Renting out your holiday home in the winter brings a few more challenges than the days of summer. Freezing temperatures, risk of gales and power cuts, and frozen pipes may be the least of your problems if your guests are not familiar with life in the country.
Provide a comprehensive guidebook that covers every eventuality while your guests are at your property, and a pre-arrival letter to remind your guests what to bring with them, and you will have done your best to educate and inform. The following tips may help you towards this goal:
- Let your guests know the road conditions they are likely to encounter so they can prepare accordingly.
- Provide a power cut kit that includes candles and/or gas lamps; a battery powered radio; matches or a gas lighter; and a supply of bottled drinking water.
- Include advice in your Welcome Book covering the safe use of candles and/or gas lamps and instructions on what to do in the event of a power cut.
- Supply a snow shovel and a bag of sand or ice clearing solution.
- Make sure there are ample supplies of spare blankets in case of an extended power cut that could affect central heating systems.
- Your Welcome book should always contain a list of contact numbers, including a local towing service, a number to call the ESB or NIE in case of a cut, and more obviously, the holiday home address.
- When advertising a property for winter, make it very clear if 4wheel drive is required for access.
- Your directions should be explicit and use accurate distances for use with a trip meter/satnav – don’t use references to any landmarks that may be covered in snow. ‘Turn right at the house with the green roof’ is fine for visitors arriving in summer daylight, but not much good when the red roof is under inches of snow!
- It’s much wiser to err on the side of pessimism when describing potential conditions. Describing a ‘worst case scenario’ will motivate visitors to arrive well prepared.
The key to maximizing your rental potential in winter is to be well prepared for every eventuality. Be practical and assume your guests know little about winter conditions in your area. You will feel more confident, and they will have a much better time!