Can I check in early?

My first post here, I thought I would share a useful tip. I have five units on Airbnb and exactly 700 reviews (81% five star). I have been a SuperHost for the last four quarters. So, introductions aside …

The #1 question I get is, “can I check in early?” I have a check-in time of 4pm. I’m guessing 1/4 to 1/3 of guests ask this. I have a standard response, and it works almost without fail.

I am sorry, but there will be someone leaving at noon on the day you arrive. You can drop your bags in the apartment any time after noon, but you can’t occupy it until the cleaning lady has had a chance to come and go. It’s not fair for her if she has to clean while there is someone in the apartment.

The important part is the last sentence. People empathize with the cleaning lady and don’t want to put her in an difficult position. I think they also want her to do a good job.


I generally just say no to early check-ins. My check in time is 3 PM. I say, “Unfortunately we are usually unable to accommodate early check-ins. It takes the entire allotted time to prepare the unit for the next guests. That being said, we will definitely keep your request in mind and let you know in the event it’s ready prior to 3PM.” Then I actually will do my best, if possible to have it ready a little early.

I don’t allow them to drop their bags either. I don’t want them to even see the unit before it’s at its best.

I once had a guest leave the apartment in almost spotless condition so I allowed some girls access just to drop their bags. I told them they could drop their bags, use the restroom and get out. I came back in 5-10 minutes and they were still there. One of the girls was taking a shower, and the others were hanging up clothes and deciding what to wear, had the tv on the music channel blaring. In just a few minutes they had settled in. I won’t make that mistake again!!


But what about the early check-in? You never allow it?

I get that question every 8th guest and most of the time I’ll try to make it happen for them. Usually 1 hour is the best I can do. For those who want to check-in at 1PM or 12AM I charge per extra hour since I hire extra help.


I never let them. I have it written in my directions that I cannot accommodate early arrivals. No way they could miss it, LOL. If they arrive early to Kona, I’d recommend that they blah blah blah (sightseeing suggestions…) If they sometimes show up early, and it’s like within 15 minutes of arrival I let them in. Any earlier, I come out and tell them it is not ready yet. Dropping bags is kind of an insult to the outcgoing guest. We need you to leave soon, lol.

As I have stated often, doing favors for guests rarely results in a payoff. They can act entitled instead of grateful and that’s no good.


My check-in is 3 pm/checkout by 11 am. I tell guests that requests for early check-in/late checkout are accommodated whenever possible but is dependent upon other reservations.

I know the guests can see on the calendar whether the condo is booked the night prior to their arrival or the night they depart so I tell them there is still a lot of time for a reservation to come in. If they do not want to risk being “homeless” for hours prior to checking in or after checking out, they can guarantee immediate access or late departure for a fee of $80 (half a night’s rate) since the night will have to be blocked from being reserved.

To add another twist of the screw, I do not allow luggage drop-off so unless they have a rental car, they have to find a luggage storage facility.

Last week, I had one guest pay the extra fee for an early check-in and one for a late checkout. (ka-ching!)

I’m running a business…no more Mr. Nice Guy.


I’m with @konacoconutz - just say NO! This new bit I’m seeing on Requests from Air has the guest listing the time they want to check in!!! My response is simply “NO, your check-in time is when I say it is – between 4 and 6 PM”


I don’t mind it. I can accommodate it and it’s not a drag for me, go ahead and enjoy extra time at our place. As long as the cleaning is done - no problem.


I have self check in, if the unit is ready I don’t care. Maybe get some good points on the board should their be issues for the guest.


Yes, I saw that!!! So confusing for the guest to be allowed to say they want to arrive at 1pm… heck… why stop there!!! Why not allow them to say they want to check in at 10am since we are now letting them decide when they want to check in. Sheesh.


Nah, they will forget you let them check in early. Remember they consider it normal, not a favor.


I’m in a slightly different situation as I have staff at my Bali villas but I always allow early checkin late checkout if I possibly can; but I always let guests know on booking that although I will be as flexible as possible, it is dependent on other bookings and if they want very early checkin or late checkout they can guarantee it at 50% of the daily rate charge.
I go one step further when I need a good review for the current month, by proactively offering late checkout at the end of their stay if there is obviously not going to be another guest checking in. When guests have late flights out and have been stressing about how to fill their day under the hot Bali sun, this is virtually guaranteed to lead to a glowing review, usually posted from the villa as they savour the complimentary hours by the pool …and it costs me nothing.

However my attitude would be much different if I was doing the cleaning or had a cleaning service coming in. In that case I doubt I would be very flexible at all!


I have said that I walk the dog in the afternoon, ie would you want to be one responsible for my dog not getting his walk? Could you live with yourself?


Agree with others. While it’s up to you whether or not to allow early check-ins (I actually have for a lot of guests when it really didn’t make a difference to me timing-wise, since I always prepare the room a day in advance).

But…I disagree with this notion that you owe any kind of explanation to guests for declining special requests. All you have to say is ‘I’m sorry the room won’t be ready until 3 p.m. I look forward to seeing you at or after that time. Pleasant travels!’

The problem is when you provide explanations, suddenly it’s becoming a negotiation. A flat out but polite ‘no’ shuts the whole conversation down, which is what you want.

Agree with Kona…I have allowed early check-ins many, many times and never, ever, ever has a guests mentioned in a review how kind I was to let them check in early.


It has been true for me as well. When I used to let guests have early access or late departures (gratis), they were grateful at the time but it flies out of their conscious memory after that because they have never expressed appreciation about it in their review. (Well, one did but only one.)

Now that I charge big bucks for the privilege, I don’t give a rip. … :laughing:


I’d rather leave the date unblocked then take 1/2 a night I get a lot of last minute bookings.


I just had someone that requested check-in between 2 and 4. I told him very clearly that check-in was anytime after 3PM and asked as I always do, what time they would be arriving. He answered “3ish” and asked for specific directions from a city about 2 hours away where they were driving from. I sent him the directions (most people just plug the address into their GPS as I tell them it’s very straightforward if they have GPS), told him Google Maps was saying 1 hr. 52 minutes, and that the unit would not be ready prior to 3PM and gave him a few options of places to go while they waited if they arrived early. He assured me they would not arrive before 3 and asked for the address to put into his GPS (which he should have already had and after I went to the trouble of sending him step by step directions). At about 2:15 he texted that “they were in the area and was there anything they needed to do or know”, which I took as his passive aggressive way of asking if the unit was ready, which it was not. I told him (as I’d told him several times already) that we’d meet him there at 3PM. The unit was actually ready around 2:30 but honestly this guy was annoying me so I decided not to let him know. At about 2:40 he messaged that they’d arrived. I messaged back saying we’d see him at 3PM. My husband actually ended up checking them in just before 3, came home and informed me that they’d decided to “bring their mother along for the trip”, but that she wouldn’t be any bother and would just sleep on the couch (I’m not even sure they knew it was a sofa bed). I promptly messaged him that I’d put through a change request for the extra person and he needed to accept it asap. He did accept it, and they ended up being okay guests. I thought he might leave me a crappy review, but he left us a really nice review, which confirms my suspicion that people like it (as do children and dogs, lol) when you have clear rules and stick to them.


I’m a fly-in destination and don’t have the luxury of waiting for last-minute reservations…it just doesn’t happen. Guests plan their trips on average 3-4 months out. If I have a vacancy a month out, I can usually expect to hear crickets for the month.

Two weeks ago, I had one guest who booked only 10 days before they arrived and I sat there stunned after I clicked on Accept. In 7 yrs., I had never had such a “last minute” reservation.

So yeah, I’ll take a half night’s fee for a few hours of a guest arriving early or staying later.


I just had a same day guest arrive in Kona and say they were happy to lay their bags down and enjoy the beach. Say what? You arrived in December (Hawaii busy season) without a place to stay? She then sheepishly explained she had booked (name of my town) except in … drum roll please… Australia!!! Non refundable too, poor things. They turned out to be really great guests who were so grateful and appreciative and left a great review. I have had other same day bookings as well, but that was the most entertaining reason I ever heard for a same day booking in Hawaii.


That makes total sense then!!! Different market.

The only early check in we’ve ever had showed up early unannounced to apologize that he was not going to be able to stay, did not want a refund and gave us a bottle of champagne. Highly recommended!