better reviews came in. However, they still missed things, didn't report damage, mixed up bedding with that of other properties etc.

 

The problem with the cleaners is that they were always in a rush to do as many properties as they could for multiple owners in multiple locations, all for a fixed price per property. Rush, rush, rush and blame guests for everything.

 

I now employ my own cleaners directly and have work procedures / checklists in place for them. They check the inventory, check for any damage, they test the smoke alarms, the lights, the TV remote, etc etc, and they clean the property throughout. If they find a problem, they tell me and I get it fixed before the guest arrives.

 

Hope the above is helpful / useful in some way!

+3
23 days ago
2
Barry Reilly

Hi

 

Indeed.

Thanks for the reply and info.

I totally agree with 99%, and I already do 99%

 

Yes I decided recently to update poricing while still remaining competitive, and joined more promotions.

Today I joined the Perferred Partner option, as it was now available.

The bath thing though is too big a task for now, and has been for years, until I have the funds and can get someone professional who isnt a cowboy and only does half the job, its something to be tackled next year. I have a short term solution I found on amazon , a special paint that requires 48 hours after applying to set on the cast iron bath.

I'm avoiding taking the damage deposit thing completely. and just dealing with it on a case by case basis, thankfully nothing significant so far.

The cleaner has been with me since before this , and i trust her opinion.

The guests who moan about cleaning, are most definitely incorrect and just nickpicking without giving any tangible details. To the point of just too lazy to think it through.

 

 

 

 

 

+1
23 days ago
1
Giovanna Seren…

Se ti affidi ad una ditta di pulizie ti consiglio di ispezionare la proprietà e soprattutto la camera e il bagno prima dell'arrivo degli ospiti in modo che se qualcosa non è perfetto puoi sempre risolvere prima dell'arrivo.

Devi fare in modo che non ci sia alcun tipo di problema perché se l'ospite percepisce qualcosa di negativo non sarà ben disposto verso la tua struttura e la recensione non sarà delle migliori

23 days ago
2
Barry Reilly

Google translated: (Giovanna s)

If you rely on a cleaning company I recommend you inspect the property and especially the room and bathroom before the arrival of the guests so that if something is not perfect you can always fix it before arrival. You have to make sure that there is no problem because if the guest perceives something negative will not be well disposed towards your property and the review will not be the best

---

From Barry: Yes, that exactly what I do before I leave the house for work, so I know if they check-in early or will be arriving later when I am out or asleep that everything is ok.

--- There is one thing I realised a few weeks ago to also consider when it comes to the cleanliness of the house  such as bathroom and kitchen... its a variable you cant do  anything about.... its called 'Other guests being messy and not following the house rules'. I have one long term guest prior to starting BDC homestay. I made it clear to him he had to adhere to the same conditions and stop being lazy and messy. He is a disaster and for a 30yo, behaves like a 15 yo. I do keep checking the kitchen and bathroom when I am working from home and also before i leave in morning and back in evening for anything he may have done carelessly.  It only a matter of time before I will terminate that arrangement and he will be gone for good.

23 days ago
7
pibomarco

If your house rules/descriptions are long as your original post then your statistic 4 out of 20+ is great. :) The fact is that lot of guests doesn't like to read at all. "The guest who moan about the cleaning". Well you must consider different perspectives of what is something clean to someone.. Your room can be spotless but one will find a single hair and will demand to change the room. I had cleaning score around 8 in the first years I worked with BDC. Now my cleaning score is 9,7 because the service is improved and I hired additional help and inspection after the cleaning is important. Also renovations of outdated bathrooms/rooms helped a lot. We improved much just because we listened to reviews and scores. Regarding promotions I personally offer only Genious discounts (-10% and -15% for valued guests).  Anyway tips from Isle of Wight are on point. 

+1
22 days ago