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I dont know how it started but it seems every guest requests it. It certainly is not something hotels allow so why should a vacation rental be different? It seems obvious to me it takes much more time to prepare an entire home or condo for arrival than a hotel room, why dont guests know this? I try to accommodate the request when I can but enough is enough. Why is this such a big deal to guests? Often times I have accommodated an early check-in request only to have the guest arrive at 4PM anyway. And of course we get the late check out requests as often too. I would like to know if anyone is getting the same requests so often and how they are dealing with it.
Hi Mike, I have seen the same thing. I get more requests for late check out than early check in. He is how I handle the situation. My house accommodates up to 10 people. If I were to have a full house I would need a minimum of 3 hours for make ready. I bake homemade muffins as well so this must be considered. I simply tell folks early check in is not available because I need "X" amount of time to have everything perfect for their stay after previous guest leave. People appreciate this because they want a clean fresh place to stay. The same applies to check out if you have guests coming. It may sound a little tacky but when I do not have back to back bookings I will bend if the guests have been kind, curious and not hounded me about "what's the best deal I can give them". I have under these conditions told folks they could check out at their leisure. Then again the rental is on the back five acres of my property. I hope this helps.
For some people, it's squeezing every bit they can out of their money...and I don't blame them. It's having the opportunity to arrive or depart when they want that makes them feel like they are getting more value.
And then for others, it's just more practical. For example, the young family that has driven for 2 days to get to the house and know that they will arrive early and will just want to take a nap before dinner. Or the family that has babies and toddlers who need to be layed down for their nap to keep in routine, thus keeping the entire trip more enjoyable for the family.
I accommodate the requests when I can, especially in the off season. But otherwise, I tell the guests it's not possible, as they housekeeper needs the entire time to ready the house. One advantage we have is that our neighborhood clubhouse and pool is right across the street, so I send the guests over there to relax until the house is ready.
I too try to accommodate whenever possible and I see your points about long drives, or toddlers needing naps. Maybe the best policy is to ask WHY they need to check-in early or WHEN they expect to arrive before agreeing to accommodate them. I have also just asked them to call when they arrive and if I can accommodate them I will. Often times they never call as the property is ready when they arrive.
As a renter, I would simply like to store my luggage when I arrive. If that can be accomodated then I am happy to wait for the place to be cleaned and come back later.
As for the comment about hotels not allowing early checkin, that is just not true. However a hotel is much better suited for changes to checkin and checkout times as they have so many rooms. I very rarely am not allowed to checkin early to a hotel.
Last couple of years we got tons of requests to get early or late check out.
So this year we put this on our website
We offer free early check in as early as 10 a.m. and late check out as late as 8 p.m if it's available. We will try our hardest to get you in as early as possible for check in and have as late as possible for your check out so you can enjoy the cabin.
Guests can email me 1 to 2 days before their check in date and I can let them know if early check in is available. Our normal check in date is 4 p.m. and if no one is checking out that day. We will give them early check in. If early check in is not avaiable. They can drop off their luggage and ask our house keeper on when they might be done.
Honestly, I don't see a problem giving early check in since it makes the guest happy and only cost me a couple of hours of utilities.
I personally like early check in when I go to hotels since I usually arrive early to vacation spots.
Hi Claudio, how ya doing today!
Good comment, I guess it is time I create a policy to and embrace. I too have always accommodated early check in when I can, I just don’t appreciate it when a guest arrives early unannounced, expects an early check-in and then acts frustrated when I am unable to accommodate them. They don’t seem to understand I am not able to get my housekeeper to the property within 5 minutes and then have them clean and prepare the condo in 10. Plus, when the housekeeper is rushed the clean is not as good.
This speaks to the comment I posted about hotels and having more than one room and being able to accommodate early arrivals without notice more easily. Guests must understand we are not hotels, we are vacation rentals, it’s a better value but it’s not the same.
For any travelers reading this posting here are some tips …
Generally an early check-in is ONLY guaranteed if you pay for the previous night.
Generally an early check in MAY be available if a request is received 24-48 hours prior to arrival.
Generally owners will accommodate your request if possible because we likely want you back
Generally owners are annoyed by unannounced early arrivals and requests for early check-in but will likely try to accommodate you if they can. However if you don’t ask in advance don’t expect it. Kindly understand if you are unable to be accommodated but also appreciate it if you are.
Plus, there are many ways to kill 2-3 hours in whichever beautiful resort destination you are visiting and remeber you are on vacation, relax or as my daughter would say Chillax.
Renters will ask often because of their travel plans. They are sometimes coming from a longer distance via car and want the flexibility of being able to come right away. Plus a 3PM check in takes away a good part of the day so they want to enjoy as much of that first day as possible.
I don't accomodate an early check in when I have a check out that same day. I only have 3 hours to turn the home so it's impossible. Sometimes I''ll keep the renters cell phone and call them when we are done to get them in a little bit earlier. They often appreciate the gesture.
Lately, I've had renters who know I don't have a renter checking out, (because they see my up to date calendar) and ask for the early check in "because you don't have anyone in there anyway". I'm not receptive to people who assume that my property is not worth anything simply because its not being rented. So what I have done is to offer the renter a super discount for the earlier day (Night). I've sold two that way this week for Non-Peak rentals where renters want to come in early. These were mid week non peak season rentals so the likelihood of renting was minimal, since in these cases, there was only the one night between rentals. In both cases this week both my renters took advantage of the discount and added the additional night to their stay. I made the price very reasonable so that if they simply chose to come really early in the morning instead of feeling that they had to come the night before, they still felt that they received excellent value for their money.
Renter was happy and we picked up some additional revenue on a mid week single night that was not going to be rented anyway. (we have a 3 night minimum, single night stay reguests are rare and I'm not interested in cleaning every day)
Note, I only do this when there is one day between renters, its usually off peak season (because I'm fully rented in peak season) and if there are more days between renters then I don't make the offer until about a week before to allow enough time to get a full price renter for my available dates.
Embrace those early and late requests and make some additional revenue while giving your renter a bargain that they can be happy with. WIN-WIN came about well before Charlie Sheen was "winning"!
I find that if a guest requests an early check in, and if we do not have a prior guest I am happy to accommodate. I certainly understand that every day and every home has a value. But, if the guest needs the early check in, and if available, why not create good will and give them the extra hour or two. I think the rewards in giving as opposed to charging might be far greater.
Hi Mike; At our condo unit we have a written policy of check in at 3:00 p.m., check out at 10:30 a.m. except Sundays. Our cleaner doesn't work on Sundays so I don't care what time they check out. When a guest has booked the unit we always ask for arrival and departure times. I explain this is for scheduling the cleaning company. Most people are accommodating, some aren't. Those who aren't I ask a second time. If they still don't give me times and if the unit is not ready before 3 p.m., our cleaner has been instructed to tell the guest we did not have an arrival time scheduled and they can leave their luggage on the lanai while she finishes cleaning the unit. The guests can either go to the pool or they can go to the local grocery store and do their shopping. If we don't have a back to back and if the cleaner doesn't mind, I allow the guests to stay in the unit longer on the departure date if they have a later flight off the island. I try to be accommodating but I have to think about my cleaner's schedule. She has units all over the island. Most of the time it's not an issue. For those people who aren't understanding I just have to let them be mad and realize it's their issue and not ours.
It sounds like you deal with this on a regular basis as well. I too am fine with it most of the time, I just wish guests would be more understanding when they arrive early unannounced. As you mentioned your housekeeper doesn't work on Sunday and also cleans several other properties, I just don't think guests generally understand the way a vacation rental operates and we have unique challenges in running our business. My plea is HA and VRBO do more to educate guests on these types of issues. Thank you for your comment!
My home is in Florida by the beach. As soon as the housekeeper arrives to clean, I have my her prepare one large bedroom (which has its own entrance to the outside) and one bathroom on the far side of the house. I tell guests they can arrive early to drop off their luggage and use the bathroom and perhaps change their shoes for the beach. No other room is to be used and nothing is to be put in the kitchen. They must leave the house as soon as practical so the house can be properly prepared for them. I offer this only if requested well in advance of their arrival and with prior approval of my housekeeper. So far it has seemed to work.
As usual you as the owner are accommodating whenever possible, but I wonder how many times they do go to the kitchen for a cool drink and to store those groceries they brought with them or use the other bathrooms because everyone has to "go" when they arrive. And more importantly, how many times do you suppose your housekeeper has arrived to find the guests lingering in the house and felt uncomfortable and may now be disrupted from her busy schedule?
I am sure most people are cooperative and abide by the rules but its those 20% that cause 80% of the stress. Lets as a community begin to establish some expected and reasonable guest etiquette which HA could share with travelers during the booking process.
I got tired of racing to get the cabins ready to accommodate early arrival for people who didn't show until well after the stated arrival time. I now charge $15/hr for early arrival and later departure. Works very well. Janet
We have a one unit bed and breakfast unit (it is an apartment with four rooms, including a kitchen) and totals 600 square feet. It takes us 4 to 5 hours to clean the unit, do the laundry, do the dishes, put everything away, make the beds (ironed sheets and pillow cases), dust "everywhere", prepare and set out the arrival snack, prepare and set out the flower arrangement (from our own garden), hang up the robes, set the door code, clean the entry courtyard and unit entry steps, and set the radio and lights. Our zoning and "home occupation" Type 1 permit do not allow us to have employees, so we have to do all of the prep work ourselves.
If we have guests checking out at 11:00 A.M., there is no way we can have the unit ready for an early arrival before our normal time of 4:00 P.M. I really like Janet's idea of charging $15 per hour of early arrival, but in our case, that could only occur if we have no previous night's guests. What we do is tell our guests that we prefer to provide excellence in all of our guest services and that includes preparing the suite to our standards before their arrival. We ask why they are requesting early arrival and if it is merely to drop off luggage, we can accommodate that request by receiving the luggage in our home and hold it for their regular arrival. However, we first ask if they need to drop off the luggage because they are wanting to go shopping and don't have room to keep the luggage in their vehicle (most people realize at that moment that they don't need to drop off the luggage). We have only had one guest in our two years of operation that truly needed early arrival and it was because of severe jet lag and the need to sleep prior to an afternoon meeting. We gladly accommodated the request (there were no previous nights guests) without extra charge.
When Margaret and I travel we never request early arrival--we know what it entails for the property owner, even at hotels/motels. And we believe that the property has costs for overhead, cleaning, front desk management that are legitimate and our asking for early arrival is actually asking for free time in the unit--not good for our conscience and certainly not good for the property bottom line.
We have found that the guest who request early arrival are not our best guests--that is they do not seem to have as high a sense of appreciation for what we do extra special already to make their stay super enjoyable. Rather, they almost always seem to be the kind of people that are trying to stretch value or get something for free. The reviews we get from our guests who do appreciate what we provide are always top level reviews. We never have had a guest who requested early arrival write a review (interesting, huh?).
We love our work, we love serving our guests and doing everything within our power and budget to pamper them, making their stay memorable and hopefully cause for a "come-back." So far we seem to be doing quite well, averaging 15 nights per month, and being able to steadily raise our rates.
Excellent comments thank you very much. I agree, it seems most often guests are simply trying to squeeze more value out of the booking as if a vacation rental wasn't already a tremendous value. It sounds like you are really "hands on" which I am sure makes for a great guest experience. Interesting you are not allowed employees, what about cleaning services as a subcontractor?
We have a solution to the early check in situation that's a win-win-win. Check in and check out for a couple thousand rental homes in the Outer Banks is 4PM and 10AM. Agencies often charge $50 to $100 for early check in, and that's usually around 3PM, only an hour early. Their cleaning people usually get to work by 9AM or so to start on the early check-outs. Of course the agencies have a list of those who have already checked out. We have an independent cleaner, and she has no list of check-outs, so she just has to drive by houses to see if they've been vacated. So here's what we do:
1. In the lease agreement and in person on the phone before committing to a renter, we let them know that they may check in by noon, and that the 9AM sharp check-out is so that we can have the house ready by noon for all guests. This is our 2nd year doing this, and the guests just love it. They say it's almost like getting an extra day. So guests win.
2. The cleaner has no other house guaranteed to be ready for cleaning by 9AM, so she can get a head start and possible fit in one more house on her schedule for the day. She's also not having to drive around to find an early vacated house. Cleaner wins.
3. Our house is always the first one to be cleaned, so there are no problems at other houses that might have held her up before she could get to our house. This way we know exactly when the cleaning will happen. Also, the early start gives us an early start on having any problems fixed. Owner wins.
I've seen that many of you have to have laundry done and dishes cleaned. We do not supply bed or bath linens, but our guests can rent them from our cleaning service. We can even supply double sets of linens, and for a fee, they are washed off premisis by the cleaning service and returned the next week. So even if we did supply linens (we'd have to raise the rent), that would not change the amount of time needed by the cleaner. We do supply hotel style cotton bath mats and kitchen towels, and the guests throw them in with their own wash and leave the last minute ones in the laundry basket. The next guests throw those in with their wash. Everybody likes the system, never a complaint. Most don't care to rent linens. I don't believe we've ever had guests who used public transport to get there. They all drive their own cars, so it's just easier and cheaper for them to bring their linens and take them home to wash them.
It has been so enlinghtening to read about each unique rental situation from posters here on the forum. We all have our own advantages and disadvantages WRT our particular properties and neighborhoods. I think it would be really informative and funl if each poster would add a link to his VRBO/HA listing and/or personal web site at the end of each post.
Although a 9 am Check out sounds like a great idea , I question how easy that might be to attain with small children. Do you typically have families with small children rent or mostly adults.
We rent only to families with children. Sometimes there are teenagers, mostly the children are younger. Everywhere else has 10AM checkout, so it apparently they don't mind getting out just one hour earlier. Keep in mind that these people don't have planes to catch. Mostly they're ready to get on the road to get back home. Our checkout day is a Sunday. It's been a huge success.
Linda, I wasn't asking you about the kids, I was asking marilyn why she said it wouldn't be attainable with kids. It just didn't make sense so I was wanting her to clarify.
Right, I understood that. Sometimes the thread tree gets confusing. My response was directly under yours which meant that I was responding to marilyn also. As for marilyn's concern about getting children up, I bet it's much easier to get them out of bed than teenagers!
So, so true, but even the 10-12 year old don't get up until 9 when on holiday.
So we can do a Check out as follows:
Families with children under 3, out at 9
Families with children under 12' out at 11
Families with children under 19, out at 2
Just kidding. Can you imagine the chaos!!!
Mom will go into stress out mom if we has to get her teenager up before noon. Not to mention dad who insists on grilled that last burger before they leave, or the kids who can't find their iPods.
I have arrived at noon to find my guests still packing. People don't want to leave the pool, volleyball or hot tub.