Sometimes vacation rental guests will break the rules…Thankfully, it’s been Moxie Girl’s experience that rule-breakers tend to be the exception, rather than the standard. And many times, the rules that are broken tend to be the ones that don’t seem like “that big of a deal” – to the guest anyway! Guests not adhering to check-in/check-out times is without a doubt the most frequent issue we see.
Unless you take a firm position on arrival and departure times at your vacation rental home, it’s easy for guests to think, “I know we’re supposed to be out of here no later than 11am, but another hour should be okay…” or “Check in isn’t until 4p, but I’m sure it won’t be a problem if we get there at 2.” Not a big deal, right?
Actually, it IS a very big deal when there are a limited number of hours before the next guests arrive! Moxie Girl, your vacation rental specialist, is well aware of how late check-outs and early check-ins can affect the “turn” at your vacation rental home.
Most of us Moxies have had a least one weird experience with either late check-outs or early check-ins. I was turning a smaller condo in Old Town Scottsdale once and the owner called to inform me that the guests arriving that day (scheduled for 4p) had her permission to “drop their bags” a few hours early since they had traveled from Canada and had lots of luggage, since they were staying for two weeks. Sure, no problem!
The bedrooms and bathrooms (upstairs) were done and I was just finishing up the kitchen when the guests showed up. I pointed them in the direction of the stairs, expecting them to drop their bags and head out. I busied myself checking on the progress of the laundry, which was in another building. Well, the laundry wasn’t done, and the guests were still upstairs. Started in on dusting the living room…surely they’ll be out of here in just a…Wait. What? Did I just hear the shower turn on? Yup. That was the shower, alright…and here comes the “missus” to explain that her husband was just going to take a quick shower before they head out, so she’s just going to make a little snack while she waits. Oh…turns out they had groceries already, too.
Thankfully there wasn’t much more to be done that day, and I just worked my way through the rest of the living room and finished the laundry. Under the circumstances, I really didn’t have the heart to turn them out…I mean they were soooo nice – Canadians, you know.
An Invitation for “Cleaning Misses”
Sure, that little encounter turned out just fine and no harm done (although I did report the early check-in vs. the “bag drop” I’d been told to expect, just to be safe) but late check-outs and early check-ins can both affect the quality of service between guests, often leading to cleaning “misses,” the likes of which we brought to your attention in our blog, “Review Killers.” Moxie Girl believes EVERY guest should walk into a sparkling clean, as-perfect-as-we-can-make-it vacation rental home, and we schedule accordingly, to make that happen.
Not that we can’t handle a little pressure, but it can certainly be an issue when we lose any of the time we’d planned to spend due to guests not checking out on time, or arriving hours early. Unlike hotel room turns, vacation rental property turns are a lot more involved – we’re talking full laundry, multiple bathrooms (and beds) plus a full kitchen! And more often than not, guests have dug in for at least a few days with no housekeeping.
We recently had a team of two Moxies doing a same-day turn on a rather large (4 bedroom, 3 bath) vacation rental home with about 2 hours of work left to be done when guests arrived! The push was on to get the home up to Moxie standards in a lot less time than we thought we had, while the way-too-early guests “hung out at the pool.”
Thankfully, a third Moxie was able to get to the location and help with finishing up and do a final walk-through…otherwise the guests would have found we’d missed cleaning the inside of the microwave (yuck!) and trash left in one of the bedrooms (double yuck!) We’d NEVER want a guest to find either or those things – and we know you wouldn’t either!
What You Can Do
Be sure your check-in and check-out times are clearly posted – both on your rental platform listing as well as inside the home. Some vacation rental homeowners send a text reminding guests of check-out time the evening before they’re due to leave. Yes, it may feel like you’re “playing mom” with your guests, but they may also appreciate the head-up more if you start with “Hope you’ve been having a fabulous stay! Just a reminder…”
Guests wishing to extend their stay are not unusual. If your booking schedule allows another night or two, don’t forget to keep your cleaners in the loop! Also be sure to tell us if you’ve “approved” a late check-out or early check-in so we may adjust our schedule accordingly.
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We’ve all had the experience of dealing with rule-breakers in our lives now and again – and it’s almost never pleasant. As a vacation rental home owner, rule-breakers can ruin your property – or at the very least, your schedule.
Moxie Girl founder, Amanda Thomas, recently had the opportunity to sit down with a local pro in the business of vacation rental property management to find out what types of rules are typically broken by guests – and how to best protect yourself and your property.
Amanda Thomas-Moxie Girl: I am here with Meredith Willis of Arizona Getaways. She is one of the property managers that we work with doing vacation rental property management.
We’ve been working with you for about a year and so we have gone through a few different surprise situations with you, and I thought we could just get some tips from you on how you handle some of the surprises that come up as a property manager for vacation rentals. So talk to me about what are some of the surprises you’ve run into?
Meredith Willis-Arizona Getaways: Yeah, lots of surprises along the way in the probably three years of doing this. But definitely guests breaking house rules so any rules that we set, that’s always a surprise. For example no smoking, or no pets or even check-in or check-out problems such as guests not checking out on time – possibly disrupting the next check-in.
So, I guess the best way to handle them is to be preventative as much as possible, like clearly posting your rules. Signs, even check out signs saying, ‘Reminder check out is 11 AM’ or 10 AM whatever time it may be. We always like to send a reminder text before guests check out saying ‘Hi, we hope everything is going well – just a reminder check out is at 11am.’ You can also charge a late check-out fee, too, and make incentives for guests to leave on time. Of course, clear communication is always great. You can make arrangements for a planned late check out, for example. So that way you don’t have a rush with the next incoming guest. That is a great way to avoid that specific problem.
AT: Let me ask, from a customer service point of view, I remember there was one time when we showed up at one of your units and the guest said ‘No, I leave tomorrow.’ How did you handle that from the back end with that guest?
MW: And that’s another example of something you want to prevent with clear communication. So we had to first of all clarify that, indeed, he was supposed to check out that day. And then we just try to be as polite as possible, because it was a mix-up. I think we got in there and just started cleaning around him, politely. But, he was very slow and kind of taking his time to leave. And we did have another check in that day, I think. So, you’ve just got to do your best and kind of work together with… You guys are great to work with, with your flexibility! And working with the guests-you just try to do your best.
AT: So, it has been a learning experience. Yeah, I think we have all learned in this industry, to expect the unexpected!
Pssst – Take a break right here and think about you operated your own vacation rental property…Have you had any problems with guests not following your house rules? If not, you’re either extremely lucky (hooray and go buy a lottery ticket!), or you’re already making your policies clear to your guests (hooray and very smart!). It’s always a good idea to review your rental platform listings just to be sure everything is as clear, precise and correct as it can be, especially when it comes to rules!
AT: We are back with Meredith Willis of Arizona Getaways, property manager for vacation rentals. They have their own properties they work with that are super cute in the Mesa and Tempe area. We love working with them. They have been doing this for about three years. So we thought we would ask Meredith, what are some of the red flags that you look for in terms of reservations or requests coming in? Like, how do you know if a guest is going to be a good guest or not?
MW: Whenever we get an inquiry or a reservation request, we always like to check out the guest profile and make sure they have good reviews, make sure they have some sort of feedback and verification. Like verified email, verified phone number, and then we also like to add another layer of protection and require that they have a government ID on file. And if all looks good and they do have reviews and prior references, then we feel comfortable.
If not, we like to look a little further and see where they are from. We find if they are local, it’s a little suspicious as to why they need a place, so we will ask them, you know, ‘what brings you to our rental?’ and find out more information.
AT: Yeah, same day arrivals make sense if it is a road trip coming across the country or you know, it doesn’t make as much sense if it’s somebody who lives in Scottsdale who is wanting to stay at your place tonight.
MW: Right. We use Instant Book and you can always cancel reservations, no penalty, after the fact, if you are not comfortable. And by doing that potentially preserves your house.
AT: Yeah, that’s a really good point that I think a lot of people don’t understand when they start using AirBNB is that a reservation comes in through Instant Book,,,Well, first of all how important Instant Book is-it really bumps you up in the ratings! So you want to use it, but then if you get somebody who is not up to your standards, or you’re cautious about them, there’s just something that doesn’t seem right, you can talk with Airbnb and get that cancelled.
MW: Exactly. Yeah, listen to your gut instincts, because as a host you will kind of have that little nagging voice saying ‘maybe this wasn’t the best reservation.’ And follow through with that, because another one will probably come along that is a better fit for your property.
AT: Yeah, I love that. Well thank you for that tip and thanks for sharing!
MW: You’re very welcome!
Whether you’ve been operating a vacation rental home for awhile, or you’re new to the game, you can always count on Moxie Girl to share ways to minimize your efforts and maximize your profits. Check our blog for more tips from Moxie Girl, your vacation rental specialist! Looking for reliable, professional turn service for your vacation rental? Contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION!