The strange things that guests do

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Yesterday a friend with a rental was shaking her head.  “You won’t believe it. They’ve put my stovetop coffee maker into the dishwasher and it’s ruined, it’s black!”

We have all had guests do strange things. Like:

  • putting an electric kettle on the stovetop, melting the base
  • standing on the toilet seat, and finding it broken
  • trying to light the small candle, using three matches, till they discovered it was battery operated and plastic
  • putting ten logs in the wood fire to get it red hot, then opening all the doors and windows
  • improvising a firelighter by saturating a full roll of kitchen paper with mineral turpentine and putting it in the wood fire – luckily it didn’t explode
  • running warm water into the spa for 4 hours, using half the water tank supply
  • using the bed linen to dry off the dog on a rainy day
  • putting large amounts of sink detergent in the dishwasher, and surprised when it overflows with bubbles
  • confusing the bidet with  the toilet ( a colleague removed his bidets after multiple problems)
  • and so many more

So what to do?  In some cases, the guest will be mortified and offer to pay for the damage.  In some cases, they will try and hide the evidence and hope you don’t find it, or even deny it ever happened.

For those who come clean and offer to pay, you are on the road to having a good repeat guest.  You can be generous and grateful, or even refuse the payment, giving a feeling of obligation by the guest.  They are likely to come back.

In some cases, you can put up a discreet label explaining how it works.  Like a label on the handle of the coffee maker saying ‘Not for dishwasher.’

The rest are problematic.

You probably have some conditions of booking that allow you to charge the guest.  I’ve learned from long experience that for small things, it isn’t worth the angst, even for some larger things.  In the battle of conflict, you might get some money, but one thing is guaranteed, the emotional turmoil will distract you from your main game for hours and even days.  Time you should be concentrating on better marketing and delighting those guests who will come back.  You might get some money on insurance, but policies are full of slippery exceptions and mind numbing form filling, also taking you from your main game.

I do two things.  If it isn’t too big and doesn’t happen often, I just write it off as a cost of doing business, balanced out by the majority of good guests who love the stay and look after everything beautifully.  I don’t lose any sleep over it.

I also have a blacklist.  These are for the few guests who I won’t have back, and who are excluded from my monthly newsletter.  It gives a great deal of satisfaction to put an errant guest on my blacklist without any conflict.  If the cleaner has been involved, as usually they will, it also gives them a sense of satisfaction knowing that the guest has unknowingly suffered a penalty of sorts for disrespecting the cleaner’s good work.

What kind of strange things have guests done in your rental?

Please mail me your examples to [email protected], and let me know if you’d prefer me to use just your initials when I publish the examples.



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4 Responses

  1. I found a Canadian guest using charcoal lighter fluid for the wood burning fireplace in the house. I explained that was what the small fire starter sqaures were for, and to never use the lighter fluid as it could explode and catch him and the house on fire!

    I had a guest wash a queen quilted bedspread, blanket, bed pillow, decorative pillow and sheets in one normal sized washer – at the same time!

    A guest from Taiwan took her 4 month old baby tubing on the river, got lost and had to be rescued in the dark.

    Sheron Scurlock

  2. I have a taxonomy for guests which is GST. It stands for Grots (those who leave a complete mess in the kitchen, leave things dropped on the floor and generally leave ample exidence that they couldn’t give a hoot about looking after the place. G can also stand for Gleaners who are guests who take everything with them including the spare toilet roll and box of tissues, the complete tea and coffee selection and all the fruit, etc., – while we don’t mind this occasionally, if everyone did it we’d either have to put the price up or reduce the variety and quantity of choices we give guests. Slobs (these have a complete ‘floordrobe’ going when you do room service – clothes everywhere along with books, papers, laptops, etc., however when they leave they put it all in their bags and the place is then relatively tidy whebn we come in to clean), Tidies – these are guests who do the dishes and put them away, tidy the rooms and some even make the bed although it’s got to be stripped and made up with fresh linen for the next guests. Needless to say, we blacklist Grots and Gleaners, live with Slobs, but really like Tidy people as return guests.

  3. From CB, Healesville Vic.
    The best one is those guests that are in for a one night stay and they use every possible plate, utensil etc in the kitchen and then wash up with the tea towel and put everything back in the cupboard wet! Trying to get the cooking smells out of the house in a 3 hour turn around is quite a challenge

    I’ve also heard of guests boiling eggs in the kettle.??? Who does that?

    And of course we all have those guests that feel they have paid for everything that is not nailed down and so they take all the tea, coffee, sugar, guest amenities, tissues and even the half used toilet rolls! Some guests have even taken the cushions and throw rugs and when questioned they have no idea what I’m talking about.

    You could write another book with all the funny guest anecdotes

  4. Hi Rex
    Just noticed that our brand new electric Cuisinart beater set has been taken….must have thought it was part of the goodies package.
    Lost 3 of quality saucepans a few months back, and had our Scanpan knife set replaced with an el cheapo set…must have thought we would not notice.
    Every day is another opportunity to smile!

Comments are closed.

My name is Rex Brown. I live in Australia, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I run two of my holiday rentals here on the coast, and another in inner Melbourne . They are all quite different, but they all run at high occupancy. They are the sandpit that I play in, running constant experiments about what works and what doesn’t.

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