The Dial An Exchange Blog

How do you screen your guests?

Topline is – you don’t

And I’m sure we’ve all got our own stories of guest we would not have back, under any circumstances.

But what we have to remember is these guests aren’t the norm.  No matter how upsetting, annoying, costly and time consuming they are at the time.

In my 8 years, I only have one couple I wouldn’t accept a booking from. Because they took home lots of things that weren’t theirs. They left the towels, hairdryer, bathrobes etc. Items that traditionally go missing in hotels and took all my cleaning products, soaps, hand cream and loo roll!!  No idea what that was all about. But it was deliberate. That many items couldn’t accidentally be packed in your suitcase to take home. It was the inconvenience rather than the cost of replacing these items that annoyed me.

If that’s my worst experience to date have I been lucky? 

Perhaps, but there are certain things I’d recommend owners implement to “screen” guests.

This system isn’t infallible but it’s better than doing nothing at all.

-          Deal directly with the guest yourself. From day one create the owner/guest relationship.  Guests are less likely to disrespect a property of someone they know, than if they booked through a faceless agency or dealt with a large management company. You’ll continue to build this relationship and keep in touch from the booking up to the time of the holiday, on arrival and beyond.

-          Revisit how your property is marketed. If your social media activity is focussed around it being a party house, then guess what, you’re more likely to attract those guests wanting to throw a party.  That’s when more damage is likely to occur.

-          Go with your gut feel – if something doesn’t feel right about a booking, then chances are it isn’t, so turn it down. This is intangible and goes against your business head. But when is your gut feel ever wrong?

-          Take bookings online but don’t accept payments. That way a booking contract hasn’t been entered into and you can clearly state that the booking is provisional until confirmed by the owner. You may feel that you’ll lose bookings this way – but I don’t. All my online bookings turn into confirmed bookings. This allows you to look over the booking form, check numbers in the party, age of the guests.  It adds that extra step.

-          Speak to guests whenever you can.  Call them to thank them for their booking and to find out if they have any questions. During this call, you’re much more likely to be able to suss out your guests than by emails.

-          Have water tight terms and conditions. It’s worth a one-off investment to get a solicitor involved in preparing these for you.

In life, you have to work on the premise that people are good and genuine. To live any other way with negativity is just draining.  But when it comes to your precious holiday home, do what you can to screen who you allow through the door.


The Business of Holiday Rental

Karen has various free support available on her website whether you’re a new or an established holiday home owner.  Check it out here:

And get downloading!



Vicky, your personal V member Exchange Agent tells us her favourite holiday.

"My first choice of a holiday is always either a Cottage, Villa or Apartment as this gives you a great base to explore the area in which the property lies.

Self-catering holidays are a great home from home option and are usually away from the bustling resort type holidays that can be less relaxing than you'd hope for!

I like cottage holidays so that I can explore the great outdoors especially in the rural areas of the UK, I love to walk along the cliff tops and through the forests exploring new areas on each and every visit! Staying in a Cottage, Villa or Apartment gives me the flexibility that I need to make my ideal holiday!

As for DAE - what a wonderful way to turn those weeks in your Cottage, Villa or Apartment into a holiday that fits the bill perfectly! You tell me where and when you want to take the holiday then sit back and wait for one of our award winning team to contact you with your perfect holiday. We have properties around the world.... So that dream holiday maybe only a deposit away!

Here at DAE the cottage and villa team and I pride ourselves on award-winning customer service and no query is too big or too small, we love to hear from all our members! So, contact us now for further information!"


Why I love being a holiday home owner

Karen Spencer is a holiday property owner and a holiday property owner consultant. We've asked her to put together a blog about the benefits of owning a holiday property.

While meeting a friend recently for coffee, she asked: “why do you let your cottage out, it seems like a lot of work and hassle to me”. “It’s so rewarding, I love it” was my immediate response. The conversation then moved on.

But this did make me think. What did I mean by "rewarding" and was she right about the “lot of work and hassle”?

Here’s what I love about being a holiday home owner:


1.The freedom and flexibility of running my own business

I’ve worked in the corporate world before and yes I got a buzz from it, but after having children my priorities shifted. I wanted something that would fit around me, my family and my lifestyle. Running what was initially our second home, as a holiday rental business was the perfect solution. I choose my hours (and although I don’t  turn my PC off at 5 pm like others do) I can take time off (to meet friends for coffee!) without asking anyone’s permission. That flexibility is priceless to me.  Plus I’m my own boss and make decisions each day to suit me and my business. That’s so liberating! 


2. The love of the product I’ve created

I knew I wanted to bring a special product to the market. Having worked part-time in a luxury holiday cottage agency I knew this was the way to earn as much as I could from it. I went to college to train as a home stager to understand how to best present my cottage (on a budget) working with what was already there.  I’m as proud as punch with the results. As such talking about my holiday home, how gorgeous it is, what there’s to do in the area and how fabulous it is to holiday there is not a strain at all. I just love it. So talking about it in my marketing and getting this message across to possible guests isn’t hard work. It comes so naturally.


3. Job satisfaction is high

There’s a great deal of job satisfaction from knowing I’m responsible for creating special holiday memories for my guests. Holidays are precious, they only come around a few times a year, so the responsibility for delivering that is huge.  Stressful at times when the heating breaks down last minute or the front door won’t open! But who doesn’t like a challenge and what job doesn’t come without these!


4. The money side of things

I earn good money from my holiday home (because I focus on attracting consistent high-value bookings).  So not only is my holiday home bringing in an income now, it’s still my pension pot for the future.  I could have invested in a buy to let but my heart wouldn’t have been in it and although the income from a holiday let isn’t as guaranteed as having a tenant, the money I can earn per week, even in low season, is more than the rent would be per month from a tenant. 


5. Having somewhere to escape to.


We bought our holiday home in a part of the world we love – North Yorkshire. Packing up the car on a Friday night and heading there for a weekend of relaxation, away from the city, enjoying brisk country walks and family time is an absolute joy. Each time it makes me realise how lucky I am.  Even though I’m running my holiday home as a business I still have this amazing place to escape to and holiday there myself. These weekend escapes are few and far between now the children are older, but they do still happen.


So there you go, that’s what I mean by rewarding. But my friend’s still right it is hard work and sometimes a hassle. But for me, without any doubt the positives outway the negatives.


AND I’ve recently discovered another benefit. I’ve joined Dial An Exchange, deposited a week in low season and have a credit to spend on a holiday anywhere in the world!   All by using my holiday home as an exchange.

What’s not to love about that?!?!


I’m so passionate about the benefits of being a holiday home owner, that I now run The Business of Holiday Rental:


I coach, help and support other owners in their holiday rental business.  Helping them to earn more and to enjoy the process!


Why not download my free guide >>The Ultimate Guide To Your Profitable Holiday Rental Business<<


If you’d like to take a look at my holiday home, Spring Cottage, and what I’ve created, then here it is:









Travel Tips

Making the most of your holiday by not wasting time

The great thing about holidays is being on holiday, the not so great thing about holidays are the hours wasted either getting there or standing in queues when you are there.

So here are a few tips to save some of that precious time away so you can make the most of your well-earned week away

Flights - 50 minutes

Before booking your flight, check which airport is the closest. Many people, when flying to Barcelona with a budget airline, would assume that Ginora Barcelona Airport is the closest. However, Barcelona Airport is 50 minutes closer to the city, saving you valuable time and transfer costs.


Check-in online - 10 minutes

Many of the budget airlines actively encourage online check-in by charging you a fee if you don’t, whilst the larger airlines allow you the choice. However, if you do check in online (some airlines will allow you to check in for both the outward and inward flight) you’ll only need to drop off your bags, saving you the queuing time along with the worry about what seats you’ll get.


Luggage carousels - 10 minutes

Possibly the most frustrating holiday aspect is waiting for your luggage. If you can avoid taking a case and just take hand luggage then you could save yourself valuable time. However, if you’re in need of a suitcase and there’s more than one of you travelling, leaving one getting the bags whilst the other heads through customs to pick up the car hire keys or find the transfer point saves time.


Transfers – 30 Minutes

Work out the quickest routes to and from the airport. A train maybe 30 minutes quicker than sitting in rush hour traffic or a taxi could be the better option if the train is only hourly. For tips visit to see what is being advised.



Excursions – 50 minutes per day

Pre-book your travel excursions in the comfort of your own home before you leave. Many tourist attractions have pre-booking websites including the option for VIP queue-jumping passes. You maybe also be able to save money by getting a multi-attraction pass for your destination.


Meals – 30 minutes per day

Instead of spending time each evening trying to find that ‘perfect restaurant’, why not book your restaurant meals as and when you see the restaurant that inspires you. Even if it’s minutes after you’ve just eaten or first thing in the morning. If you do find somewhere better later in the day, you can always go back and cancel your original booking.


Try to avoid peak times – 60 minutes per day

If you plan to visit a touristy place or attraction try to go early or late in the day when the crowds are less, giving you more time for seeing and doing instead of standing and queuing.



Following our advice could save you minutes, even hours of your precious time so you can really make the most of your holiday.

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