Each and every year, the traditional summer interview hands the mic over to beach lovers, ice-cream vendors, the coast guard, restaurateurs,… These summer jobs are well-known. Yet, many remain under the radar because the media doesn’t discuss them. We aim our focus on such a profession, owner of an Ardennes holiday home…
Bertogne, with its 3200 inhabitants, its buildings made out of local stone and its sense of peace, so typical for the Ardennes: the stage has been set. On the corner of a barely paved alley, a large signpost shows us the right way to go. There it is, down a hiking trail. It is an old house that has been converted into a holiday house. Amandine and Jérôme, in their thirties, are the lucky owners.
Even though at first, she was skeptical about the idea of transforming the family house into a holiday home, Amandine gets carried away by the game of this seasonal activity now. «I’m convinced of the fact, that if we offer something excellent to people, they will return it to us in the same condition as they found it, but it requires a large investment from our side».
Reception, cleaning, repairs, outdoor maintenance, reservations management … Offering a holiday home for rent requires continuous efforts. It’s a second job for the owners who generally work full-time. During Summer, the New Year’s festivities, school holidays and even on weekends,… one has to be available at all times, definitely during tourism’s high-season. Jérôme, Amandine’s husband, nods: «You know, on weekends, one of us needs to stay sober, not in order to drive but in order to be available in case there are problems with the holidaymakers».
Sandrine, owner of a holiday home in Jalhay emphasizes the commitment that one needs to make as well: «For me it is not sufficient to just hand over the key to the holidaymakers, I give them a tour around the house, I tell them all they need to know, give them practical info and make sure they’re provided with touristic information concerning the region. According to me, arranging a good reception is one of the essential characteristics of the owner of a holiday home».
« When it comes to the reception of the holidaymakers, I arrange things with my boss. I always manage to be present because I usually stop early on Fridays. Concerning the departure which usually takes place on Sunday nights, we always manage to cope» Sandrine continues.
Sandrine and her husband Olivier decided from the beginning to delegate as many financial aspects of the holiday home as possible. They didn’t want to handle money when dealing with the holidaymakers. “Ardennes-Etape manages everything from beginning til end. The guarantee, the flat-rate costs, … everything is paid in advance at the agency. The relationship with the holidaymaker is easier and more pleasant since we don’t need to discuss money business, we’re convinced that their stay is paid from the moment they arrive and when there are problems, Ardennes-Etape takes care of it. It’s perfect!”, Oliver claims.
Being an owner is also a profession that gives you great moments to share, like Sandrine emphasizes: « At the end of March, I had the opportunity to welcome Englishmen. The fact that they crossed the channel to get here surprised me. Our kids were constantly looking for them. Even though they didn’t know how to communicate, I heard a few English words coming out of my daughter Cloé’s mouth. »
In Bertogne we also encounter numerous anecdotes: «On a Summer Monday, I was expecting a group of 19 adults. It was hot outside and I was with the kids. In the distance I heard a thud sound that came closer and closer. It became worrisome. On that moment I told myself: “that’s for us”. Suddenly, fifteen Harley Davidsons stormed into the alley. The children got scared and I have to admit that neither I was reassured. These were real bikers, heavy and full with tattoos. I actually believed they were going to ruin the house. I even called Ardennes-Etape to express my concerns. At the end of their stay, surprisingly enough, the house was impeccable! That’s definitely one of the lessons I’ve learned thanks to holiday home rental: no prejudice».
Amandine has decided to quit her current job in order to devote herself completely to the management of the holiday home, which was a well-considered decision. «Being available to guests is part of the after sales service. It doesn’t feel like the customers are disturbing me, but the whole organization does require a lot of time. I have to make choices. I chose for my family, my children and the holiday home. I’m extremely happy with my new profession», the young lady concludes.