If you’ve hosted a few experiences, you may have already come across this common pain point for hosts: a late guest! Perhaps they hopped on the wrong train, hadn’t yet adapted to your time zone, or just couldn’t find your meeting spot—showing up late happens to the best of us.
We asked our community for their top tips to help manage late guests and the group that might be waiting on them. Read on for creative solutions to this common issue.
Helping your guests arrive on time
You may be able to reduce the number of guests showing up late by communicating early and often. In a message sent to all guests at least 24 hours before an experience, many hosts do the following:
- Suggest that guests add extra time to account for traffic, parking, and delays.
- Give tips on the best driving routes or public transportation.
- Share a photo of the exact meeting spot.
- Suggest places to park nearby, and how much time to budget for parking.
- Let guests know how to communicate with you on the day of the experience.
- If there’s a second location on your itinerary, tell guests where and when they can meet up with you if they’re late.
- If necessary, let them know the cutoff time for arrivals— e.g. 15 minutes.
“I started to notice a pattern on the weekdays and realized that the experience was being booked during rush hour. Once I start adding the extra tip to leave 20 minutes early and to double check on traffic along with some tips with parking to my note to guests it made a huge difference for me and my guest. They really thought I was taking their needs into consideration and are always very thankful.” – Dominique, host of Cultural Food/Beer Crawl Barrio Logan in San Diego, CA.
“I leave instructions for my guests about where to meet up if they are late: next stop point and the time we’ll be there, for example.” – Sarah, host of Explore Portland on an Electric Bike.
“A tactic I often use is exchanging phone numbers ahead of the meeting so that they can call/text if they get lost, have questions, etc. I always text them before I leave (and it’s a reminder for them as well). In return, they always give me their own [estimated time of arrival]. By doing this, I’ve only had one late appointment because they biked up the wrong path and had international numbers.” – John, host of Archery Lessons for All
Being prepared for late guests
To account for guests that arrive a little late, consider how you conduct the first 15 minutes of your experience. Here’s how a few hosts account for late guests and keep the guests that arrived on time occupied.
“With mine, I build in a little bit of ‘slack’ with the Experience schedule to accommodate any delays that might come up. If a guest is running late, I just let everyone know that it’s ok and that we’ve planned ahead for it with the schedule flexibility so it doesn’t interfere with the day.” – Garrison, host of Whale Watching Hike and Sunset Bonfire
“I serve drinks at first, this gives me extra time to serve everyone. This can take me ten minutes. As I settle with the guests and chat with them, I send a message to the late guest to find out if she’s having trouble finding her way and that I’ll be starting in ten minutes.” – Justine, host of Become a Perfumer’s Apprentice: Create your own perfume
“If the rest of the group arrived, we engage in conversation and if the wait time is longer than 5 minutes, I take them to see an interesting place very close to the meeting spot, which is not usually included in the tour (Bonavox hearing aids shop, where Bono from U2 got his nickname when he was a child). By the time we get back, the late guest should be there.” – Ionut, host of Dublin Busking Experience
“When guests are late I try and communicate clearly with the rest of the group what’s happening and what I know for sure. I start with introductions and questions about what brought them to the experience, why I love archery, etc. I also let them know I’m happy to add more time to the experience if they have the flexibility so they don’t feel they lost out because of someone else. I think for the most part the other guests are pretty kind and relaxed about waiting.” – Angie, host of Archery with Mindfulness
Communicating with late guests
Assume your guests had the best intentions to arrive on time; this will help keep a positive mindset. Here’s what a few of our hosts say about communicating with late guests:
“If they show up late I welcome them by saying, ‘Thank you for persisting!” – Sarah, host of Explore Portland on an Electric Bike.
“If guests are late, and don’t text or call, I try to give them a call. If they don’t pick up, I send a text asking them if everything’s alright. If I get no reply, I wait for a maximum of 15 minutes, then I take the group and start the tour. I send another text in which I mention how sorry I am that they couldn’t make it,” -Ionut, host of Dublin Busking Experience
“When they arrive, one of my tricks is to also talk to that late guest a lot and learn as much about them as I can in just a few minutes and then I turn around and take that information and try to connect them to other guests that were there earlier who have that same thing in common. This has worked in so many instances because then the late guest doesn’t feel left out or isolated since they now have a connection with someone outside of the host.” – Jonathan, host of Experience SF Nightlife Like a Local!
Be flexible, if your schedule allows it
How flexible you are with your guests is completely up to you. Many hosts occasionally try to accommodate guests who have had a genuine setback and arrived very late.
“I had situations in which the only two guests booked for the day encountered some issues (i.e. coming straight from the airport and flight delayed) and messaged one hour before the experience started. In that case, I decided to change the start time and accommodate them one or two hours later. Obviously, this scenario can be applied if you don’t have any other plans made later that day.” – Ionut, host of Dublin Busking Experience in Dublin, Ireland.
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