When your guests are getting ready to leave at the end of their vacation rental stay, it’s okay to leave a short list of checkout procedures for them to follow.
However, be careful not to leave guests feeling overwhelmed with tasks to finish before they walk out the door; the main objective of checkout procedures is to reduce any unnecessary costs or risks to you (eg. fire, flood, rodents, insects, etc.) until your cleaning team can be on site.
You can put the list of checkout procedures in your guest welcome book or in another easy-to-find location, such as stuck to the fridge. It’s also a good idea to include the checklist in an automated email prior to their checkout.
First, be sure that you clearly specify checkout time. You should also put your contact information somewhere on the list, so your guests can contact you with any questions they might have.
We recommend only asking your guests to do what is necessary to prevent damage to the property or major inconveniences for your cleaning team. After all, your guests are paying a cleaning fee, so interrupting their last moments of “vacation mode” to make them perform a deep clean will be a knock on their stay with you.
However, requesting that they perform simple tasks to maintain your property’s integrity and assist your cleaning team from extra work is acceptable.
Below we have organized by room ideas to include in your properties’ checkout procedure. Take the suggestions and thought starters that best fit your needs to customize this plan for your own managed properties:
- Provide instruction around what to do with small appliances. Is there anything that needs to be unplugged?
- Request that they dispose of used Keurig cups or coffee filters
- Set expectations about what guests should do with kitchen sponges and dirty linens
- Only ask guests to dispose of garbage or recyclables themselves if it is an excessive amount or doesn’t fit into the provided bins
- Ask guests to dispose of or take with them any food or beverages that they brought to your property
- Ask guests to either leave a list or notify you if any supplies have run out or are running low (i.e. coffee filters, dish soap, etc.)
Requiring guests to empty the dishwasher, clean countertops or vacuum is blending their responsibilities with that of your cleaning team and should be avoided.
- If furniture was rearranged, ask that they move it back to its original setting
- Provide instructions if the thermostat needs to be set at a certain temperature
- Ask guests to turn off all lights and electronics
- Remind guests to lock all windows and doors before they leave
- Have them double check that the fireplace or space heaters are completely turned off and/or unplugged
- Suggest that guests do a once over of all outlets to make sure no phone chargers are forgotten
Rearranging furniture back to its original (or close to original) position helps your cleaning team avoid moving heavy furniture and remembering where each piece belongs.
Bathrooms and bedrooms
- Specify where guests should leave their dirty towels
- Remind guests to check closets and drawers for personal items
- If you’d like guests to strip the beds, be sure to tell them what they should do with sheets and pillows
Books, magazines, chargers and other smaller personal items are commonly left behind. Asking guests to double check if they have everything can save you the hassle and cost associated with shipping if guests want them returned.
- If you have a grill, ask that guests check that the propane is turned off and that cooking utensils have been taken inside
- If there is a security system that needs to be set, provide explicit arming instructions
- Where should guests leave their key after they leave?
- Should exterior lights be left on or turned off?
Bonus tip: If you think you may be asking guests to do too much, send a thank you note and ask guests for their feedback within a few days of their checkout. This will help you refine your checkout procedures to ensure you aren’t inconveniencing guests as they leave.
When things don’t go as planned
Most guests are more than happy to leave the rental property in the same condition they found it; those who don’t are the main reason why you take a damage protection fee or hold a damage deposit.
In most cases, however, people who choose to stay at a vacation rental instead of a mainstream hotel are conscientious travelers who will leave your property the way they found it.