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Key Management – At Least Two People Had A Good Time
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Key Management – At Least Two People Had A Good Time

Anyone who runs a busy Vacation Rentals business knows that at peak times in the season, everything must run efficiently and all members of the team need to work together as one. The team is not just the employees. It includes the owner of the property and sub-contractors. Why the owner? More on that as the plot unfolds…..

This European rentals business has it peak workload in July and especially August with several “high pressure weekends”. With hundreds of properties at full capacity over this period there is no room for error or cock-ups. They have fine tuned their computer systems, cleaning procedures are spotless, all properties are inspected, every light-bulb works, remote control batteries checked and sunbathing furniture in “tip top” condition.

The small army of maintenance, cleaning, laundry and housekeeping workers are prepared for the hardest period of their year. No time to think, pause for breath or have a break. Long days at the hottest time of year, this is not easy.

The day started as expected, the list of people checking out are being ticked-off, cleaners are entering villas and apartments to strip the bedding, clean the bathrooms, kitchens and everywhere else. Problems are being identified and maintenance staff are whizzing around tweaking “this and that”.

Check-out is 10am and check-in is 4pm so usually there is plenty of time to take care of everything. Allowances have to be made for some of the properties as some are over an hour away by car especially during the peak times with resulting traffic chaos. Evening arrives without any major drama and check-ins continue until the office closes at 10pm. Those arriving after that time retrieve their keys and directions to their property from a lock box accessed by a code. There is of course phone cover for anyone with a problem.

The phone rang just after midnight. A weary family had arrived very late and had a problem. They had arrived at their property but there was someone in it! Obviously something had gone very wrong somewhere. So, the office was opened up and the person covering that night started resolving the issue and the family returned to the office. Fortunately there was a spare property. So the family were escorted to their new property and left to settle in for what was left of their first night. Not a good start, but thanks to the spare property a disaster averted.

Double bookings are a hazard for any Vacation Rentals business. However, they are virtually impossible without the knowledge of someone involved with the management of bookings. Some accommodation businesses deliberately run at up to 110% occupancy to cover those who for whatever reason will cancel. This Vacation rental company never double books so something had gone very wrong somewhere. So the investigation started. Naturally the occupants of the property were checked first. He advised that he was the owners’ son staying with his girlfriend. So the assumption was “an owner booking” had been missed. Systems were checked, paperwork checked, and nothing, no record of anything.

The owner was called and to everyone’s surprise including the owner he knew nothing about it either. He did not even know his teenage son was out of the country never mind having a good time with his girlfriend at the family’s sunshine retreat. It transpired that whilst his parents were away on business the son helped himself to the keys to the property and booked a couple of flights to impress his new girlfriend.

We are not sure what happened when he returned home, but I hope his girlfriend was worth the loss of income from the booking for his Dad, the charge for moving the guest, the charge for the compensation paid to the guest for ruining their first night and the charge from the owner of the other property to cover the difference in rate. In this world of online feedback systems, his property received negative feedback from the guest which would not help future bookings for the owner or the Rental Agent.

So despite the best laid plans, it still can go wrong. The lesson to be learned is that owners need to know exactly what is happening with their keys at all times, in the wrong hands they can be very costly.


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