Check-in Time: Has Reading Comprehension Gone Out the Window?

Last two sets of guest have acted like they can show up when they want.

My listing specifies check-in time 1-3pm and states “if you need a later time please let me know.” I also reiterate check-in time at the time of booking and a day ahead of their arrival when I ask what their ETA will be. Without so much as a “gosh I forgot to ask, can we check in at X-time?” they simply have stated an hour that is well past what is listed and has been stated in not one but two messages to them. Arrrrgggghhhhhh!

A week ago it was 8pm and now my next guest informs me it will be 10pm. I do all the check-ins myself and walk people through the house. It’s a good thing I live on property (in a separate house) but still this is irritating. The 8pm person was a host too.

Oh well. Serenity now… serenity now…


OMG I just got 2 guests like this in the last 24 hours! They not only asked to check in early, but also if they could check out late. I think some folks just want to just see what they can get away with. Everyone knows you can’t do that in a hotel - why would you try to do this in an AirBnB?!

Of course you can check in early or check out late in a hotel provided you have arranged it beforehand. Pretty much every hotel I have ever stayed in allows check in from say 10am if you ask as they will put you in one of the rooms that has been cleaned early or not used the night before. Similarly I have never had a problem checking out up till 1pm if I asked when checking in.

With my AirBnB I am happy to let people check in as early as 11am or out as late as 1-3pm provided I have 2 hours for the cleaning and changeover between guests. I get a lot of weekend guests who arrive Friday evening after work so like to check out late on Sunday and as I don’t usually get Sunday night guests that is fine with me. I usually offer them 1pm but they are gone by noon. If you are unable to reasonably meet their request due to other guests or scheduling then politely decline them, which I have to do occasionally. Normally they thank me for at least considering it.

The message I send in the week before starts with “could you please let me know the approximate time you hope to arrive” then a bit of arrival bumf and a reiteration of the 10 rules they haven’t read but could have 5 times already. Late arrivals don’t bother me personally as they can park and go in as it is unlocked but I can imagine if you have to meet them waiting around for 30 minutes or more would be annoying and a waste of your time. I guess depending on how late they are a 1 star for “communication” would be appropriate and a 4 for “Obey the rules”. Given hosts have their phone number why don’t they text them 2 hours before arrival and ask “will you be arriving as per the ETA of 1pm?”. One problem of course is some people have an annoying habit of saying they will be there in 15 minutes when they know they are a good hour away.

10pm arrivals are not good. If, as you say, you walk guests through the property, that is not very relaxing for you near bedtime.
Ask them to choose an ETA in advance from your window as a direct question in a message on its own. This avoids them arrogantly announcing some off arrival time at the last minute.

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The problem may be that you sound a bit wish washy, like you are flexible. Make it more firm.

Here’s what I state. Check in time is 4pm to 11pm. Please send a text with your estimated arrival time. Unless you have a verifiable flight delay you will not be admitted after midnight. Sorry, I cannot accept early arrivals. If you do arrive early to Kona there is lots you can do! Get a mai tai at blah de blah or walk around the beautiful blah blah blah…

They never get here early nor do they ask for late checkout. Sometimes I offer it to really really great guests or in certain situations, such as a great guest who wanted to do a beach hike on her last day …but I didn’t want her to leave her laptop in the car as the hike takes several hours. So she was welcome to leave it in the room. She was very grateful and had all her stuff packed neatly and told me to move it if I got a same day booking or something. That is the kind of guest I appreciate! (However, having to swing by again on her way to the airport caused her to almost miss her flight.)


It happened again with guests arriving today!

Official check-in window: 3pm to 2am

House rules ask that ETA be provided by the day before their stay. I asked for that on Wednesday and she replied to the message on Thursday, but left out the arrival time. I messaged her just before 9am today to ask about arrival time…

…and got a phone call just after 10am asking if they could get in early. They were sitting in their car at the house when they called. :roll_eyes: Luckily the place was clean and door code ready, but honestly! Some people’s children!

I became so tired of receiving requests to arrive early and/or depart late that I’ve added a charge. It’s written in my listing: ‘if you’d like to extend your stay then please ask if early arrival or late departure is available- there is an extra charge of £10 per hour for this.’
I thought this might deter bookings, but it doesn’t seem to have- in fact, guests like the option of bring able to extend their stay without having to pay for an extra night. I used to get frustrated by early arrival/late departure requests- now I welcome them! it’s also, importantly, stopped guests just turning up early.


I agree with @konacoconutz. Clarity is really important with hosting - especially with check-in times. I work 3 jobs and have a very tight check-in window (6-8 p.m.). You’d think this would be an issue - thankfully, that’s not the case! If people need a different check in time, they ask and I can either accommodate it, or not. Another thing is that there is a company that will pick up a guest’s luggage from the airport, hang onto it and then will drop it off for them at the time they requested and it’s about $15. So if they have to entertain themselves before I get home from work (self-check in is not an option, too many little details that need to be shown right away to avoid issues with neighbours and other guests etc.), they have the option of not hauling their luggage around (and my hearing about it).
So, my process is always:

  1. Send response email to inquiry/booking request.
  2. Prior to pre-accepting/accepting any bookings I require all guests to confirm that they’ve read my entire email (including house rules and amenities - you’d be amazed at how many people get weeded out because of this small step - which may have allowed me to dodge a bullet more times than I can count) as well, they’ve confirmed that fact that they know there’s a friendly indoor cat who hangs out in all of the common areas.
  3. Once they’ve confirmed all of the above information, and I’ve accepted the booking, I immediately send an email thanking them for booking with me and saying "As you’ve seen in the listing, my check in time is 6-8 p.m., I do try to be flexible wherever possible. Will you be arriving in Toronto that day, or will you already be here? If you’re arriving that day, I do ask everyone for the following information (so that I can track the flight online and will know if there are any delays)
  4. Airline/transportation company (if arriving by train/bus):
  5. Flight number
  6. City of Departure
  7. Time of Departure
  8. Expected arrival time at Toronto Pearson/Billy Bishop Airport"

So this already clears up any possibly last minute issues with a lack of communication. Everyone appreciates the clarity, I can see online if there’s a flight delay and the conversation about check-in happens quickly.

More often than not I receive a request/inquiry (as I did yesterday) from a guest, saying that his flight will be arriving at 10:30 p.m, and if it was possible to still book. Since I know this in advance, I’m able to accommodate this (with the caveat that he will take a taxi/uber to the house -vs. public transit), as I can’t stay up much later because of my work schedule). He was happy to agree.

As far as check-out - either the day before or two days before, I send a friendly email, saying “Hi… I just wanted to touch base with you about check-out on Thursday (or whatever day they’re leaving). Check-out time is before 11 a.m., (in the instances where I’m not itching to get them out of my hair asap) however, I don’t need to clean the room until 1 p.m, so if you wanted to stay later, you’re welcome to do so. Please let me know what works for you.” Once I hear back, I send a thank-you, with final check-out instructions (to leave the key on the desk, hang up any wet towels, and to leave all bedding on the bed). It works like a charm! Boundaries are clear and even if they don’t need a later check-out time, they appreciate the offer.
In the instances where they’re great guests but need to clear the room, I do occasionally offer to let them leave their luggage in the front hall as long as they pick it up by (for example 5 p.m.) so that there’s no overlap between outgoing and incoming guests (tight hallway, will feel crowded and I want everyone to feel comfortable).

I’ve been hosting for years (did homestay before Airbnb) and the one thing I’ve learned is lay out the rules clearly beforehand. It’s the vagueness that creates resentment on both ends. I’m happy to report that the signs I have all over the house ( Such as: “Please remove outdoor shoes” etc. but that’s a whole other post) and in hosting hundreds of people, only one (of course, a local) complained. Everyone else says that they appreciate knowing what is expected (and it makes me feel less stabby).

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I already do 1-3 (guests seldom if ever fly into my town). Fact is people pretend they are listening/reading but they aren’t and they think what they want to do is no big deal to them so why should it be to you. But I suppose from here on out I will put it in all caps and bold.