12 Replies Latest reply: May 21, 2019 8:28 PM by twomoreyears RSS

    Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?

    bonesxxx Active Contributor

      Hi y'all, 


      I am hoping some of you with more experience can help me with this project.


      Currently I have set rates - let's say $150 for weeknights and $250 for weekend nights and a cleaning fee of $75.


      This works fine for most renters.  However, it doesn't sit right with me.


      My rental has a max of 4 people.


      Soooooo, if I get a couple visiting vs. a family of 4 or two couples, the wear and tear and cleaning time literally doubles (twice the linens, twice the towels, both bathrooms, etc.)


      How do I find a fair way to account for this using the extra guest fees?  If I set them at $10 per person per night, the family pays an additional $40 (which is ok).  BUT if the same family stays for a week, they pay an extra $140 which seems high and isn't my intent...


      I find myself wishing there was just a flat rate for extra guests and not only a per day option.


      For those of you who have extra guest fees, what has been your experience?


      Thank you!

        • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
          scowol Active Contributor

          In my 10 years of experience, I have found that if I have 1 guest or 6 guests (my property sleeps 6 with three bedrooms), all the linens and towels are used.  It just doesn't seem to matter.  I think it's a "buffet mentality" of it's there, and I paid for it, so I must use it!


          If you have a property with multiple bedrooms and guests understand that those extra sleeping areas/bedrooms will be locked, the extra guest fee may be a consideration.  But if you are renting out the entire property and all rooms and areas and amenities are fully available, I struggle to do a per guest fee.  I have heard that travelers will just sadly lie when they realize that they can self-lower the rate by lowering the number of guests.  Besides, they will just say at the last minute "Oh, we forgot that Little Johnny or Aunt Sally is joining us!"


          I have been gradually, incrementally raising my cleaning fee over the years.  I started with a $70 cleaning fee, and now charge $195.  I've never had a single guest balk.  I think guests just look at the nightly rental rate, and focus on that.  When HA launched the service fee, my bookings never dropped.  Similarly, my bookings never reduced when I increased my cleaning fee.  Case in point, I just rented a car for a special rate of $24/day.  I expected to pay ~$50, but after the dozen of Hertz fees and taxes, my car rental is $119--more than double! 


          I'm sure others will have experience and guidance to share with the added guests, but I thought I'd share an alternate perspective with the cleaning fee in lieu of extra guest fees.

          • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
            u0999 Premier Contributor

            best set us is not to have extra guest fees unless you can effectively lock out part of the house.  Just calculate average occupancy and price according to that. You will escape much aggravation of people trying to book for minimum but sneaking additional people, hurt feelings, bickering, bad reviews, and situations like "we were supposed to be 4 people, but the other couple backed out last moment, so why should we pay full price" after the fact. 

            • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
              ohst8er Premier Contributor

              Ditto to what u0999 and scowol have said.  Why do you think hotels have done away with single/double/triple/quad rates?  Because they learned exactly what scowol has said, if you charge extra for each body, we'll just hide the bodies from you.  


              As far as towel usage, I don't think it's a "buffet mentality."   No one that I know of limits their family members to ONE towel/washcloth/face towel, doing laundry over and over each time those get soiled.  We have 4 ppl in our house, but the laundry hamper may have 4-8-10-20 towels in it at any given time.  My kids are swimmers, so there are ALWAYS dirty towels in my hamper.   When the hamper gets full, I wash the towels.  


              Also, you will find there is an occupancy threshold that, once you hit it, VRBO will charge MORE for their service fee.  I think it's 6 guests (and I'm sure there is more than one threshold when you get beyond 6 guests, for those larger homes).  If a guest realized this was happening, they'd be apt to put in less people (and hopefully tell you the truth later, though maybe not.) 

              • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
                feibus Senior Contributor

                You're getting good advice above.


                Do you want to be a "hall monitor" looking for guests to break the rules or do you want to be a host that doesn't stress so much?  Simplify.  Set your rates as though every party has 3 people and assume it'll average out in the end.  Because it really does average out in the end.  Your guests will be happier, you will stress less about guests breaking the rules, and you'll end up with about the same amount of money at the end of each year.

                • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
                  twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                  Actually, I had a flat fee for the max of 6 regardless of how many stayed, and thought that the published rate was a bit of a bait and switch when you put in the guest count. However, after almost 10 years in the business....I have changed my thinking a bit. I lowered my rate and if more than 2 people stay I charge an amount to cover a per person, per night up to a max of 6 guests overall. I mean you are exactly right. Less people less wear and tear, less paper products, less utilities, etc. etc.


                  And while this may not be the reason but since I did that I have had more reservations than I had prior to that. Go figure


                  (Just a side note).....I have many retired couples stay with no other family members....it seems a bit unfair to charge them the same as a couple with 4 kids!!

                  • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
                    ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                    I rent the whole house or the whole cabin.  It doesn't matter if it is 2 guests or 8.  Electricity use is sometimes greater with 2....cleaning still takes the same number of hours, and there is no telling if beds are used or not, so all the linens get washed anyway.  I used to have rates for 2, rates for 4 etc., but found that guests would not divulge the true numbers, especially if they were over maximum occupancy. 


                    I increased my nightly rate.  I increased my cleaning fees.  I increased my pet fee.  HA increased their service fee.  We are still booking.

                    • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
                      floridarob Active Contributor

                      Please folks...


                      Accept my apology if I offended you. That was not my purpose. I'm a very nice person, just as I expect that you are.


                      I'm a grandparent, and nearing retirement age myself. I qualify for discounts in some establishments, so to my kids, and their kids, I AM old.


                      If you don't appreciate my sense of humour, fine... I get that, but please keep in mind it IS my sense of HUMOUR... and not meant to be anything more than that.


                      It is true that markets are different, and the business has variations in different areas. I totally get that. But people also tend to be people, and they tend to have a lot more similarities than differences. So generalizations based on a decade of renting out two homes myself, and the comments and experiences of a hundred or so active owners that I deal with elsewhere, are likely to be accurate, even if they don't fit your particular situation. Plus, I have learned a lot about this business by learning how things are done in different places. In my experience, in this business all knowledge is valuable, if for no other reason than to gain perspective.


                      This IS a forum after all. Differences in position should be respected and cherished, certainly not chased away. Otherwise it will devolve into an old boy's congratulatory club, like so many other online forums have.


                      Regarding discounting longer stays, here is what the OLD folks taught me:

                      There is no value in discounting longer stays. It isn't necessary to do so to get longer staying guests, and most often, most longer staying guests want peak season dates which would be booked out anyway. Finally, experience and real accounting have shown that longer stay guests drive up utility costs, and produce the same amount of wear and tear, so there simply is no reason to discount them. Inexperienced owners usually are unaware of these factors, and many only have marketing experience by shopping at Walmart or Costco and think everything should be discounted if you buy more of it. Unfortunately, time is not something that gets cheaper to produce the more you consume.The more of it you use, the more the remainder becomes precious. Many of the most experienced owners I know, who are much older and wiser than I, never discount longer stays, and this is what they taught me, and I have learned it to be correct. Those are the Coles notes on selling time based services. Don't be offended, but learn from the information for whatever you can get out of it.


                      But the topic dujour is extra person charges, and I simply tossed in the idea that the best way to handle them is to not do them at all. And I proceeded to explain why, in my typically detailed way. If you don't like supporting information, that's fine I suppose, but despite my age, I'm like a little kid, and my response to everything is "Why?". I never accept 'because I said so' so I simply assume others would want to know why I am advancing the concepts that I am. What's the reasoning behind it? If the length of what results bothers you, well... sorry about that. It is no way meant to imply that my opinion is more important than any others, which some people seem to make a leap to for some reason; just that my ideas are substantiated, and not just opinion. If I'm going to offer a contrary response, I think it incumbent upon myself to explain why.


                      I also type fairly fast!


                      So... allow the bee out of your bonnet, and take what I wrote with a grain of salt. Use the wisdom it contains if you can gain something from it. If not, have a smile and keep going. If it produces no smile, well... I think that most of what passes for comedy in Hollywood these days isn't funny at all, (Stupid is not funny, they're different things.) but I still have to tolerate it when I come across it once in a while. It takes a lot of different people to make the world go 'round, and just because I'm different from you doesn't make me wrong.


                      We all have different tastes, and my purpose in my writing is to make a point or two (perhaps strongly, but I rarely do anything in half-measures) and surprise or entertain a little bit. It is certainly not to upset or insult anyone. Also know that for every one who gets annoyed by my style, there are a couple of people out there who really enjoy it. (And I have numbers to back that up as well.)



                        • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
                          twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                          But, you are assuming that some of us don’t have experience or numbers (as you call it) to back up our so-called opinion. We are all here to share and learn.  Sorry, but you come across as demeaning anyone who does not agree with you in a very harsh tone. I don’t see any humor in it at all! !

                          • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
                            u0999 Premier Contributor

                            my observations and also reading a lot of FB groups lead to to agree with you. maybe there is some market where it is not a rule. Of course there are always exceptions every now and then - like my 4 bd 4.5 ba all master suites mountain home could have been  rented by just 2-3 people as they said . It is possible? yes. Is it likely? In my case - not very.

                            We all know our rental "stats"( within some tolerance  for a bit of error on either side). Based on that, I came to the same conclusion that in MY market and with MY type of properties (that sleep 10, 12 and 16 respectively) , pricing at $X up to $Y people and then adding $Z per person above DOES lead to people trying to misrepresent the size of their "clan" that they are trying to rent for. Heck even vrbo changes their SF based on number of people entered (more people- higher fee). Housekeeper charges me the same whether there were 2 clean people or 10 (max) not too clean ones (unless it is way out of bounds); same whether they used hot tub or not; same whether they used 2 towels or 22. So I calculated my "average stay # of people " and "average stay duration" and price accordingly. On the positive side, it gives me bragging /advert rights: "our cabins offer value for the families and groups because our pricing is always per property per stay - whether 1 person is staying, or maximum allowed (which is N)".


                            I cannot speak much about long stays as they are not common in my case (longest 8-10 nights ) but I will rather take 2X5  night stays vs 1X10 night  stay. The groups with 1X10 night stays will more likely to expect and haggle for discounts, they leave property dirtier and messier (as they are there longer) , I have to send housekeeper to pick the trash up (we do not have garbage pick up in the mountains).  2X5 night groups are less likely to do so.



                          • Re: Extra Guest Fees - What's the Best Setup?
                            twomoreyears Senior Contributor

                            bonesxxx - in the new rates editor, there is an option for "fee per extra person per stay" - and the option to charge the fee per person per night.  Unfortunately, the extra person fee is flat - you can't change it by season.


                            I'll present a slightly different view than some of the others.  Our home is located in the Caribbean, on an island noted for honeymooners.  We have a three-bedroom 4000-square foot house.  Our area (Soufriere, St Lucia) is not the main tourist area, so we don't have a huge group of potential guests to draw from.  It can be hard to keep a large home filled without discounting heavily for large groups.


                            So I currently offer a discount for smaller groups of $35 per person per night (utilities, water use, linens, TP, etc., and wear and tear are all lower with fewer people).  Some people - including HA/Vrbo - call it an extra-person fee.  I call it trying to price to attract the high end of the couples, and the mid/upper end of the 4-6 people groups.  I believe it helps us stay booked better than a flat rate - unless I lowered the flat rate a lot and got all the large groups.