Offering accommodation for major special events
This page applies if you offer accommodation for major special events. These events include:
- Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
- Schoolies Week
- the Gold Coast 600.
You must not have special rules for guests who are there for an event. This means that:
- you can not impose special rules for the duration of an event
- you must not selectively apply rules to certain guests and not to others.
It is against the law to mislead consumers by making incorrect statements or providing information that is likely to create a false impression. This includes the location of accommodation or travel times to events. Read our information about avoiding using unfair business practices against consumers.
Taking a booking
We recommend that you:
- ask owners early about whether they will allow you to let their properties during an event
- only let out rooms that the owners have made available (this includes via third-party booking agents)
- clearly outline your house rules and terms and conditions when you first take an enquiry
- make sure that third-party booking agents know your current rules.
Cancelling a booking
If you cancel or alter
If you have to cancel a booking, you will need to either:
- refund all payments, including the deposit
- give them accommodation of at least an equal standard
- offer them a lower standard of accommodation and compensate them for the difference in value.
The guest has the right to select which option they take. If they choose to cancel, you must let them do so without penalty.
If the guest cancels or alters
Your usual conditions should apply if a guest cancels their booking. This includes any fees or charges. You must have clearly outlined these conditions to them when they made the booking.
Charging a deposit
You may charge a security deposit during a special event. If so, you must not apply it to some guests but not to others.
If you intend to do this, you should:
- put the security deposit into the terms and conditions
- outline the deposit terms to the guest before they make a booking
- tell guests how to retrieve the security deposit after their stay
- have a procedure to resolve disputes and complaints about deposits
- immediately put the deposit into your trust account
- give a trust account receipt to the guest.
Withholding the deposit
To work out how much to withhold:
- get a range of quotes for any repairs and use them as a guide
- negotiate with the guest about what is a fair amount to withhold.
Always put it in writing when you intend to withhold a guest's deposit. You should:
- clearly outline how you worked out the amount
- include copies of the quotes and the invoice for repairs
- explain their options if they want to raise a dispute.
You must do this within 48 hours of the day they check out.
Disputes and complaints
You should think about your procedure to handle disputes or complaints.
We recommend that a complaints-handling procedure should outline:
- how a guest can lodge a complaint (verbally or in writing)
- who should receive the complaint
- how to investigate and respond to the complaint.
Developing a procedure
You should make sure that the procedure is:
- easy to use.
When you develop your procedure, we recommend that you:
- read the guidelines for complaint handling and customer service from Standards Australia
- involve your staff in developing the produce
- decide who will handle complaints
- prepare a standard form for complaints
- anticipate some common complaints and decide how to resolve them.
To avoid problems with a new procedure during a special event period, you should:
- trial the system before the special event
- use guest and staff feedback to adjust any details.
Applying the procedure
You should have details available to tell owners and guests about:
- what the procedure covers
- how to make a complaint
- when a complaint must be in writing
- when a complaint may be verbal
- who will handle the complaint.
A good practice would be to:
- consider every complaint
- respond to every complaint
- notify the owner when a guest makes a complaint
- tell them the outcome.
Once you develop a procedure, make sure that all staff and guests know about it.
To make sure that the procedure works smoothly, you should:
- train all staff in how the procedure works
- designate staff members who have the skills to handle complaints well
- keep a record of all problems and complaints
- analyse the records to identify major or ongoing issues.
You will need to brief them on
- house rules
- complaint handling
- eviction procedures.
Make sure that you:
- discuss the option with the body corporate, including how to cover the extra cost
- the security firm and individual officers have the appropriate licences
- clearly establish with them how they are to protect the property and deal with guests.
House rules, terms and conditions
You must tell your guests about house rules, terms and conditions before they make a booking or payment. These include any rules about room inspections, balcony and facility access.
Make sure that:
- your staff advise all potential guests about the rules before they can make a booking
- all third-party booking agents have the most up-to-date version of your rules
- the rules are reiterated to guests when checking in. Consider getting a signature of acknowledgement for your records and/or leave a copy of the rules in the room.
Your house rules should be consistent for all guests during a special event period. You must not have special rules that only apply to guests attending a special event. For instance, a separate set of rules for Schoolies is discriminating against their age.
It’s illegal for any contract to have unfair terms. Make sure that your house rules do not have the potential to result in overly harsh penalties for guests.
An unfair term:
- doesn’t fairly divide the parties’ rights and obligations
- is not necessary to protect your business interests
- would cause loss to your consumer.
The types of rules that may be harsh or unfair include:
- random room inspections without the consent of guests
- bag searches without the consent of the owner
- banning external visitors or visitors in public areas
- imposing a fee on a guest for breaking a rule (unless this fee relates to property damage).
Blanket rules that you will evict guests for breaking the rules may be unfair.
In particular, you should avoid evicting:
- a guest who breaks minor rules
- an entire party of guests because of 1 guest’s misbehaviour.
You may need to evict some guests. If so, you can protect yourself by:
- having written guidelines for eviction (and include them in your terms and conditions)
- evicting a guest only when other guests and/or property are at risk
- issuing a warning before evicting guests (if possible).
If you plan to conduct room inspections during a special event period, you should:
- include the inspection process in your house rules
- outline it to guests when you take a booking, and again when they check in
- make consent to inspections a part of agreeing to your terms and conditions
- ask your guests to sign a consent form
- make sure that the guest is present during inspections
- apply the policy and process to guests all year round.
You may make bag checks a term of entry for staying at your premises, as long as you:
- include it in the contract
- clearly outline it to your guests
- apply it to all your guests.
You should always ask for the guest's consent to search their bag.
If they give consent, you should always:
- check a bag while its owner is present
- ask guests to open their own bags and move any items themselves
- have a private area to go if the guest does not want to do it in the open
- try to have a witness present.
If the guest does not give consent, you cannot do the search. However, you can exercise any rights in the accommodation contract that you may have. This may include eviction from the unit, but only if the terms of your contract allow it.
Alcohol on premises
You should set out your conditions about alcohol in your house rules. You must also obey all liquor laws.
It is illegal for anyone to drink alcohol or be drunk in a public place, including the common areas of your accommodation complex. This applies to adults and minors.
Fines apply if you break this rule.
If you have a liquor licence, underage people must not:
- consume alcohol in your premises
- possess any alcohol while staying there.
Fines apply if you break this rule.
This only applies if the liquor licence covers the residential unit.
It is not illegal for underage people to consume or possess alcohol in the privacy of their own unit.
However, it is illegal for an adult to:
- supply alcohol to a minor
- not give responsible supervision to the minor.
If there are bunk beds in your units, make sure they are safe. Bunk beds should have:
- no gaps that measure between 90mm and 230mm
- no protrusions (such as screw heads or guardrail joints) of more than 5mm
- a securely attached ladder that gives safe access to and from the top bunk.
You must have a guard-rail that:
- fixes to all 4 sides of the top bunk
- extends at least 160mm above the height of the mattress.
Blinds and curtains
Make sure that any blind or curtain cords do not pose a strangulation risk to small children.
- make sure cords do not form a loop by fitting safety tassels
- keep beds, cots, playpens and other furniture away from blind and curtain cords
- cut cords short, so they are at least 1.6m above the ground.
You are responsible for the safety of everybody in your complex in the event of a fire.
You must have:
- working smoke alarms in all residential units
- well rehearsed evacuation plans.