It is important to note that some reviews posted on NCBeaches.com regarding the condition of vacation rental homes should not always be taken as a reflection of the business offering the vacation rental as a whole.
Vacation rentals are not the same as hotels!
They are owned by individuals just like you... and not by the company renting them. Many people do not understand this, nor the nature of vacation rentals.
The purpose of this article is not to make excuses for property management companies (PMC) - it is to better inform you, the potential or previous guest, of what goes on in the vacation rental industry. We hope that after reading this article that you have a better understanding that some things are just outside of the control of the PMC. We understand that you probably don't care why something is wrong with your rental, only that something is wrong... but we hope you also come away from this knowing that PMC's do an incredible job at trying to satisfy the millions of visitors to our shores each year.
An individual, couple or family are interested in real estate along the coast. They find the house they think will give them the best return (or build one) and place it in the care of a PMC. It is this company's duty to find renters for this home, and property management companies generally do a very good job at this. They market the home heavily by sending out brochures, advertising in regional and national publications, list their properties on a variety of other websites and much more.
Part of the job of a PMC is to ensure the property is maintained and in a condition that a renter will find agreeable. We have worked with many PMC's and can safely tell you that virtually all of them spend a great deal of time and resources doing everything in their power to ensure a guest is happy when they check into their vacation rental. It is in their best interest that you have a great time on vacation so that you will hopefully return to them next year.
That being said however, things do get overlooked. Some of the larger PMC's manage more than 1,000 homes and have a staff nearing 100. Even with unlimited resources however, it is absolutely impossible for them to catch everything. They are very well aware that it is your vacation and you want it to be perfect and they will generally do absolutely everything within their power to help with creating great lasting memories.
Another problem that plagues the vacation rental industry is negligent homeowners... and every PMC has at least a few. They know that some homeowners will not provide comfortable beds, a working coffee pot, or have the yard mowed on a regular basis. The PMC tries very hard to get these homeowners to fix their property, and after so many complaints, they will almost always drop the homeowner's property from their property management program.
Calling your PMC and being irate will likely slow down the process. A polite, direct phone call explaining the problem will generally yield much quicker results. This is just human nature. Think about it -- if you had two people calling and one was polite, while the other one was screaming in your ear, which one would you likely help first? A lot of times, the problem can be solved without sending someone out to the house. Whoever picks up at the PMC will likely have a list of questions to ask. Understand that they are only doing their job. They're checking in hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of families, and they are quite busy - having a process speeds things up.
Missing or Broken Items...
A vacation home is just like your home - things break! PMC's regularly keep things like extra TV's, refrigerators, coffee makers, playpens, etc on site just so they can quickly replace an item. It is impossible, of course, for them to have a backup of everything - and sometimes their backups simply run out. Remember that many of the beaches along North Carolina's coast are small towns - it is not always an easy matter to go pick up a new item on the spot. Your PMC will likely try very hard to get it replaced while you are on vacation, but this may not always be possible.
If your hot tub breaks, understand that even with the best intentions, it simply may not be possible to get it fixed in less than a few days. PMC's are starting to recommend specific hot tubs to their homeowners. This allows the PMC to keep extra parts on hand (something impossible to do when you have 50 different hot tub brands to manage). If your PMC does not have a spare part on hand, the only action they can take is to order a new part. Murphy is alive and well - and things do break.
The homeowner may also be at fault here. Some homeowners refuse to allow the PMC to replace a broken item without consulting them first. Of course, it may not be possible to get ahold of the homeowner right.... NOW, so it may take a day (or ten) to replace something broken.
Look at the Size of these Cockroaches!
Cockroaches, waterbugs or Palmetto bugs... all basically the same, and every single beach house has them. They are impossible to get rid of, but PMC's sure do try! A lot of homes on the coast have a monthly spraying, and while this does get rid of most of them, please understand that a cockroach is said to be able to live through a nuclear winter... a little poison is not likely to pose a huge problem to them.
Remain calm, take a deep breath, go outside and soak in the beauty around you while you call your PMC. Explain the problem to them and they will likely do their best to get a terminator out to your rental ASAP. Keep in mind, however, that there are thousands of homes and only so many pest terminators. It may take a few hours for one of them to arrive - and maybe even the next day. You likely will not be spending much time in the house anyway, so hopefully this won't be too big of a problem.
This Rental House is Filthy!
While most PMC's do offer housekeeping services when you check out, there are some that do not. This is to offer a more cost-conscience traveler a home without frills. If this is your case, there likely will not be much that can be done.
Another problem can be with the homeowner, as explained above. Some simply will not put money into their investment to replace carpets or blinds, and it is the PMC that takes the blame. These are the homes that the PMC will likely be dropping from their program at the end of this season, and when your PMC tells you they are sorry, they genuinely mean it! They've been receiving complaints about this home all summer and they know it is hurting their bottom line.
The biggest problem however, is likely the staff a PMC has cleaning the homes. Understand that staffing is a huge issue in the summer for almost all companies along the coast (not just PMC's, but restaurants, grocery stores, etc). When hiring housekeepers, PMC's are often forced to take what they can and they generally try very hard to make due. All PMC's have extensive training for their housekeepers, and almost all PMC's are members of Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals, which offers seminars and conferences throughout the year.
Even with the absolute best efforts, there are some housekeepers that just do not do a good job. If a PMC receives too many complaints about a particular housekeeper, you can bet that housekeeper will likely be without a job. Again - just walk outside and relax. Give your PMC a call, and you can be certain they will send someone out as soon as humanly possible.
It is raining outside and you are stuck inside. You start to notice all these little things that are wrong with the vacation house. Think you're alone? Not even close! That's what thousands of others are doing at that exact same moment! Things you don't bother noticing when it is sunny outside stick out like a sore thumb when the rain comes. Be patient and understand that it will be unlikely to get someone out immediately - many, many others are calling their PMC and complaining of problems also -- every maintenance worker on the beach is putting in overtime today! Break out the board game, go watch a movie or visit the aquarium on these days. There are tons of things to do rather than sitting there getting upset!
Summing Things Up...
There are many things that can go wrong while on vacation. It is human nature to want a "perfect" vacation, and your PMC will do everything within their power to help make that so... but keep in mind that everyone working at your PMC is human too, and they are trying their best to provide you with the best service possible.
Remember that you are now on "island time" and try to let the small things go. Having a broken toaster or coffee maker isn't the end of the world, nor is spotting a cockroach crawling across the floor. Try not to take things so personally, because it is for certain they are not being done to you on purpose.
We will continue to update this article as things we've surely forgotten are mentioned to us, but we hope to have given you a moment to pause and understand that vacation homes are not like hotels. Homeowners, labor shortages and other issues outside the control of a PMC can and do come into play. Many PMC's have been in business a long time, and that in itself is a testament to their wanting to provide the best service possible. Please keep this article in mind when posting a review about a PMC or reading existing reviews.