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Late checkouts

One of the main problems with late checkouts is that it then means housekeeping members have to adjust their own schedule to get the room ready for the next guest. That is where clear communication between yourself and the head of housekeeping will prove to be invaluable.

Most hotels will have a set protocol to deal with late checkouts and exactly how they are handled can vary between different locations. However, in your role as the hotel manager, it is important that you are able to deal with this situation as there is always the possibility of the guests becoming agitated at the idea of them being held accountable for missing the last checking out time. Understanding how to deal with an irate guest is certainly a skill that will prove to be invaluable time and time again within a hotel setting, and it is one that you need to acquire as quickly as possible.

It may be the case that if the staff members from the front of house are aware that an individual is going to be late, then there may be no fee to pay, although, as we said, this is entirely at the choice of the appropriate member of staff.

Note that special requests may only be asked for when the hotel front of house call the room to find out if they are leaving on that day. The problem here is that it does not give a lot of time to ascertain if permission is to be given. However, the decision does have to be taken as quickly as possible to then set into action certain protocols that are determined by the hotel.
It is worth mentioning these late fees to the guests when they are checking into the hotel. That way, you can be sure that the guests have already been informed, and there is then no reason for them to not follow the rules or to object if they are charged later on.

It can often be the case that the fee operates on a sliding scale depending on how late they are with checking out.

For example, if they are up to one hour late, then they may be forced into paying 10% of the room rate. However, this then increases in hourly increments with the percentage increasing accordingly.

These late fees will be added to their bill with it included on the receipt that the guest will be given with it detailing that it is a late fee connected to the checking out.

Rather than simply charging the guest a fee for checking out late, it is a better policy if the hotel operates a procedure whereby just prior to the checking out time, the hotel manager prints out a copy of those guests that have still not checked out when they are due to do so.

At that point, it should also be company policy that each guest is then called in order to remind them of the checking out time and to discover if there are any issues that need to be addressed.

It can always be the case that the guest may have gotten their time mixed up, in which case, it will be seen as being better if there is some leeway accompanied by a gentle reminder of the checking out time. In this instance, charging them a fee would be seen as harsh and could be potentially damaging to the reputation of the hotel.

This is why each case has to be taken on an individual basis rather than a stock reply to every guest due to the impact it can have on the way that the hotel is viewed by guests.
If a late checkout is allowed, then certain procedures need to be followed.

First, the housekeeping has to be told of the new checking out time to stop them from venturing into the room to prepare it for the next guest.
It should be noted on the official file for the guest that a late checkout has been approved. This will allow other members of staff that are connected to booking to be made aware of the decision.

However, it is important that as soon as the guest has checked out that the housekeeping staff are informed to allow them to get the room ready. The only problem is that there will also be a set time after which if the guest has still not checked out, then they must be charged the full room rate because they are unable to get the room ready for another guest.

It is difficult to list the reasons as to why the guest may be granted a late checkout time as that will vary from hotel to hotel. However it is always going to be an advantage for the hotel to be flexible in their approach to this although the only person that should be allowed to make that decision is the hotel manager if they are on call at the time.

There are different ways in which you should deal with late checkouts as there can be various reasons as to why this has happened in the first place. This is certainly something that will happen from time to time in a hotel, so even though you may not have to deal with it on a number of occasions, it is still important that you understand what happens. Always keep in mind the way that the hotel will be viewed, but at the same time you cannot allow individuals to take advantage of the hotel just out of your kindness.

Christos Pashiardis – Managing Partner – Consultant.
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