Not such happy holidays? How to handle problem holiday guests

Category News

Holiday season is picking up, and the short-term holiday rental business
is changing. The emergence of online booking platforms such as Airbnb
and has created the opportunity for homeowners to
efficiently connect with end-users and rent out rooms or complete
homes or apartments to holiday guests or visitors. The software is
excellent and the cost is relatively low. The impact on traditional businesses
such as hotels, guest-houses and real estate agencies servicing
these markets is dramatic and profound. With holiday guests in your
short-term lets, problems may emerge that raise questions regarding
control of the behaviour of the guests, and who and how to hold

Says Wassenaar: "In a traditional hotel environment badly behaved
guests are removed from the premises either by hotel management, their security or the
local police services. In an environment serviced by traditional
realtors managing the bookings, a level of accountability remains
with the realtor - and these agents would often intervene to resolve
on-site problems. In a world without hotel management and agents involved,
the homeowner is the only accountable party. With many homeowners
typically being absent and not close at hand, or simply unwilling and unable
to deal with problems on site, this impacts on the immediate

"In a gated estate type of community (such as those that typify the
Dolphin Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, for example), the management of
these estates is often tasked with dealing with these problems as they
Much debate is currently under way by the management of the leading
estates along the Dolphin Coast on how to control the behaviour of
holiday guests effectively and how to hold those involved in the
booking process accountable. Solutions range from the complete banning of
all short-term holiday type booking activities - which has already been
implemented in one leading estate - to banning the use of online
platforms such as Airbnb.

"With many property owners relying on the flow of income generated
by short-term bookings to defray the holding costs of their properties,
strong resistance can be expected within any existing community that
is using these platforms. Having been involved in Zimbali's development
since 1997, and having owned a holiday rentals business for the past
15 years, we have seen the change in the industry recently and have
experienced first-hand the incredible (not in a good way) behaviour
of some holiday guests.

"It is true that over 90% of the guests we service are well behaved
and enjoy their holidays without causing problems or breakages. Problems
on site are dealt with as they arise when an agency is involved, since
they have a vested interest in protecting their homeowners' properties
and their future flow of business. However, when problems do arise with
poorly behaved tenants, the reactions are often severe and the
temptation is to paint all rental guests with the same brush.

"For an estate such as Zimbali, by far the most popular holiday
rental opportunity along the KZN coast, a couple of key lessons have
already been learnt. The first is that holiday guests cannot be permitted to
have guests. As a holiday rental guest you are the guest, and only
your immediate party or family can and should be permitted access to the
estate. Disregard for the estate's rules has to be dealt with
quickly and efficiently by removing the guests from the property and estate.
The second is that technology should be leveraged and embraced to
control access. Remotes are old school and easily abused; biometrics is the
way to go, with the level of sophistication improving continuously. The
third important lesson is that the holiday booking activity has to
have a 'ground handler' involved on site - the home owner has to employ
agents, or similar, to be on hand to take the after-hours call and
attend to any issues that arise.

"Larger homes offering 5-7 bedrooms are very popular as holiday
rentals and those with prime positions - overlooking the ocean or golf
course from an elevated position - seemed to attract the most attention. A
home such as 42 Club Drive, which Seeff is marketing for sale at
R13.950m, is a good example of a 7-bedroom home with 4 garages and extensive
entertainment areas enjoying a prime position. An astute investor
wanting to own a property for their own holiday use while earning an
income stream during the periods when they are not in residence
would typically find this property of interest. It is let at R10 000 a
night in season."




Author: Leverne Gething

Submitted 15 Nov 18 / Views 646