Check-in is just one small part of an Airbnb stay, and yet it can have a huge impact on the guest's experience. When a guest arrives at a place they're often tired, stressed, and laden with luggage — so being stuck outside in the street is precisely what they don't
Getting your check-in process as smooth as possible is therefore an important part of nailing those 5-star reviews. Read on for a guide to making check-in and handover of keys a hassle-free dream.
1. Choose your check-in method.
How are you going to hand over keys to your guests? Will you be there waiting to greet them and let them in?
Even if you can't be there in person, there are several ways to handle a smooth check-in. Options include:
- Set up a key lockbox. Often these lock boxes can be opened with a code which can be sent to the guest prior to their arrival.
- Leave the keys with a neighbour or friend who is available to meet the guest on your behalf. Alternatively, some hosts leave their keys with nearby shops or restaurants since they're guaranteed to be on premises during opening hours.
- Hire a service provider like a property manager or key concierge. These are professionals who take the stress away from you because they're both available to do the check-in and practiced in making the guest experience a positive one.
Be sure to get your guests all the information they need about check-in well before
their trip date arrives (unless of course it's a last minute booking). Just imagine someone who is travelling and doesn't have access to the internet: sending them your address and instructions when they're already en-route isn't going to be very helpful.
Instead, have all your information prepared and, if possible, send it as soon as the guest is booked in. That way they can save it / print it out, organize their maps and transport, and ask any questions ahead of time.
Depending on your check-in method you may need to get some information from the guest first — e.g. if you're going to meet them yourself you might need to know their flight details or arrival time, and whether they'll have access to a working phone or internet to let you know they've arrived.
Once you know how you're going to check your guests in, your communication to them should include:
- Check in and check out time
- Address and optionally a map of how to get to your property
- Contact details - how to get in touch with you if there are any problems
- Instructions on how check-in will work (where to meet you or where to go to pick up the keys, codes for any lock box or secure doors, etc.)
Note that if you have a full service property manager they will likely do this communicating for you as well as going to meet the guest.
If you're doing a meet-and-greet with your guests and handing over keys in person, check-in is the perfect opportunity to get your guest's stay off to a friendly and positive start.
During check-in you can:
- Hand over keys and any other relevant items
- Give guests a short tour of the place to get them acquainted with it
- Point out any useful information like where to find guidebooks and wifi passwords, how to operate appliances, safety features, etc.
- Verbally reinforce key house rules in a friendly way
- Offer suggestions of places to eat and things to do in the neighborhood
- Offer tips on things like public transport if the guest is unfamiliar with the area
It's also a great time to just generally make the guest feel welcome and build a rapport, though it's also important to read the guest to get a feel for their personal preference: some people love to stay and chat, some just want you to hand over the keys and leave them to settle in on their own.
You could just leave a key under a flowerpot and be done with it; but you're going for 5-star reviews here, so it doesn't hurt to take it a step further. An hour or two after your guests have checked in, you might like to send them a message just making sure everything is in order and they have everything they need.
Not only does this show that you care, it gives them an opening to mention any potential issues up-front. Sorting things out from check-in means less chance there'll be drama (and negative comments) down the track.
If all that sounds like a lot of work, don't worry: while it's inevitable that some check-ins will be smoother than others, having your process worked out in advance will make life infinitely easier.
1. Look to standardize your check-in process. You don't want to be passing keys from friends to neighbours to guests and trying to organize for a different person to be on your premises each time. The more standard your process, the smoother it will be.
2. Have a communication template pre-written that you can just shoot straight over to the guest. Again, the more standard your process, the less you'll have to change in your communications.
3. Remember that communication is key. Be specific. Let the guest know exactly where to go and what to do in order to avoid any confusion.
4. Consider outsourcing as a way to manage check-in remotely. Using a property manager, check-in service or concierge can save a whole lot of headache, and is also ideal for if you're off travelling or have an investment property that you're managing remotely.
Check out Airhosta's list of Airbnb service providers
if you're looking for a property manager, key concierge or guest check-in service in your area. We'd also love to hear about your own check-in experiences in the comments below.