What Is Your Damage Heather?


That was going to be the extent of this post, one word, “Ugh!”

What’s the one word we dread in vacation rental management? Clue: it begins with a “D!”

No, it’s not, “Discount.”

Nope, not, “Deal.”

Nuh-uh, not, “Dysfunctional.”

What Is Your Damage Heather


Property Owners always focus in on damage during our listing appointments. Of course. It’s understandable. Owners do not want to risk their properties being damaged by disrespectful, disorderly, dubious guests. Guests do not want to stay at derelict, disheveled properties in a state of desperate disrepair.

We have a mantra at Seachange Vacation Rentals. It’s our 3MRM mission statement. OK, so I’m not good at naming Mission Statements. You read this, I’ll call in the consultants.

3MRM: Maximize Occupancy; Maximize Revenue; Maximize Owner & Guest Satisfaction; Risk Management for Damage.

Catchy, huh?

We can’t eliminate the risk of damage for our property owners. Anyone who says otherwise will never admit to being clumsy. My friend’s husband claims he married into a family of clumsies. You bring it, they break it, or so he claims. “Where’s Jane?” One could ask. “On the floor again.” Jane’s husband replies. She’s always tripping over something that’s not there. I changed Jane’s name to protect the red faces.

My advice to concerned property owners is that there is risk inherent in opening up your home to guests. There is risk inherent in life. We can’t eliminate the potential for damage. We can, however, manage the risk of damage. As Property Owners we can minimize the potential for accidental damage by carefully staging our properties, and by staying on top of repairs and routine maintenance. Rental Agents can work with prospective guests to ensure that the right guest is booked into the appropriate property for their needs. Guests, well I like to believe and see the best in all people. The vast majority of guests just want to relax and have a good vacation, leaving properties in the same condition as arrival. Accidental damages happen. People are people are klutzes. Your Rental Agent will work with Guests and Property Owners to swiftly handle accidental damages within boundaries of common sense and a good Accidental Damage Policy – one that has to set limits on financial liabilities. Willful damage, well that’s another matter.

Damage Coverage on short term rentals is a mixed bag involving:

  1. A mandatory damage fee levied on every reservation. Used to cover the first $500 of any accidental damage reported across all reservations. Works extremely well. Not popular with some guests since, well if you don’t do any damage, why shouldn’t you get your damage fee back? Understandable from a guest perspective. Not so much from an Owner who’s looking to get compensated for the cost of damage repairs.
  2. A security deposit levied on every reservation in a similar manner to long term rentals. Guest pays up front on booking. Guest gets it refunded after booking if no damage found. Guest is happy. Owner is happy. Rental Agent is not happy. Rental Agent has to hold, account for and refund this money held on the behalf of another. It’s fraught with potential audit issues and costly to administer. I have a personal belief that levying a sizeable security deposit on a short term rental makes the perception of the cost of that rental as much higher and possibly loses bookings. Additionally, this type of security deposit can only cover accidental damage with a limit on coverage set by the size of the deposit.
  3. Damage Protection Insurance. An insurance policy taken out by the guest at time of booking similar to Trip/Travel Insurance. Interesting possibilities and I’m looking carefully at this one.

In closing, here’s one D word that has positive associations, “Seachange Vacation Rentals.” When you list your property for vacation rental management with Seachange Vacation Rentals we guarantee a Rental Agent check on the property at every check out. Let that sit for a moment. Think about that. It’s huge, yet surprisingly rare among vacation rental management companies. In everyone’s interest, you’d think every company would be doing this. Let me tell ya, this is not an easy thing to deliver on a busy turn over day. Yet we do it. How we do it, well, you don’t have the security clearance to know that. You do, however have the security of knowing we have your back and we want great guests back too!

Enjoy this article on clumsies who’ve caused irreparable accidental damages in museum/gallery settings.

Then there’s this – the man who destroyed a priceless statue while taking a selfie!

I’ve always wondered about this on Antiques Roadshow – the blooper reel they will never show!