Contactless check-in has always been a practical and convenient way for hosts to welcome guests into their listings when they cannot be physically present.
Taking the pandemic into consideration, offering that option to guests and avoiding direct contact with them is now more critical than ever.
With that in mind, what are the best practices when it comes to contactless check-in? What tools do you use, and how do you communicate with guests?
Utilising social media hospitality accounts
I have always offered contactless and flexible check-in. It is not only convenient for the guest but also super convenient for me. I send detailed instructions via Airbnb messaging a few days before arrival. Two of my listings have simple keyless entry keypads (so worth the investment) and I program the guest's personalized code when I finish cleaning.
On arrival day, I instruct the guest to call or text me if they have any trouble. If they do, I can walk them through it over the phone. About 99% of all my guests are completely capable of reading the instructions and getting in with no problems.
I started hosting almost 2 years ago, and began offering self check-in after a few months. Even if my listing is a guest house in my own garden, and I am usually able to be home when guests arrive. I started offering it simply because I guessed that some guests might prefer to be able to just check in, make a cup of coffee and relax after their trip - instead of having to spend time with me...;-) This also saves them the stress of trying to calculate how much time it will take them to get to my house, when exactly they will be here, and keep close contact with me for any updates to this.
My system is not very advanced, I have an old-fashioned key-box, where you spin 4 wheels to enter the code, and you put they key inside. You CAN update the code for every guest, but I don't, to be honest. I just make sure never to send the code to the new guest before the previous one has checked out, of course.
I send the check-in instructions a couple of days before check-in, and then there is an extensive information folder in the house. My guests can choose; if they prefer self check-in, I will check in on them later (usually via message) to see if they have settled in OK and have any questions - and they are always welcome to message/call me, or come ring our doorbell. If they prefer that I meet them on arrival and show them everything, then I'm more than happy to.
The majority choose self check-in, and many of my guests I never meet in person - which might sound strange, seeing as the house is right there in my garden! 🙂 But I try to find a good balance between giving them privacy, but being there fore them if needed.
I've had self check in from day one. I think it's the easiest way to go, for everyone. I've never had anyone indicate they would prefer me to check them in. I use a keyless lock, and the code is always the last 4 digits of their phone #, always input just before arrival. No keys to keep track of and easy to remember! I remind/inform guests that all check in details will be found in their intinerary, but to contact me if they need anything. I have the app with notifications turned on so I get messages right away. Issues are rare. Once I programmed a code wrong, one guest didn't read the instructions thoroughly, and one guest wasn't sure she had the right house. Each of those times I was able to communicate immediately with the guest to sort things out, but those have been the only issues so far in almost two years!
@Ann783 Oh dear I couldn’t tell you the brand. It was just whatever they had on hand at Home Depot at the time, nothing special! It has a unique 7 digit program code that I key in and then input or remove the guest code. Pretty easy!
I know you didn't ask me, but I use the Schlage Encode that either generates or allows the owner to create unique door codes: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Schlage-Camelot-Encode-Smart-Wifi-Door-Lock-with-Alarm-in-Satin-Nickel-B... Like @Colleen253, I choose the last four digits of the guest's phone number.
We have always had contactless entry at our Atlanta apartment, and guests may arrive any time after the check-in time. To help guests remember the code, we use the last four digits of their phone number as the door code, and send it to them a couple of days before their scheduled arrival. There were a couple of guests who just don't read, so now we send a picture of the keypad along with the directions.
We've just installed a wireless lock at the guesthouse entrance door, and will remotely unlock it when guests arrive during the check-in time period. We will also send guests the door code to their suite a couple of days before their scheduled arrival. In their studio they will find keys to the air conditioner power switch, the balcony door, and the guesthouse entrance door.
Hosting has always been a choral thing. My hosting is made through my gestures and my eyes that accompany my words.
I'm certain that being present in person when my guest arrives gives a pleasant, honest and sincere sense of human warmth, not a small thing, welcoming someone into my home: a different story from an accommodation where anyone who has paid for it, steps through a door, consumes, steps out of the house, blindly seduced by an app, in his private, onanistic longing for oblivion.
I will never give up my role as a lady of the house, trading it for an app or a key-box or a lock with a code hanging from a balustrade.
Lowering a handle means nothing, it is just something that you do to move from one room to another. The door is obvious. The faucet is obvious, and the sky and rain are obvious too.
That's why I want to be the one to remove the veil of obviousness from that door, from that faucet, and also from the sky and rain that you see from the window when you apply your face to the pane.
I want to be the one to make the guest savour my home and to ensure that he has a relationship of abundance with it.
I want to be the one to see his thoughts and let him read my thoughts that make us special and different, but they need not divide us if we can show tolerance, respect and understanding for them.
I'm certain that after seeing the attention that my home receives the guest knows that he will have to see me again upon check-out after the inspection of the apartment, it's more likely that he will treat it in the same way and be careful not to damage it.
And I’m certain that moving our faces toward each other can build bridges, forge closer ties, clearer contacts, quicker referrals, mutual confidence which shortens the distances and can open up a river of beautiful and unexpected things.
We’re switching over to locks that work with the Master app. You send them the code. They put it on their phone. They hold it next to the lock. It opens, during the time period that you specify. Systems either use a keypad, or a key, for backup. Have a lockbox, which can work with the app, but has a keypad, as a backup, with a key in it. Both aren’t going to fail at the same time. The batteries on those things last forever, but set up a schedule to replace the battery every six months, and there is little way that it’s going to fail.
We have a lockbox opened with a 4-digit code that has the key inside. Our place, White Mountain Sunsets, is 70 minutes away from us, so we have a camera outside trained on the front door (disclosed, of course). It's a small condo (2 bedrooms so we don't attract big groups) but we always turn the camera on when guests are expected so we can count the people and make sure they aren't bringing in any pets. Then we turn the camera off. Only once in the last 3 years has someone been stymied by the lockbox--they put the code in and kept waiting for the door to "pop open." We now specifically mention that the key is inside the lockbox. M.E.
Not a bad idea to have the Minut detector in the house. Audio volume, and it counts the number of devices that log on to the network. Keeps places lower on the party priority list when you let people know that you’re using one.
@Nick We don't pro-actively offer contactless check in but would happily accommodate a guest if they requested it. We wouldn't bother with lockboxes (most of which can be opened in seconds with a hammer) but would take the approach of 'the key is under the flowerpot' given the low level of crime in our area.
@Mike-And-Jane0 I love "The key's under the flowerpot".
That's about my style. My town, being a big tourist trap, does have a lot of theft but very little out in my countryside area. And no one gets past my 70 pound dog with her ferocious bark. She's a real sweetie who's never bitten anyone, but strangers don't know that.
I had a friend who lived here for 3 months a few years ago. I gave her a set of keys, one to her outside bedroom door, one to the main part of the house, but she's one of those people who's like allergic to keys and hates having to keep track of them (I know a few like that). I'd find her keys in the door lock to her room, just hanging there for anyone to take, while she was gone all day.