Picture the scenario: your guests were supposed to check out at 11 am. You have new guests arriving at 3 pm. Your guests take their time and don’t check out until 2 pm.
That leaves you with either having to get the property ready in less time or delay the check-in for the next arrivals. Either way, it’s an inconvenience for you and may actually result in two negative reviews from the same day.
If you’ve experienced many late check-outs, or are getting sick and tired of your guests taking their time to leave your vacation rental property, here are 7 things you can do to put an end to it once and for all:
1. House Rules
House rules are a professional way of laying out the land for all guests that enter your property. They present you with an opportunity to clearly state: what you expect of them, what they can and can’t do, and what penalties will occur if these rules are broken. When your guests are all on the same wavelength with a clear picture of what is allowed and forbidden, it will help you to feel a lot more in control.
Typical house rules include the following: noise, smoking, pets, garbage, parking, visitors, etc. Stating the check-out time in your house rules is extremely important and essential. You should also implement the exact time on your vacation rental website, and on any other OTAs you’re listing on.
Your guests have to abide by your house rules as it is signed by them. We’ve created a house rules template which you can download and personalize yourself. Of course, we’ve included the check-out time. You can download it here.
2. Take a Deposit
Once you’ve stated the check-out time in your house rules, you need to add some consequences in the event they are breached. Although a security deposit is typically used if any damage caused to the property or wear and fear of furniture and amenities, it can also be used if there are any violation of house rules.
Therefore you can take a deposit from your guests, and only give it back to them if they checked out the stated time. By collecting a refundable payment upfront, owners have a pot they can dip into and deduct funds from, should a late check-out occur. This will more likely prevent guests from checking out late if they know that they will be charged for it.
3. Charge a Late Check-Out Fee
You can even take further actions to prevent them from running late by implementing a check-out fee. There are many ways to do this, you can either charge them per hour, e.g. $50 per hour or even charge them for a full day. These additional costs could ward off a late check-out, and in the event that it does occur, at least you’ll make some money from it.
Again, you can impose this check-out fee on your vacation rental website, and on major OTAs such as Airbnb, VRBO or HomeAway. Remember to include the check-out fees on your rental agreement, which the guests will have to sign upon arrival.
4. Communicate with Your Guests
Communicating with your guests most likely starts as soon as they book your vacation rental, but also continues when preparing for their arrival. You need to inform them of the check-in procedure, who will be present to greet them, ask them what time they will arrive and so on.
If you want to avoid charging your guests or taking away part of their deposit, you can sort everything out before any negative actions have to be taken. Just by simply asking your guests what time they will check out will simplify everything. There is absolutely no harm and it may actually prevent problems.
If they state they will be checking out later, of course, this is when you need to tell them that it’s not possible. Then offer solutions, such as you can stay a few hours but I charge $50 per hour after check-in. Or, you can store their luggage for them either in your property or recommend a local place.
Alternatively, you can be flexible. If you have no new bookings for that exact day, consider being lenient and let them stay for a few hours free of charge. In turn, it could lead to an extremely positive review and recommendations, resulting in more bookings overall!
5. Be Present at Check-Out
One of the most effective ways to avoid a late check-out is to be physically present at the departure time. This way, guests cannot take advantage of the fact that no one is there to make sure they leave. Also, they physically won’t be able to stay any longer when the host has arrived at the property to check them out.
If you have an automated check-in or manage the rental property long-distance, consider hiring a property manager. Each company offers a different type of service. Whilst some property managers take care of cleaning and replacing amenities, others act as the emergency contact for guests during their stay. They can hire to solely be present for check-in and check-out. This acts as a huge benefit, especially when you have new arrivals the same day.
Some hosts have even gone as far as changing the code of their WIFI door lock after the check-out time so that the guests can’t access the property!
6. Make Check-Out Time Earlier
Another solution would be to change your check-out time. If you’re prone to late check-outs, consider making your check out time earlier than it actually is. An advantage of this is that it will actually give you more time to get everything ready between each guest turnover. As follows, you’ll be able to anticipate these problems before they even occur.
7. Remind Them the Night Before
The night before check-out, send your guests a friendly reminder with the check-out time. A simple text will do. Here’s an example you can use:
Hey (guest name), I hope you enjoyed your stay at (rental name). Just to remind you that check-out is at 12 pm tomorrow. We wish you a safe journey back and hope to see you again soon!
You can also inform your guests that the cleaners will be arriving at the check-out time and that you have new guests arriving. Lodgify’s vacation rental reservation system includes automated messages that you can send to your guests, so that way you’ll never forget and have to worry!
Remember to state in your house rules, on your website, and on any external listing sites the exact check-out time. By following these 7 essential tips, you can finally prevent guests from disrespecting your check-out times.