How do you politely ask your vacationers to leave?

31 Replies

I am traveling this week and next. I was working in a hotel room yesterday (wow, that sounds bad) and checkout was noon. I ended up leaving at 12:06, not a huge deal, but I can see people still in the room at 12:15, 12:45 or even 2:00. Not cool.

As a vacation renter, I try really hard to be on time with my departure, because that isn't a hotel, they don't have extra rooms, etc. 

We've got a stay coming up at an AirBnB, and just received this note:

Checking out: 10 AM - Our cleaners often come right at 10:00 am, so please be timely with your check-out. We appreciate it!

How do you convey your checkout time with your short term renters? Does it work, did you have issues prior to implementing this language?

 Hey Mindy, 

 We communicate similarly with our guest.  Our wording is polite but clear. We let them know that on many days we have other guests arriving on the day of their departure so we need that time for our housekeepers to make everything beautiful for the next guests. 

 We communicate this early on, so it’s never a surprise.

Cheers!

I know one guy who uses google wifi in all his units, in addition to digital keypads he can control remotely (each guest-set has their own code). Gives you a few additional tools in the tool belt to get imaginative. If I knew that wifi will cut off at 9:45 and that at 10 sharp the door locks will stop working, I for one would be pretty darned sure to have all my stuff out beforehand. 

Pretext for the locks no longer working could be that it switches over to the cleaner's access code. And of course your primary stated goal if questioned isn't to have them out, it's to ensure there is no possibility that they still have stuff in there when the cleaner shows up, you want to ensure nothing could possibly be stolen. You're doing this "primarily" to look out for your guests, you see.

I also say the cleaners will be there at 11AM, which is checkout time, to get the house for the guests coming in that afternoon. The cleaners need as much time as possible to get a whole house ready for the next Vrbo customer.

I have had people running a few minutes late, but most are out well before the checkout time. I can check with my camera system and give the cleaners a heads up if they are out early.

Originally posted by @Tyler Gibson :

@Chris Mason That is such a brilliant idea. Google Wifi would make that really easy and not very expensive. 

 The guy in question is also a parent, and it's not just his STRs that are on google wifi. I was there for the following exchange:

Phone rings.

"Daddy daddy, why doesn't the internet work?"

"That's a good question sweetie, but when I left the house why didn't I see a clean play area?"

Want someone's attention, cut off their wifi. :) You can do it at the individual device level, and track connected devices and all that.

Originally posted by @Chris Mason :
Originally posted by @Tyler Gibson:

@Chris Mason That is such a brilliant idea. Google Wifi would make that really easy and not very expensive. 

 The guy in question is also a parent, and it's not just his STRs that are on google wifi. I was there for the following exchange:

Phone rings.

"Daddy daddy, why doesn't the internet work?"

"That's a good question sweetie, but when I left the house why didn't I see a clean play area?"

Want someone's attention, cut off their wifi. :) You can do it at the individual device level, and track connected devices and all that.

 A bit off-topic but yes I have a friend that had something similar from Disney that allowed him to issue an allotment of time to his individual children. Once they used up the time that was it. His kids would come to him and ask how they could get more time. He would give them chores and in exchange for doing chores, he would give them more time. So instead of having an allowance of cash, they got an allowance of Internet time.  He was able to control all of this from his phone.

We're very clear about check in/check out time and the fact that they will get charged if they show up early or leave late. Do they actually read this info? Doubtful. Airbnbers tend to not read anything. 

It's very rare anyone leaves late in the properties I own/manage. If it does happen I hear about it because my cleaner is there and not happy. So I call the guest and tell them they need to get out because we're there to clean. They always apologize and boogie. 

Of course there is the rare occasion that they THOUGHT they booked more days and their time is up and didn't know it. That's always a fun one. 

Hey @Mindy Jensen . I just let them know in advance as well as the night before. I tell them that I can't allow extra time due to the arrival of the next guests later in the day.

So far each and every guest has been out either early or just about 11. My cleaner just lives down the road so she gets started. I am going to change the checkout time to 10am to give my cleaner a bit more time.

@Mindy Jensen  Like others here, I just clearly communicate the check-out time.  At my TN properties, it's almost never an issue (though like @Lucas Carl, once I had guests who thought they booked an additional day!  That was awkward) but at my CA property people arriving/leaving early/late happens ALL. THE. TIME.  It's astonishing.  I got wifi locks for that property explicitly so I could control it more, but even with them, people try, and leave late pretty constantly.  

Somewhat off-topic, once I had guests (at my CA property) show up a day EARLY. Whoa!  Luckily for them, it was actually vacant that night, and they were a bit embarrassed and had no problem paying for the additional night.  Overall it worked out well, but I'm really glad I didn't have to pack them off to a hotel for the night!

@Mindy Jensen we rented an Airbnb for a family vacation and were told before booking, during booking and given an email and phone call reminder the night before that check out was 11am and a representative from the management company would be there at 10:45 to do a walk through. The owner provided a book with pictures of everything (every shelf, every draw, every cabinet, etc) to make sure it was all in its place and we were to put everything back before we left. Like clockwork at 10:45 the doorbell rang and it was the management rep with a cleaning crew saying they were going to start cleaning in 15 minutes. I was shocked by the level of detail but loved how much effort the owners put into it. It gave me something to strive for when I ever get I to STR vacation properties.

@Julie McCoy We had someone come a whole week early! Doh! They stayed in the property and we didn't know it until the cleaner came to get the property ready for them and found out they had already been there. If we had had the wifi lock on that property like we do on all our other properties, it would have been avoided but the owner didn't want to install it since she is selling the house soon. 

@Wendy Schultz  A whole week!!!  Whoa... well, at least (apparently) nobody else was occupying it that week, and they didn't fuss about it not being clean... but that's pretty crazy.  (I don't send lock codes until 2 days before arrival in any case, but my thought is more to prevent people from *purposefully* showing up early)

Originally posted by @Bryan Devitt :

@Mindy Jensen we rented an Airbnb for a family vacation and were told before booking, during booking and given an email and phone call reminder the night before that check out was 11am and a representative from the management company would be there at 10:45 to do a walk through. The owner provided a book with pictures of everything (every shelf, every draw, every cabinet, etc) to make sure it was all in its place and we were to put everything back before we left. Like clockwork at 10:45 the doorbell rang and it was the management rep with a cleaning crew saying they were going to start cleaning in 15 minutes. I was shocked by the level of detail but loved how much effort the owners put into it. It gave me something to strive for when I ever get I to STR vacation properties.

While I understand what @Lucas Carl said about AirBnBers not reading anything, this seems excessive to me. The photo book for how you have to have everything perfect, the multiple conversations, the representative reviewing the property 15 minutes before checkout. 

I should note that I currently own zero short term rentals. 

For all you using wifi to get people to leave, my family doesn't care about wifi because we have unlimited data on our phones, haha. 

I use hotels quite a bit for work. As a rewards member, I get early check in and late check out. Of course the hotels have many rooms they turning, so they can usually accommodate this. At a hotel they use electronic keys which will deactivate after your check out. So you could hold over in the room, but then they will ask you to leave and likely charge you extra.

One of the scary parts of STR is most I have stayed at use the same key for every guest. This always freaks me out, because it would be super easy to just go copy the key and enter later. If I had STR, I would use electronic locks and grant access to guests only for the time during their stay. This would keep them from entering early, staying late or coming back later. The technology is cheap, like sub-$200, so not sure why every STR isn't doing this to protect their property and guests.

If I arrived at a STR to found the old guest is still there, I would expect the STR to find me other accommodations and pay for the cost. I am guessing this doesn't happen super often because STR leave a huge window between check out and check in. I have had some that require check out at 10AM and check in at 4PM. That gives an extremely large amount of time. Still, I have shown up to find linens in the dryer still running. In one case yhe host asked if I minded making the bed because she got tied up at work. That is what you get in STR because you are mostly dealing with mom and pop owners.

@Joe Splitrock   Joe you beat me to it.. top tier clients of hotels get late check out.. not that this does not get abused.

I can see with STR its more difficult they don't have maids on every floor running on schedules.. and rooms can be moved around no problem.. I never stay at air bnb.. well I have once and it was terrible.. so its not my preferred method of accommodations .. and in some years I spent 70 to 80 nights in hotels.. So I like to have consistency and know exactly what to expect when I am on the road.. I can see this being different though for the average recreations stay.. but for business I don't want to risk having a bad bed or some other issue with the house.. I want to check in on line.. have my key be on my phone like it is.. no stopping at the front desk etc etc.. And more important all those points I get so I can take free vacations to exotic lands..

@Joe Splitrock  and @Jay Hinrichs , good comments gentlemen. We have so far just our one STR and book and manage it ourselves through VRBO. We do the electronic door lock and individual codes and it works like a charm. We are in the parking lot before checkout (off to the side, not by the door tapping our feet...although that is tempting at times!) and have had a few guests ask for another hour to check out, and we have so far always obliged. Our summer season is a week rental minimum and we go Sunday-to-Sunday, 10 am Out and 4 pm IN. When we get done cleaning and leave we text the next guests and tell them the condo is ready if they get there early (We average a 4 hour full clean and turn) Our big thing is SPOTLESS. From the baseboards to the ceiling fan blades....every time. (Rogue hairs = Instant 2 Star!)

For the past year and a half, we have been very fortunate with arrival and departure times, and we attribute a lot of it to very specific and direct instructions before and during their say (Reminder texts to "please NOT start the laundry before you folks leave tomorrow at 10 am", for example).

@Mindy Jensen My property is an Air BnB condo a block from the beach in a heavy tourist area with a lot of expensive parking...and I word it like this “ Hi, just wanted to remind you that our checkout time is strictly at 10 am in order for our cleaners to get the property in excellent condition again. Even though checkout time is at 10 please feel free to stay parked in the parking lot and use the outdoor showers for the remainder of the day. This basically ends their stay and our communication on a happy note and I am more inclined to keep getting the 5 star reviews.

Hey Mindy! I say this: Check-in 12Noon (flexible) ; Check-out 12Noon (Less-Flexible) - that way if they already know that they have travel plans, or disruptions, that may break that check out time, they will need to coordinate it beforehand.

So a not so funny story: I had a group (of skin care product salesmen of the Eastern European variety) who broke every rule in the book. They extended their stay another night, which was fine, but I just asked that they put my uniform in the garage so that I could grab it Monday morning and change/shower at work. So I slept in my truck Sunday night. I drive home to get my uniform, not there. So, with all of them still in bed, and the lead dude that spoke the most english not responding over the AirBnB messenger, I had to go into my room with the dude sleeping in my bed, grab my flight suit and boots out of my closet, and hurry to work. If that is not awkward enough, he asked is one of his crew could stay until closer to his flight that afternoon, which I should have said no, but I was hunting for those 5 stars. I told him I would allow it but he had to be out by 5p when I got off duty. Well guess what, homeboy wasn't gone at 5p. And english speaking guy is still non-responsive. So I walked in the garage door with my pistol on my hip, and yelled "Hey!" after which I heard the front door open and slam shut. I quickly walked through the living room and kitchen and locked the door behind him so he couldn't get back in. He was standing out on the sidewalk, face glued to his cell phone, either calling an Uber, or pretending to call an Uber. Needless to say, I left a very condemning review for their group and they are not welcome back.

Hope you don't ever have an issue like that!

Originally posted by @Mindy Jensen :
Originally posted by @Bryan Devitt:

@Mindy Jensen we rented an Airbnb for a family vacation and were told before booking, during booking and given an email and phone call reminder the night before that check out was 11am and a representative from the management company would be there at 10:45 to do a walk through. The owner provided a book with pictures of everything (every shelf, every draw, every cabinet, etc) to make sure it was all in its place and we were to put everything back before we left. Like clockwork at 10:45 the doorbell rang and it was the management rep with a cleaning crew saying they were going to start cleaning in 15 minutes. I was shocked by the level of detail but loved how much effort the owners put into it. It gave me something to strive for when I ever get I to STR vacation properties.

While I understand what @Lucas Carl said about AirBnBers not reading anything, this seems excessive to me. The photo book for how you have to have everything perfect, the multiple conversations, the representative reviewing the property 15 minutes before checkout. 

I should note that I currently own zero short term rentals. 

They were definitely over the top to say the least. I could give a handful of things they did that I wouldn't implement, but I understood their reasoning. You can never rent from them and use the excuse that you didn't know about a rule, how something worked (they have videos of everything on YouTube), etc. There is definitely a fine line between being a control freak and scaring people away and letting the inmates run the asylum but I would rather be on the side of the line of control freak personally (I also own zero STR). Their house is booked a year in advance though for most weeks so I guess I can't question them too much

As others have said, good upfront communication and setting expectations works extremely well most of the time. Out of the 150+ groups that we have hosted only 4 have overstayed their welcome and all three got knocks on the door at 11 am sharp and were told to leave. 2 were apologetic, 1 was indignant and 1 was scrambling scared sh#^@less as we woke them up which caused them to run in panic around the house in their tidy whities grabbing their possessions, that was priceless.

Rick

We  were renting; the manager politely gave us a few days notice and asked us to be on time with out check-out! As long as you're clear

and polite with your communication, it shoudn't be a problem.

Agree with all the posts about being clear with check-out times.  I also include in my welcome emails to please notify me 24 in advance if there will be a problem with the check-out time.  I found it works well as it puts a subtle message in their minds to either check out on time or we may have to have an uncomfortable phone conversation.  People usually figure out a way to leave on time.  :)