If you're really organized you might have a spreadsheet, reservation system, or contact management system. In our case we have a piece of paper on each inquiry. Perhaps not the most efficient system. But it's easy to find and scribble notes on during a phone call.
We have a template that we print out which we call our Reservation Information Form. If you look at the form you'll see there are spaces for notes under various sections, as well as plenty of space for things scrawled in margins. Whatever system you use, here are some of the things that we've found it important to keep notes on.
- Special details about the guest
- Promises or Non-Standard Arrangements
- Things that Happened
As well as capturing the essential information, like name and address, we try to make notes of things like the guest spouse name. It just helps our follow-up communication be that much more personal. We'll also make note of any other important events that they mention. Perhaps someone in their family is celebrating a birthday while they stay with us. Or they are attending a wedding in the area.
Promises or Non-Standard Arrangements
If we make special arrangements for a guest we'll note this in the Reservation Information Form. This could be things like extra towels, additional linens, early check-in or late check-out. We also keep notes of when these arrangements have been communicated to our cleaner. In our experience it's helpful to touch base with the cleaner a day or two ahead of time to remind them of any such special arrangements.
Sometimes the guest will have a special request. For example, we had guests ask if we could help find a place for them to park their trailer when they visited. We made careful notes on this, and kept records as we spoke to different places, so that we could provide the guest all the details. The details will also doubtless be useful for future such inquiries too.
We investigate and deal with all complaints. If anything is wrong, we will deal with it, and sometimes offer to treat the guests to a meal for the inconvenience. We might do this by adding $50 to the amount refunded in their security deposit. We'll make careful notes of this on the Reservation Information Form. Sometimes guests will mention minor things after they have checked out. We'll make careful notes of these too. If they are brought up by more than one guest, then it is something we probably need to address.
Things that Happened
We always record anything that our cleaner tells us about the condition that guests left our property. Even if it's just a little messy, or they left the gas fire on. These can be useful points to reinforce with a guest booking again. Obviously if the guest caused any damage, we would think twice about renting to them again.
We also note how easy it was to work with the guest. We've had inquires where the person was difficult to deal with, and very aggressive on discounts or asking for the security deposit to be waived. If the same person inquires again, we'll be forewarned..
We do most of our transactions with PayPal. But occasionally we have guests that struggle to get PayPal to work for them. When possible we'll make other arrangements for these guests, and make note of it, so that we don't make them go back through the pain again if they re-book.
These are all just examples of the kinds of things that we note about vacation rental guests. If you've found a good system for recording these kinds of things that works for you, we'd be interested in hearing about it in the comments.