The check-in process is kind of like the “first impression” your short-stay property has on your guests. It only takes a little consideration and effort to make it a good one!  This is even more important for guests who are renting through Airbnb (or similar site) for the first time. My goal with our properties is to try to make the check-in process as simple as possible to minimize our guests’ anxiety but also to ensure their experience is smooth and results in positive reviews and fewer questions or issues. 

Airbnb Check-In Options

  • In Person / Meet-up
  • Third-Party Exchange
  • Key in Lockbox
  • Keyless Entry

I have not used the “in-person” check-in approach, primarily because I value flexibility and autonomy and assume my guests mostly feel the same way.  It would be difficult for me to schedule a set time to meet up and check-in with all of our guests and it seems inefficient when I could have a self-service option instead.  That way, guests can arrive at the property when it works for them and complete check-in on their own.  I’ve also not used a third-party exchange, though I know there are various options available for this approach.

Initially, for our first property, I kept a lockbox with the house key inside in a convenient location near the front door.  I didn’t have any major issues with this but there were several annoyances or minor issues, particularly with Minnesota winters, which is why I have switched all of our properties over to keyless entry.  Here is what didn’t work so well with the lockbox method:

  • I was unsure of the level of familiarity my guests had with using lockboxes so I needed to include detailed instructions in my message prior to check in (turn the dial to the right to select the first letter, then turn the dial to the left, pass the second letter once… etc.) It felt overcomplicated and didn’t align with my goal of “keeping it simple”!
  • I had a couple guests complain that the lockboxes were difficult to use.  The first lockbox I used had a turn style combination to open.  This was fine in summer and fall, but by winter, the dial would come close to freezing in place and was difficult to turn.  After that, I switched to a different style lockbox which required a punch code and then pushing a lever down.  I had a few guests have issues figuring out how to get the lockbox closed again during check-out.
  • I would change the code to the lockbox in between stays and the lockboxes I used required a very manual process to change the code, requiring additional time to complete each of my between-stay turns.
  • There is always the risk that the guest loses your key, takes it with them after they check-out or, worse, makes copies and has a permanent key to your home.

I’m sure there are more sophisticated or user friendly lockboxes out there for purchase than what I used.  However, I decided to opt out of this approach altogether and go for the keyless entry.  We have used two different styles of the Schlage keyless entry products (one keyless deadbolt and one keyless door handle lock).  They were both pretty easy to install and complete the initial set-up and have worked smoothly for our guests so far.

Eventually, I’d like to move to a “smart-lock” keyless entry that I can control completely remotely, via an app, but I’ve not found a product on the market that I’m ready to switch to yet.  We have ordered a Lockitron and are testing on our own house.  Will post a review soon!

Keeping Airbnb Check-In Simple – Our Take on the Key Exchange

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