I purchased a cabin in the Sequoia National Forest in April. After securing a cleaning lady (who charges $50/hour), I went ahead and listed the cabin on Airbnb. To my surprise, the cabin booked almost completely for May, June, July and August. I think people want secluded areas due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, the cleaning lady has twice not shown-up and this has caused me stress and embarrassment. I have refunded the guests the cleaning fee and one night's stay.
I have already searched high and low for an alternative cleaning option (a company or person) to no avail. So I am considering changing the model whereby the guests are required to leave the cabin the way they found it. In exchange I would:
1. Remove the cleaning fee
2. Extend the departure to 5pm instead of 10am
3. Add more amenities, like dry staple food (rice, beans, pancake mix, etc.)
4. Leave cleaning instructions
I live about 3.5 hours away and I will be there monthly to deep clean.
Any input or suggestions and how I should word this?
@Yazmin30 that is a tough one. I'd personally be nervous about the setup you're considering because the same thing can still happen if outgoing guests fail to clean properly-- and then what can you do with no cleaning fee to refund? I assume you have already checked with the owners of other cabins in the area to see what they do?
@Yazmin30 Sorry to say, but this is not a viable alternative. There is no way you can trust guests to leave the place clean enough for the next guests- not only did guests not book to be cleaners, you'll end up with terrible reviews. Super clean accommodation is one the most important things about hosting, and now with having to clean and sterilize in a way as to not spread COVID, your idea is, unfortunately not at all acceptable.
You'll either have to find another cleaner who shows up and does a good job, or rethink hosting a place you live 3.5 hours away from.
@Yazmin30 The majority of people are never going to deep clean a place they rent for a vacation experience, and even if you are lucky and most of your guests do a 'decent' job of cleaning, that is not going to be to the spec of a formal cleaning, plus without someone to go there and check between guests you have no way to know if your guests did/did not/sorta did leave the place clean enough for the next guest.
I'm not sure why you can't find a cleaning option, but you might have to pay more and raise your cleaning fee to cover the cost.
@Yazmin30 I just had a look at your listing- it's lovely. When you said "cabin", I was expecting something small- I guess people in California have a different idea of "cabin" than I do 🙂
Your place is big- 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, up to 8 guests, and there is no way guests would clean adequately for new guests. It would take me hours to clean that place to the standard that will earn good reviews.
So while I realize that $50/hour for a cleaner is steep, perhaps you expected her to clean it in far less time than is actually required to do a good job and that may be why she isn't showing up?
On another note- 82 photos is rather a lot- I'd suggest you cut it down to about half that. Some of the indoor shots are redundant, and there are far too many outdoor shots. If guests are coming to Sequoia National Forest, they pretty much know already what the area would look like. They don't need to see a bunch of photos of trees. Pick some of the nicest ones, and get rid of the rest. More isn't always better.
Guests are mostly interested in seeing where they will sleep, bathe and cook.
Thank you Sarah for the recommendations. I will do just that. Right now there is a 30 hour buffer between the last guest and next guest, so I don't give her a tight window to clean. She is a wonderful lady and a superwoman with many skills. I really like her. I think the issue is communication and organization skills. The missing dates were not intentional. When she saw my messages letting her know she missed a cleaning, she profusely apologized. Because this has happened twice, I'm on panic mode and I think I have to have a plan B.
The cleaning lady lives up in the mountain, about 15 min. from the cabin. She charges $50/hour because she can. I live in L.A. and pay my cleaning lady $35/hour. Still, I'm happy to pay that if she shows up. She cleans one other Airbnb in the area. All the other rentals are cleaned by the property owners who live near, on the property, or just down the mountain. I've inquired high and low and everyone gives me her name. When she has shown up, she is uber professional. No complaints. But I can't fully rely on one person.
I agree that guests will likely not clean to good standards. I'm going to beta-test this idea with two guests who are coming next. I immediately informed them of my cleaning person issue and they are happy to leave it they way they found it. I extended their checkout to 5pm and I will refund them the cleaning fee. There will be a 20 hour buffer between the check-out time and check-in time for the next guest. If this fails, I'm going to have to put a hold on my rental until I figure it out.
@Yazmin30 So you are planning to go to personally inspect the cleaning job the guests do? I'm just wondering how you'll know, or if you are planning to ask the following guests if it was okay.
The problem with "leave it as you found it" is that guests really have no idea what has been done as far as cleaning the space. At best, they will most likely do obvious things like wipe down the counters, make sure all the dishes are washed and put away, stovetop clean, floors swept and washed, beds stripped and changed, toilet scrubbed and bathroom counter cleaned. They aren't going to check every nook and cranny for dust, dead insects, cobwebs, they aren't going to wash dirty fingerprints off the windows, notice the toothpaste splatters on the mirror, or sterilize the things people touch- the remote controls, all the light switches, the faucet handles, etc, etc. And while it might seem silly, guests will look for hidden dirt and mark you down on your cleanliness rating.
I think Lisa's suggestions to work with your cleaner to help her organize and remember is an excellent idea.
@Yazmin30 If you actually like your cleaner, there must be a way with all the phone technology for you to ensure that she doesn't forget any engagements, it just may take more of your time to send a variety of reminders. But, I agree, no matter what you need a back up cleaner in the event of an emergency.
@Yazmin30 if the cleaner you have has good intentions and does a good job but is just disorganized, why not implement a process that doesn't rely on her organizational skills, where you send her a weekly schedule, reminder the night before check-out, and a follow-up to make sure she did it? This seems like a much more manageable issue than someone who just doesn't care. As a back-up, would any of the other owners who clean their own places be interested in cleaning yours for $50/hour?
Your idea of asking other owners of other rentals was in my mind. Thank you for suggesting. Yes, I will reach out to them. I send the lady a weekly schedule plus a reminder one or two days before. The issue is she does not answer her phone or email for days. If there is a last minute change (as there sometimes is with Airbnb) and I send her a notice. But she does not get it until days later.
@Yazmin30 I see, a person who is not glued to her phone, how refreshing. 😉
Did the two screw-ups involve last-minute changes that she didn't see notice of? If so my feeling would be that that's not entirely on her. It doesn't make sense to accept a reservation (or a reservation change) that you're not sure you can clean for, regardless of your cleaner arrangements. In your situation I would suggest you not accept last-minute check-ins unless you can reach her and get confirmation that she can accommodate them.
I think in your situation I would have a talk with her and ask her what you can do, together, to make sure communication is consistent and cleanings are done as scheduled.
FWIW, my feeling is that for every host the initial learning curve is significant and there are going to be some bumps as you figure out processes that will keep your place running smoothly. My own response to this bump would not be to give up on professional cleaning; my fear is you will be trading one set of challenges for another.