Guest Arrived 1 day early - Learnings

Context: I’m a super host for 3 continuous years with about 150 stays, of which about 90% are from Airbnb. We take pride in our MIL apartment and have really stepped up our professionalism game over the last year or two. We are seasoned hosts. And now we are more seasoned, haha.

Learnings up front:

  1. ALWAYS change the keypad code between stays. Always.
  2. Require the guest to send a pre-booking message to get the communication flowing.

I have guests (Joe) in the apartment and they check-out on Saturday morning, the 20th. Saturday is a single day turnaround with the guest (Jane) who arrives the afternoon of the 20th having 9 five star reviews.

Joe and his wife are out and site seeing on the afternoon of the 19th. Jane arrives on the 19th and messages “It appears the apartment is not yet ready. I thought I booked the place starting the 19th.”

I’ve been blessed with great guests (99% of them are amazing) and so I’ve never felt like I needed to change the keypad code between stays. Also, I live in Alaska, and 95% of my guests are out of staters, so the likelihood of them easily coming back to the apartment is very low. I felt the risk of not changing the keypad was acceptable. Until last night.

Jane and her guest were in the apartment for what I presume is several minutes before they realized something was up and exited until we could clarify. We explained that they are a day early and, with an embarrassed look, they left.

I send an embarrassing apology to Joe and state that if anything is moved or awry to let me know. I think everything is fine.

20 minutes later I get a message from Jane. She left her ipad in the apartment. I find said ipad, but am sniffing something awry. I ask her to identify the ipad and call Joe to ask about the ipad. Joe and his wife are unsettled that someone was in their apartment and around their stuff without permission. Totally get it. I ask them about the ipad, it’s not theirs.

I message Jane that I found the ipad, but my message with check-in details (automated to send 3 days before arrival) specifically requested some communication (re: arrival time) for a reason: good communication is a basic requirement.

Joe sends a follow-up message that he’s confused how someone could get a date wrong and is frustrated by the experience. He offered that everything will stay between the two of us so long as everything is in place and none of their belongings are missing. I comped half of his last night to make up for the disruption of his trip; changed the keypad code immediately, and sent Joe the new code. If Jane took anything, I’m holding the ipad ransom until it’s returned and canceling the booking. He confirmed later that evening that everything was in place and fine.

I am now expecting Jane and her guest to arrive this afternoon. Ipad is in the apartment. I’m frustrated that beyond her messaging “the apartment isn’t ready” and “I left my ipad”, she still hasn’t said anything else after I said “communication is important”. I assume she is quite embarrassed, but not sure she understands how violated my previous guests felt.

So long as the remainder of the stay is as expected I’m thinking of the following review with 3 stars on communication:
“Guest left the apartment in great shape. However, communication can be improved by confirmed booking details, such as arrival dates.”

Now I will ALWAYS change the keypad code between stays and will require a pre-booking message to get guests used to communicating something. I’ve had great guests who didn’t communicate at all and have appreciated their business. This time things went south and I’m definitely walking away with some good learnings that could have been more easily earned.

WoW, if the invaded guests complain to Airbnb, I would expect your listing to be suspended if not delisted. A host cant go in without permission…let alone complete strangers!

1 Like

I agree with @Debthecat. You are totally at fault here. Not changing codes between guests is so wrong. If Jane stole anything from Joe, I believe you would be liable for the theft.

I’m glad you’ve learned the importance of changing the code.

Our codes are set to activate exactly at check-in time (4 p.m.) and deactivate exactly at check-out time (10 a.m.). No one can ever get in without our authorization. I suggest the same to you.

One more point. You said “communication is important,” but you didn’t say what you meant by that. You meant for Jane to realize that you expected X communication by X time. You expected action from her. You weren’t specific. That kind of sideways communication is never effective.


I realize that scheduled messages are a time saver and have their place for hosts who do a high volume of business, but they come across as impersonal. I have never used any, and exchange several personalized messages with guests between when they send a request and check-in day.
Never had any misunderstandings nor had guests ignore requests for ETAs.

1 Like

I once made a 1 day goof of when I was arriving (not at an AirBnb though). I was crossing the International Date Line and forgot…

1 Like

Not going to sugar-coat this. Communication from guests isn’t the problem. This is negligence on the part of the host. If you get a bad review, then you deserve it, and you REALLY deserve it. Just thinking there are hosts out there that operate like you have been operating makes me NEVER want to use Airbnb as a guest.

1 Like

@Deacon You said you found the ipad? So not only did Jane let herself into the apartment, but you also went in there to look for the ipad? I host a private room in my home and I would never go into the guest’s room or bathroom unless they asked me to for some reason (one guest asked me to remove a spider), or in an emergency situation.

1 Like

Part 1 - yes I’m sure you will!

Part 2 - if they don’t send a pre-booking message, what are you going to do? Will you cancel? Generally if I don’t hear from them about their expected arrival time I’ll text them, and that usually does the trick, but sometimes they just don’t answer.

1 Like

I call every single guest to ensure they have my number saved in their phone, confirm the guest numbers haven’t changed, to explain the meet and greet and to ask for a 20 minute heads up when they are getting close to town.

When doing the meet and greet, confirm the check out day and time… across 5 listings.
The number in the phone has resulted in multiple direct bookings.
Next few months I have 2 Airbnb bookings, 2 booking.con and everything else is direct


geez, people are being a bit unfair here.
the guests are at fault, for turning up a day early, i don’t know how people are twisting this into being your fault. it’s not your fault. idiot guests, and airbnb giving them check in details the day before arrival is the bigger flaw.

this is a messy situation but hopefully a singular event.

in 2018 we stayed in a nice hotel in SF and after check out (late afternoon) DH realised he hadn’t emptied the safe (so our laptop, ipad, passports were still in there). We went back to the hotel and they gave him a room key to go and retrieve our items, and another guest had checked in, and was in the room. Husband explained what he was doing, did it quickly before any objections could happen, and left. (I might mention my 6’2" south african husband is no meek lamb)
clearly the hotel staff didn’t check properly to allow this to happen, but i’m sharing cos these things happen from time to time, no need to “boycott hotels in San Francisco” or whatever hardline some posters want to take. geez.

I have only one had a guest fail to check out cos he thought he had booked for 2 nights, and he had received a checkout msg, in theory. (i’m still not sure if he was chancing it, or just an idiot)

My pre-arrival message 2 days before arrival includes the arrival date. frankly a guest who turns up early is just a complete idiot because between me and airbnb i know they are receiving numerous emails about their bookings. We hosts CANNOT be expected to put up systems even for the most stupid, and certainly you shouldn’t berate the host when this stuff happens. @Deacon

1 Like

I don’t have the complication of complex code changes since I have a homeshare, use keys, and often leave the door open for guests in my very safe community. In over a decade I have had one guest arrive a day early. She came in the door at almost the same time as the legitimate guest. We lucked out in having another room available. I smoothly asked her to step in to the other room, explained her error and offered her the other room which she took. The guest with the correct date never knew. People are less apt to mix up day of the week with dates. When I message people I mention that we look forward to their arrival on Mon or Tues, etc. If I suspect that they are not reading their Airbnb thread I text their phone. I’ve intercepted a few erroneous reservations this way and fortunately been able to juggle them to keep everyone happy.


After a few years of hosting with no issues with guests arriving a day early, this has happened TWICE in the past few weeks. The first time, the early birds tried to enter the house while the legitimate guests were away. The second time (yesterday), the early birds knocked on the door and told the legitimate guests that the house was supposed to be theirs.

We assign individual timed key codes with each new guest, so no one is able to enter the house before check-in, but it was definitely unnerving for our guests to have someone knocking on the door saying the legitimate guests were not supposed to be there. Luckily, legitimate guest quickly called me and I shooed the early birds away once I figured it out. I’m sure it left a bad taste in the mouth for both parties, so we will see if reviews reflect that.

I thought about adding the check in date to the message I send a few days in advance, but it seems like (1) another opportunity for ME to make a mistake; (2) overkill; and (3) unlikely to be read by the guests who most likely need to read it.

Interested in if others are dealing with this recently (I realize this is an old message thread) and if so, how you are proactively handling it.

Each of our scheduled messages (I often edit these), from the confirmation message to the day-before message, use short codes to state the check-in date and time, the check-out date and time and the number of guests in the reservation. So, no possibility of error assuming the Airbnb system works correctly, which so far it has.