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Check-in experiences?

what are your experiences with the check-in process?

My listing is in an apartment tower with a 24h security desk. I have been hosting there for 3 months, and generally, everything is fine. Until now, I have done all check-ins personally, so I had to drive there (25 min.), wait for the guest (xx min.), show them around (10 min.) and drive back (25 min.). Unfortunately, some guests were extremely late or took 2:00h for the way from the airport (which takes 0:30h normally), so sometimes I had to wait for 1 - 2.5 hours in the lobby of the building.

So I thought about depositing the keys, the detailed house manual and a very nice welcome letter at the security desk. Apart from that, I would be available for the guest on phone, text message, whatsapp all the time, to explain things, if necessary.

(I have a handyman who lives just 10 min away and works from home, he can handle urgent issues (like for example AC problem))

Good idea? Have I forgotten anything?

Do you think this affects my reviews in a negative way? Has anyone switched from personal check-in to key deposit?

I would be glad to hear some experiences.

Best wishes,


I always do the check-ins personally, but to avoid waiting for guests for hours, I ask for their flight/train number to get informed of any delay, and ask them to send a SMS or Airbnb message once they are in the taxi at the airport/bus at the station/30 minutes away according to their GPS.

I think that meeting your host/guest is part of the ‘Airbnb experience’ and would really dislike doing otherwise, either as a guest or a host. Maybe it depends on your target market, but I can feel that the vast majority of my guests really enjoy being greeted by a real person they can informally talk to.

Hi Thomas
Although my guest property is right near where I live, in the early days I cancelled anything that meant I wouldn’t be there to personally welcome the guest. Now I don’t bother. I leave the keys in the letterbox for them with detailed instructions on how to access the room. (And it’s not that straightforward). I also leave a nice welcome note and if they’re arriving late, a few lights on to make it look cosy. Could someone do that for you?

You could absolutely leave the welcome note with the security desk. Although I’d leave the detailed house manual in the room/apartment - so that it’s always in the same place and you’re not constantly re-printing. You can leave a stack of welcome notes with the security desk - I usually know who is arriving 4 or 5 guests ahead and do all my notes at once and then put them aside.

Hope that helps.

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It shouldn’t affect your reviews unless there is a problem. I got a 3* mark (my only one out of 100+) from a couple who couldn’t get in the door because they weren’t using the keys correctly. When they called I couldn’t answer because I was at work. Oh well, I adjusted and learned. Since you aren’t on site anyway the people that book aren’t looking for much interaction anyway. It might be interesting to see if it affects your booking rate or the kind of guest you get.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I also asked every guest to tell me the flight number, and furthermore, I asked to text or call when they leave the airport by taxi/rental car/Uber/metro. But… some people did other things on the way from the airport (and didn’t tell me in advance) - “Sorry, I didn’t know you were waiting, I visited a friend on the way”, “I stopped at a grocery store”, “I lost my way”, “I did not want to use data roaming on my phone because it’s so expensive, so I couldn’t tell you that we drove to see the beach first”…

Things like these made me wait for hours (in some cases). I know that a personal greeting is very nice, and as a guest I would also like that. But guests’ experiences are different: Some (business travellers) just wanted to have the key, go to sleep, and that’s it.

I think I will try to do half of the check-ins with the security desk and the other half personally for one month. After that, I will compare guest experience, reviews etc.

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You could mention that you are are available to do a personal check-in at a specific and pre-determined time, otherwise guests are welcome to do a self check-in. Let them choose. If they choose to have a personal check-in they will likely try harder to be on time and won’t be surprised if you had to leave if/when they are late.


I’m probably a weirdo, but I would actually prefer self check-in for an entire apartment situation.

-If I know there is no one waiting for me, I don’t feel rushed at the airport and can stop and smell the roses.

-It makes the place feel more like “my own” and less like I’m invading someone else’s space.

(I have an ingrained aversion to imposing…It’s probably the Vermonter in me.)

-If I were traveling alone, I would feel safer this way than being alone in an apartment with a strange man.

-If it’s been a long international flight and I look like I just got run over by a Mack truck, it would be nice to just open the door and crash on the bed without having to be coherent or social.

Now, this is all assuming that the apartment is easy to get into and everything is explained in a crystal clear way. I’m fairly confident in my ability to figure most things out. It might not be an ideal situation for an older person or someone from a foreign country. They will likely need more hand holding.

It if were a room inside a shared home, however, self-check it would feel strange to me.


I live in my listings so I just sit at home and watch tv. I have had a couple that were 2 hrs late and a couple 30 mins early. But on a general theme they are always late by upto 30 mins which is reasonable. If you want to eliminate the waiting you would need some kinda electronic lock so they can let themselves in.

I thinik self-check in versus greeting guests depends on how easy it is for guests to figure things out/screw things up. If the guest chooses not to read the materials, will they screw something up?

For example - in my rental guests cannot leave wet glasses/bottles on the kitchen counters overnight because they are made of wood. If the guest does not read this, then they are going to leave permanent ring marks on the counter.

Another thing is during late summer guests have to rinse all the fruit, and rinse out all their wine/drink bottles and put outdoor - if not then there will be gnats everywhere. And this will be a problem for next guests checking in. Again, if they don’t read this then not good for me.

Electronics - are they easy or a bit complicated? Most guests will just start pushing buttons and then they will be calling because the tv doesn’t work. Or they will not bother and then just complain in a review. Is it best to show in person?

When my mother visits, I put little labels on the remotes. She’s not senile, but the Smart TV plus Amazon Fire Stick etc etc can be complicated if you’re not used to it.

Self-checkin is preferred as a guest and host. We promote it as a feature.

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I do have lamenated instructions and trouble shooting steps in the bowl that contains the remote.

One issue, especially with ‘seasoned’ air guests is that altho they have an email and phone in their profile, many of them seem to forget to tell air if they change them, or they use a home phone number rather than a cell. So, you trynto contact them and get zero response. I lAlways experiment with their phone number or email by asking them to reply to me via text etc upon reading my info. Many times you will get another phone number. Saves the torture of a guest saying they never heard from you. Plus, it is a portent of things to come especially when they have been to a few places and are not reading your stuff since they assume that it is all the same, and are not interested in keeping their end current.

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hmmm, I would be surprised if your Security Desk would accept the responsibility and liability for your key and turning it over to a walk-in ‘guest’. They sure don’t in my high-rise.

Does your building allow owners to substitute an electronic keypad for the standard door key lock? If so, that’s the way to go. Then you could set a code for your guests to use and have your housecleaner or handyman input a new code between guests. It is what I do and guests love that they don’t have to carry an extra key around. If your VR is a fly-to destination and you know the guests’ flight info, you wouldn’t even have to change the code.

(My response was to the original poster (Tom)…I’m new to posting here and not sure how to do stuff.)

Yes, they do that. I did it once when a guest arrived at 2:30am. It was no problem at all. I gave them an envelope with my house manual, the key cards for building and parking and the key to my apartment.

They also have building management tasks like registering new tenants, cleaning of the public pool, monthly reading of the electric meters etc., so it’s more a mixture between security and building management.

So that wouldn’t be a problem at all.

The electronic lock would not help me much as guests need a key card for the access to the building anyway. (Before the elevator, there is a sliding door that needs to be opened with an electronic key card.)

I always opt to check them in. I have far less of the issues that concern me if I am here to show them in. It also gives me a chance to finish business–collect tax and get their signed waivers for the snorkel gear. I started noticing more problems with the self check ins and this is why I make a point to always be here if at all possible.

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I agree with @Garden1Gnome - Since they aren’t booking a ‘hang out in a local’s home’ experience, self-check-in would be preferred.

My first airbnb experience was in a home. My family was at the fantastic WWII Museum in New Orleans, and felt pressured to leave and rush to get to the house by the designated time. That’s fine - not a complaint - just - maybe your guests are excited and decide “HEY LET’S GO SEE THE OCEAAAAAN!!!” but then are going to think “oh, no, can’t…we gotta meet the host…”

I’ve rented a few ‘entire homes’ on air and never had the host greet me.

However, for sure, check-in with them and make sure they know you’re available.


I do self check-in with a keypad and then their keys are waiting in the inside door when they come in. Less hassle for me, less hassle for them. But I do have a main door and then the inside door, so I have that luxury. And they get their own code for the main door to come and go as they please.

As a guest myself, I much prefer this. I hate to put someone out if we get delayed for some reason, and in a foreign country it is nervewracking to me to not be able to just get in easily and drop my stuff, especially after a day of traveling.

I rent just a room in my home. I hate for guests to feel like they have to wait for me to arrive! I have a couple of jobs and participate in many boards and committees that frequently keep me out of the house from 7am till 9pm I do make it clear that I prefer arrivals prior to 9pm so that we can at least say hello in person as I am usually in bed 11pm. But I stress that guests can arrive earlier, that my schedule is busy and I may not be here to greet them, but that they should make themselves comfortable and to please send me a message via ABB once they arrive. No one has voiced a complaint yet.

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