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. Never ask them to do anything except 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 commentator. “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.”
Interior designer Mercedes Brennan chimed in, too, with the guest perspective: “I cannot think of a single time in our stays where we (and our co-renters as well) have not felt bitter about [cleaning at checkout]. We DO NOT make a mess and are respectful, and so why do we have to clean up too?”
As for how I manage checkouts at my own rental, I do ask that guests do basic tasks like load and start the dishwasher and take out the trash and recycling. For safety reasons, I also have them return the keys and garage remote to their correct spots, lock all doors and windows, and turn of the A/C.
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 timewasting mistake I see 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:
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 in a basket, 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 and hospitality. Easier for your cleaners. It’s a win for everyone. Trust me on this!
And since I could talk about linens and linen maintenance all day (really!), here are some bonus tips for you for treating linen stains.
1. Make sure your guests leave the linens on the bed (it’s worth repeating!). NOTE: You will need to add a line to your checkout procedure instructing guests to leave the sheets on the bed, since many guests strip them off by default.
2. 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.
3. Treat each stain with Clorox bleach gel (or your usual go-to). Let sit and wash as normal (on hot) with the detergent of your choice.
4. Inspect the stain after washing. If the sheet is still stained, DO NOT dry. Repeat the pre-treatment process and wash again immediately.
5. 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.