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Let's be honest and see if it helps

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Saint John, Indiana
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382 posts
32 reviews
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Let's be honest and see if it helps

I was reading someone else's thread and it sort of turned into a conversation between guests and cabin owners. So, I was thinking... what if we had a thread where we all just aired our concerns/complaints/praise? Naturally the first rule of thumb is respect. We must all keep in mind that there are real human beings behind these screens so there's no need to be brutal.

But, on the plus side, how much could we improve on things if we just had the guts to speak up? How much could we understand if we just ask?

I'll go first... but PLEASE someone add to the thread! Thanks!

1) How often do bedspreads/quilts get laundered?

2) What is the most annoying thing guests do?

Georgia
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1. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

Hi Tena,

This is an interesting topic. Hope it does stay respectful, and I really think it will. To answer your questions:

1) the bed spreads in my property are typically only cleaned by house keeping when they show signs of stains, etc. I visit my property frequently, and will take them to the dry cleaners or laundry mat myself if I feel it's time

to.

Quilts/blankets should be cleaned when used, same as sheets, pillow cases, towels, etc. Honestly, I've only found a dirty blanket once, and I cleaned it myself. I do keep a good supply of blankets, so there was still plenty of clean ones for guest to use.

2) Annoying? It's really hard to be "annoyed" when a paying guest has stayed at my property. I try hard to make my place comfortable for guest, and I really don't sweat the small stuff. Example, frequently when I arrive I can't find any rhyme or reason as to the way the kitchen is set up/arranged.

The glasses won't all be in one cabinet, same for plates, mugs, etc. People just don't always replace the items to the spot they found them. I just put everything back the way I like it, and don't worry about it.

Thanks for starting this topic. I'm interested in seeing how others reply.

Bartlett, Tennessee
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2,439 posts
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2. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

Great topic Travelin Tena,)I would like to know honesty how ofter the hot tub/jacuzzi water is changed,Is it after every guest?Say if there is a 3 night minimun.Is the water drained every 3 day's?? Or do they change it every week?month?Or when it looks dirty?

Im sorry but I think it may be a little gross if you had a 1bedroom Honeymoon cabin and not change the water after every use.And I know it is expensive to fill it up every time but if it's not been changed then it's almost like your sitting in other people's funk and fluids.If a company had say 5 cabins to clean between check out 11:00 am and check in at 3:00 just makes me wonder.I know it takes awhile to fill a 5-8 person hot tub.

Would like a honest answer on this.

I know if I rent a cabin and the water looks dirty or hair's in it then I dont even bother getting in the hot tub.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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334 posts
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3. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

Great idea Tena. I just hope this stays constructive as I think this is how you intended it to be.

To answer your questions:

1. Like Georgia, my quilts are laundered by my cleaning service any time there is an obvious need. I visit frequently so regardless of whether there is an obvious need I try to launder them myself about every couple of months.

2. I can't think of anything that a guest has done that was annoying (I've been very blessed with great guests but I think that is due to alot of communication concerning expectations on both sides) but here are a couple of things from potential guests that do tend to annoy me:

First, is asking me to accept a ridiculously low rate for the use of my cabin. I had a guest at the early part of the summer ask me to accept $100 for a three night stay, all inclusive! I understand that everyone (including myself) likes a bargain but I think that sites like Priceline promote unrealistic discounts which end up making the potential guests and the owners unhappy. An owner who has just started the learning process of renting by owner (or one who may be in financial trouble) may offer a lower nightly rate than comparable cabins but they can't keep it up for long. We all have to cover our expenses and be able to put money back for constant upgrades and replacement of items that wear out or get out of the vacation rental business. I also think there are some management companies who promote the idea of huge discounts by inflating their prices before offering as much as 50% discounts. I don't mean for this to sound like I am bashing a management company - I just know my cabin neighbor (who is with a company that does this) and I have discussed this and even he is not happy with it .

Second, my cabin can sleep 8 guests (1 king bed, 2 queen beds and a queen sleeper sofa) and I clearly state that in all of my ads. It's annoying to have someone ask if they can pack in 12-14 guests - even state they don't mind sleeping on the floor or that they will bring their own air mattresses. The first problem with this many guests is that my cabin is too small for that many people to really be comfortable which would end up with me having guests that are unhappy. Once a guest is unhappy, things tend to snowball out of control. The other problem with too many guests in a cabin is that many cabins are on a well and a septic tank (mine is) which was designed to handle a certain number of people based on the size of the cabin. If an owner allows their system to be stressed too much it can lead to all kinds of problems from water shortage to overflowing septic tanks.

The first year I "rented by owner" was definitely a learning experience for me but now that it's been four and a half years I think I have a handle on most everything which brings up another point: If you are going to be renting directly from an owner I think you should ask how long they have been managing their own cabin. I'm not saying this should be the determing factor as to whether or not you rent from that owner but consider it with all of the other information that you gather before committing to a rental.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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334 posts
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4. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

Cherokeegurl, your question came in while I was responding to Tena. I can't speak for all owners but my cleaning company is expected to completely empty, clean and refill my hot tub after EVERY guest whether they stay one night or a week. I had my first one night stay about a week ago. I don't usually accept one night stays (not financially feasible plus I don't want my cabin to be a "party" cabin) but I spoke with this potential guest and understood her dilema and made an exception. She asked if I could discount since they would not be using the hot tub and I told her that I was sorry but that my hot tub was emptied after every single guest regardless.

Time to get everything done is definitely an issue when you have a guest check out in the morning and your next guest arrives that afternoon. My cleaning company handles this by having the housekeeper begin the emptying process when she first arrives. She goes on to working on the actual cleaning of the cabin and depending on how many cabins she has to clean that day she may finish the hot tub after the cabin is cleaned or if she has a heavy cleaning schedule a maintenance guy is sent to clean and refill the hot tub while she concentrates on the cabin.

(Note: It takes a while for the hot tub to reheat so this is why guests may arrive to a cold or lukewarm hot tub).

Included in my check in instructions for my guests (which are really very simple) I ask them to check over the cabin to see if everything seems to be as it should and specifically ask them to check the hot tub to see that it is clean. I ask them to contact me directly to report anything that needs attention and give them contact info for my cleaning company as a backup.

One other thing I wanted to mention is that if I have a guest to stay longer than a week (I've had some who have stayed as long as three weeks) my cleaning company will send a maintenance guy to check the hot tub during the guests' stay. In this case, if it still looks clean they check the chemicals and do not empty it but if it looks dirty it is emptied, cleaned and refilled.

Boy, am I on a roll - LOL! I hope TA doesn't think this is self-promoting because I am truly only trying to improve relations between guests and owners.

Gulf Shores, AL
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163 posts
1 review
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5. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

Hi Tena,

Thanks for starting this topic.

In answer to your question regarding the spreads and blankets. Mine aren't laundered until there are stains or until a deep clean is done (2-3 times a year). However my cleaner sprays each bed with Lysol with every clean. She sprays the mattress and pillows before remaking and then sprays the blankets and bedspread. I feel very confident she is doing this as I supply the Lysol and unless she is just willy nilly spraying it in the air it does get used.

As to what we find is annoying from a guest I have to agree with everything Travelerwannebe said. The one thing I would have to add is a guest inquiring about dates that I am already showing as booked. I have been renting by owner for 3 years and can honestly say that I still enjoy it.

Cherokeegurl, in answer to your question on hot tubs. My hot tub is changed after every guest. When the dry spell hit a couple of years ago I was really worried about the well going dry as so many were. We made it through that year but it got me to thinking and doing research on how to get around emptying the hot tub every time. Everything I read said that an ozonator would be the solution so I had one installed. You know what? I still have the hot tub emptied every time! I just can't convince myself not to. Oh well, I look at it as the money spent on the ozonator will keep the water fresher for the guests that are there longer than 3 days.

Now if I may ask a few questions. What concerns do you find are not answered when looking at an ad? What information do you like to see? Do you prefer to handle everything through emails or do you prefer the telephone?

Thanks again for starting this topic.

Linda

Saint John, Indiana
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382 posts
32 reviews
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6. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

This is great! Its exactly what I thought it should be and I have already learned some very valuable things.

Personally, I have never tried to squeeze more people into a cabin but for others, I bet they never considered the well and septic.

After getting the replies on the bedspreads and quilts, I think what I should do to stay more comfortable is to remove them and use a blanket. Most people are very clean and have no problems that could end up affecting the next guest but you never know. And something in the way my mother raised me just won't allow me to use someone elses linens! :)

I have an annoyance that I would ask others to consider. Please keep your pictures up to date. The last cabin I rented showed a beautiful gold color to the cabin, decks and railings as well as wooden rockers on the deck. When I got there, everything was gray and the deck furniture was cheap plastic. Decks and views are a HUGE part of renting a cabin in the smokies and I was really disappointed.

Thanks for all of the posts. Can we keep this going? I'm sure there is more to learn.

Saint John, Indiana
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382 posts
32 reviews
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7. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

Oh, I have another question. For those of you who use vrbo/home away to advertise your cabins:

When a review is written, do you have to approve it for it to post? I wrote a review which never got posted even though the canned response said "Thank you for your review. You will receive an email notification when your review is posted in the next few business days."

This was my review:

This cabin is very large. The hot tub gets warm quite quickly and is very clean. The beds and pillows are good. There is ample seating in the dining area. However, the decks are in disrepair and with loose railings. There are dead ladybugs thick on the loft window ledges. The driveway is VERY steep but manageable. The towels are stained and the shower curtain has mold on it. The toilet in the master was not cleaned. I attempted to contact the owners after we arrived home to notify them of these concerns but after 2 days they have not responded. The price was good for this size of cabin. It was not a bad deal... it just could have been better."

I don't think the review was horrible but it was accurate. If owners have the right to post only what they want posted, what good are reviews? And if that is the case, it might explain why there aren't more reviews on this property.

Gulf Shores, AL
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163 posts
1 review
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8. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

Tena,

I'm not sure how the reviews work! VRBO has recently changed their policies and procedures and I know that owners have been complaining about the reviews from guests not showing up. Hopefully VRBO (and HomeAway) will get the new review procedure working so we can get the reviews posted. Your review not appearing probably has more to do with the fact of the problems with the review system as opposed to the owner not allowing it.

Linda

Virginia
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621 posts
67 reviews
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9. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

Thats interesting about the bed spreads/comforters. I know its unreasonable to expect things like that to get washed after each guest so thats why we always bring our own from home. Lol. Like you Tina, the thought of using another person's be cover grosses me out, but I am a self proclaimed germaphobe. I also wipe down all surfaces(kitchen bathroom etc) when we get to a new hotel/cabin.

I've never tried to get more people into a cabin either but I also didn't even consider the water usage to be an issue. Thats interesting.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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334 posts
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10. Re: Let's be honest and see if it helps

I have to agree with Linda about potential guests inquiring about dates that are shown as booked on our calendars. This has been an issue for a long time. More recently vrbo added the feature where you can put in the dates you are looking for. It still allows all listings to show but if they have a red slash thru the date it means that cabin is booked for that night - I'm not sure that potential guests understand this as I still get many inquiries for dates that are not available. This is very time consuming for me because regardless I answer every inquiry that I get - sometimes offering alternate dates that are available near the time period of the original request.

Concerning reviews, this is how I think it works (sometimes it is hard even for an owner to get a clear answer from vrbo/homeaway). Until a few months ago an owner had to approve a comment before the public could see it but they could not change it although they could respoind to it. After it was made public there was no way for the owner to have it removed unless they deleted their entire guest book. I think guests could voluntarily sign an online guest book but most comments were the result of the owner asking the guest to sign it.

Now comes the gray area (at least for me), vrbo/homeaway changed how they handled guestbook entries. Somehow they planned to solicit the reviews (I'm guessing from our inquiries but don't know how they figured out which ones) and owners were not happy. Biggest concern that I heard was "what if a vindictive review was left by someone who never actually stayed in our cabin?" - sort of a troll type thing. I never heard a public response from vrbo/homeaway but things seem to change again. I understand that when a guest enters a comment now they have to provide the name they used on their contract and the date they stayed however I still don't know what good this does as the owner does not receive this info when notified that a review is pending. We do get to see what the guest has written before it goes public but no longer have the ability to reject the comment but we can still respond to it. I know there is a delay of at least several days from the time that I receive their notice until it actually goes public.

While on this subject I think this part has remained the same: Owners can submit reviews themselves but they are identified as owner submitted. Early in my learning curve I wasn't asking guests to sign my online guestbook but I was entering the comments that they had left in the cabin guestbook. For the most part I have stopped doing this because I feel that these entries have much less value than a comment entered directly by the guest.

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