photo credit: Stay In Tamarindo Vacation Rentals, Photos by TruPlace
“She’s so extra!”
Now that we’ve all been exposed to Netflix-driven multigenerational dramas, you’ve likely heard the term “extra” being used to describe someone who is over the top and maybe a little dramatic, doing more than the situation calls for. Urban Dictionary defines this Gen Z use of “extra” as “Doing the absolute damn most. For no reason.”
For vacation rental managers determined to thrive amid the current challenges posed by COVID-19, finding ways to be a little extra isn’t such a bad thing.
In May, organizations (e.g., VRMA, Breezeway, AHLA, Vrbo, Airbnb, hoteliers, and property management companies) began publishing augmented cleaning guidelines to adapt to a changing world’s expectations for lodging safety and cleanliness. Although a handful of these guidelines are in themselves a little extra, the bulk of them are on point, and some are long overdue in the vacation rental industry. While individual homeowners may be a little slower at adapting to new protocols, professional vacation rental managers find themselves at a pivotal moment with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come together as an industry and blow the socks off the hospitality sector.
Let’s take a look, room by room, at what is old, what is new, and what is extra.
It’s always a little fun to start in the bedroom.
Aged, patterned sheets and bedspreads
Laundering bedding in the unit/home between stays
Small area rugs and excessive throw pillows
Ultra-dim lamps and lighting
Outlets hidden behind furniture
Unwashed extra blankets in closets
Homeowner items in unlocked closets or drawers
Professionally laundered bedding
Mattress and pillow protectors
Smart TVs with universal and disinfected remote control
Professionally laundered extra blankets in closets
Clean closets with extra hangers
Bedside power stations for phones and tablets
Black-out window treatments
Upgraded and bright, tiered lighting
Matching clothes hangers
Hospitality blankets, comforters, duvets, and top covers for professional laundering
Pro Tip: We have been hearing from several PMs who are moving to hospitality blankets/covers/duvets that mills are overloaded with demand. If you are moving in this direction, order ASAP as many popular coverings are backordered for months.
Creating a hospitality standard for vacation rental bathrooms
Laundering towels in the unit/home between stays
Old shower curtains and liners
Owner items in the cabinets, drawers, or linen closets
Anti-bacterial liquid soap and hand sanitizer
Augmented schedule for shower curtain liner replacement
Cleaning inside drawers and cabinets
Professionally laundered towels and bath mats
Professionally laundered shower curtains and liners
Branded hand sanitizer
Cleaning seal on toilet
Extra toilet paper
Makeup remover wipes
Pro Tip: Design-folding towels into shapes is a step that can be eliminated as it indicates to guests that more hands have been on the towel.
With more guests opting to cook instead of dining out, expect detailed reviews about the kitchen.
Old and mismatched dinnerware and flatware
Scratched and foggy glasses
Charred, chipped, and scraped utensils, pots, and pans
Knives that don’t cut
Old coffee maker
Leftover canned goods, condiments, and spices
Dirty oven mitts and potholders
Pre-setting dining tables
Uncluttered and spotless surfaces
Matching and organized glassware, dishes, flatware, utensils, pots, and pans
Stored appliances (except coffee maker)
No food, condiments, or spices—unless provided in an amenity package or gift basket
Paper towels, dish soap, disposable sponge(s), dishwashing detergent, and hand sanitizer in an amenity package
Professionally laundered kitchen towels
2-Way Brewer (Coffee Maker and Single-Serve Combo)
Packaged salt, pepper, and spices
Branded hand sanitizer
Standardized kitchen packages
Pro Tip: Homeowners have been notorious for sending old kitchen items to their vacation rentals as they replace things in their primary residences. This coronavirus challenge provides a unique opportunity to talk to owners about the importance of replacing kitchen items with new products.
Pro Tip: Wholesale potholders are priced under .30/piece. In-house housekeeping teams can have these on hand to replace as needed.
Pro Tip: VRMs that standardize kitchen packages easily replace items as needed when all properties have the same glassware, flatware, dinnerware, utensils, pots, and pans. These companies’ cleaners count the items as part of their checklist, report what is missing, and the inspector replaces. There is an additional benefit in housekeepers spotting problem areas in cabinets and drawers when counting.
Living rooms and common areas hold hidden challenges. Eliminate as many hurdles as possible.
Small Area Rugs
Clutter and over-accessorizing
Excessive throw pillows
Multiple remote controls
Toys and games (If you keep them, you have to clean and organize them.)
Guestbooks . . . maybe
Note: I read the guestbook in every rental I have stayed in as it offers a special connection and a glimpse into the lives of the people who have stayed there before, and have often dreamed of writing a book based on the guestbook stories of families who have stayed in the same vacation home. I hope that creative VRMs go beyond online reviews and find a way to reimagine guestbooks in a germ-free way. We are going to crave connection more and more, and there is an extra idea for guestbooks waiting to happen.
Fewer small accessories. Think large utilitarian—and easy to clean—accessories instead (e.g., trays, large bowls, game boards)
Professionally laundered and packaged sleeper sofa bedding
Cleaning under furniture and under cushions
Universal and disinfected remote control
Higher frequency fan cleaning and air filter replacement
“Using a pressurized pump sprayer to distribute a sanitizing product across all soft surfaces is best.” And “Use disinfecting products on all major surfaces and pay attention to all high-touch areas, including door knobs (inside and out), lockboxes or electronics lock panels, elevator buttons, stair railings, telephones, light switches, remote controls, arms of chairs, refrigerator door handles, sliding door handles, toilets, faucets and knobs, clothes hangers, touch screens, and play sets/toys, to name a few.”
Performance-fabric upholstery, slipcovers, and pillow covers
Smart TVs with at least one streaming service account like Hulu or Netflix
Power stations and Hybrid USB/conventional outlets
Resources for hospitality guidelines: