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From my point of view - with an apartment, the guests absolutely have to tell me when they will arrive - or I potentially won´t be there to welcome them.
I have found it an issue in the past so now I am really clear in my communication to them that they need to tell me an arrival time so that I can go to the apartment to meet them (because I don´t live in the town). In addition I have found it useful asking for a flight number - that way I can check the flight progress, often if someone is delayed on a flight they wouldn´t have any means of communication to tell you. With the flight number it is very quick to check what´s going on.
One more thing that I have started to do, if people request a very late check-in (which I deny - we can only accept arrivals up to 10pm) - I suggest a hotel near the airport which is the same price as our apartment more or less and tell them how lovely the drive through the countryside will be the next morning :-)
I understand all the comments made here, I try to think positively that everyone is simply trying to have a nice holiday, like myself when I go away. Our apartment is in inland Spain and here we have to take all the passport / identity document details and pass them onto the police which I think helps us in terms of any issues.
I have experienced a problem only once with a booking.com booking and unfortunately as the earlier posts say it was with our youngest client (in his early 20´s) when we found that the apartment had obviously been used for a party (various items were missing, including, strangely, the duvet and pillows - but nothing of serious value).
I contacted booking.com to complain and after providing photographic evidence they refunded me the comission on the stay and recommended I take a security deposit next time. I felt they were supportive of me as a host however I wasn´t reimbursed for my loss. In reality I was more concerned that they prevent the client from booking again but they couldn´t give me any guarantees on this.
Overall I have been a client for nearly two years now and this was a one off occasion, I have had more than one group of other "younger" clients who stayed and left the apartment almost cleaner than when they arrived.
In reality no nominal "security deposit" will stop the people who want to abuse the privelige of staying in your accomodation, but good insurance can help you recover if the worst were to happen.
I am in the same situation - and appreciate all the comments and advice here. I usually send a personalised email to the guests - asking for a flight number too (then I can watch and see if they are delayed - perhaps if they were they wouldn´t be able to contact me and let me know if the phone is off because they are on the plane maybe). This really helped me this week because I saw that the client´s flight landed over 30 minutes early!!!! So they arrive an hour and half before they said they would - I was able to rush around and get my jobs done before they arrived.
I also make it clear that they need to call when they are on the way from the airport/30 minutes away so that I can "go to the apartment to meet them"
There are still some people who call me when they arrive, but I am not there so they have to wait for me, luckily this is Spain and there´s always a bar open!!
I have considered a key safe option but I think the personal welcome is better.