What do you do with guest items left behind at an Airbnb or VRBO? Does the Airbnb guest expect the host to ship stuff back? Or do the guest items left behind to go in the vacation rental lost and found?
It’s best to manage guest expectations. List in your house rules what happens or if there’s a charge when guests leave stuff. Do you offer a shipping service for guest items left behind? And if the house cleaner finds something during the turnover service how soon is the guest notified?
Listen: What Do You Do With Guest Items Left Behind?
Watch: What Do You Do With Guest Items Left Behind?
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
What to Do with Guest Items Left Behind
How do you get customers and guests to take the stuff with them that they brought with them when they stayed at your Airbnb or your vacation rental. One of the ways to do that is to have a pre-checkout list.
This can be on the refrigerator or the counter, where the checkout list will specify things that you need to do before you checkout. It might say things like, “Check the refrigerator to make sure that you have left no open food inside the refrigerator. Anything that you’ve opened that you did not consume, please discard it before you leave.”
That could be things commonly left behind like milk or eggs because you can’t reuse them if they have already been opened. Things that are closed and sealed, like oatmeal packets or granola bars, can be left behind. So they are welcome to throw those things away so that you don’t have to.
Tell Clients to Check Drawers so They Don’t Leave Anything Behind
Another thing that you might list, in the bedroom for example. On your pre-checkout list would be, “Make sure that you check all the drawers to make sure that you didn’t leave any clothes or anything behind. Check the closets to make sure nothing is hanging up. Check underneath the bed.“
Sometimes people will get out of the bed and they leave a pillow, or one of those neck pillows that they use for travel, they leave those behind. It’s things like socks, a bathrobe, or pajamas. There have been prom dresses and things like that, that have been left behind at Airbnbs.
Also, you want to make a note, “Check for your cell phones and your cell phone chargers. Any electronics that you’ve used while staying at this property we want to make sure you did not leave those behind.” There are lots of people that leave their electronics and their chargers at Airbnb’s where they stay.
How to Clean Up Guest Items Left Behind
That leads us to our next question, and that is if people do leave things behind, what is your cleanup process for that. In the listing that you have, you can say you’re not responsible for left behind items.
That way you’re completely off the hook and you don’t have to deal with them whatsoever. There are other Airbnb’s or vacation rentals where they have a lost and found bin. So if you find something, it goes in the lost and found bin and that lost and found bin is available to other guests.
Let’s say that you came and you stayed at a vacation rental, and there was a lost and found bin and there was a pair of gloves in it. They were your size and you wanted to take them so that you wouldn’t freeze while you were walking. You would be available to take those with you and keep them if you wanted. Because they’re lost and found, another guest left them. That is one way of dealing with that.
You Can Contact Clients Right Away When They Leave Items Behind
Another way of dealing with that is to contact the customer directly when you find the items left behind. This is usually the house cleaner’s job because they’re the ones that go through after a customer leaves. They take pictures of everything, do a damage report. They also document the way that their customers left the place in case they have to charge extra for cleaning.
That extra cleaning fee has to be passed along to the guests. In the event that that happens, they could take a picture of the items and then contact the guests and say this. “Hey, you left your socks, or your pillow, or your cell phone charger, or any of these other items behind. Do you want us to ship those to you?”
Then at that point, there would be some kind of a handling fee, which is usually about $20. That includes you finding a box and packing it up and the time that’s involved to do that. Then there would be a separate shipping charge. The separate shipping charge would be the actual cost of postage to ship those items wherever the customer lives.
Ask if Paying to Return it is Worth it
Now, when you think of a cell phone charger, that might cost 12 or 15 bucks to replace. So if they’re charged a $20 handling fee and a $15 shipping fee, they might decide it’s easier for them to go buy another one.
But let the guest determine that. If they decide they do want you to ship their item, get a credit card right then on file. Don’t wait for them to send you money after you’ve already shipped it because then you’re going to be out that money if they decide not to pay you.
Do You Ship Products That Guests Buy While at Your Airbnb?
If guests buy things while they’re there in your city or your neighborhood and they want to ship them back home. Do you take care of those shipping charges as well? Because you probably have shipped stuff before and you may be set up to do that.
Should I have my house cleaner ship items your guests bought that they don’t want to carry on the airplane home? Well, you can do that if you have a shipping department and you want to do that. There are a lot of people that don’t deal with that at all, but it does provide excellent customer service.
If you want to do that, you will need some kind of a postage meter so that you can weigh and measure the items. Then you want to take part in a program like Stamps.com.
How to Ship Products to Guests’ Homes
Then what happens is you need to have a form that they fill out. This could be a pre-printed form that you have on hand to give them. Then say, “If you’d like us to ship your items. We need your name, and the address, the return address in the event that something malfunctions. We don’t want it shipped back to us, we want it shipped back to you.
So what is your return shipping address, what is the address of the person you’re shipping it to? In the event that you’re shipping it as a gift to someone else, what is the address it’s shipping to?” Then you would need to sign something that says, “We understand this person is not responsible for the contents.”
The contents will be insured and you must demand that they pay for shipping insurance, and then also the shipping charges. Then they must give you a credit card and they must sign it. That way there are no surprises that you ship it. You have a signed document with their information, their credit card, their signature. They’re saying they understand that you are not liable for any of the contents inside.
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