Airbnb 9 mins read

The Authoritative Guide to the Airbnb Check-in Process [+5 Tips]

By September 2, 2019 October 20th, 2021 No Comments
How does Airbnb check-in work

Many vacation homeowners are changing the way guests check in to make the process quick and efficient, and a smooth transition into rest and relax mode. The check-in process is all about the guest. So if you want to increase your 5-star reviews and get recurring guests, improving and streamlining the Airbnb check-in process is a great place to start.

What is the Airbnb check-in?

The Airbnb check-in is a process where hosts give their guests direct access to all the information they need to get into the vacation rental and settle in smoothly. Via an in-app feature, guests get access to explicitly clear, visible, step-by-step directions that make the process simple and easy.

To help the guests, hosts can provide pictures of which door to enter through, where the lockbox is, and what code to use for smart locks. In doing so, hosts can also preemptively answer commonly asked questions which reduces back and forth messages.

There are two types of guest check-ins

There are many different ways that hosts can set up the check-in process for their home. Some leave keys in lockboxes while others leave keys with a doorman or front office staff. In some cases, hosts meet the guest upon arrival, while others implement a smart lock on the door and an individualized door code.

Whichever way you choose to grant your guest access to the home, it probably falls under one of two categories: host-led check-in or self-check-in. Let’s take a look at both:

The host-led check-in process

Many hosts like to meet their guests upon arrival. This allows them to put a face to a name and offer a warm welcome to the home. A host-led check-in process can help both hosts and guests get to know each other, and provides an opportunity for the host to answer any questions guests may have.

In the age of automation, the host-led check-in process takes some time but comes with benefits that help get a 5-star review. The steps are the same no matter what the property:

Warm welcome

Many guests arrive at their Airbnb after a long day of traveling. Typically they are tired but excited to start their vacation. Hosts need to cater to that mix of emotions. So why not welcome guests with a small welcome treat, such as a cup of coffee or refreshments?

A towel to wash their face or hand sanitizer upon arrival may be a nice touch to help guests unwind from a long travel day. Whatever the personal touch make, sure it’s appropriate for the local area.

The welcome stage is also an excellent time to provide guests with a way to contact you should they need your help during their stay.

House tour

Meeting your guests at check-in also allows you to provide them with a tour. A house tour allows you to show off the things you love about the house and give guests helpful insight that will make their vacation more enjoyable.

If you have baby equipment or children’s toys hidden away somewhere, use this time to point it out to guests traveling with children.

If there are issues that parents should be aware of, such as a lake nearby or a steep staircase, let them know. The more information you can give them at check-in time, the better. But be careful to strike the right balance of useful information vs time spent explaining.

House rules

The house tour is a great time to remind guests of your house rules. Including your house rules on your Airbnb listing is a great start. However, if certain things are important to you, you should reiterate them during the check-in process.

Note that if you offer a guidebook to your guests, you can spend less time during this process as you can include the rules there. If you go digital, services like Hostfully’s digital guidebooks have an easy way to add the rules in a clear and easy to read layout.

Local insights

One of the reasons people choose Airbnb over hotels is because they want to experience the area like a local. Being a local, hosts have valuable insight into what guests can do to make their experience memorable.

Use this check-in time to suggest local dinner restaurants, or explain where the closest grocery store is.

Since this part of the process can take a considerable amount of time (especially if your guests are chatty), include recommendations in your digital guidebook instead!

According to our study, the typical Hostfully host includes about a dozen restaurant recommendations and a handful of local attractions and shopping recommendations. It’s as easy as googling the venue and dragging into the guidebook.

The “self check-in” process

While many guests appreciate the personal touch and warm welcome of the host-led check-in, others prefer a more hands-off approach to checking in. The self-check-in is as simple as a guest picking up keys from a specific location, or using a smart lockbox on the door.

Sometimes hosts leave keys with a bellman or a front desk agent, while others store the key in a hidden lockbox somewhere near the front door. There are many ways to offer a self-check-in process, but they all involve the host leaving detailed instructions on how to get into the vacation rental.

The Airbnb check-in process allows guests to prepare for their check-in before they even arrive. Once the reservation is booked (and if the host turned on self-check-in), guests receive the instruction package three days before the check-in date.

Airbnb handles the entire process in-app and makes it available offline for the guest. So even if they don’t have internet, they will have access to all the essential information they need to get in.

To add the Airbnb check-in process to your listing, simply follow these steps:

  1. Select your listing on the Airbnb website.
  2. Click “Guest Resources,” then “Edit.”
  3. Under “Directions,” click “Add Self Check-In.”
  4. Provide information that guests need about the self-check-in process.

Why you should use the self-check-in

Guests love having as much information about their vacation as they can before they arrive. They don’t want any surprises, especially when staying in an unfamiliar place. The self-check-in process helps guests and hosts in the following ways:

Saves time for everyone

Guests have been waiting for weeks, months, maybe even years for this trip. When they arrive, they will be ready to transition into vacation mode. Giving guests all the information they need about check-in will reduce questions.

For the host, it saves a tremendous amount of time. The self-check-in process removes the need to be at the property exactly when the guest arrives, which can be helpful if the guest is arriving in the middle of the night or if the host lives far away.

Reduces guest stress

Traveling can be stressful, especially if families are coming with young kids or had a long travel day. An effortless check-in process can be just what tired travelers need to end a long, busy day. After all, checking in without talking to someone and kicking off one’s shoes is the best way to start a vacation.

The Airbnb self-check-in gives guests all of the information three days ahead of time. That gives them the chance to ask you any questions long before they arrive at the front door in the middle of the night. By having all the information ahead of time, guests can focus on getting to the house, not in it.

Offers an exciting arrival process

There is a special moment that happens when guests walk through the front door of their vacation rental for the first time. They take in their surroundings, explore the area, point out the things that they like (and the things they don’t) and begin to feel comfortable in their new space. When the host is there, this experience may not be as organic.

Gets the host closer to earning Airbnb’s Business Travel Ready badge

Along with having speedy Wi-Fi and laptop-friendly workspaces, if you are working towards the Airbnb Business Travel Ready badge, you’ll need a self-check-in process. It helps hosts secure more bookings since the badge is a filter option that many business travelers use.

Demonstrates trust and privacy 

Sometimes, guests can feel that a host-led check-in is more of an interview or inspection process than a way to be welcomed into the home. The self-check-in process demonstrates trust.

It shows guests that you are confident that they will take care of your home and that they do not need your supervision or micromanagement.

5 tips for a smooth check-in

As we mentioned above, a smooth check-in process is the best way to make a first good impression. Here are the five tips you can easily implement for a smooth check-in:

  1. When you activate the Airbnb check-in process, include photos for each step of the process. Each picture should be clear and self-explanatory.
  2. Let your guests know that you can be reached easily during check-in time. Communication is vital, and this is where Property Management System (PMS) can come in handy. It manages communications in one app for all the vacation rental platforms your property is on.
  3. Test your check-in process by having a friend follow your guide. Hosts know their properties intimately; a critical step that impedes a smooth check-in may not be obvious.
  4. Be proactive and regularly check that the lockbox is where it should be, or that the smart door lock is not running low on batteries.
  5. Perhaps the least obvious but most important tip: leave the outside lights on if the guests arrive at night! Not only does it make the experience more welcoming, but it also makes it easier for guests to open the lockbox combination and fiddle with the lock and key.