Because a vacation rental business or a homestay is invariably a family-oriented business, involvement of the family members is very crucial for the success of the business. I would like to take the example of a property – a holiday home – I visited very recently, which is a classic example of how each member can contribute towards the success of their respective businesses.
The holiday home that I visited is located in a secluded corner of the picturesque state of Himachal Pradesh in India. It lies off the Kullu highway, adjoining the Great Himalayan National Park, and the climatic conditions allow it to be operational for only seven months. Despite this, the property is booked well in advance, almost a year ahead! And what’s more, most of the renters are either repeat guests or referrals who have been coming to the place again and again!
The owner, has a family of four (his wife and two sons, one of whom is based near Shimla), all of whom stay on their ancestral property. There are about 16 rooms in all, some single and others ranging from two to three-bedded. However, considering the fact that just four of the family and a couple of helpers oversee the day-to-day activities, they’re obviously doing a great job as all their guests leave the place a happy and contented lot. They have been in this business for more than a decade and all their guests have only good things to say about them; there is not a single negative comment on the web about the property.
So how have they achieved this 100 percent customer satisfaction? I would say the involvement of the entire family members makes things different, unique and definitely adds a personal touch. This is how they have divided the activities amongst themselves:
The owner and his son take care of the guest bookings, welcome them, and see them off. Earlier, in another article we had discussed how a little extra element can surprise guests, and this is proved in this owner’s case who goes that extra mile to keep his guests happy. Because the property is in a secluded location off the main highway, and with no proper signage, traveling in those mountains can be a little tricky. So to ensure that guests have a smooth journey from the nearest rail head or airport, he coordinates with them on how to get to his place. However, none of the guests could be more surprised and thankful when he himself ends us picking or dropping them. Many guests have discussed this in their blogs too.
His wife, meanwhile,has a very different role. Although she hardly interacts with the guests, her efforts in the running of this vacation rental can be seen in the splendid spread you get for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While I’m not suggesting that one should cook for the guests to ensure that they are a satisfied lot, but the mere presence and instructions to the cook and his helper(s) is fairly enough. Well in her case, she is bang on. I stayed there for two nights and the menu for each meal was different and even better than the last. More than a dozen guests have blogged about the food property, particularly the fried trout, and homemade jams and juices.
The younger son, meanwhile, is the contact person for every guest. He looks after most of the day-to-day activities, taking preferences for lunch and dinner, calling the doc or going to the chemist, rushing about serving tea or soup in the rooms, even offering a basket full of fruit freshly plucked from the orchard. His patience is worth mentioning. Every question asked by guests is answered with a smile, even if it means answering the same questions to multiple guests – How many apple trees are there in the orchard?, Can one go for angling?, How do you get to the nearest village?, How old is the property?, etc.
In addition to all these, he also looks after the ticketing needs of guests, the internet service they provide to guests. He helps them book tickets or accommodation in other tourist destinations although mostly he spends time in cancelling tickets because guests invariably decide to stay on longer than they had booked for! During my stay there, I got to know of a group of returning guests who had extended their stay by a couple of days leaving the owner with no option but to open the doors of his own home situated a little higher up on the same hill, where he accommodated the newly-arrived guests.