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Vacation Rental 101

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An interview with Linda Hennis-Saavedra, owner of AAA SunState Management continued from page 2.

Q. What is the tipping policy for the industry? How should a tip be left? (In hotels it is customary to leave a tip each night for the cleaning staff and it is suggested it be left in a well-marked envelope.)
There is no formal tipping policy, but we encourage guests to follow the same standard that the hotel industry uses with consideration for the size of the home compared to a hotel room. There is a lot of hard work that goes into restoring a home to its pre-rented condition (and cleaning up each home before and after each guest departs).

Unlike a hotel that requires the cleaning of one room and a bathroom, cleaners that do vacation homes clean up to 4,000 square feet of home with multiple bedrooms and multiple bathrooms – no easy task.

Cleaners will collect any tips left as they check the homes after each departure, so an envelope marked “for the cleaners” is perfect.

We at AAA SunState also leave a questionnaire asking guests to rate our service and their experience with us. We ask them to let us know what we can do better and what may not have met their expectations. This questionnaire is a very important part of our commitment to a Standard of Excellence that all of our employees strive to daily. Translation – we sincerely value the opinion of our guests – we want to know what we’ve done right and what we didn’t.

Q: Are personal belongings insured?
No. Homeowners have short term rental insurance which insure for injury; but typically, damage/theft of personal belongings would be your responsibility.

Q: What are the security issues? Does crime seem higher in these rental areas? Wouldn’t it be easy to be “marked” as a tourist who isn’t familiar with the area and would be gone much of the day sightseeing and therefore be an easier target?
Speaking from only our experience, there is little crime to visitors and very seldom crimes while a home is occupied. Many homes have alarm systems that help when a home isn’t occupied. Plus, many homes are in gated communities and that provides additional security.

Q: What do you believe sets your company apart from the others in the industry?
Oh, without a question, for a visitor it is the cleanliness and condition of our homes, and the service we provide. We are a service industry and we, as a company, have a standard of excellence we live up to every day. We practice excellence. You can rent a home anywhere, but you can’t rent the quality of home and the experience we provide anywhere. For our homeowner clients, it is the personal attention we give their homes and the frequent way we communicate. We are fair, ethical and practice integrity (that isn’t necessarily the case with all PM companies).

Q: What recourse does a renter have if they are unhappy?
There shouldn’t be any question as to what is expected once the reservation is made (curing one source of unhappiness). If it’s a home concern, we (and I hope most other companies) make every effort to try and accommodate requests for change (within the scope of reason) and make the arriving guest happy.

It doesn't sound like you have too much to lose and everything to gain from a vacation rental. It certainly is another option to consider when making your next vacation plans.

*Linda Hennis-Saavedra is the Vice President, Sales and Marketing and owner of AAA SunState Management. Personally, she has spent 25 years in high level management positions for service related companies, including Regional/District Manager, Director of Sales and Development and Sales Management. Linda has received numerous awards and recognition for excellence in management and in customer service excellence. She serves on the Board for the Central Florida United Way and chairs special committees for them. Linda just recently completed her term on the Board for the Polk County Chapter of the Red Cross.

Having purchased this company just under a year ago, she changed its name and created an Internet presence for it – launching it to the world. Having raised every aspect of quality and standards there were, the company is now known as one of the best property management and vacation rental companies in the Central Florida area with a customer satisfaction rate of 98%. Linda has made exceeding customer expectations her company’s daily mission.

How to find a vacation rental and what you need to consider before you rent, page 4.

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