No one likes to think about all of the things that can possibly go wrong with your vacation property. And, the worst will probably never happen. But, you want to be prepared for those unforeseen problems and potential crisis situations that could arise. This is Florida, after all, we spend about five or six months of every year wondering if a hurricane will head towards us. 

Owning a vacation rental property can be an exciting and profitable venture, giving you high nightly rates and the opportunity to create fantastic vacation experiences for your guests. There’s always risk involved, though, and the unexpected issues and problems that arrive from time to time need to be managed in a way that does not disrupt an otherwise smart investment. 

From surprise floods to last-minute cancellations, crisis management is an essential skill for vacation rental property owners. Your ability to quickly and effectively handle these situations not only salvages individual guest experiences but also safeguards your rental’s reputation long-term. 

We’ve been managing vacation properties in Florida for many years, and we’ve established some great emergency protocols and crisis resolution plans. Put some of our experience to good use and follow these recommendations.

Preparation is a Requirement of Crisis Management

Before we dive into how best to handle active crises, remember that the best defense is a strong offense. Preparation is invaluable. Ensure that you have:

  • An emergency contact list with local contractors who can handle urgent repairs.
  • A well-documented crisis plan, easily accessible to you and your property managers.
  • Insurance coverage that protects against guest accidents, natural disasters, and other property damages.
  • Regular maintenance checks to reduce the possibility of “surprise” issues.

First Responses: Stop the Crisis from Getting Worse 

The first thing you want to do is to make sure the crisis doesn’t have an opportunity to grow bigger or more difficult. You cannot count on your guest, who is only in your property temporarily and probably does not know where the shut-off valve is for the water or how to keep a fire from spreading from the kitchen to the rest of the house.  

Stop the emergency by turning off the water if it’s a flood from inside the house. Call the fire department if there’s something burning inside the house. During an emergency, you want to be sure you are doing everything possible to protect your guests and your property. 

When a crisis does strike, the speed of your response can be the difference between a resolved issue and an all-out emergency.

Step 1: Acknowledge and Assess

Quickly acknowledge the issue to the guest and assess the severity. Is it something simple and manageable like a lost key, or a major problem like a power outage? Get a full understanding of the situation and talk to the guests about anything they noticed leading up to the problem and during the worst of the catastrophe.

Step 2: Communicate Openly and Honestly

Be honest and transparent with your guests about the situation. This builds trust even in turbulent waters. Make sure they know that their comfort and satisfaction are paramount. If the problem is such that they need to be moved elsewhere, manage those details with minimal work on their part. If it’s something like a last minute cancellation they’ve made where you will not be giving them their money back, send them a copy of your reservation requirements and the policies that establish that no money will be returned. Be direct. Don’t make promises you cannot keep. 

Step 3: Take Action

Once you’ve established communication, take swift action to remedy the situation. This could mean sending over a plumber or offering to relocate guests if necessary. If there’s a hurricane approaching and your guests do cancel, be willing to talk about refunding their money or offer them some dates to reschedule. 

Step 4: Compensate if Needed

Depending on the inconvenience caused, offer your guests fair compensation. This might be a refund for a night’s stay, a future discount, or a complementary service. 

Understand the Resources Available 

You’ll want to reach out and leverage any resources that might be available, whether it’s a network of fantastic vendors who will rush right out or state and local officials who can help with storm prep and clean up. If there’s a fire, you want your guests to know how to exit the building and where to find you. That’s going to be the first thing they are thinking about when they hear the fire alarms go off or smell smoke. You also want them to understand how to reach Poison Control or the CDC or local hospitals if there’s a toxic spill in the neighborhood. 

After Action Reports: Review and Reflect

Review What HappenedOnce you’ve navigated the immediate crisis, take time to review what happened, why, and how it was handled. Take any learning points onboard and update your emergency protocols accordingly. This can be what we call a “teachable moment.” You got through a crisis, and that means you’ll be more prepared for the next one. 

Every crisis is also an opportunity to showcase how you can handle unexpected situations. Guests often remember how effectively an issue was dealt with more than the issue itself. Positive testimonies from guests who experienced your sterling crisis management can actually boost your business image. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews or testimonials after successfully managing a crisis. Not only does it show your commitment to guest satisfaction, but these stories can also inspire confidence in potential renters; it reassures them that they’re in capable hands. 

While no vacation rental owner wants to encounter a crisis, being prepared for the worst is part of managing a successful rental property. By constructing a robust crisis plan, responding promptly with transparency and empathy, and reflecting on each issue for continuous improvement, you can turn potential disasters into demonstrations of outstanding service.

Remember, it’s not the crisis itself but how you manage it that guests will remember. Your vacation rental business isn’t just about offering a stunning property—it’s about providing an unforgettable experience, regardless of what surprises come your way.

Need help with a good management plan, or wishing you didn’t have to navigate the waters of potential crises at all? Contact us at Anchor Down Vacation Rentals. We can help.