Airbnb Check-In: How To Make It Simple For Your Guests

You’ve invested the money to make your Airbnb a cozy space that guests love and spent hours perfecting your listing to attract your ideal visitors. At last, you can begin taking reservations and welcoming guests to your space — but have you taken the time to optimize the check-in experience?

An exceptional check-in experience can be crucial for Airbnb hosts to earn great ratings and reviews. 

If a check-in process is too complicated, it can end up confusing your guest and even leaving them locked out of their rental. However, on the other hand, a check-in process that is too simple can lack the security you need to keep your property safe when not in use. 

In this article, we guide you through how to optimize your check-in process, including covering the different types of check-in methods and what your check-in instructions should include.

Keep reading for key tips and tricks for creating the best check-in experience possible for your guests. 

Choosing Your Check-In Method: The 2 Types of Airbnb Check-Ins

While there are several different ways you can enable guests to check in to a rental property, most can be sorted into one of two categories:

  1. Host Check-Ins: During a host check-in, a guest must inform the host of when they arrive and meet with the host face-to-face to be let into the rental property. 
  2. Self Check-Ins: During a self-check-in, a guest must follow the instructions of the host on how to enter the rental property and the host must provide a method for unlocking the rental. 

Both of these check-in methods have advantages and disadvantages. Which method you choose ultimately comes down to what you want to get out of your Airbnb and how involved you want to be in the process.

To better convey the differences, we have outlined the pros and cons of both types of check-ins:  

Airbnb Host Check-In: Pros & Cons

A host check-in requires the guest to speak directly with the host to receive the key or code needed to enter the Airbnb rental property.

The pros of host check-ins include:

  • Meeting Your Guests: The most obvious benefit of a host check-in is that you get to actually meet and speak with your guests. This can be great for building long-lasting connections that turn one-time guests into repeat visitors. Plus, it gives you the chance to show some extra hospitality as the host, such as bringing a small basket or bag of goodies with you to welcome your guests. 
  • Ensuring Top-Notch Security: By letting a guest into a property yourself, you can maintain a higher level of security than a self-check-in process. This also means that you can keep the key to your property on you whenever a guest is not present, ensuring that no unwanted visitors are finding their way into your Airbnb without your permission. 
  • Emergency Troubleshooting: If there are any issues that need your immediate attention after a guest arrives, a host check-in means you will already be onsite to resolve the problem. For example, if you use a lockbox with a code and the box malfunctions, you could provide the guest with a spare key to come and go from the rental. 

The cons of host check-ins include: 

  • More Time-Consuming: A host check-in is always going to be more time-consuming than a self-check-in. This can be convenient for hosts who live close to their rental properties but can quickly become a hassle for those who live far away. 
  • Hard to Plan: Planning a host check-in can be difficult due to the many travel variables your guest may encounter on their journey to you. While you may set a convenient time for check-in at first, a flight delay or traffic jam is all it takes to ruin that plan in an instant. 
  • Less Inviting: Many guests searching for a rental on Airbnb are drawn to the convenience of self-check-in. Airbnb even has a search filter for self-check-in listings. As a result, if you include in your listing that you do host check-ins, this may end up turning some guests away. 

Airbnb Self Check-In: Pros & Cons

A self-check-in eliminates the need for a host to be present when a guest arrives at a property. Instead, the host must provide the guest with clear instructions for how to enter the rental when they arrive.

The pros of self-check-ins include:

  • Simpler & More Convenient: Overall, self-check-ins at an Airbnb are always going to be simpler and more convenient than host check-ins. All the guest needs to do is follow the check-in instructions provided with their booking confirmation to access the property.
  • Greater Guest Privacy: Many guests choose to book through Airbnb to enjoy greater privacy. By allowing guests to do a self-check-in, you ensure that privacy remains intact and that your guests are highly satisfied with their experience. 
  • Long-Distance Hosting: If you are a long-distance or remote host and cannot easily or quickly travel to your property, self-check-ins are an absolute must. For anyone considering long-distance hosting, it may also be wise to hire a local host or management company to keep an eye on your rental and help guests with any problems that arise during their stay. 

The cons of self-check-ins include: 

  • More Security Concerns: The biggest downside to self-check-ins is weakened security. For example, a guest could forget to return a key or give the key to someone else, compromising the property’s safety. This can be counteracted by switching key locks for code locks and changing the code frequently. 
  • Guest Responsibility: With the more hands-off approach of a self-check-in, you must rely more on the guest’s responsibility for reading and understanding your check-in instructions. This makes it extremely important to make your instructions as simple and clear as possible. 
  • Hard to Troubleshoot: If any issues arise during the check-in process, a self-check-in means that troubleshooting problems will be more difficult. As such, make sure you are near your phone in case your guest calls or messages you regarding an issue. 

The Four Main Types of Airbnb Self-Check-Ins

When it comes to the check-in method for a self-check-in, choosing the right method is crucial.

Airbnb outlines the following self-check-in methods as the best:

  1. Key Lockbox: A key lockbox is a box that can attach to a door handle, railing, or wall. It holds the key inside of it and can only be unlocked by a code manually entered on the box.
  2. Smartlock: A smartlock is a more advanced lock that is powered by WiFi or Bluetooth. Rather than requiring a key, these locks require you to enter a code to unlock the door. Plus, these locks often offer remote unlocking capabilities, allowing the host to unlock the door via their smartphone should anything go awry during check-in. 
  3. Keypad: A keypad is a less advanced version of a smartlock that simply replaces a key lock with a code lock. The host must provide the guest with the code prior to check-in. 
  4. Desk Attendants: If your property is part of a larger complex or community with a gate or office, you can give your key or code to the attendant and have your guest receive it from them. If you go with this option, make sure you give the attendants the correct names for your guests. 

What to Include in Your Self-Check-In Instructions

After you have chosen your ideal check-in method, it’s time to write up your check-in instructions.

In these instructions, make sure to include:

  • Where a guest should park their car (if they have one) 
  • How a guest can check in (lockbox, smartlock, etc.) 
  • What time a guest is allowed to check in at
  • Where the key or code lock is located and how to access it
  • Where a spare key is located (if you have one)
  • The host’s phone number in case the guest runs into any issues

Here is an example of a well-written set of check-in instructions:

  1. You may check in to this rental beginning at 3 p.m. Early check-ins are not permitted. 
  2. Once you arrive, you may park in either of the two available spots. After parking, proceed to the front door directly in front of the parking spot.
  3. On the door handle, you will see a set of numbers. Enter the code 0000 followed by the # key.
  4. Wait until you hear the click and then open the door.
  5. If you encounter any issues during check-in, call (123) 456-7890 or message us on the Airbnb app. 

What to Include in Your Airbnb Check-Out Instructions

Just as guests need to know how to check in, they also need to know how to check out.

Make sure to include the following in your Airbnb check-out instructions: 

  • Any cleaning tasks you expect of the guest before their departure (put towels in the laundry room, take the trash out to the dumpster, etc.) 
  • Which lights to leave on (if any) and which to turn off 
  • Air conditioning/heat temperature settings to set before they leave
  • How to lock the door(s)
  • Where to leave the key (if you use a key)

How to Add Check-In & Check-Out Instructions to Your Listing

Once you have your check-in and check-out processes set and ready, the last step is adding instructions for both to your listing. 

To add your check-in instructions to your Airbnb listing, follow these five steps:

  1. Go to Listings on your account
  2. Select the listing you want to edit
  3. Go to the Info for guests tab and scroll to Arrival
  4. Find Check-in instructions and click Edit
  5. Write your instructions and set your check-in time, then click Save

The process for adding check-out instructions is fairly similar, just add these instructions below your check-in instructions. We highly recommend also printing your check-out instructions, laminating them, and leaving them in an easy-to-find place in your rental.

To ensure your check-out instructions are followed, mention in your check-in instructions where your check-out instructions are located and that these are mandatory steps. 

Final Thoughts: Simplify Your Airbnb Check-In Process 

Hosting an Airbnb is no small task. To give your guests an experience they will remember fondly, it is crucial to ensure your check-in and check-out processes are optimized.

To briefly recap, here are three key takeaways from this guide on how to simplify self-check-ins:

  1. Use code locks or smartlocks for enhanced self-check-in security.
  2. Have a plan in place for troubleshooting check-in problems if you are not located nearby your Airbnb rental property.
  3. Provide your guests with very clear check-in and check-out instructions once their reservation is booked and confirmed. 

Most importantly, ask for guest feedback! The best way to know whether or not something is working is simply to ask your guests for their thoughts. In turn, you can identify any inconveniences your guests encounter and work to improve your check-in experience for your next guests.

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