Editor’s Note: Hope Onesti is the director of operations at HomeToo Vacation Rentals in Kissimmee. Does anyone remember the days when you offered to greet guests at the airport and help them to their rental home?
Remember when the guest services agent knocked on the door and sat with the family at the kitchen table to explain the attractions and assist with their ticket orders?
Since when did our customer service rituals entail a blasé email of confirmation and a cleaner waiting outside the home on departure morning an hour early to start clearing your trash? I accept the fact that the Internet and smart phone apps have completely changed our world; but should they change us as hospitable people?
With the opportunity to develop a management company in Kissimmee from the ground up, I am excited to offer up the welcoming and kind-hearted service I was raised on. I plan to stick to my roots and offer the “southern hospitality” everyone deserves.
Recently as I wandered through a trade show or two, I stopped and took a good look around to what I was really submersed into. The people were not welcoming there. If I hadn’t offered up a handshake or conversation starter, I would have spoken to no one! These are the faces of guest services?
I refuse to become the robot of artificial compassion and revenue-based hospitality. Whether a guest pays $50 a night or $200, they deserve a form of “red carpet” service — and I plan to give them just that to make their stay feel valued.
Then there are the owners. I really do have a soft spot for these people. Over the years, I have seen some terrible situations occur for them. I’ve seen them send emails with no responses, be lied to regarding bookings and revenue, have the home trampled with loads of low pay bookings with no means of recovering it … and even some owners left to pay large amounts of tax money to both state and local agencies in fear of losing the property due to mismanagement. To be the person on the other end of the line listening to their concerns — and no means to help them recover — was frustrating.
I’m now in a position to help owners, and it feels great. I’m not promising to make anyone rich or to fully book the homes. I plan to work hard with a sales revenue team to drive business that’s a given; but the focus on guest service and home maintenance is key for us. We have moved into a new era in terms of why we are needed. Owners have become very proactive about the booking process, and some of them have even jumped off the management company wagon to pursue services for the home on their own.
I get it. Save a few dollars on services, make the bookings yourself for full compensation and it works — right? I don’t think so. I still believe the need for a management company exists, and people are becoming blinded by the online ease of ownership. The role of the property manager is so important and if you are not utilizing one or not fully trusting in your current representative, you need to look for a reputable and reliable person, and quick!
You may have all your bases covered with a pool guy, lawn care company and a cleaner whom you trust to report issues back to you — but who’s checking their work? If you cannot get to your property more than twice a year, how do you know it’s in good hands? What happens if your cleaner is sick, the pool guy damages your unit and makes his own “repairs,” only to find it’s completely busted in the long run? That cleaning could be pristine for your visit, but do they provide the same quality for every guest? Is your AC filter being checked or changed every month? Listen, I could go on and on with scenarios that could be or may have been. Even if after all these items are considered, you still believe that you have no need for a local pair of eyes protecting your investment, would you not agree that your “working” strategy coupled with an agent contacting your guests and offering assistance with tickets, directions and helping in a pinch if they need assistance would generate a much larger repeat guest profile? Isn’t that what we all want?
Repeat — Happy Guests, word of mouth regarding your home and its maintenance level, and hospitality that comes with it is the prime objective. It’s all an opinion on what is most important to you. I believe in inspections before and after each guest, and reporting to you whether or not there are any issues!
I understand you have security deposits to refund and will work effectively for you with this. I’m flexible. You have to be to do this business. I’m here to listen to you and answer questions. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it or someone who can assist with it. That’s my job.
Contact Hope Onesti at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com. HomeToo vacation Rentals is in Kissimmee and can be reached at HomeToo.