How To Create a Hotel Guest Policy That Works for You & Your Guests

April 27, 2022

While the hotel guest policy is a dry subject, it’s important, nonetheless. 

The good thing is that doing it properly once means you don’t have to worry about it until you significantly change something about your services. 

Read on for a comprehensive guide to help you create the best hotel guest policy for your property. It’ll protect both you and your guests from unpleasant surprises and help create a smooth experience for both sides. 

What Is a Hotel Guest Policy?

A hotel guest policy is a publicly available combination of house rules and a contract between hotels and guests. It includes the rights and duties of travelers and the property. Both sides agree to abide by the rules it states. In many cases, the signature of the registration card during check-in signifies the guest’s accord. The policy is meant to ensure a safe and satisfactory stay for travelers as well as trouble-free operations for staff. 

Why You Need a Hotel Guest Policy

Your hotel policy includes all rules regarding the accommodations and services you provide. As such, it guides travelers and manages their expectations. For example, they won’t be surprised by a late checkout fee because you communicated it in your hotel guest policy. 

Since it creates a clear outline of standard processes between guests and staff, it also provides your hotel with a leg to stand on during disputes or legal procedures. This alone is a powerful reason to put together a fixed set of terms and conditions for everyone that stays at the property. 

What Should a Hotel Guest Policy Cover?

The hotel policy covers the sale of rooms and how/when guests can use them. 

That means it should cover all related aspects such as the following:

  • Booking a room: Where and how guests can book rooms and guarantee their reservation. 
  • Arrival & departure process: Your standard check-in and checkout times as well as fees for early arrival and late departure. 
  • Payment: The forms of payment you accept (e.g. credit card, cash, check…) and when it’s due. 
  • Cancellation and no-show policies: How much you charge in either case and how you handle cancellations.
  • Proper use of facilities: Can travelers smoke, cook or bring their own guests back to the room?
  • Consequences or fines for breaking these rules: What happens if someone causes significant damage to furniture? How is it handled?
  • Data protection clause: This is necessary mainly for hotels in Europe. 
  • Any legal requirements: Any other regulations or details you’re required to include by local law.

When you look at the full list above, yes, that is quite a lot to think about! So if you have any doubts about what should go into your hotel guest policy, get support from a legal professional. This ensures you will include all relevant points and formulate them in a way that leaves little room for interpretation. 

How To Ensure Guests Read Your Policy

Let’s face it, hotel guest policies are not the most interesting things to read. That’s why most travelers won’t look at the policy too closely unless they have a specific question or problem. For example, they may be surprised by no-show fees, your cancellation policy, or a fine for smoking in non-smoking rooms.

However, there are a few ways to make your guest policy more engaging for travelers:

  • Break up large paragraphs and long sentences to increase readability.
  • Use formatting such as subheadings and bullet points to help readers find the section they’re interested in.
  • Avoid complicated legal speak as much as possible without watering down the message.

Finally, make your terms and conditions easily accessible so everyone can find them quickly.

Departments To Consult When Creating a Hotel Guest Policy

Since your terms and conditions cover everything related to selling and using hotel rooms, ask the departments involved in these processes for input when drafting your policy. 

  • Reservations, revenue management, finance: These departments determine booking, payment and cancellation procedures. Check with them to be sure the related information in your terms is correct. 
  • Front desk: Get information about check-in and check-out procedures and standards for reacting to complaints regarding the room or the behavior of other guests from your reception team. 
  • Housekeeping: Consult your housekeeping team to set check-in and check-out timings as well as cleaning standards that are possible for them. That way you promise only what you can deliver.

Who Is Responsible for Implementing the Guest Policy?

The responsibility to implement a hotel guest policy chiefly falls to the front office team since they interact the most with guests, e.g., during check-in and check-out. They’re also the first point of contact in case of non-payment or other issues. In more severe cases, the front office, duty or general manager will step in. 

How Can Technology Help You Ensure People Adhere to Your Hotel Guest policy? 

Hoteliers can leverage technology to ensure guests are aware of and adhere to policies. For example, you could include a link to the policy during online check-in. This allows you to allow the completion of guest check-in only once terms and conditions have been manually checked by the user.

In any case, stay friendly when reminding travelers of your policy. If relevant, offer services or support to make it easy and pleasant to follow the rules. For example, use a guest messaging tool to send a short reminder on the date of departure. It can include the official checkout time and an option to get a late checkout or other assistance. 

Where Should You Display Your Hotel Guest Policy?

Make your terms and conditions easily accessible to people at various stages of their guest journey

  1. One the website: Your hotel guest policy should be publicly available for guests to check anytime. It’s especially important during travel research, so they can inform themselves about pet policies, early check-in and late checkout procedures, no-show rules, etc. 
  2. In the room: Keep a printed or digital copy of the policy in the room, so guests can access it anytime.
  3. At the front desk: Have the guest policy ready for staff and travelers who may want to have a look during check-in or checkout, or when a specific issue arises.
  4. In the confirmation email: Include the hotel guest policy in the confirmation email or link to it. This gives travelers another chance to review your terms if they need. 

Conclusion

As you create your own hotel guest policy, go through the following questions:

  1. Does it reflect your current set of services and procedures?
  2. Does it include all necessary parts? 
  3. Is it easily accessible for guests and staff?

By working through these prompts and creating a comprehensive guest policy now, you’ll take a lot off your future plate and save staff and guests uncomfortable interactions and headaches.

Interested in learning more?

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