How we work at La Scuola di Furio in Tuscany
3 true stories to tell you how we work at La Scuola di Furio
When I am asked what I do for a living or wchich is my job, I usually reply that I rent apartments in Tuscany to tourists. But then I always have the feeling that I have not fully answered this question. Because, in fact, my activity has a much greater scale, which is directly related to my guests who want to spend their holidays in Tuscany here in La Scuola di Furio. I try to do everything possible to make your dream come true! By that I mean, the prospect of a pleasant family holiday without any problems or nasty surprises.
I would like to introduce our philosophy by telling you 3 true stories that really happened in La Scuola di Furio.
True Story # 1: The German Family from Mainz
Some of our guests book a specific apartment well in advance. This is very unusual for Italians because we have a completely different way of tackling some things.
This is the screenshot of the message from 2011.
On Sunday, May 15, 2011, at 13.37 I got the booking request from a German family, who would like to come to La Scuola di Furio in the first two weeks of July 2012. At 16.57 I send my answer with information and prices. A few days later I receive the confirmation from this family with a down payment. Even today, when I tell this story to my friends, everyone is always totally surprised, because the average Italian family usually decides where to go on vacation, usually a few weeks, if not a few days, before the actual holiday begins! The average Italian guest would rather wait for spectacular last minute deals (which always means to me that you can have what others did not want...). Well, back to our German family, they contacted me 14 months before the beginning of the holiday and gave me details about themselves. It is a Mainz couple with three children, two boys and a girl who would like to book that particular apartment named Zigolo, as this a second bedroom for their children. They also write me the ages of their children. Their little daughter was 2 years old at that time. No, actually she was barely ONE year old at the time because they told me the exact age of the children they would have at the time of their holiday in Tuscany! So they were about to spend their summer 2011 holidays somewhere else. Then their autumn, when in Germany it get darker much earlier than in Italy. Then their winter, the German winter, when, I was told by a Minich-based guest, it can happen that you spend 2 weeks without any blue sky and which can be very icy. And then finally spring is over and all this time the family is looking forward to their summer holiday in Tuscany in La Scuola di Furio. They are looking forward to exactly this holiday apartment, which the parents have chosen so far in advance, because they consider it suitable for their family. I, too, consider this apartment suitable for these children, so their trust in me is justified. After 14 months of dreaming about their family holiday in Tuscany they arrive and get their apartment Zigolo. They find the master bedroom to be the same as in the pictures (well, almost like that, we are not a hotel, after all, but we have our laundry and the bedspreads on the beds can look quite different from those in the photo); however, the decor is the same as in the photo. The bathroom is exactly as in the photo. The children bedroomy is exactly as in the photo. And also the living room is exactly like in the photo. We are by no means inflexible, we can change something over time, because we are always out to make improvements. On the website you will always see very recent photos.
So this is a true story with a happy ending.
True Story # 2: The Italian couple from South Tyrol
One afternoon I'm in the office and I get a call from my friend Rosy. Rosy is the bartender in a cafè near my house (Bar Le Delizie). I go there almost every day and we have been knowing each other for a long time, but she never calls me! I pick the phone and she tells me "Tiziana, I have two persons here who need accommodation for tonight or for this period because they went to another holiday home, were not happy about it and left. I do not waste time and I immediately go to meet them. I immediately clarify that at that moment for them, a couple, I have THAT apartment. I'll show it to them, it's clean and ready to be taken, we talk about the price and the conditions as we normally do. They visite the apartment and decide that it is what they are looking for. During the usual small talk, I learn that these guests who live surrounded by the beautiful mountains in Northern Italy, dreamed and booked an accommodation WITH A VIEW on our beautiful Tuscan countryside. When they arrived at the other holiday home, their apartment had NO VIEW. I show them Fiorancino, which has beautiful views (even from the bathroom window!) and they are immediately delighted. Not only they decide to stay for a few days, they also prolonged their stay in Fucecchio for more nights than their original program.
The view from the bathroom window in Fiorancino
So, what had happened? The other holiday home had accepted their request for accommodation with a view at first, and then simply forget about it or did not give it importance or (and this is a hypothesis that I hope is science fiction) had simply arranged the reservations as they preferred. So, the other managers decided that satisfying the wishes of this couple to have a room with a view was not so important compared to the possibility of having a "better" bookings, more overnight stays, at a higher price, however more profitable. The consequence was that they decided to assign this South Tyrolean couple a wall-facing lodging. And this is another story with a happy ending, but only after suffering the stress of being told "I have this accommodation available, if you do not like it you can leave". If we at La Scuola di Furio had been fully booked, what would have happened to these persons? They would have had to settle for a last minute accommodation even if they had booked one months before!
At La Scuola di Furio, what you see is what you get!
All of our apartments and Villa Maura wherever they are advertised (on our site and more broadly on the sites that are called OTAs, Online Travel Agencies, ie online travel agencies), have a name and an identity. So that THAT ad refers to THAT apartment, which has that name, that you can relate to THOSE photos you see. Let's say we receive a request for our Zigolo apartment for certain dates. When Zigolo is no longer available I can propose an alternative, writing "For your dates I have the apartment Ballerina who has THESE features and THERE are the pictorures", illustrating the differences and similarities ("both are on the grund floor, the bathroom in Ballerina has been recently completely refurbished). Each apartment has its strengths. Then it is up to those who make the request to decide whether it is OK or not. Our offer is clear. We do not write "A two-bedroom apartment", we write "Zigolo, two-bedroom apartment ...". Full description and photos.
Let's go back to the True Story n.1. What happens if I promise a family an apartment and then, on arrival, I divert them elsewhere? I really do not want to think about a family, 14 months after having started to dream their holiday and traveled a thousand kilometers arrives at their destination and you hear "Ah, yes it's not the apartment you wanted, we have put in another, more or less is the same". Well, to my ears this phase sonds like: "you are not important to me".
There are two cases in which I can't keep my word.
One is if an extremely serious problem occurs, something we could not foresee and which we could not solve before your arrival. Usually the problems occur on holidays, at lunchtime and when the technicians are on holiday. Even if we have become good at repairing different things, against the unexpected there is little to do.
The second case that we can verify is we receive a request that at the moment we can not satisfy because our booking calendar does not allow it. Then it is possible that we offer an advantage to those who decide to change apartments. We write something like: "Dear Guest who booked the apartment X, we can propose the apartment Y at the same price and under the same conditions. We ask for permission, perhaps to move a couple from the one bedroom apartment to a bigger apartment, with an extra room. Obviously we provide this communication with an accurate description and photos of the second accommodation proposed. And this is a proposal, it is absolutely not an imposition, the final choice remains with the guests. At La Scuola di Furio, if you respect the word means to miss a reservation, there are no problems.
I do not tell you this not because I am better than others, I do it because you have to pretend to be heard and promises are respected.
True Story # 2: The German Couple from Hamburg
Anna and Frank, a nice couple from Hamburg, are loyal guests. They are like swallows, they arrive in springtime driving a beautiful convertible sports car and are already much more tanned than I am. "Their" apartment is Pispolo and one year I risked losing them as guests while I was thinking I was doing them a favor!
Our neighbor Alessandro was getting his house ready for his own wedding that would take place in July. Pispolo is the apartment closest to that house. I thought that the German guests could have had some troubles due to the noise and dust coming from the works. Work began at 8 AM, when you are on vacation, it is very early! On my initiative I moved their booking in Zigolo, on the opposite side, without tellng them! I was not at their check-in, Walter welcomed them. He took them to Zigolo, gave them the keys and they did not say anything. During their stay I went to say hi to them and they warned me "if we book Pispolo is because we like Pispolo, never again put us in another apartment!". I explained my reasons, that I had believed I had done them a favor by moving them to an apartment with an extra room but I understood their point of view and learned the lesson.
An OTA (Online Travel Agency) will neves ask what are your wishes!
As I said, on all OTAs our apartments each have their own identity: name description photos of the interior and of course the photos of the exterior, some exteriors are shared, so the photos are the same. Be careful though, some OTAs and unfortunately it is not our fault, make a lot of confusion and for some group announcements (because all the units are on the same property) they may be unclear "what belongs to where" so sometimes the enquirers themselves contact us directly with the question "Which room will I sleep in?". In this case we immediately send a link in which the prospect guest can see that the main bedrom of Zigolo looks like. All this happens thanks to the fact that we put transparency on it. You tell us what you want and we clearly offer you this or that.
We put transparency on it. My invitation is that you put a little effort into trying to distinguish if what they offer you has a personality, a well-defined position or if you simply settle down to what is more convenient to the holiday home and you will be treated like a Tetris piece (they are called Tetriminos, by the way) that falling it must fit in the reservations frame the best way posible. What I describe, the Tetris method is a legitimate way of working, very common, to which you can comply if you travel for work, if it is a one-night stopover or something like this. For a family holiday in Tuscany or with your loved one, my advice is that you try to get some information to understand if the proposal is right for your needs and wishes!
Getting a reservation from someone who right now is not the ideal guest for us and for whom La Scuola di Furio is not the ideal destination is something we are not interested about. Now on our site www.LaScuolaDiFurio.com we have what technically is called a Booking Engine. A Booking Engine is a software integrated into the site that allows you to book directly. It is that little box where you enter the dates of your stay, indicate the number of people and the ages of the children if there are any and that shows you the availabilities that are right for you. Theoretically, and sometimes it happens, you can book without any previous direct contact with the holiday home. We've had the Booking Engine for a couple of years. Before having this valuable work tool, we already had a paragraph in the "About Us" page, which slightly changed with the introduction of the Booking Engine, entitled "What We Are NOT". More or less in the old site there was written something like "we are not a BOOK NOW button".
I (Tiziana) attend marketing courses in which we are taught that the button "BOOK NOW" is very important. Should I put it above or below the fold? On the left or on the right? Is it better in green, red or blue? Thuth to be told, the color of the button is not important here at La Scuola di Furio. It is important that you know what you are booking, that you are convinced and that you know that IF there is a minimum doubt you can find me on the phone, you can find me on WhatsApp, you can find me writing an email. I will try to be very quick in dissolving your doubts. Above all I can give you a sincere answer. If you are a group of 19-year-olds I can not stop you from booking at La Scuola di Furio. You may think you are victims of some form of discrimination. Wrongly, because at the School of Furio we do not discriminate against anyone. It is that the School of Furio is not a suitable place for a group of young men or girls. If you explain to me the composition of your group and ask me how I can settle in the best I can give you my opinion. An OTA will simply take your reservation without asking you anything. Then if you find yourself bad because the structure is not right for you it will be your problem!
The main reason why I do not want this booking is because they would be happy to leave. The last thing I want is a happy customer to leave. Our ideal host when he leaves the Furio School must be sorry!
Let's make a deal!
You ask us so many questions, you get bored with your requests, your needs and your DREAMS. What I promise you in return is that if what you want is not The School of Furio, I will not do anything to invite you to book. If you are in a point in life when the holiday at the School of Furio is not for you, I will be the first to advise against you. Our satisfaction is not a reservation at all costs. Our satisfaction is the customer who comes super happy, he is super happy because he sees that what he has chosen exists in reality and fully corresponds to what he promised and when he says "Then look at Tiziana next year our dates will be these". This is our satisfaction!put it on the right and is evaluated if it is better to place it to the right or left, up or down, if it is better that it is green, red or blue. In truth, the color of the button is not important to the School of Furio. It is important that you know what you are booking, that you are convinced and that you know that there was also a minimum doubt you find me on the phone, you find me on WhatsApp, you can find me by email. I will try to be very quick in dissolving your doubts. Above all I can give you a sincere answer.
If you are a group of 19-year-olds I can not stop you from booking at La Scuola di Furio. Otherwise, you might think you are victims of some form of discrimination. Well, you would be wrong, at La Scuola di Furio we do not discriminate against anyone, everyone is welcome! It is just that La Scuola di Furio is not a suitable place for a group of young persons. If you write me the composition of your group and ask me to find the best possible accommodation combination AND give you my honest opinion. An OTA will simply take your reservation without asking you anything. Then if you find yourself in a bad situation because the holiday home is not right for you, it is your problem!
The main reason why I do not want this booking is because they would be happy to leave. The last thing I want is a guest that is happy to leave our premises. Our ideal must feel unhappy when he leaves La Scuola di Furio!
Let's make a deal!
You ask us as many question as you like, you get us VERY bored with your requests, your needs and your DREAMS. What I promise you in return is that if what you want is not La Scuola di Furio, I will not do anything to invite you to book. If you are in a point in life when a holiday at La Scuola di Furio is not for you, I will be the first to advise against you. Our satisfaction is not a reservation at all costs. Our satisfaction is the guest who comes super happy, he is super happy because he sees that what he has chosen exists in reality and fully corresponds to what he was promised and on departure says "Look Tiziana, next year our dates will be these".
This is our satisfaction!