It depends on the city, the culture and the owners of the hostel, but generally, check-out time tends to be somewhere between 10am and 12pm. As a frequent traveler through hostels, my ideal check-out time is between 10:30 and 11. In this post, we'll lay out a few key things to understand when setting (and enforcing!) your check-out time.
Communicate at Check-in
One of the most frequent problems with check-out times happens when guests "read" the check-out time as the time they should be waking up. Then they go eat breakfast, take a shower and then leave the room. It’s important to be clear with your guests about this at check-in. While you're going through your hostel's rules, make sure that the guest understands what time check-out is!
Many hostels include the check-out time on their websites. This is a good idea, because your guests can plan their itinerary, like when to catch a train, in advance. Sometimes, a later check-out time could also be one of the deciding factors in choosing one hostel over another.
What should I do if a guest checks out after the Check-out time?
Something that always comes up is that your guests inevitably leave their room later than they should. They agreed on the check-out time, but something kept them from checking out at the right time. Should you wake them up? Should you let them sleep and then charge an additional fee? There is no right answer here and you should use your best judgment.
Generally, I prefer to err on the side of being nicer. If nobody is checking in to that room today, then it's not that important that they leave exactly on time. If it's high season and you have people checking in to that room on that day, then you're going to have to wake them up.
As they say, "better to prevent than to cure". Make sure everything is clear from the beginning. This will minimize the cases of guests sleeping in later than they should on check-out day. You want to maintain a friendly, calm and fair environment (which also happens to boost positive customer reviews too).
Lots of hostels have a paid "late checkout" option. With this option, guests can choose to checkout later than the standard time for an additional fee. Sometimes, you can give it away for free in special cases too (like if the guest is a frequent customer!).
Not all guests will opt in to the Late Check-out Fee, so make sure you have a closet for storing guests' bags! People will be traveling later and storing their bags in a secured place is very important. I generally recommend this to be free as most backpackers have come to expect this. If you do charge for it, you may risk them feeling cheated as they don't have much of an option.
More often than you would expect, you'll find guest reviews complaining about a bad check-out experience because they didn't know the check-out time, thought it was later, or felt cheated when they were fined a Late Check-out Fee. People don’t want to stay at a hostel where they feel reminded of those days when their parents would wake them up early for school... On the other hand, you do need to organize check-out time to make sure rooms are clean for next guests!
Bottom line: Communication. Be clear about the check-out time from the beginning, and the options around it: Late Check-out Fee (or relaxed because nobody is checking in), and secured storage room for bags.
Photo by RLHyde via photopin cc .