Years ago, my good friend Matt Landau started a heated debate on his Vacation Rental Marketing Blog: Just how much responsibility do guests have for cleaning/property maintenance at checkout?
The post is over three years old and I still remember it. Both because of the flood of comments and because of the topic itself, which continues to stump many owners and managers.
Matt’s take? Treat your guests like VIPs. Ask for nothing but for them to enjoy their vacation. As you might imagine, many owners/managers chimed in to disagree.
“I do not run a resort or a luxury hotel,” said one commenter. “To keep prices where they are at in the vacation home rental business and to keep the flow of outgoing guests and incoming guests we require they put a little effort when they leave.”
Another response took the guest’s perspective: “My question is why do you have a check in time of 4 pm, a check out time of 10 am (11 if you’re lucky) and a list of chores to do before you depart? Whenever I see that, I can’t even relax.”
I take the middle ground at my own rental. I ask that guests do some basic tasks like load and start the dishwasher. Take out the trash and recycling. Turn off the A/C. And for safety reasons, return the keys and garage remote to their spots and lock the doors and windows. Other tasks fall to me and the housekeeping staff and are covered by my (not insignificant) cleaning fee.
But let’s talk about how this all relates to the #1 time-wasting mistake I see vacation rental hosts and managers make.
You’ll note in the comments to Matt’s post that many folks instruct guests strip the sheets and other linens from all the beds.
When I see comments condoning this behavior, I cringe.
After over 10 years of hosting and 5 years as the hospitality guru here at The Distinguished Guest, I can tell you this:
The biggest, most common time waster in the vacation rental industry is asking guests to remove all of the sheets from the bed before checkout.
Why is this very widespread practice such a sin? Because leaving the sheets and other linens on the bed allows the cleaners to easily inspect (and spot treat) the linens for stains at each turnover.
When the sheets are crumpled into a ball, this task is exceedingly more difficult. Stains get missed. And worse, without pre-wash spot-treatment, these stains can become permanent. So it’s off to the store for more linens.
Yes, dealing with stains can be a bit unpleasant. But they are going to happen regardless. It’s better for you and your cleaners if they are easily spotted and treated right away.
Easier for you. Easier for the guests. Easier for your cleaners. It’s a win for everyone.
And since I could talk about linens and linen maintenance all day (seriously!), here are some bonus tips for you for treating linen stains.
5 Ways to Manage Stains at Every Turn:
- As I stressed above, make sure your guests leave the linens on the bed. Add a line to your checkout instructions, since many guests strip them off by default.
- Instruct your housekeeping staff to inspect the linens after each guest. This includes not just the flat and fitted sheets but the duvet cover, insert, waterproof mattress pad, pillowcases and pillowcase protectors, too.
- Treat each stain with Clorox Bleach Pen (or your usual go-to). Let sit and wash as normal (on hot) with the detergent of your choice.
- Inspect the stain after washing. If the sheet is still stained, DO NOT dry. Repeat the pre-treatment process and wash again immediately.
- Use a bluing liquid if sheets are yellowing. You should use this magic potion at least two times a year and up to four times a year. Mrs. Stewart’s has been my favorite bluing liquid for years.