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Questions about the checkout process

Hello everyone,

Apologies in advance for the long post.

I have some questions about the checkout process within the Airbnb
system. Airbnb doesn’t seem to have any procedures in place for this.

The rental room is in my home. I’ll be around when the guest
leaves. I’d like a formal checkout procedure. Ideally this would
include:

a) me (or one of my people) doing a once-over of the room to make sure
it looks ok (not been trashed or anything), and that nothing has been
taken. This is tricky; I’m not sure if this would come across as
insulting to guests if they are still there.

b) taking the keys back from them - there will be two keys, one for
the room and one for the front door. If the front door key is not
returned, that will require us to do something about the front door
lock, which would be a pain.

c) getting back any stuff that I gave them. I was thinking of lending
guests a mobile phone for temporary use (I already got the SIM card),
but I’m having second thoughts about this. If there is no enforceable
checkout time, there’s no way I can stop them going off with it. One
possibility is a separate deposit from the one Airbnb is holding, but
is having a separate deposit for something like a phone frowned upon
by Airbnb? Also, prepaid cell mobiles in India are very cheap to use,
so I was thinking of asking guests to just pay for the minutes they
use. (Maybe this should be a separate question.) But again, if there
is no formal checkout procedure, there isn’t an obvious way to conduct
this transaction.

As far as I can see, there is no actual way of enforcing such a formal
checkout procedure. The guest could leave in the middle of the night
if he/she chose, possibly with a bunch of stuff. I obviously haven’t
kept anything valuable in the room, but I would still be upset if
stuff went missing. Here is a mostly complete list of small movable
items that are currently in the room.

  • 4 bath towels
  • 4 hand towels
  • Two bed covers
  • DSL Modem
  • DVD player
  • Rubbish bin
  • Alarm clock
  • Hair dryer
  • Bedside Lamp
  • Hangers
  • Torch
  • Notebook

I suppose I could report missing items to Airbnb, but does anyone in
practice ever do that? For example, if a torch or a hair dryer went
missing, would you report it? And also, how would you prove you had it
in the first place?

We do have watchmen on the ground floor of the building, and anybody
leaving our place (we’re on the second floor of a two-storey building)
would have to go past them. Assuming they are there at the time, of
course. However, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for the watchmen
to try to intercept them if they were to try to leave early. Also, the
watchmen don’t speak English.

So, what do people do? Do they outline a formal checkout procedure,
and if so, how do they allow for the possibility the guests may want
to leave early? And would the House Rules be a good place to put this?
And if a guest ignores your checkout procedure and disappears early
without telling you, is that an infraction of the rules?

These are great questions, Faheem, and I’ve been thinking about this recently.

My procedure at this point is to just say good-bye and to wish them well - and often they want to take photos.

But having a procedure in place would be smart. But I agree, it would be awkward to say “OK now, let’s check the room and be sure you’ve not forgotten to leave my modem” ; )

As far as the key, I prefer the guest just leave it on the desk in the room, but many keys are forgotten in their pockets so it would be smart to ask for it. Smart Cards (for the metro) disappear, too, but sometimes they leave extras.

Loaning a mobile is very kind but I’m afraid it may walk off in error. People just forget.

However, you’ll be keeping an eye on the place while they are there. My guest rooms are in my basement, but I go down once a day and take a peek, make sure they aren’t leaving food out and dirty dishes, check the trash-cans, etc. I’ve also started leaving a basket for their dirty towels - if they leave any I’ll wash them right away and replace them. I think you’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect but sometimes you get fooled.

But it would be very smart to have a check-list so you know what to look for right away. I think I will add that! I do have a check-list for reviewing the rooms after they are prepared.

I can’t wait to see your listing! I wish I could be your first guest!!

Hi Faheem,

Here’s our procedure - I hope it helps. On the day before checkout, I send the guest a message via the Airbnb platform. (The reason for using the platform is in case there are any future disputes). I thank the guest for their stay, remind them that tomorrow is checkout day and ask if there’s anything I can do to help their travel plans go smoothly. I also ask if they have any questions regarding time of departure etc.

In the majority of cases I ask them to drop the key off to me personally (I’m just steps away). But if I suspect that they won’t be leaving the place in great shape, I say ‘please let me know what time you’ll be leaving and I’ll collect the key from your apartment as I’d like to say goodbye and wish you well on your travels in person’.

The great thing is that the host can decide their own individual checkout procedures.If you want to be a little firmer than I am then you’re free to tell the guest ‘I will knock on your door at 10am to collect the key and do a quick walkthrough of the room’. I put our checkout details in the house manual which is in the apartment. The manual has information such as the wifi password and I physically hand it to the guests when I’m showing them the place on arrival. Because important info they need (like the wifi password) is in the manual that almost guarantees that they will at least scan the manual’s content. I make sure that it has useful local info too, to encourage them to read it further.

Our rental is a fully equipped apartment and we’ve never had anything stolen. (Fingers crossed!) Yes, I think a towel disappeared once, and a very cheap salad bowl, but the Bose speaker, hairdryer, router, TV, beach equipment, kitchen appliances etc. are all intact.

Regarding claims, I have the apartment and all its contents extensively photographed but I doubt that would count for much in case of something going missing. I’d be reluctant to claim for any loss or damage worth less that about $100. (After all, most insurance would have a deductible of that amount or more).

If you set the rules (in your house manual and the house rules in your listing) then you’re the boss!

2 Likes

Personally it sounds like you’re being more than a bit paranoid.

I consider myself to be a pretty easy going sort of person. But. What happens if I miss my – dictated by you – checkout time by one minute? Are you going to charge me an extra day? Just try! What are you going to try to do to make sure I haven’t stolen anything? Search my luggage? Good luck on that!! Give me a pat-down search to ensure that I’m not hiding your hairdryer in my jumper? Let’s see how well that works out, too… (understand, I’m being sarcastic, here to make a point)

If you charge me deposits separate from Air, I’m going to report you, just as I reported the former Air person who charged an un-listed, cash-only cleaning fee. Formally inspecting the room to make sure I haven’t stolen something is gonna piss me off too, and result in you getting a way below average Public review from me. (this isn’t sarcasm, this is what I would do)

If you don’t want expensive things (phones) being stolen, don’t offer or provide them. All the other things on your list are part of “the cost of doing business”.

Yes, occasionally a towel will go missing. Or may be even a hanger. Som poor bugger may accidentally know a bedside lamp over and break it. But seriously, no one is going to steal the torch (why would you provide that?), or the rubbish bin!

If you’re afraid that guests are going to rip you off that badly, perhaps you need to change your listing’s wording and rate such that you are not attracting every narky git that blows through town. Or maybe re-consider doing this rental thing…

3 Likes

My studio apartment is right next door to me and it is a entire apartment. I have a keyless entry in which they only have to enter the last 4 digits of the booking phone number to get in. I also have a lot of late arrival and super early check out because of international flights. so this is what I do.

In my house manual I state to please text me when they are checking out to leave the bed linens on the bed and to just leave the garbage bag outside the door.

As soon as I get the text if it is super early I just text back wishing them well and hoping that they had a great stay. if I am up which I am by 7 am I go over and say goodbye.

I want to be unobtrusive as possible so I only inspect the room after they are gone. I have not have anything taken in over 40 guests so far and the worse as been just linger smells and stained sheets.

beware that culturally stating that guest can’t check out early to get a flight or having the once over might be insulting. So if your building “watchmen” would cause your guest discomfort if they have to get a early flight or if they feel that they have to be inspected because you want to make sure they didn’t steal something it is just that will cause you a resentment and may reflect that way in the reviews.

Quite honestly why do you think guests would want to stash a hairdryer in the first place?

Most folks will get a sims card at the airport for another country so I would not worry about that, I always contact the guest the day before arrival and go over their estimated arrival time and to make sure they get a sims card at the airport which most already have purchased before traveling.

We rent out a whole apartment and don’t live near by.

Our check out procedure is simple, leave the keys on the table in the hallway and pull the door closed behind you - it locks automatically.

In three years of hosting we’ve never had anything stolen or a reason to claim on a damage deposit.

Hi @dcmooney,

Thank you for your nice reply.

Yes, I think I may have to drop the idea. The extra hassle is (probably) not worth the additional goodwill (if any). I’m not sure whether foreigners can easily get a SIM card on arrival, and if so, whether it will work with their phones. I can ask around - the India travel web site indiamike.com comes to mind. I can add relevant information to the information I send them. It does not look like there are enough people familiar with India on this site to make it worth asking a separate question about this here.

Yes, of course I will. Mostly to make sure my guests are comfortable and have everything they need. But also partly in order to be prepared for possible Bad Stuff. :slightly_smiling:

A pretty good idea of what to expect based on my interactions with them, you mean?

Thank you. I’ve post a link on the site when it is active. There’s a thread where people are posting links to my site - maybe I’ll post there.

Based on the feedback so far, I think I’ll add a section about checkout to the little writeup I’ve made for guests. Maybe a polite suggestion that we meet at checkout time. I don’t think I’ll add it to the House Rules section on the Airbnb site. It might come off as a little aggressive and/or off-putting. What do you think?

When I’ve written it, I’ll post it to this thread for comments.

dcmooney said _"based on the feedback so far, I think I’ll add a section about checkout to the little writeup I’ve made for guests. Maybe a polite suggestion _
_that we meet at checkout time. I don’t think I’ll add it to the House _
_Rules section on the Airbnb site. It might come off as a little _
aggressive and/or off-putting.

I think that’s a good solution.

Thanks @jaquo,

That’s very helpful feedback.

That sounds like a good idea. I think I’ll do that too.

Ah, well put. I’ve also got a feedback/suggestions form that I would like to get back, which I could mention in this context.

I wonder if this might be a little too aggressive. I was leaning more towards a polite suggestion to meet for checkout, initially in the writeup I will give guests on arrival, and then perhaps repeated on a message the day before, as you suggested. It’s clear that there is no real mechanism to enforce this request in cases when the guest chooses not to or is unable to meet.

What do you put in there?

Ah, that’s a good place to put it. I didn’t think of that.

Agreed. Plus it would be difficult to prove that the item was there in the first place.

Hi Faheem,

In addition to the wifi password and recommendations to local restaurants, our manual includes how to find and use everything in the apartment. where to buy groceries, the local pharmacy etc.

There’s a section about the onsite amenities like the laundry room and outdoor seating areas, plus where the garbage is to go. Another section is about transport (although most guests have a rental car). Then there’s a section for useful and emergency phone numbers and a checkout procedure section.

Ok, that’s useful information. But, what I meant to ask about was your checkout procedure section. Anything you would care to share that might be useful for hosts in general?

LOL! You Brits crack me up. :smile:

1 Like

Hey Faheem, I’ve been hosting for over six years and have had thousands of guests. It’s very, very rare that a guest takes anything from the listing. Normally they leave things they can’t fit in their luggage! I can see that you want to be meticulous in taking care of your guests, but this may possibly be an area where you can take a slightly more relaxed approach. Say goodbye to them and collect the keys when you can, and ask them to leave the keys on the table when you can’t be there in person.

I’ve recently started asking guests to leave the visitor parking pass back on the table, and texting me a picture of it on the table. In my house rules I indicate that a permit not returned will result in $35 taken out of the damage deposit, so I tell guests “please take text me a picture of the permit on the table so that I can check off its return and make sure it’s not taken out of the damage deposit” Maybe something along these lines would work?

Anticipate and put aside a small budget for replenishing of broken/ruined items like towels, bedside lamps, small flashlights, etc. It is a cost of doing business and for me in the US the initial cost and the replacement of these items is a legitimate business expense claimable against income. I don’t charge a guest for small damages under $100 unless the damage is a result of total negligence. Accidents happen, clumsiness happens and we just roll with it.

I hope that helps!

Have to agree with others that your check out procedure sounds a bit Draconian. I’ve been an Air host for six plus years now and have not had anything stolen from the room except shampoo and bug spray. Most guests on AirBnB would not think of grabbing your towels, hair dryer or hangers. They are there because it is a good alternative to a hotel and they understand they are sharing a home with a host. Do you have a lot of crime in the area? Does this explain the mindset?

What I do is put Checkout procedures in my guest info document as well as on a little fridge magnet as a reminder.

Basically consists of

strip the bed and leave linens in basket (not everyone does, but if they do I’m happy.)
Take trash with you, no trash service out here.
Leave room unlocked, key on table.
Hope you had a wonderful stay! Come back again!

Honestly if you make a big deal out of having to “inspect,” etc it’s going to scare guests off. If I were scrolling through listings and saw your arduous check out procedure, it would scare me off. I’d think, Next. I would think, this is a nervous host and it might not be the best situation for me. Next.

When you leave a hotel, you just leave. Sometimes you stop at the front desk to leave the key and pay for incidentals but you just leave.

As for the phone. I think that is an extra you don’t need to do. Travelers are savy enough to find a place to get a sim card. It’s a nice thought though. Just a headache and not worth the effort of doing IMHO.

In our manual regarding checkout we use phrases such as:

  • We’d really appreciate it if you could take the trash out.
  • We would love it if you could put used towels in the laundry basket.
  • It would be really appreciated if you’d make sure that dishes are washed and put away.

Etc., etc.

And we add a ‘friendly reminder’ that we charged the guest a modest cleaning fee to prepare the apartment for them with fresh linens, towels and so on and that we would greatly appreciate it if the apartment could be left in the condition in which it was found.

This is in no way draconian or demanding but simply tells the guest what we expect. If they take the trash out - terrific. If they don’t, it takes me thirty seconds to do so. But they know what is expected.

It’s worked — so far :slight_smile:

Thanks, @jaquo.

That sounds like the right tone to use.
I appreciate it. :slightly_smiling:

Ok. That sounds reasonable.

Yes, that sounds like the way to go.

I’m not sure what you mean. Did you mean I should ask that they should take a picture of the keys and send them to me if I am not collecting them in person?

I’m not so worried about the cost - it would just be annoying if it happened. And some items might be difficult to replace. E.g. the alarm clock in that room is a model that is semi-discontinued - the company still makes them, but only on special bulk order. And the other Indian alarm clocks I’ve tried suck.

Thanks, those were helpful comments and suggestions.

Faheem, although our apartment is fully equipped, we don’t have an alarm clock and no-one has ever mentioned it. I think anyone who needs one uses their phone? We do when we’re travelling. I never even thought about it as being necessary :slight_smile:

Hi @jaquo,

Hmm, that’s a good point. I never thought about that. Personally, I like clocks, but maybe I’m old-fashioned…

The clock in question is Opal’s Big Digit Alarm Clock. It has a simple but handsome design, with nice big numerals that can be seen across a room.

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