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Taking the definition of "flexible check-in time" a little far

Had someone book for their visiting parents who were coming into town on a redeye flight. When I sent them the check-in instructions (that stated they could check-in anytime after 2pm [my default]) she was very upset because the flight arrived at 8am and thought they could show up right away since the listing states check-in is “flexible.” As I (unfortunately) didn’t have anyone booked for the night before, I said it was fine in this case, but explained that for future reference most people don’t checkout and leave enough time for cleaning by 8am! To top it off, they then showed up before 7am and accidentally tried to enter the main house and not the rental unit (sometimes happens when people don’t read the instructions carefully).

Third party bookings aren’t supported by Airbnb. You’ll have fewer issues if you follow policies.

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Whew! There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, a third party booking is technically against Airbnb’s policy (assuming this is the platform you’re using). If I knowingly have someone attempt to make a reservation on behalf of someone else, I send them the following link from Air’s website: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/427/can-i-book-on-behalf-of-a-friend-or-family-member
I’m a newer host so I don’t claim to be an expert but this is important because from my understanding, you are not covered by Air’s insurance or host protection policies if you knowingly host a third party booking.

IMO, it’s the guests’ own negligence for not realizing your check in time until the day of. 2pm is already very early, even for hotels.

This is my personal “policy” for guests that request early check in (normal time is 3pm); they can check in one hour early for no additional charge, but I request a convenience fee (typically $25) if they want to come any earlier than that. I ask that guests request an early check in or check out at least 24 hours in advance. If they are springing early arrival on you like this, you can easily tell them the space is being cleaned (how would they know that’s not true?).

I’m not sure how guests access your space but we have a keypad with a code. The four digit code is always the last four digits of the phone number associated with the reservation. We don’t set this code until just before check in time, and keep the door locked with the deadbolt otherwise. You may want to explore different entry options so that you don’t deal with guests arriving when they are not authorized to.

Again, I’m new to this so not a huge expert yet, but that’s my two cents. Hopefully the guests are smooth sailing from here on out!

Thanks for the handy link. Didn’t realize I was outside the insurance “rules” for Airbnb, let’s hope they don’t break anything. The early check-in itself wasn’t actually much of a problem, you just gotta wonder what people are thinking when they make these assumptions.

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I changed my check-in times from “flexible” to 3pm-2am for just this reason.

“Flexible” is just too vague and some people will abuse it. I’ve found it easier to give specific times and allow exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

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What do you specify in your listing for check-in?

Under Listing–>Availability–>Check-in and checkout, you can specify a check-in windows. There is a “Check-in start time” and “Check-in end time” it really isn’t wise to specify “Flexible” for both of those.

I specify

  • Check-in start time: 3pm
  • Check-in end time: Flexible

And it shows up in my listing as “Check-in: After 3pm”

It sounds like you want something similar except 2pm.

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The Host Guarantee is NOT insurance. If you want real insurance, you need to get short term rental insurance, but be wary of mentioning this to the agent that does your regular house insurance because a query to some insurance companies could result in cancellation of your home insurance policy. Search in the forum for threads about STR insurance.

Sorry but that’s a very naive comment. I know that you’re relatively new to the forum but I hope that you’ve read enough to know that there’s really no such thing as Airbnb insurance for ‘if they break anything’. For major damages, you’ll have to claim on your own STR insurance. It depends on your policy when it comes to evaluating what the deductible is.

This is the other problem with third party bookings- the guests who arrive have likely not read anything about your listing if it was booked for them by someone else- not the check-in time, not the house rules, not how or where to check in, etc. They may even arrive thinking they have an entire house to themselves, when it may just be a private room or a suite in the host’s home. You’d think the person who booked it would pass all the info on to the guests, but it seems they seldom do.

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My response will probably stray a bit from others, but my strategies have worked well for me.
I sometimes take third-party bookings, with transparency to the guest. I have had lots of folks who live in the area book my listing for their visiting parents (I am right near a college, and many young professionals live in the area but don’t have the space to host family in their own apartments). I am clear with them about the rules, and make sure that the booker knows to pass along my contact info and other instructions.

If I have, say, a friend trying to book a place for a friend, or anything seems even a little bit “off” in the first interactions, I let the booker know that I can’t accept the booking due to Airbnb T&C and recommend that their friend/whoever makes their own account.

This check-in issue had me rolling my eyes - I’ve been there!!
Whenever I get a last-minute request to check-in early, “Our flight lands at 7am we will be at your house at 8:30 can we check in then?”
No. There are guests here. Your check-in time is 1pm, and the space will be ready for you at that time.
“Ok can we just leave our luggage??”
You may leave your bags in the front entryway anytime after 10am. Again, there are guests in the space and safety and comfort have to be considered.

Whenever I get more push-back about early check-in I gently remind guests that last-minute early-check in isn’t always in the cards, as key coordination requires planning. Additionally, 1pm is a very early check-in time, and I can let them know if the space is ready for them before that time.
I like your early check-in time of 2pm! I’ve found guests really like being able to get in and settled early, especially when the majority of check-in times in my area are after 3pm.

I’m super flexible. Early check in is always available here. The guest only needs to book the night prior. LOL.

Really it’s not about how flexible the host is, it’s about how much extra the guest thinks they should get for no extra charge. Hotels generally have bag drop off in the early morning at “no charge” they are just more expensive.

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This had me chuckling. But I do agree with this - sometimes a host being flexible or hospitable isn’t the real issue at hand.

For me, early check-in can come down to safety (as that’s another group who has a access to the home), schedule coordination (as either me or my cohost have to coordinate making keys available for them and/or greeting them ourselves), and value.

You want to drop your bags an hour early? Sure thing, I can probably make that happen.
Day of your arrival, you demand to have access to a private home 5hrs before the check-in time you agreed to? Nahhhh, sorry. Check out BagBnB.com.

That’s amazing!!! I had no idea that existed. I’ll definitely be sharing this with guests if they ask about early check in.

@lauren_g I was so happy to find this! I don’t like saying a full No to a request without an alternative option.
I’ve use it also for guests who want to leave their luggage after-check out, which I am usually flexible about. But if a group requests to leave their bags until like, 8pm because they have a late flight (…no, guys) it’s great to recommend this option. They seem to have really central locations, too - I’ve never used it but I know guests have taken the recommendation!

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