If your staff is trained to follow established STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES the vast majority of unpleasant situations with guests can be avoided.
It is imperative that the check-in and check-out processes be followed. Reservation agents also should collect specific information in advance of guest arrival to avoid problems.
After 25 years, and having served over 4 million guests, I'll warn you of the recurring problems I've experienced as a hotelier and vacation rental owner so that you don't have to live through them too.
I've created procedures and a checks and balances system that (1) reduces fraud (2) reduces charge backs and (3) reduces damages.
Sadly if you DO NOT follow these recommended steps, YOU WILL suffer loses from unscrupulous guests.
I also provide Action Plans for scenaros that sometimes present themselves during guest stays.
As an example, NEVER erase a guests credit card or identity information, even when someone else staying at one of the properties desires to assume the payment for the vacation stay.
NEVER relieve the original guest of their obligation. A new Rental Agreement must be executed, matching photo identification copied for the new signor and a new form of payment successfully charged. All documents should then be signed.
When taking a reservation over the phone get a feeling for the guest and collect both a copy of that guests photo ID and credit card in advance of arrival.
At check-in the vacation rental agent will walk through the apartment/home with the guest and point out and photograph any damages seen. Point damages out to the guest. Like wise, at check-out your, walk through the apartment/home and bring anything new to the guests attention. Photograph damages and send them to the cheif engineer to evaluate the problem. Always collect cash for damages.
I will describe what you should immediately do if damages exceed a certain threashold. Discuss why placing Innkeepers Law on the back of the entrance door is imperative. Discuss when the police should be called and what the Roving Service Agent should descretly ask the officer to include in his/her report. I'll also tell you WHAT NOT TO DO.
Again, this chapter is worth its weight in gold! It will help you establish procedures and avoid financial consequences.