What is a late check-out?
As a short-term rental host or manager, you will have received the dreaded guest requests for early check-in or late check-out.
A late check-out is requested by a guest when they want to stay past your set check-out time. This may be because their flight has been delayed, they want to add one last activity to their vacation schedule, or they just want to enjoy a lazy breakfast before they head back home.
Whatever the reason, whilst you want to accommodate your guests’ wishes, accepting early check-ins (which are just as disruptive) and late check-outs – especially during peak season – can cause havoc to your change-over schedule.
So should you say yes to an Airbnb late check-out request?
Let’s take a look at some of the solutions you can use to avoid or better manage early check-ins and late check-outs, minimise disruption to your changeover schedule, all whilst keeping your guests happy!.
Pro-tip: Be clear about your check-in and check-out times
Be very precise in your language, so that there is no room for ambiguity:
- You can check-in anytime after 4 pm
- Check-out time is before 10 am
You might want to add a ‘latest’ check-in time to avoid having to do a midnight check-in!
Don’t offer early-check in or late check-out on your OTA listing
Invariably, if you offer the option to book an early check-in or late check-out, your guests will take you up on that offer, so avoid mentioning it as an option within your OTA listing.
On the other hand, many hosts keep the ‘flexible check-in’ option up their sleeve as a book direct incentive, so if you have direct contact with your guests, you could offer a flexible check-in option if they book directly on your website.
Flag up your conditions everywhere!
Make sure you add your check-in and check-out conditions on every possible point of contact with your guest, so there is no room for argument.
- Booking Confirmation
- Booking Agreement
- House Rules
- Welcome Pack
- Guest Experience App
We also recommend that you make a checklist of booking conditions and include them on your Airbnb listing, on your book direct website, within your booking agreement, in your guest email communication, and in your welcome or guest app.
If you have a flexible check-out option, don’t include it on your listing, instead of flag up the need to request one in advance on your website, booking agreement, and all direct communication channels with the guest.
What is a late-check out fee and how much should I charge?
Of course, there is always the option to charge a late check-out fee. A late check-out fee is a surcharge added to your nightly rate to cover the cost of a guest staying past the check-out time in your accommodation, which may potentially incur extra cleaning charges and of course the inconvenience.
Unless you specify check-in and check out time, Airbnb will switch you to a default time:
- Local time: 3 pm check-in and 11 am check-out
Most of the major OTAs offer an option to add an additional fee for an ‘out of hours’ check-out, but if you want to set your own, you must decide how much you want to charge as a late check-out surcharge:
- A set fee ‘per hour extra’ fee
- A percentage of the nightly rental fee is based on how much later they check out i.e. 30% for an extra two hours or 60% for an extra six hours.
- A set fee and a set maximum hour that they can stay in the accommodation
Whatever you decide, make sure that the additional fee will cover the cost for urgent cleaning or moving guests around.
Remind your guests of the check out times during their stay
A polite reminder the day before they arrive and the day before they leave is a gentle way of reiterating your check-in and check-out times without sounding pushy.
Send them a Whatsapp message, email or an automated message through the your.rentals guest communication system, thanking them for their booking/stay and reminding them of their check-out time.
You can couple this with a message to wish them a safe journey home and why not ask for a review at the same time? Asking for reviews post-departure means you capture guests whilst they are still enjoying their vacation – before they return to the daily grind and forget their fabulous stay with you.
Offer to let your guests store their bags on-site
If your guests want to arrive early or leave late, but you don’t have the flexibility to offer them an early check-in or late check-out, you could offer to safely store their luggage on-site, so that they can head off and enjoy the day without being burdened down with luggage.
If you don’t have room to store their luggage inside your accommodation; perhaps it will get in the way of the changeover cleaning, then consider an external storage option, such as the garage or an outdoor storage cupboard, with a combination padlock, so they can easily access their luggage.
Make sure it’s in a safe location and ideally out of view of passersby.
Set-up keyless access or a lockbox feature
If you want to offer the option for flexible check-in and check-out times, you could invest in a keyless entry or key lock box, so you don’t have to do physical check-ins or check-outs when they arrive or leave out of hours. After all, who wants to do a midnight check-in?
After the Covid pandemic, many guests prefer not to have a physical check-in, so opting for keyless access using a pin code system, or installing a lockbox feature, where guests can access the key when they arrive will save you the need to be on-site to check them in and out and will also offer your guests peace of mind that they don’t have to have unnecessary contact during their stay. Just make sure you are on hand when they need you.
Offer recommendations for how guests can use their time
If flexible check-in isn’t an option for you, be proactive and helpful and offer recommendations to your guests on things they can do during their wait time.
You could create a guide to the best activities or places to visit based on specific times.
- The best things to do if you have an hour to spare in Marbella
- The best half-day activities in Nice
- The best places to have breakfast in Glasgow while you wait to check-in
Your guests will appreciate that you have taken the trouble to help them pass the time during their wait. If it’s a late check-out, couple this with helping them to store their luggage and you will have every angle covered!
Channel manager with late check out function
Coming this month is our new late-check-out feature for Property Managers, which gives you the option to ask your guests if they want an early check-in or late check-out. You will have the opportunity to charge an additional fee, which is set in the system.
You can see there are plenty of solutions to avoid early check-ins and late check-outs whilst offering alternatives to your guests. And ways to manage them without disrupting your changeover schedule, and to ensure you are not out of pocket.
Do you have solutions that you use with guests to avoid late check-outs? Share them with us and we can feature them in this article to help other hosts and property managers manage their Airbnb bookings more effectively.