According to Joy: The secrets to a great guest experience

Mar 26, 2018 | Testimonials

Joy Raymond knows (probably better than anyone) the importance of a great guest experience.

Her exceptional properties on England’s Jurassic Coast have earned her the 2017 Certificate of Excellence and an even more exclusive Travelers’ Choice award. Unsurprisingly, they’re fully booked almost all year round.

If we had to describe Joy in one word, it’d be uncompromising. She is truly a force of nature with incredibly high standards and an instinct for what her guests want. We sat down with Joy to discover how she goes the extra mile to ensure her guests have their best trip yet.


  1. Make guests welcome (even if it’s KILLING you!).
  2. A good owner always has great tradesmen at her fingertips.
  3. Ensure your guests have everything they could need depending on their type of trip
  4. Remember this is the hospitality industry, not real estate.
  5. When an issue occurs, act fast… this is a person’s vacation after all.

How do you feel TripAdvisor reviews help you as an owner?

Well, one of the plus points at the moment, which is why I’m very happy to be with TripAdvisor, is the fact that if somebody leaves the review, they’ve got to say who they are and when they stayed. As an owner, verified reviews are very welcome and it’s nice to have an opportunity to thank the customer for choosing my property. And if they did encounter problems, of course, to reassure future guests wishing to stay that the problem has been rectified instantly. So it does keep owners on their toes.

A lot of your reviews give as much praise to you as to your rentals! How do you earn that reputation?

I come from this area—I am a true local. People coming on holiday value expert inside knowledge on the area. For example, if my guests want to come down here specifically to go fossil hunting on the World Heritage Jurassic Coast, then I’m in a position to tell them where to go, the best places to park, where to look for fossils… I think it’s also very important to be able to point people to the best places to eat, because eating local food is one of the major highlights of the visitor’s holiday experience.


Getting great reviews is the most important step in building your rental business on TripAdvisor. Properties with just one review get an average of 544% more bookings than those without!

Speaking of eating, your breakfast basket gets mentioned a lot in your reviews. Tell us about that.

I make sure it is stocked with local and homemade produce. I’m very selective in what I put in it. I have local apple juice made at Four Elms Fruit Farm, I have local milk from Craig’s Dairy. I try and keep it all within a 20-mile radius from my house if I possibly can.

They’re not necessarily going to eat every scrap that’s in the breakfast basket, but they like to see it there. It makes them feel welcome. And it makes them feel they’re getting value for money.

That goes for more than just food, doesn’t it?

I think that it’s a killer if you just supply the basics and think, “Oh, they only want four knives and four forks and four spoons.” I think guests want to see the full array, so I get everything in the cupboards from bottle stops, to tea towels and a clean, brand-new dish cloth and sponge. If guests find the place looking sparkling and pristine, they’re far more likely to look after it. If they think you’re sloppy, they’re going to be sloppy.

What else goes into making guests feel welcome?

If I am here, I always, always, always meet the guests. It is so important. You’ve got to be aware that people like to arrive early and leave late. You have to be ready and prepared in good time—like by 1 o’clock—just in case somebody wants to sneak through the door before 3 o’clock. You will make them welcome… even if it’s killing you!

I also have a good information book in the property that lists anything they might need, from an Indian takeaway to where the doctor is. I think that kind of practical information is just as important as what to eat and where to go.

You put a lot of work in before guests even arrive, don’t you?

Here’s one interesting thing that I just picked up recently: I was in Canada and I was staying in some of the Fairmont resorts. Before I got there, I had a very upbeat welcome letter saying, “We’re so looking forward to seeing you on your holiday next week. Please get in touch with us if there’s anything we can do.”

Of course, the English are very reserved—the letter I sent out to guests before this was along the lines of, “Dear Mr. Smith, Thank you for booking Acorns Apartment. The key will be in the safe box. This is the key code number.” Well, I’ve changed all of that now!

Do you have any tips for those rare occasions when a stay doesn’t go to plan?

I think a good owner has got tradesmen at her fingertips. I always tip my tradesmen well so that if I call them, they’ll come out. And they say to me, “Oh, you don’t need to tip me £20. I’ve only tightened a cap.” And I’ll say, “No. When I ring you at 1 o’clock on Christmas Day, I mean it, and I will expect you to come out.” Because boilers and cookers have a lovely habit of going wrong on Christmas Eve!

Has Joy inspired you to go that extra mile to wow your guests and leave them itching to leave you to a 5/5 review?

Find out more about how reviews can help you build your rental business.

Check out Joy’s listings on TripAdvisor.


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