When working in hospitality, you are bound to come across the good, the bad, the ugly of unique guest requests!
If you are familiar with the TV show “Friends,” then you may remember the episode, “The One With The Kips.” In this episode, Monica and Chandler head out on a romantic weekend, but Monica ends up dragging him from hotel room to hotel room just to find the perfect place.
All this is pretty funny, but imagine watching the story from the service provider’s point of view. Not so amusing, is it?
If you’re hosting Airbnb guests, it may seem like the best solution is to ignore or turn down requests that appear out of place or unreasonable, but one has to look at the whole equation. Remember that song we all saw on YouTube by David Carrol, “United Breaks Guitars?” that song cost the airport millions of dollars over a $1,200 USD Taylor Guitar. It could have been avoided if they had handled Dave Carroll’s request better.
Anyone who has worked as a service provider has come across some form of unique requests by guests at one point or the other. From someone ordering an eggless omelet or the guest who wants a live rabbit for his pet snake, there are various forms of bizarre requests made by guests daily.
Working with Airbnb guests will not be quite as extreme, but you will still get unique requests once in a while, from embarrassing to disturbing. One host recalls that an Airbnb guest wanted a fresh supply of eggs and goat milk to bathe in for the duration of her stay. Yes, this guest may have taken her skincare routine a little too seriously.
Fortunately, there are ways to handle these types of things!
They are called “unique requests” because they are few and far between standard guest requests. However, for a host, flexibility and the ability to accommodate all manner of people is an invaluable skill. This is what keeps your customers loyal and consistent. This does not mean you have to grant each unique request, though.
Before you even start processing these requests, your reaction is critical. Even if the guest is making the request on the phone, you do not want the customer to hear the frown in your voice before the person completes the request.
Do not assume the person is joking, either. If you are unsure, pause for a beat and ask, “Will that be all, Sir/ Ma’am/ Miss?” Chances are you will be able to confirm if it is a joke or not.
Like they say, preventing complaints is always better than resolving them.
If you just rented out your home to an Airbnb guest and ran across their unique request, here are a few ways to go about it respectfully
No matter what the request is, you may want to start a response with a phrase like, “I will be happy to,” or “It is our pleasure.” This phrase is meant to reassure the customer that you are not secretly judging them for their request. Some guests may not care, but most do. Make them feel like their request is important.
It is critical to establish an administrative system that can accommodate requests unique to each customer. You can create such a system so that all kinds of unique requests are recorded and dealt with efficiently. This will make handling the next unique request much more manageable.
Don’t be afraid to outsource requests if you cannot handle them. Privacy is top priority for requests like these.
Because these requests are uncommon, and most guests may make them ahead of time, you may tend to forget them. While standard requests can be met at the last minute, these unique requests may not be. Set up reminders for yourself. You can’t order eggs and fresh goat milk four weeks ahead of the booking date, but you can place a call and put the delivery on hold until that day. These reminders help service providers make sure everything is in order.
Don’t forget to charge your guest for the unique request. Just don’t overdo it. Be careful not to burst out at the request, “That will cost you an extra $500!” Simply inform them there will be an additional fee and include it along with the regular bill.
Automated services process requests quickly, but not all guests want them. Make it easy for your guest to contact you personally. Everyone wants to feel special and wanted, and that is the aim of the hospitality industry: customer satisfaction. Although the motivation behind most Airbnb hosting is money, customer satisfaction is what will leave you with glowing reviews.
If your guest starts sounding frustrated or irritated, ask them what solution you may offer them. Some will most likely retort with, “How about you just do what I asked?” Don’t respond hastily to this — you don’t want to start a fight. Try again. Ask them what sort of compensation they prefer. Because the idea is theirs, they always end up feeling like they won in some way.
If you cannot fulfill the guest’s unique request, ask the guest if there is anything else they may want or need. Even when a guest is unreasonable, be careful not to brush them aside carelessly. Listen to what a guest has to say patiently. Now, if you find yourself with a “Monica,” you’ll be better equipped to handle the situation.
Rachel Jones is an award-winning writer and editor from Oklahoma City, OK. Her work has been published on influential sites, including Entrepreneur and International Business Times. She spent several years in property management and leasing, handling short-term rentals, student housing, and community rentals. Rachel is also experienced in staging and real estate photography. With a B.A. in English in her back pocket, Rachel combines her passion for property management with her storytelling ability to offer Airbnb hosts helpful advice as they monetize their homes.
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