29 Jun 2011

…which make all the difference in the relationship with your host when you travel.

Those little acts of kindness and cross-cultural awareness…

good manners

Today a more personal post. Well, some venting, really. As I have written many times before, we have had such great luck with our guests: we have met incredible people over the years and many of them we now have the pleasure of calling friends.

Over the years, though, we have also had to deal with many “little nuisances” which, we suspect, are often the result of basic cultural differences. I must be getting older and grumpier, because some of these things, which I imagine most of our fellow hosts also have to deal with on an almost daily basis, really start to bother me. So here are a few things that might be some good food for thought when you contact a vacation rental, a hotel, or any service in general.

  1. Remember you are writing to a person, and not to a computer, especially if you are contacting a small agriturismo, B&B or vacation rental like ours. We do our best to provide a personal service, and it is always good to be treated like the human beings we are, sitting behind the screen.
  2. Remember to sign you email message or to provide your name if you contact someone via a portal: if you are not willing to share your name, why should we trust you with our home?
  3. If you are not interested, just drop a line to say that you are not interested. It is a pure act of kindness towards the people who have taken the time to send you a clear and detailed reply as if you were the only person they had to deal with that day. We all in the tourism business know that the choice out there is vast, and that you have probably contacted many other places. No big deal. Just tell us “not this time, thanks”, and we will know we can consider the period you were interested in as available and offer it to the next person that contacts us without having to have them wait so that we can make sure we are not overbooking.
  4. If you say you want to book and ask for the details for the reservation deposit and you then change your mind, please let us know as soon as possible. This is the thing that drives me crazy the most. It has happened several times already this year. People book, then ask for the details to confirm the reservation, and then they disappear. And you have to contact them several time before they have the decency to say “sorry, we changed our mind”. This is unacceptable and plain rude. It is nothing but basic good manners to inform the owner of the place that you have changed your mind, or at least to reply the first time. I really cannot find any excuse for this behaviour, and I have to say, when some of these people have contacted us later to reinstate the reservation, we have said “no, sorry. We don’t want you anymore”.
  5. Remember that it is not a God given right to be accepted in a vacation rental, hotel, b&b or agriturismo because you can pay for the service. We are opening the doors of our homes to you: you are a guest. A paying guest, and we do our best to make sure your money is well spent, but an inn-keeper always has the right to refuse a reservation if he or she believes the guest is not a good match for his or her place.
  6. Remember that laws relative to hospitality are different in different countries: don’t insist that the laws of your country be applied to ours. A simple example: short term rentals in France are supposed to have rental contracts, while in Italy they are like hotels and no contract is required (or exists). Contracts are only for long term rentals. We can’t send you the rental contract before you send us the reservation deposit because no such contract exists. If you want to be sure that the business is legitimate, ask to see the VAT number of the business (tax registration number).
  7. Make sure you read the terms and conditions for the reservation before you commit. When you have committed, it’s too late if you don’t like them. This is why they are clearly published on websites, so that you know what you are getting into. If you don’t find them clearly published, make sure the inn-keeper sends them in writing, and make sure you ask what the cancellation policies are. Transparency is the best key to a happy host-guest relationship.
  8. If you agree on a check-in time frame, and the host asks you to give a call in case you are going to be late, make sure you do that, as it saves a lot of “wondering” on both parts.
  9. If you happen to break something while you are staying at a property, inform the host when you leave. Don’t just put things together in a way that it doesn’t show. You will be surprised by how willing to overlook small problems most hosts are.
  10. Last but not least, always ask your host when you need help or information with anything. Asking is always better than assuming and it makes for a much more pleasant holiday.

These are just small things, but I promise that anyone in the tourism business like us will agree that they make all the difference in the world. And for those of you who are wondering who would ever do otherwise, well… it happens sometimes, but luckily most of those people end up staying at much more impersonal places!


  1. Ahh… Number 3! Number 3 is the one that is guaranteed to get me cross after I have spent some considerable time putting a detailed email or emails together – and then they disappear! Even a straight question – are you still interested? doesn’t get a reply! So frustrating!

    They all ring true! Well done for voicing them!

  2. Thank you for stopping by Giselle. I know!!! But I guess since everybody is so taken up in their own lives, they just think about the time they are “wasting” replying… I also think sometimes people are embarrassed to say “no thank you”, but they should not. That would save us a lot of time!

  3. MWWWWWAAAA Gloria. It’s a great list, my dear. I am with Giselle on number 3… and 7. And 5 and 4. Oh, heck all of them.

  4. Thank you, Diana!

  5. Oh Gloria TY! I hear you and totally agree with absolutely everything you say, especially number three! Is it really that difficult to say thank you but no thank you,especially to someone you have never met and likely not to meet? It would seem that common curtsey has sadly been abandoned along with good manners.

  6. So true, so much more what can irritate me by the end of the season. good to hear we are not the only ones who don’t like some things. For me numer three always irritates me, but I can also wonder why some people are so unfriendly I always wonder why does people don’t just book a big hotel to blend into anonymity.


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