How to organize the autonomous check-in of your guests?

One of the most critical points when a guest stays in your house is the key collection on the day of arrival. This could be one of the most unpredictable processes to set up since you should need to match your availability with the exact arrival time of your hosts.

As a matter of fact, many elements can jeopardize this process.

  • The arrival time of your tenants is often completely random and out of the reach of your guests and yourself. Your guests arriving by train or plane have no choice but to follow the schedules of airlines or trains. In addition, they will always be powerless victims of flight delays, weather problems, luggage delivery, transport strikes, etc.
  • On your side, it is difficult to always know in advance what your availability will be when a booking falls several weeks in advance.
  • You don’t always know, at the time of booking, if the departure of previous tenants will not affect the time when the room will be ready for new occupants.

Imposing a time slot for the check-in is an easy solution. Though it can sometimes seem unfair to travelers tired of the trip, who will have large suitcases and who have left their home many hours ago. Remember the unforeseen events you experienced during previous vacations and the pleasure you had when you arrived at your vacation spot without having to wait. Without outside help, imposed schedules will sometimes be mandatory.

To fix this problem, solutions exist to get your guests experience off to a good start!

The solution: good communication

Anticipation lowers the pressure

If you know you won’t be able to be there exactly when your room’s tenants arrive, let them know as soon as possible so they can think about how to use their waiting time. They can take their time to arrive, they may stop for lunch on the way to your place. Help them anticipate the need to use a toilet and sit down after their tiring trip.

If it is only a matter of minutes to an hour, tell them to have a coffee in a good bistro around the corner until you are available. It is the opportunity to give them your favorite spots.

If you tell them when they book that tenants are leaving on the same day as their arrival and that you will need time to prepare the room, they should understand the consequences. They should always be able to adapt if you clearly tell them several days in advance and if you give them advise.


Often their main need is to drop off their luggage. So, advise them to store their suitcases in a storage facility at the train station. There are also websites promoting networks of luggage lockers which can be very useful: At the corner, Holibag, Bagbnb, or Eelway are some examples.

Always give advice and alternative solutions. This will prevent them from worrying, and it will create a connection that will give them a good impression even before they arrive. It will pay in the comments at the end of their stay. Communication reassures your guests and shows that you have their best interests in mind.

More tips

  • Agree with your guest on the best communication method for both of you: telephone, e-mail, SMS, chat. You want to communicate efficiently. The Airbnb chat will always be the best solution to solve any problem because Airbnb will witness all your discussions.
  • Make sure you have their arrival details. If they haven’t shared it with you, remind them. Ask them their flight number or train number so that you can check the airport or train station website for any delays. You probably know how long it takes to get to your place from the airport. Double this time for travelers who do not know this route, and add an hour for luggage delivery and customs clearance.
  • Use your smartphone. Everyone has one now. If you don’t want to lose touch when they leave their home, use the free apps for that. The platforms will often give you their mobile number. Test it before they leave their country.
  • Make sure you let them know what to expect. Some rare guests think you are a hotel, but you are not. If they don’t know what to expect, they may not like the surprise.
  • Make sure you have set up clear house rules and explain them to your guests, so they don’t get confused.

The final moment, getting the keys

It is your job, as a host, to anticipate how to give the keys so that you or your tenants don’t have to wait.

Most guests and owners feel more comfortable handing over the keys. If possible, this is obviously the best way to ensure a smooth check-in. However, that involves understanding when your guest will arrive, which needs the communication we mentioned above.

But what if something keeps you from being there? Your tenants could arrive mid-day while you are at work. Here are some Airbnb tips for getting guest keys when you can’t be there.

  • The Almighty Lockbox will be your best solution in any case. It’s the safest way to leave your keys outside, and without outdoor constraints. You can buy it online at most hardware stores. It is easy to install, cheap and secure. All you need to do is let your guest know where the box is and tell them the opening code. This box can also be used for check-outs at times when you won’t be available.
  • A secret place – this has been working for years around the world, ever since locks have existed. Hide the keys under a stone, a doormat or a flower pot. Make sure the keys will be easy to find for your customers but not so easy for others.
  • A nice neighbor as a backup solution. If you can’t make it because of a small incident, maybe a friend or neighbor can do the job.
  • Install an electronic lock: Configure a specific door code and simply send it by SMS or email. This option dematerializes the key so there will be no problem of lost key, nor of limited number of keys available to tenants. This is very handy if you cannot leave several sets of keys to your guests.
  • A local store, bar or restaurant: Do you know a store manager in your neighborhood? Why not leave your key there. In some cities, you can find nearby business centers that can also hold a key for you. If you don’t know anyone, there are sites and apps that will help you find a place that offers that service. Examples of key deposit sites are for example Holibag, Keycafe, Keynest, etc.

When your guest has the key and is ready to get in, make sure that you have explained all the specificities of your door and your lock, especially if they are old and must be handled in a specific way. Lock the spaces to which you do not want the new guests to have access to while you are away so that they only get familiar with authorized areas before meeting you.Check-in should always be a lesser concern for your guest. After a long day of traveling, this should only be a formality. By following these simple tips for communicating effectively, using a key exchange system, and being ready to handle last-minute changes, you can ensure a hassle-free check-in.

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