by Vicki Langhel
In a weekly vacation rental market like that of Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks, one frequently asked question shared by new and seasoned vacation rental owners alike is Should I make my home available for check in on Saturday or Sunday? While there is really no right or wrong answer to this question, there are certainly pros and cons to both, and what's right for your home may not be right for another. Let's explore the options.
The vast majority of homes on Hatteras Island rent Saturday to Saturday. One reason for this is that Saturday check-ins have historically been the favorite (our reservationists team estimates 5 out of 10 guests prefer Saturdays) and some owners may fear switching to Sundays. Why shake up what's working? I believe the more common reason is that Saturday check-ins allow your guests a day at the end of their vacation to regroup before heading back to work and other responsibilities. Thinking like your guests and accommodating their needs is always a good thing!
One downside to Saturday check-ins is that you'll be competing against more homes for those guests who absolutely must check in on a Saturday. Another con, especially on Hatteras Island in the peak season, is traffic. Anyone who has ever traveled to Hatteras Island on a Saturday during the busy season will tell you that traffic can be a nightmare, and who wants to start off their vacation with an extended crabby car ride?
Sunday check-ins, on the other hand, can alleviate the problem as traffic to the island is much lighter on Sunday. Another pro for Sunday check-ins is that because there are fewer homes turning over, many of them tend to be available to the guests earlier in the day as compared to Saturday homes since cleaning crews have fewer homes to get ready. I've also heard that guests who prefer Sunday to Sunday claim that the best advantage is getting up early on Saturday morning, sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee and watching all the neighbors pack up and leave! They feel like they're getting an extra day. (As a local, I can tell you that the best beach time in the summer is on Saturday mornings after 10 a.m. check-out and before the next crowd gets here. For a brief couple of hours, the beach is all mine!)
A number of owners I have talked to who have switched to a Sunday turn day say things like "I'll never go back to Saturday check-ins again," and a majority of them, in my experience, have not experienced a decline in rentals. But, let's not forget a significant con to Sunday check-ins: fewer guests are looking for Sundays than Saturdays. Our reservationists estimates only 3 out of 10 guests prefer Sundays and only 2 out of 10 are flexible or don't have a preference between the two.
When we polled our reservationists, almost all of them noted a small, gradual shift in recent years toward more guests asking for or being open to Sunday check-ins. It's difficult to predict if or when Sundays may become just as popular as Saturdays, but at least for now the trend seems to be inching toward more Sunday guests over the coming years.
So, Saturday vs. Sunday, it's really up to you!