Testing the apartments’ usability


buy me, I am cheap and useful!

When we travel we try to stay in apartments/houses and avoid hotels.
Often we even test them, meaning that we analyze the apartments and write a review about the experience, so at the end of the stay the Owner gets a lot of interesting feedback.

What I like most about testing is that the changes we suggest are almost always free or very cheap to implement, but they bring a lot of value.

Here’s four examples:

1) The missing Kitchen Cloth

Once I cleaned a coffee cup in the sink and then looked for a cloth to dry my hands.

It was not there, so I used the kitchen paper. I was a bit sorry, as it was a waste of paper.
In the whole morning I think I dried my hands about five times.

So I went in the bathroom and took the small towel…and I realized this is something I do very often in apartments.
I think 40% of apartments I test do not have a kitchen cloth.
40% of tourist apartments do not have an item which is instead present in 100% of kitchen in the whole world.
I mean, have you ever seen a real kitchen without a kitchen cloth?

2) The missing Trash Bin

Picture me in this situation:
I took a shower, used a small shampoo bag and enjoyed the hot water.
All perfect.
After drying myself in the nice towel, I looked for a bin to throw the plastic bag of the shampoo.
Not there.
I had to bring it down to the kitchen and in the process the “feels like home” feeling became “feels like home but nobody lives here”.

3) The missing Rag

In another apartment where I stayed I had the following problem: I came back from the snowy streets (that was in Prague in the winter), my shoes were full of ice which started melting dirty water right there, in the entrance.
I had to use the bathroom carpet to save the situation.
A cheap rag, costing maybe 2 Euros, could have solved the problem easily.



Are the owners trying to save money? Of course not.
Don’t they care? Of course they care.
Are they afraid the guests will steal? Often yes, but guests don’t steal rags (mostly) and if they do, the damage is really limited.

So, what is is?


This is not surprising. They cannot know. They should guess everything. And guessing is very hard.
There are literally hundreds of things to remember in a house.
Or they should be hospitality professionals and approach this problem more scientifically, and most of the times they are not, it’s just a side business.

What about customer feedback? Won’t they tell if something is missing?
Forget it, they are there to enjoy a holiday not to test your apartment.
They won’t waste time letting you know about these details.
They’ll be annoyed, yes, but that’s it.
The most you can expect is this to reflect in the feedback.
Except if they are Germans of course.
That’s not a joke, they really do and while it may be annoying it’s really helpful!

So, what I realized is that apartments need usability tests.

How to do them?

  1. Sleep in your own apartment/house sometimes. You’ll see it with different eyes.
  2. Have friends and/or family sleep there for free in exchange for a usability test.
    Leave a piece of paper and a pen on the table and ask them to write down suggestions and improvements from the first day. Each time something comes up.. write it down!
  3. Ask us to do it, we don’t charge for that. You invite us, we come, stay two nights and leave a very detailed and useful report. See one test I made in Malta here. After that it’s easier to get reservations too.

You will be surprised by how much you can improve with very little money!


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