What to do when your cleaning team can't do the job?

in
Virginia, United States
Level 2
311 Views

I've been hosting #NantahalaVacations for several years and have come across this problem multiple times. This past weekend, despite having a rock solid cleaning team, a backup team, and a backup to the backup team, nobody was available to clean between guests. I currently live 10 hours from my cabins and completely rely on the local talent.  On this particular weekend I knew that my cleaning team would be out of town. I didn't see any issues with it, because historically speaking, we get very few renters the first few weeks of January.  But, I got a last minute instant booking for a one night guest. The next day, I already had a confirmed booking. So I immediately sent a message to my backup cleaning team to insure the cabin could be turned around in such a short amount of time.  I received a haunting reply that they were unavailable. Then in a frantic rush, I reached out to my backup's backup team.  They were also unavailable!  So what does any good host do at this point? They communicate honestly with the guests effected by the situation. I offered to refund their stay if they chose to cancel, or, I could refund them the cleaning fee if they agreed to clean up after the guest in front of them.  With a warning that I wouldn't know what the state of the cabin would be in after a single night stay, but that we have a washer and dryer in the cabin as well as extra linens and towels, the guest agreed to do the cleaning themselves.  It's never an ideal situation,and it's a terrible way to start a vacation, but it's better than canceling on the guest. Sometimes it works out great.  Sometimes you hear back that things were worse than you anticipated. As a super host, we're terrified to get a bad review and the likelihood of getting one on a situation like this is higher.  Fortunately, we work with some incredible guests who sympathize with and understand the situation when we communicate openly.  So, what do you do when you're cleaning team isn't available? I'd love to know how you would handle such a situation or if you've been in one like it before

7 Replies

Re: What to do when your cleaning team can't do the job?

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Mike2242  It sounds like you did the best one could in a sticky situation. Giving the guests reasonable options was much better than leaving them scrambling with a last-minute cancellation But if they'd chosen to stay, I would've refunded them a lot more than the Cleaning Fee, since it's compensating them for both their labor and for the listing not being delivered as advertised.

 

I don't know an easy fix for that particular dilemma, but I do find that if you're a remote host it's safer to have a trusted multi-functional co-host near the property than to rely on the cleaners to be your only locally available representatives. It's ideal if this person is also great at cleaning/changeover, but if that's too complex of an operation to do solo, they can at least be an emergency contact for the guests, inspect the home after checkouts for damage or missing items, and handle regular maintenance that falls outside the scope of cleaning.  

 

 

Re: What to do when your cleaning team can't do the job?

in
Oregon City, OR
Level 10

@Mike2242 I second the suggestion that a reliable local co-host can save you from various catastrophes. But also, I'd suggest not allowing last-minute (or one-night) bookings, for a number of reasons, including that they can land you in this situation.

Re: What to do when your cleaning team can't do the job?

in
Alberta, Canada
Level 10

@Mike2242 Agree with Lisa and Andrew about a cohost, and want to add that during this pandemic you definitely don’t want to leave ANY cleaning to your guests, being that you’ve agreed to the covid cleaning protocol in order to keep your listing active. That adds an extra layer of complication to this scenario. 

Re: What to do when your cleaning team can't do the job?

in
Ohope, New Zealand
Level 10

Hi @Mike2242 , 

 

Hindsight is always a learning curve but knowing your first cleaning team were away, I would’ve checked the back ups or some one was available . Otherwise simply block the booking calendar, until your listing has been made ready for the next guests (Regardless of the historical trend for January bookings)

Your  upfront communication with this IB reservation was the best move and these guests have chosen to stay.  The dilemma now lays with the reviews especially about cleanliness. 

1- Your review for the last guests will be reliant on the feedback from the IB guest.

2- IB guest hopefully walked into a spotless cabin and had very little to tidy up.

 

As @Andrew0 mentions to have an emergency contact /co host , other than your cleaning team,

is a good idea for any host.

 

Hope everything works out .

 

 

 

 

Re: What to do when your cleaning team can't do the job?

in
Swannanoa, NC
Level 10

@Mike2242   Whenever my housekeeper tells me that she will be unavailable, I immediately check with her backup and "book" them for any potential last minute guests.  They get a certain payment just for being "on call".  If the backup housekeeper is also not available, I block the dates and do not accept any bookings.  

Re: What to do when your cleaning team can't do the job?

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

If my cleaning team/co-host told me in advance they were not available I would block out the dates or set a lengthy minimum. I would never ever assume a booking is unlikely because then the inevitable always happens.  Having a guest clean up after another guest (both from a host and guest perspective) scares the sh!t out of me.

Re: What to do when your cleaning team can't do the job?

in
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

I think the lesson here is not to accept  last minute  bookings during Covid when you know your main cleaning crew are going to be away. It would have been better to block the dates.

 

Personally I don't think it was right to expect guests to walk into a house that hadn't been cleaned to Covid standards by a professional cleaning crew. I think you should have cancelled the one night booking and taken the hit in this situation. @Mike2242 

 

 

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