Tips for better check-ins: Make the most of Airbnb’s check-in guide tool

Administrator

Check-in can be a confusing process for guests, and if things don’t go smoothly, it can cause extra work and worry for hosts, too. There’s a tool on the Airbnb mobile app that can help: check-in guide.

 

“I use [the check-in guide] to put all my check-in information within the premade fields. It saves me time and allows users to find things quickly,” said Superhosts John and Mary Ann, of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

 

The check-in guide tool allows you to write step-by-step instructions once, within the Airbnb app, so you won’t need to rewrite or copy and paste instructions from another email when you message future guests. You can even add photos to show landmarks or hard-to-find lockboxes, and to help guide guests who speak other languages. Creating this guide once helps you save time, of course, and also helps prevent miscommunication; you won’t run the risk of accidentally leaving out an important step, as you might in a one-off email to guests.

 

The tool also handles communication follow up for you: Three days before confirmed guests arrive, we’ll automatically send your check-in guide to their smartphones so that they can pull up the information easily via the app and throughout their trip, even without a local data plan. If guests don’t have the Airbnb app, you can still share your guide: Simply go to “messages,” press the “key” icon, and encourage your guests to save the link. Guests will be able to access your guide three days before they arrive.

 

Here’s how to make the most of the check-in guide feature and set the stage for a smooth arrival.

 

5 simple steps to publish a check-in guide:

 

  1. Select your entry method

Grab your smartphone, open the Airbnb app, and go to your listing. Under “Guest resources,” click “Check-in instructions.” Whether you greet your guests in person or choose self check-in, you can still create a check-in guide. The first screen will prompt you to select your entry method: smart lock, keypad code*, lockbox, or doorman.

Check in 1.png

 

Some hosts have guests check-in on their own and settle in before greeting them in person. “Nowadays we let the guests do self check-in, which makes them feel more at home,” say hosts Siyana and Khalam, of Imbituba, Brazil. “Then I write or make myself available to better explain the house, appliances, gas, and whatever else is needed.”

 

*For extra security and peace of mind, remember to change door or lockbox passcodes between guests.

 

  1. Create your check-in instructions

Next, you’ll be asked to edit check-in instructions and write detailed steps to help guests locate and get inside your home.

Check in 2.png  

Here are some step-by-step instructions** from hosts:

 

  1. Stay to the left of the driveway.
  2. The cottage is at the top of the property. Normally, I keep the lights on for your arrival.
  3. The front door needs to be pushed tight for it to close properly.
  4. The thermostat for the heater is behind the shutter next to table.
  5. There is no password needed for wifi. Feel free to log in.

—Rubén and Dorothy, Vermont, United States

 

  1. Head through the first gate to the back of the cottage.
  2. When you go through the second gate, you’ll find a small lock box.
  3. The lockbox code is [code].
  4. After you grab the key, be sure to close the lockbox and scramble the code.
  5. Please don’t forget to return the key to the lockbox when you leave.

—Ben and Angel, Wellington, New Zealand

 

**Instructions have been edited and adapted for length and clarity.

 

  1. Upload photos
    Give guests a visual guide by clicking on “Add a photo.” You’ll be able to upload pictures of your entry*** or unique features of your home right from your phone’s photo library. Simply select the photo you’d like to feature, and it will be added to your written instructions.

     

    Check in 3.png

     

These hosts also include street information and links to maps:

 

I include a photo of the front of the house, and if they are bringing a car I indicate which of the garages they can use. I also let them know that my street has two very specific times for vehicles.—Jessi, Mexico

 

I [include] a detailed explanation on how to find the [house]boat with a map and photos of the area.—Maeva, Msida, Malta

***Some hosts have told us they feel uncomfortable showing photos of the front of their homes. If you feel the same way, try photographing items close-up. Also, keep in mind that check-in guide photos will not be published to your listing. They will only be shared with confirmed guests three days before they arrive and during their stay.

 

  1. Describe your photos
    Once you’ve selected photos, click “Add Note” to include any details or additional instructions.

 

Check in 4.png

 

Some hosts recommend adding a little humor to get guests’ attention:

“Hi, we are looking forward to having you here in our part of the world. Could you please SMS me your expected arrival time on [phone number] so I can make sure I am not feeding the crocodiles in the lake?” Yes of course it’s outrageous, but it always gets an immediate response. We all have a laugh. I know when they will arrive, and the check-in happens on time and without hassle—or crocodiles!”—Robin, Mount Barker, Australia

 

  1. Preview, then publish
    After you’ve added photos and text, you can review your instructions. Click the more menu “...” to reorder or delete steps, or to see a sample guide. And when you’re confident your instructions can guide a guest inside, press “Publish.”

     

    Check in 5.png

     

Once you’ve published your instructions, we’ll automatically share your check-in guide with confirmed guests three days before they arrive. Easy check-ins mean you’ll save time and set the stage for a five-star review.

Just take it from hosts like Stefan, of Wiesendangen, Switzerland: “Our efforts are limited to the absolute necessary. There is no idling or reworking. Nothing is forgotten, and there isn’t the stress of ‘Did I already….? Do you have….?’ Thanks to the [check-in guide], our standard is always the same without any additional effort.”

155 Replies
Yvonne in
New Brunswick, Canada
Level 6

Great idea I will definitely set this up. Thank you :)

Emilia in
Orono, ME
Level 10

Are hosts ever going to be able to access this without the app?

Dennis in
Chilliwack, Canada
Level 2

I do exactly these things  and generally again the arrival day prior to checkin time. The 1st I send out cites it is verbatim from the web page and can be reviewed any time.  Then again I send it verbatim from the web page.  35 percent easily will ring your door bell and if you are already sleeping telephone call uou yo say they are outside. How do the access? That is their question. 

Parking description with photo  also goes out in the same manner and is also on the website.  Ring the door bell and it telephone uou yo ask where do they park? It also specifically says Please do not park in the neighbors ! That exactly where these same guests park.  My neighbor and I got along well until the past e yeard.  I totally understand his position.  Oh by the way...a good portion also try to enter his front door  , he makes double sure now he licks it.  Had to many surprises. I advise guest abd they have 3 opportunities (about 15 percent) do this. House number is wrong, my picture of the  the house and house number clearly which I send out and is on the web.   I dare not be out  , must be at home  watching out the window nervously. I work around the best I can for arriving guests  . I have a self enter system so I need not to see them personally. How do we et a guest to please read the instruction fo hsve s perfect access and nit wrute in a review giving only 3 *** on access?? There are more of you out there  any third,??

Patree in
Crescent City, CA
Level 6

If airbnb is indeed a home sharing service, why aren't hosts there to greet their guests?  All your devices seem unfriendly to me.  Where is the personal touch?

Melanie in
Celebration, FL
Level 2

I have found that my guests prefere to not interact with me.  It might just be due to my location and the reason most guest chose my place.  

JoAnn in
Kensington, CA
Level 1

you assume hosts are home all the time, waiting to greet guests. It's not a hotel

Gilly in
United Kingdom
Level 3

Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world who still has a dumb-phone! Is it possible to just do this on an ordinary computer?

Katherine in
Fayetteville, AR
Level 2

Greeting my guests in person is important to me, not least because I feel guests are more likely to respect the property of someone they have personally met.  Regardless of any so-called protection gaurantees airbnb may make, I am taking a risk in allowing people to use my property and this seems like a no-brainer precaution.  This article makes it seem like I am making a huge impostion on my guests to offer to meet them and let them in at a flexible time.  Why is that?

Kim in
San Francisco, CA
Level 1

I've seen this from the Airbnb App for a while now. But i don't know how it works from the guest side. Does any one know?

 

So i still choose to send plain old text message to remind my guests, and use Cohost.Club and  Smartbnb tools to automate some of these messages.

Anamaria & Mike in
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level 2

this is great! Whilst I try to meet my guests in person it is not always possible (if I tried to do that it would mean setting check-in time restrictions and I think it is great that technology can enable greater flexibility). I always send a message when I can not be there for the check in but with each conversation being tailored to each individual booking I was always worried I may miss things. It will be useful if hosts could select which bookings they want to use this facility for and which bookings they can meet guests in person.

Anamaria & Mike in
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level 2

this is great! Whilst I try to meet my guests in person it is not always possible (if I tried to do that it would mean setting check-in time restrictions and I think it is great that technology can enable greater flexibility). I always send a message when I can not be there for the check in but with each conversation being tailored to each individual booking I was always worried I may miss things. It will be useful if hosts could select which bookings they want to use this facility for and which bookings they can meet guests in person.

Level 1

We have created an all-encompassing document that includes our check in instructions, pictures, suggestions of places to visit and dine, as well as other details related to our home and the visit. Is there any place for us to attach this document for our guests once they are confirmed? Right now we are emailed it as an attachment but it would be much more convenient if it were in the Airbnb app/site. Please advise. 

Allen/Janet in
Grand Blanc, MI
Level 2

The main reason is that many vacation rental owners do not live in the area in which they rent. For instance we live in Michigan, and our rental unit is in Maui. We greet our guests through emails as we cannot fly to Maui every time we rent our condo.

Flow in
Mākaha, HI
Level 1

For me we try to meet them but sometimes they arrive at midnight or early mornings depending on their flights from where they are so I like this option Incase I can’t meet up with them. Especially because I also work full time. This money help supports paying off my student loan which incurred but my grand total was $100,000 plus as the interest is growing while trying to beat cancer 3x. Hope you change your mind about some of us. 💖

Chucrallah in
Salmiya, Kuwait
Level 2

Great ideas helpful instructions will take more care of my hosts welcome always

Patti in
Birch Bay, WA
Level 2

Airbnb has evolved past just being a home sharing service.  Many Airbnb hosts rent their vacation homes and are many miles away when the guests arrive.  We have done this successfully for many years longer than Airbnb has been in existence.  The personal touch is through how guests are treated, whether face to face or from a distance. 

Steven in
England, United Kingdom
Level 3

This is my biggest concern.

I have had this information available in the app for best part of a year, but it's not available to guests who don't use the app, and can cause big issues when they don't have access to the same information.

Mauro in
New York, NY
Level 2

I have the same set up and issue. I hate to use whatsapp to share my document or send them to a webaddress, until Airbnb stops treating users like children not allowing links it's the best way I have found.

Chucrallah in
Salmiya, Kuwait
Level 2

Studio in junieh Lebanon sea view and a a big flat well furnished office in dekwaneh main road good location in Beirut also furnished and a wooden house 2flats in kesrwan waiting my lovely hosts with affordable prices and big smile see u soon

Level 2

Nice and beautifull place

Jamie in
Richmond, VA
Level 2

Many hosts, myself included, live hours away from the vacation home.  We rent our our entire home.  Self check in gets rid of the need for a guest to have to meet a 3rd party whether at a different location or the home.  Some guests may not arrive until late at night after a long drive.  The last thing they will want to do is have to go pick up a key.  In addition, keys can be lost whereas a entry code will not be lost and is more convenient.

 

As an owner, I can tell when my code has opened the door via a push notification on my phone.  This lets me know the guest has successfully entered our home and has no issues.  I can also let in maintenance or anyone else that needs access to the cabin for repairs, cleaning, etc.

John & Denise in
Aruba
Level 1

I have had  guests who decided to pass on my listing when they realized that keyless entry was not self-check-in and that I would be there to greet them. 

 

I wonder how many were planning to squeeze into my one-bedroom apartment?

Valerie in
Las Vegas, NV
Level 4

Hosts do have to work...and guests arrive when they want to so we can't be home waiting 24/7.  They could shedule an arrival time but then decide to stop and eat or maybe their plane was late.

Gino in
Florida, United States
Level 2

Ok folks. the world of reality here.  In my location we are dealing mostly with holiday travelers and my most common issue with arrival is a persons in ability to read an arrival message.  We offer clear instructions, and i kid you not i have had them call and i just read the same exact words and then they find it!  We include with our welcome message a picture of where to retrive keys and they still cannot figure it out.  Sometimes this is beyond frustrating.  The other thing this message that is to go to the guest 3 day prior to arrival, is there a way to set it to go at a specific time in advance?  We send our messages at 24 hours or less prior to arrival so they don't show up a day early, and so it is at the top of the message list in a time frame near to arrival and fresh in the guests memory.  It is the issue of you point where to go, hand write on a map how to go, then they walk out the door go completly different as though they never even talked to you or been given a map.  

Robert in
Scotland, United Kingdom
Level 1

some of us are on holiday as well

Emilia in
Orono, ME
Level 10
I have a dumb phone too Gilly!!
Kristin in
Colorado Springs, CO
Level 2

I set up this check-in guide when I first became a host....with photos, descriptions, the works. What I've found is that most guests never bother to read it, and I've had several guests show up with no idea how to find their private entrance door to get in. What I do now is send a condensed version of these instructions via the app messaging system on the day of their arrival with a reminder that they can find full instructions with photos on the app. This has worked much better!

Nannette in
New York, NY
Level 2

I would like to know what smart locks, etc hosts are using and their opinion of them.  MY concern has been a guest who is moving to the area and staying with me while they apartment hunt making a copy of the key and attempting to come back when no cars are here.

 

I had one guest who let himself in to my house when I had left the door unlocked for an arriving guest.  I was on a conference call and could not take another call, he just walked in and found what he left behind.  What if my  ew guests had been home.  

Troy in
Eastvale, CA
Level 2

Absolutely helpful, I have been doing this for awhile and have no problems for guests check in , except a couple of them had problems to use the keypad to open door and my other listing with lockbox. I just send out check in guide one day before arrival instead of 3 days.

 I think 1 day is little long, they forget and will read it again ...any thoughts 

Emilia in
Orono, ME
Level 10

I think this just happened to me. I was traveling as a guest and was really confused about the check-in. When I messaged the host, he seems confused as well and acted like I should know the information. Luckily, we worked passed our confusion but it was a bit uncomfortable. Now I know it was because he had given me a bunch of info which I had no access too!

Level 2

I have my check in time on my listing because I am always at home at that time to show guests to their room.. (I am a homeshare host)  I have experienced my guests asking questions about information i send to them a day before they check in... it just solidifies my thought that people don't read.. they may skim over what you have written but it doesn't click.. A day before check in is good for sending information but i think 3 days is too far in advance ..

Cancun Guest House in
Cancun, Mexico
Level 1

 This is absolutely not personal, very automatic, one will not be able to provide a personalized services, these devices are definitely unfriendly

John & Erica in
Newport, Ireland
Level 1

Hi all ! Personally I like to greet my guests and send an email through Air BnB the night before with directions etc..... this might be a more visual way of doing this ... thank you, looking forward to trying this.

One other thing to note,  I wonder if it possible to have a automated message sent the night before (an email witten by myself and not having to adhear to specific fields) ?

Nanette in
Cambridge, MA
Level 1

My sentiments exactly!

Heidi in
St Paul, MN
Level 2

We have also created an extensive document (and have much of the info in a guest book as well).  I keep suggesting to Airbnb to have an option to attach a PDF as their competitor allows and where you can simply send a message with the attachement.  It is very easy and I find more guests receive the information vs. emailing with the email provided by Airbnb.  

Shelley in
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Level 2

I have been hosting since 2003. I have never met guests personally, and they have all respected my property. The reason I don't meet guests personally is because I absolutely dread having to meet the host when I check into a place. They usually make small talk like "how was the traffic?", and then they show you around and say painfully obvious things like "so this is the kitchen". Even if there is something very complicated to explain (which is hardly ever the case), this can usually be more effectively done through proper written instructions. Perhaps you are doing the check-in procedure differently or very professionally, and that may be why your guests don't mind you being there (otherwise you would have picked up on the fact that most of them seem annoyed). But I fully understand why the article "makes it seem like a huge imposition" - in my experience it really usually is! I am pleased that Airbnb is finally acknowledging that it's OK to want privacy. I believe the majority of people in the world actually prefer efficiency over the personal touch, but it sounds anti-social when one admits it (and I admit that your post does sound like you are a more welcoming host than I am!)

Amelia in
Mason, TX
Level 1

We live in a small but historic community with very little crime. My cottage is well over a hundred years old and if someone wanted to break in they could. I would like an option of “other” to describe where we leave our keys.

I always communicate with my guests at least a week before with key location, if they have special needs or need special checkin. I like keeping it personal.

Ana
Level 1

I like the idea. It helps guests to feel more comfortable before arriving. 

Brenan in
Ottawa, Canada
Level 2

Great idea, I've been providing similar informational messages by text to registered guests on their day of arrival. However, I like to do the personal meet and greet for first-time guests, but I text personalized code and instructions for the smart lock, to repeat-guests.

Jack in
Denver, CO
Level 1

Appreciate Airbnb’s effort, but the proposed check-in info process is incredibly cumbersome and if you have multiple listings you have to repeat it over and over.   Why can’t Airbnb just provide a mechanism to allow hosts to send a pdf to guests with check-in, house, and local information.  Simple and efficient and would save the host significant work.  It should at least be an option. 

Vive in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 2

Hi all,

I hate to say it but some guests - once they have this information - will check in any time that they like regardless of what I have stated as the check in time. They will say they didn’t realize etc. and then sit on the front lawn with their suitcases until the suite is ready. That could take hours and my house starts to look like a hostel to my neighbors - not good. I have tried giving them all of the info except the door code but that doesn’t work either. 

I will keep trying...

 

Sheryl in
Sunnyvale, CA
Level 2

What mobile app do you use Jamie?

Regina & Kelan in
Buford, GA
Level 3

Hi Steven, I use the AirBnb guest guide, but my guests mainly look at an online guide I created on Google Docs.  It's easily accessible and I give them the link to it on every guest response. It covers everthing and is easy to update.

Tonelise in
Joshua Tree, CA
Level 2

 Checking guests in personally solves all problems. 

Tonelise in
Joshua Tree, CA
Level 2

Exactly patree

Oad
Level 5

SKnow your guest! Some guests just want to be left alone, with minimal interactions (written instructions will do fine) Some guests wants to talk and meet the local natives (put on your storytelling hat and socialize) We love the 3rd kind, the helpless guest. Doesn’t read. Asks for the code, the WiFi, the remote, you name it (we usually meet or text the helpless directly on their mobile, as long as it takes to settle em down. Different folks - different strokes 

Mary in
New York, NY
Level 2

Yes, agreed! my reviews? all cite how great my hostess is! how they loved her and how she made them feel at home. Personally? after a possibly stressful arrival? I want someone there in the place to assure me and welcome me in. 

Janice in
Fresno, CA
Level 2

Thank you for this great checking in feature! I will take advantage of it!

Maureen in
Augusta, GA
Level 2

I love the Google Docs idea! I'm going to check it out. Thanks 

Level 1

Please make it to where the host can chose when to send the message. 3 days is wat too early. One hour before checkin  is my preference. That way I know the cleaning is done. Otherwise guests will always attempt to checkin early when the unit isn’t ready.  

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