In the third part of our series “From the life of a landlady” everything revolves around the psychologically important moment of arrival. The vacation has begun, but are you really there yet?
I remember very well a situation shortly after our official opening. The apartments had just been finished, everything was shiny and smelled new, we were so proud of what we had created. A woman, the second guest to book an apartment, greeted us briefly when she arrived, rushed past us into the apartment and rushed through all the rooms. We heard doors slamming and the toilet seat banging and wondered what was going on. Was this perhaps a secret holiday apartment inspector? A few minutes later she came out of the doorway with a serious look on her face and informed us that she had found parsley leaves in the sieve of the dishwasher and that with such poor housekeeping standards, we probably wouldn’t last long. Wham – my teenage daughter would say now. Direct hit, slam dunk.
While the woman valiantly got her suitcases out of the car – seemingly willing to spend her holiday in such an unkempt place – I saw in my mind’s eye the business that I had just started lying in ruins. I never imagined that my life as a landlady would be so difficult.
Today I know: It is the special moment of arrival, when expectation and reality collide, and where hunger, the urge to go to the toilet and hysterical children do not allow you to think clearly. Those guests who at that moment are thinking about the suitcases that have to be unpacked again and are wondering whether there will even be a supermarket open on a Saturday evening are not receptive to beauty at that point and are definitely not in holiday mode.
Other guests, on the other hand, may have looked forward to the holiday for so long, have told their partner over and over again about the great accommodation they have found by sheer chance and have raved about it to their work colleagues, and now – the idealised image does not match up to the reality of their arrival.
My colleague regularly tells me about guests for whom she can’t do anything right when they arrive. The parking space is too narrow, the stairs are too steep, there is not enough shelf space in the bathroom and then there is the garden …. didn’t it look different in the pictures?
Yes, and where is the washing machine that was promised? Keep smiling, I whisper to my colleague.
A few days later, when I inquire whether the guests still find everything awful, a 180-degree turnaround: No, they are all super satisfied, totally nice, happy to have found such a beautiful place and are already planning to come back. What happened?
The first impression, for which you supposedly don’t get a second chance, doesn’t seem to be decisive for holiday accommodation. Unlike in interpersonal communication, where the brain quickly makes up its mind and is usually right, a holiday home often has to be won over first. By spreading around the personal belongings you have brought with you, you set your own tone in the place and with the first coffee on the terrace, everything takes on a new perspective. The long traffic jam on the motorway, forgotten; the last e-mail that couldn’t be sent, never mind; the forgotten sunglasses that were ready to be picked up in the hallway, too bad. Some guests only need a few minutes to really settle, others a few hours, in the worst case days. Good holiday homes can wait patiently for this moment.
Published: May 2022