Holiday Villas are a great way to enjoy a holiday away from the crowds with your own space, self-catering, eating when you wish and what you wish.
The industry has evolved in the last twenty years, when we first started letting, to find guests was by word of mouth by family and friends, or an advert in the classified columns of newspapers.
Originally it was very friendly and we were happy to be the Host to our visitors in a sociable but professional way. Living next door to our holiday home we were able to entertain guests with a glass or two in the evening.
We would also be invited to join them at dinner, especially when it was their last evening and as a way of saying ‘goodbye.’ They would say “Thank you, for allowing us to use your lovely home,” often with some small present, a bunch of flowers, maybe a vase or a funny sign to hang on the wall. To this day such items are littered around the property.
Also, likewise if we had a special occasion to celebrate, we would invite them along.
‘Holiday Lettings’ was the first agent we agreed for them to sell the delights of our holiday home, for a percentage fee. (They are now part of TripAdvisor). It certainly removed the problem of looking for clients, because that is what they had become – clients/visitors not guests!
I think there are a number of reasons which changed the attitude of people visiting. There was now the requirement of the agent selling the service to ensure everything in the property (our holiday home) was up to standard and asking the people visiting if it was.
If you ask people to look for faults, they will find something no matter how small.
Another reason the television series ‘Four in a Bed’ and similar programmes , all teaching visitors to look for faults like ‘has the top of the tall cupboard been dusted.’
The difference, instead of a friendly family home people were borrowing, they now looked on it as if it was a hotel conglomerate with masses of back up facilities and no personality.
Then came along ‘Booking.com.’ Sleek and computer controlled. They are very effective at selling space. We became very busy through their efforts but there was a downside.
Booking.com on receiving a booking confirm to the client it is booked before we have been advised of it. The agreement with them is once they have accepted it, we cannot change what they have agreed, without a harsh penalty.
What could happen and did on a number of occasions. We would receive an enquiry from another source and accept the booking, only to find on checking our emails later that Booking.com had reserved the same space dates and time. Which would mean we are now overbooked and the need to cancel the reservation we had made with the other enquirer.
They also set up a points system so clients would fill in a form after their break and mark a score out of 10 for different facilities.
With maybe as little as a few hours to a changeover of clients, to clean and bring up to standard 250 square metres of house and a further 100 square meters of gardens and pool area is no mean task, and little things could and would get missed which would mean a down grade on the form.
However, we must have been good at it as we enjoyed exceptionally high marks on Booking.com’s table.
Whilst most clients are lovely people Just recently, clients must have thought it funny to burn a hole in a flexible pipe with the loss of gallons of water. On another occasion, as the visitors left, the toilet cistern was made lose so it flooded the floor.
Water is always a problem and expensive, we have known children to sit under a running outside tap despite signs saying water is in short supply.
Then there are the parents who allow their young children to draw with coloured crayon over the while living room wall, on another occasion it was nail varnish.
Enough is enough we need to get back to the time when we could be friends with our guests. We are ending our relationship with agents and a return to normality where we can choose who rents our holiday home.
Percy Chattey, Author & Writer