The future of face to face hosting and self check in

I am too new in the STR business to know the answers to some of these questions…I am disappointed that I rarely get to meet my guests because of covid. We have smart locks, smart phones, I pads and I text alot. I have a stand alone STR so I know this doesn’t apply to many who rent part of their homes, but do you miss meeting your guests?Do most of you believe this will be the new standard in the future?Will the convenience and anonymity of the smart lock be preferred by our guests to the charm and warmth of a real host? Just wondering…

Yes, I think this is the future. Even if there was a cure tomorrow this host is changing his ways. No more shaking hands, masks likely the rest of my life.

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Eventually this pandemic will end via vaccine/herd immunity/treatments. Things will return to normal-ish. Maybe we won’t hug as much or our chairs will be a bit further apart from strangers. Maybe you won’t do the tour inside the house but you’ll chat on the porch awhile. I had some repeat guests who have become friends and we just visited outside on the porch about 12 ft apart for an hour or two.

Smart locks have their own benefits and aren’t related to meeting, warmth or charm.


@Mountainhost If meeting and greeting is part of your hosting routine which you enjoy, I don’t see any reason you can’t continue to do that with a mask and distancing. It might even be reassuring to guests to see that you take the virus seriously, so would be conscientious about the cleaning.


We will never do self check-in and they (masked) are getting an intro by me, masked.


If we start hosting again, which is possible when/if we’re vaccinated, we wouldn’t do self check-in, either. When our rooms are open (they’re not now), we house-share with our guests. We do have digital locks, but we’re always here to meet guests. The only exception is when a guest has been here multiple times. We don’t have to be here to check those guests in.

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I have never met my guests. Guests check in and use the lock box. I don’t mind not meeting them. When I travel I also like using the lockbox and prefer not to meet the host. I just want to get into the space, shower and unpack. I’m assuming many guests feel the same way.


To each his own; everyone has their own style. You set the tone in your initial, written interactions with your guests. Those that prefer Instant Book, no interaction, and are put off by a host’s questions would immediately disregard my listing. I insist upon interaction as I believe this is what has prevented misunderstandings and enabled us to get off to a glitch free start. Otherwise we would have had back to back teenage beach bashes, wedding receptions, & after prom parties galore. I send my guests a virtual walkthrough, allow self-checkin, but maintain a presence and do interact at a distance, allowing the guest to set the tone. Most of our guests have reached out to us, invited us to meals, etc.


Everyone has their own style.

I personally will always meet our guests, and serve them, masked. At least until I can get a reliable vaccine.

My partner and I are NOT in this just to make money. We do this, in part to meet and get to know people from all walks of life and parts of the planet. We’ve had guests from Vanuatu (they were blow away that I not only knew where it was, but had been there) on the other side of the globe, as well as people from the next town over – and everywhere in between.

If we can’t meet and greet and chat with guests we’ll get out of the “game”.

If I wanted to be a soul-less hotelier (no longer in the hospitality business, just a vendor of sleeping space) I would buy shares in Marriott or another chrome-and-glass business.


Interesting, especially in light of the current times. Can you explain this process in a little more detail?

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Food for thought. I may put a mask on and knock on the door this weekend. Thank you all for the input. Such a variety of responses and styles. That is great, I think.

I do think smart locks to some guests equate to “we don’t have to meet the host” and that some of our guests really prefer not to meet the host. The ability to converse easily is a lost art. I meet people all the time who have difficulty with this. So I disagree, for some people smart lock = distancing.


I read an article that said they’d done a survey and that 80% of teenagers said they preferred texting with their friends to talking to them in person. Quite sad.


I always meet and greet (except when guests are arriving at a daft time like 3 am or something) and I don’t have a problem doing so now but with masks in place and with social distancing. Handshakes are out, of course.

I firmly believe - but I know that many hosts don’t - that it’s good to establish a personal relationship with guests. A debatable point I know, but I do feel that a good guest/host relationship is better all round.


I am a bit conflicted during this time of change. I have always been conflicted when I read the different viewpoints expressed herein, such as the one expressed by Ritz3, thinking that most guests don’t want to be bothered with face to face interaction. I have always been like jaquo, meeting and greeting to establish a relationship, for the twofold purpose of protecting my property and also expanding my personal horizons.

I have always had self-check in but I also usually greeted the guest if the hour was not late. Lately, however, since the virus, I have been sending a note stating that unless they specifically request otherwise, I will not be giving in person walk-throughs or greeting them in person. The thing is, I usually end up having to meet them, eventually, because something comes up (they can’t find something, or a tripped circuit breaker) so the whole point of avoiding contact goes out the window. I’m trying to get a feel for whether or not the guests prefer no contact, as Ritz3 contends, or if the personal touch and walkthrough that I have traditionally given is something I will need to reboot masked and distanced, somehow.

Depending on whether it is a direct or OTA booking I may send a pdf file, powerpoint presentation, or a link to one. I always have the link in my Welcome Packet that I send a week before they arrive and I include a paragraph encouraging them to check it out. I also have a Facebook page with a virtual walkthrough album they could look at (if direct). It is really necessary as the apartment is quite large and a little daunting to navigate.

UPDATE: Oh, shoot, it’s happened, again: I was determined to keep my distance and try out Ritz3’s theory that guests don’t want interaction. I had pushed all my porch furniture to the wall in anticipation of a storm, but seeing that the weather was good, and my guests were likely to head for the porch, I was trying to get out there and put it in order. They caught me, and hollered for me to come down and say hello (it’s a long porch). Such a nice visit!


Our positive reviews often mention our warm personal greeting and thorough orientation to the space. We have a homeshare in a 200 year old house so there are many eccentricities to explain. It saves the need for lots of signs. We are sensitive to weary travelers and often greet and tell them to let us know when they are settled and would like to hear more about how things work in the house. Repeat travelers can check themselves in. We have been closed during COVID and are high risk. When there are vaccines and treatments we will re-open as before if we haven’t sold our house.


I’m in the position of having done Airbnb two ways but in the same house. I think it makes for a good comparison, at least for my market. I started with the original model in 2014. Guests came into my home through the front door and stayed in the guest room. They used the bathroom across the hall and were welcome to use the kitchen, back patio, laundry, etc.

I had to add a lock box for late arrivals within weeks as many guests were on long cross country drives and arrived well past my bedtime. Since I also did dog boarding in my home guests had to be greeted and shown their room or I had to be completely put away in my room with the dogs and the door shut. In 2016 I added to the front of my home to give the guests their own bathroom and entrance. The traffic at my rental doubled. If I was here and up when guests arrived I always tried to go greet them and was even letting them in the room and giving a little in person orientation but it seemed that most guests weren’t interested.

This is for my kind of rental which is a pit stop on a road trip for most. Many guests have driven 12 hours by the time they stop here. Guests who are here to visit family or the very rare ones who are spending some time visiting the area are more likely to spend some time chatting. For my rental it’s crystal clear to me that a majority of guests don’t want to meet me or chat. Those that do will text or call me and I can meet them on the porch and chat. I used to have it on my listing that if guests wanted to come in and meet the dogs that are here, they could. Now the dog business is a fraction of what it was previously and I don’t really want possible virus shedders in my home or even in the yard touching the dogs.

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There is that old saying that those that cannot adapt and change rapidly do not survive , but I am surprised and not thrilled with how rapidly the changes have come for those in the STR business and how expensive some of these adaptations are. Smart locks, high speed internet, smart TV, extra cleaning supplies and disinfectants, hand sanitizers, gloves, masks, to name a few…

I agree with it I’m afraid. Mainly because it’s true. :slight_smile:

Also, because we have to adapt as we don’t have much choice…

Actually, it’s not unsafe. For them. If you wear a mask. If they are not wearing masks, then it is unsafe for you. Did you make a house rule that the guests must wear masks?

I’m mentioning it for the general good. It seems that a lot of people believe that their mask is protecting them and unless it’s a N-95 or more, it’s really not. It protects people around you, not you. That’s why everyone has to wear them for it to work. Personally, I’ve lost faith in my neighbors and fellow citizens and am now always wearing an N-95 if I go out my front door :disappointed_relieved: :mask:

Also, the recommendation is social distancing and mask wearing. You are safest with both.

And watch for those folks wearing bandanas, because bandanas are the least effective. Also watch out for anyone wearing a mask with a ventilation valve. They are ventilating all of their air onto you, covid and all. Masks with ventilation valves are really to protect only the user from sawdust and such, they are for woodshop, etc.