So, you have bought your French gite, carried out any repairs and renovations, and finished decorating. That’s just the first step to running a gite in France! From safety concerns to kitting out your gite—here are some tips on preparing for your first guests.
1. Furnishing and Equipping Your Gite
Depending on how many people your gite sleeps, try to provide enough cutlery and crockery for roughly double that number. Especially if you have provided a dishwasher.
Imagine yourself using that kitchen, what would you need? Once you have the basics in place such as pans, chopping boards, knives, plates, bowls, glasses, cutlery and mugs, the devil is in the detail. Bottle openers, speed peelers, garlic crushers, oyster shuckers and zesters – what are you guests likely to use?
If you provide a barbecue, remember the essential outdoor equipment and maybe even an apron. What do you expect guests to do with the used coals? Have you provided an outdoor dining area and is there enough shade?
Try to think through each room and each space and how you might use that space. For example, in the bedroom, is there somewhere (perhaps a chair) to place your clothes when you undress? Where might you need a mirror? Where could suitcases go? Is there a place for toothbrushes in the bathroom? Do you provide a hairdryer?
A fellow gite owner advised us to remember that holiday accommodation needs to be functional. How you might decorate your home is not necessarily the same as how you might decorate your gite.
2. Safety First
Tailor your equipment to your ideal guest. For example, families may wish to have baby and child equipment on site. Try to consider everything that might be needed in each room. From bathroom steps, toilet seats, bed guards to highchairs, dining arrangements, toys and games.
Safety measures are especially important where children are concerned. Might your property need additional measures to keep little ones safe? (Windows, plugs, stairs and doors are all good starting points but not an exhaustive list). Have you considered First Aid kits and a list of Emergency Contacts?
Your local Tourist Office and/or insurance company will be able to advise you regarding smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and a fire extinguisher supplier.
If you have a swimming pool, make sure you know the law and that your guests do too. Children must never be left unattended and the pool must always be secured at night so that people or animals cannot enter.
3. Bedding and Towels
It is worth giving this some thought. It could be argued that three sets of bedding per bed could be necessary. One to wash, one to use and one in case of emergencies. However, you may well manage with less. Quality bedding will last but will also demand an investment.
To make your life easier, think about having all your beds the same size (whether it’s kings, queens, doubles, or singles). To match up linen to three differently sized single beds is not what you need when the clock is ticking.
Decide whether you want your bedding to be mix and match or plain. Will a dark colour fade quickly in the sun, and will you be able to keep white, white?
It might be advisable to research and be prepared with tried and tested ‘hacks’ to remove awkward stains without ruining your bedding. Notably fake tan, sun-cream and blood.
To iron or not to iron? Obviously, it is more environmentally friendly to line dry your bedding and not to iron. If you choose not to iron your bedding, it may be worth explaining to your guests why you have made that decision. Some guests just love ironed bedding!
Increasingly, gite owners are providing towels for their guests. Have you thought about providing additional beach towels for by the pool? Consider the extra washing and where you might dry it all on a rainy day.
4. Look Over Your Gite With a Critical Eye
When you think you’re finally ready with everything in place, try to enter your gite with a fresh pair of eyes – could you ask a friend to stay or could you even stay in your gite yourself? This is the only sure-fire way to test out whether you have remembered the most important things and whether your gite is well equipped and ‘works’ for your guests.
In reality, not many can afford this luxury of time. Simply being honest with your guests and issuing a simple feedback form can help with minor adjustments.
5. Prepare an Information Book for Your Guests
Whether you use a digital guidebook or a folder inside your gite or both, self-catering guests need to know their way about the local area fairly quickly to ensure their holiday goes smoothly. They also need to know what the local area has to offer. It is wise to only make personal recommendations that you have recently tried and tested. Know your area and promote your community.
Taking Feedback On Your Gite Business
In truth, it can be tricky to please absolutely everybody all of the time. When starting out, if you aim to please the vast majority of people as much as you possibly can, this will still be an achievement. It can be difficult to take on-board constructive criticism when you have poured blood, sweat and tears into your new business. Try not to take feedback too personally. Take a deep breath, take a step back and review. We all learn something new every day and tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities.
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