As a vacation rental manager, I cannot count the number of times that I have had to "think on my feet." This ability was developed over time, years of vacation rental experience and a bit of creativity.
The following story is an example of customer service and even though most issues are not as “seemingly ridiculous,” all guest concerns need to be addressed seriously and diplomatically … even if you have to take a couple of deep breaths and count to ten! It's a test of patience and ....
... sometimes it becomes a funny story!
A few years back I had received a call on my emergency cell phone at about 10 p.m. It was from a guest--let’s call her Betty. Betty was a late arrival. She let herself in with a key from the lock-box we had placed on the front door. Our phone conversations went something like this:
Me: “This is Vickie from Vacation Rentals of the Desert. How can I help you?”
Betty, in tears: “Oh, Vickie, I just got in and I’m really, really unhappy with this condo. Can I be moved somewhere else?”
Me: "I’m sorry to hear that you are unhappy, Betty."
(I’m thinking … what?? This is one of our top properties … it’s gorgeous!)
I say to Betty, “We are completely filled up, Betty, and there is no other property to move you to. What is the exact problem with the property? How can I make you happy?"
Betty, still crying: “Vickie, there is no rug at the kitchen sink. I cannot cook and wash dishes without a rug in front of the sink. I have problems with my feet and this condo is just not going to work.“
Me: “Betty, did you take a look around? Do you not like the condo?”
Betty, now only sniffling: “The condo is fine. But I have to have a rug at the kitchen sink.”
Me, rolling my eyes heavenwards: “Okay, Betty. If you can last through tonight I promise I’ll try to contact the owner first thing in the morning to see if we can pick up a rug for the kitchen.”
Then … “I just had another thought Betty. Maybe you would like to pick out your own rug then you can choose something in your taste. When you head home next month you can either leave it as a thank you gift for the owner or you can roll it up, put it in your suitcase and carry it home to use in your kitchen. Then while you are washing your dishes you’ll be reminded of your wonderful vacation in the desert.”
Betty, who seems to have cried herself out: “Let me think about it and call you in the morning.”
The next morning I received a call from Betty. She apologized for the previous night’s call. She explained that she had a long hard day traveling from Toronto, Canada to Southern California, waiting in line for her rental car, dragging around her luggage and was frazzled when she finally walked into the kitchen to pour herself a drink of water from the kitchen sink.
Unfortunately I was the only person she could think of to call … so she released her day’s frustration on me. Betty said she loved the condo and thought my idea of purchasing a rug herself was perfect. She was a happy, happy guest and I did not hear another peep from Betty during the rest of her stay. However, when inspecting the property after her departure, I notice that there was no rug in front of the kitchen sink. When she called to reserve the condo for the same dates the following year, Betty informed me that she would be bringing her own kitchen sink rug.
Scout’s honor … this is absolutely a true story …. It’s all in a day’s work!