Managing Late Vacation Rental Check-Outs and Maximizing Upsells

May 15 2023
Managing Late Vacation Rental Check-Outs and Maximizing Upsells

Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.


What’s in this article?

Late check-outs can feel like the ultimate nightmare for your vacation rentals. They risk disrupting your cleaning schedule, and at their worst, mean the next guest could arrive at an unprepared vacation home (the fastest route to a bad review).

But with a few small tweaks, you can reduce unplanned late check-outs—and actually use planned late check-outs to boost revenue, please guests, and simplify operations.

In this piece, we explain:

  • The two types of late check-out (unplanned and planned)

  • How to avoid unplanned late check-outs

  • How to upsell more planned late check-outs

  • How to deal with disruptive late check-outs effectively

Plus, we’ve included copy-and-paste examples of how to communicate your policies to your vacation rental guests, so you can save time and effort, and start boosting revenue today.

Manage your late check-outs with Hostfully

The two types of late check-out

Not all late check-outs are created equal. Here are the two basic types, their issues, and opportunities.

Unplanned check-outs: An operational challenge

An unplanned late check-out is when a guest misses their check-out deadline, either accidentally or because they’ve ignored your house rules.

  • A stressful problem for your operations

  • Requires extra guest messaging and could cause a confrontation with the guest

  • Causes delays for your cleaners; may incur an increased cleaning fee

  • A problem for your next guest, who may need to delay check-in, and who now risks arriving at an unprepared rental

  • Creates the risk of bad reviews for your vacation rental business

Planned check-outs: An upsell opportunity

A planned late check-out is agreed before time, and is either requested by the guest or offered as part of your service.

  • Potentially a source of extra income

  • Provides convenience to the guest

  • Can help ensure a positive review and rating

  • As long as it’s built into your processes, puts no strain on your operations

So, as you can imagine, you want to minimize the possibility of an unplanned late check-out and create opportunities for planned ones you can offer as an upsell. We discuss strategies for both, below.

How to avoid unplanned late check-outs

Late check-outs are always a risk, but you can reduce the chances of having one with these tips.

Include your check-out policy in house rules

Most late check-outs can be prevented by ensuring early on that the guest is 100% clear on the standard check-out time.

You can set your check-out policy on your property listing page right at the start of the guest journey, and list it again in your house rules once they’ve booked.

On some platforms, like Airbnb, guests have to read and agree to the Airbnb house rules before they confirm their stay, so this is the best way to introduce your policy from the beginning. You can even make this a condition on your own direct booking site.

It’s best to phrase your policy in a clear but friendly way. For example:


Check-out is at 11am. We know you want to stay forever, but please leave on time so our cleaners can avoid experiencing any delays. Sadly, we may need to charge an additional fee if you leave late.”


Include your check-out policy as part of your guest message flow

Make sure your check-out policy and house rules are communicated as part of your standard message flow, which is the sequence of messages you send to each new guest after booking—from confirmation to check-in instructions, to mid-stay communications, to post-stay thank you and review request.

Guests appreciate being clear on any essential organizational information so they can plan ahead for their last morning and day.

For example, you can include your check-out policy in your: 

  • Welcome message
  • Your detailed check-in instructions message
  • Your pre-check-out reminder

If you include it in a conversational way, as a friendly reminder, and as part of a wider set of details, this information will come across as helpful, not pushy.

Setting up automated messaging using Hostfully makes it easy to ensure guests have everything they need to enjoy their stay—and creates no extra work on your side.

Provide information on late check-out in your digital guidebook

Including your check-out policy in your

digital guidebook makes sure guests can always access this key information on their personal devices at any time throughout the guest journey.

Hostfully guidebook FAQ page
Hostfully guidebooks make essential information like house rules and check-out policy readily available.
Pro tip: Send your guests a link to the property’s guidebook before their arrival date, so they can read it before they travel. 

Guests can check all the crucial information, find directions, see the check-in and check-out policies, the WiFi code, and upsells. This ensures they have all the information they need (even if they booked last minute via instant booking), and reduces the time and effort you’d otherwise spend on answering the same questions over and over.

How to upsell late check-outs to your guest

Here’s how to increase the chances that your guests will opt for a planned late check-out and boost your revenue.

Send the offer to guests in good time before their last day

Include your late check-out upsell option wherever you reference your check-out policy. That way guests know the policy and know they can stay longer for a fee, which makes the upsell feel natural and helpful, rather than a hard sell.

For example, you could add it to the message above, so your offer reads something like:


Check-out is at 11am. We know you want to stay forever, but please leave on time so our cleaners can avoid experiencing any delays. Sadly, we may need to charge an additional fee if you leave late.”



“If you’d like to request a late check-out, we’re happy to help. Subject to availability, you can check out at 2pm for $X. Please message us at least 24 hours before your check-out time, so we can get this booked for you as early as possible.”


Include it in your guidebook

Once you’ve decided on a policy, be sure to include it in your Hostfully Guidebook, so guests can continue to manage their in-stay experience all within the same platform. This minimizes guest messaging and makes the process as frictionless as possible.

Offer it again in your check-out reminders

Don’t miss your chance to remind guests of your standard check-out policy the evening before their check-out day and give them a final opportunity to purchase one more upsell.

How to handle late check-outs for a painless, positive outcome

You know what they say about the best-laid plans. If your guests overstay, here’s our recommended course of action.

Maintain strong guest communications throughout

It’s important to establish clear, friendly, and helpful communication with guests right from the start of the guest journey. If you create an early rapport with the guest, it will help ensure clarity and responsiveness in the case of an unplanned late check-out later on.

Your message to a late-staying guest could read:


“Hi there! We see you’ve stayed after our standard check-out time. Please could you let us know what time you’ll check out by? This will help us schedule our cleaners and decide if we need to charge you an additional fee. Thank you!”


Use smart technology to track check-out times

Smart locks give you more control and visibility into what’s happening at your property, when guests have checked in, and if they’ve checked out.

This means you can automate check-in, and verify if the guest has vacated the property at the right time. You can also delay activating an arriving guest’s pin code so they can’t gain access until the property is completely ready for their arrival.

Streamline team communication to make turnover efficient

Hostfully’s task management features and integrations streamline task creation and assignment with your team.

So, you can notify cleaners as soon as a property is ready for its turnover and easily coordinate inspections.

Pro tip: Hostfully customers are entitled to a complimentary Turno account.

This will give you access to Turno’s scheduling software, checklists, and marketplace, where you can find and hire vetted local cleaners.

Worst-case scenario

If an overstaying guest fails to respond to your reminders, you need to focus on protecting the property, your staff, and possibly the guest themselves.

  • Maintain documentation of all your interactions, which could be important in the case of a dispute. If all your communication is handled through a messaging service or your property management platform’s unified inbox, they’ll be easy to retain and access.

  • Always remain polite and professional, but be clear on your check-out policy without ever deviating from that policy.

  • If you’re concerned your guest requires medical assistance, call the local emergency services and inform the guest’s emergency contact if they’ve provided one.

  • Have the number of a security firm available so you can have a guest and their party forcibly evicted without ever placing your team at risk.

You may also need to take care of newly arriving guests. Here are our recommendations:

  • Communicate with your arriving guest as early as possible to let them know there may be a delay to their check-in time.

  • Have a backup plan in place so you can immediately offer an alternative nearby property that’s equal or superior in quality to the one they’ve booked.

  • If they booked through an online travel agency, you can change their stay using their booking platform. For example, Airbnb lets you change the reservation officially through its site, though guests don’t have to accept. If they don’t accept, they can ask you to cancel their reservation for a full refund (regardless of your normal cancellation policy).

  • Expect the guest to be frustrated, so provide them with a simple explanation of the situation, with clear, goal-based steps when suggesting any course of action. With templated messages for this scenario to hand, this will be much easier to manage in the heat of the moment.

Minimizing unplanned late check-outs and maximizing revenue

Late check-outs may feel like a nightmare for you and your team. But with a few key shifts in messaging and the implementation of automation technology, you can turn the problem of an unplanned late check-out into a positive opportunity.

By making your check-out policy clear, establishing excellent communication right from the start, and upselling late check-outs as part of your standard message flow, you can minimize operational problems, boost revenue, and keep guests happy.

Hostfully’s platform makes it easier to set this up, automate tasks and communication, and share details seamlessly. So you can forget the nightmares, and sleep as soundly as your guests before check-out day!

Manage your late check-outs with Hostfully