Why don't guests read my self check-in guide?

This drives me crazy. I have self check-in as the only option, as I leave for work immediately after changing the room over from the last guest. I have a detailed self check-in guide with photos and step by step instructions for getting the front door key from the lockbox, which unit in the building the guest room is in, and the door code to the unit. After having a guest tell me that she didn’t receive the guide, I searched Airbnb guests help to find exactly where the guide is and copy/pasted the instructions for locating it into a message to her.

Since then, I’ve always messaged every guest the day before their trip asking if they received the check-in guide, and have made sure that they know where to find it in the app. However, on multiple occasions guests have confirmed that they received the guide, and then call me the next day: “I’m here but I can’t get in, the front door is locked.” I respond, “Did you get the key out of the lockbox?” and they act utterly confused, and I have to interrupt whatever I’m doing at work to walk them through check-in.

Is this just me?? Is the check-in guide for a current reservation not featured prominently in the guest interface? How do I make my guests actually read the guide???

Ah, the million dollar question…“how do I make guests read…”


If you figure it out - please patent it!


Actually, I’m being funny, but I always send check in instructions via messages before they check in. The only real complication is that we have a keypad. I find it to be totally intuitive, but I send instructions on how to use it AND have instructions posted on the door and people still have trouble with it. They app eventually figure it out without calling, but it sometimes takes them a few minutes to key in their 4 digit code, press unlock, and open the door.

It would be great if hosts could get out of the habit of playing the ‘guests don’t read’ card at every opportunity.

As @KKC says, guests don’t read. We know this. Kids don’t read, we know this too. And there’s plenty of evidence on this very forum that hosts don’t read either. They ask questions and the answers are freely available in the Airbnb help pages, or even on the pop up they had to agree to when they joined. (You know, the one with the ‘I agree’ button that everyone presses without reading a word.)

We have to accept that people don’t read. We really can’t run our businesses by expecting to email PDFs, directions, self check in instructions and so on - we live in a digital world but people need more than that - they need friendly communication and - dare I say it? - service.

It would be lovely to think that we could run our accommodation businesses like robots - programming instructions and house rules - and never need personal interaction. But I doubt it will happen in MY lifetime!


True, even hosts don’t read! I once didn’t read as a guest. In my defense, the unusually late check-in time wasn’t mentioned at any point in the description, or any specific check-in and out slots, but as an experienced host I should’ve inquired about it BEFORE, not after the reservation. I was so angry with myself after figuring it out. Although I did mention it to my host, who was btw also a superhost, that she should mention something about her work schedule and usual check-in availability in her description, and not wait for guests to ask about it. In the private feedback, of course! :smiley:


The other night my guests couldn’t get in. Their mistake. They tried to message me via the app and it said message not sent. In this case, Airbnb was down. But it could be my internet at any given moment. They finally rang the doorbell. And if the power had been off they could knock. And either of those will set the dogs off. But it you aren’t around for those things to work then…prepare for a bad review. Remote hosts can work, lots of people do it. But you’re going to have more issues.

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Maybe the magic number is 3 (or 4 or 5)… I provide condo location, gate & entry codes:

  1. email with an attachment of directions (private road in neighborhood not on gps)
  2. in the body of the email
  3. via airbnb inbox
  4. In the Airbnb listing information which is also
  5. included in their guest itinerary,
  6. Day of check in after they text me their estimated arrival time, I text the access information

90% of the time, it works (guest feedback is they appreciated the day of check in text. - maybe providing the information closer to the time it is needed is the key)

10% They call—“we’re at the gate. How do we get in?” The next call is “which condo is it?”

When I first started, I provided the information 1 time & in the listing. At least 50% of the guests called me from the gate.


That’s a great example. I’ve seen it often with our neighbours. They want to automate their rental as much as possible. (They use Homeaway and others, not Airbnb).

Almost always, their guests can’t access the apartment. It’s an iPhone app but so many guests have older phones. Quite a disaster.

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Sheesh, I just had one of those depart today. They read just enough to get themselves mostly to your door. When the first message was “I think I am here but I can’t find the parking lot” I knew I was in for a fun night…


This is why robots will never take over.


If they were your friends and you had provided them with instructions on how to access your apartment while you were at work and they still rang you what would you say: “I emailed you the bloody instructions! What do you think this is? An AirBnB!” or " Welcome to Chez Moi! Have you got to the door yet or still waiting at the gate? etc". Least that’s what I tell myself when they phone me from the front gate asking where they can park (hint: look at the long empty driveway leading up to the house and multiple instructions to park there. So :grinning:)

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Why don’t you just fill in the self-check info, on your listing and then Airbnb provides this to the guest separately the day before they arrive?

You can’t expect all guests to read the guide. Far easier for them and you if they receive just this key information separately through Airbnb.

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What? I said I have filled this out and they call me rather than reading it.

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Sorry it wasn’t clear in your post.

You said you had developed a ‘detailed self check in guide’ not that you were using Airbnb’s Self Check in option. I didn’t realise they were one and the same thing.

All I can suggest is keep it short and simple. Try a numbered list in chronological order of when they’ll need it. Use bold and/or underline to highlight main points.
1. Get key from lock box. The box is located…

I’ve created a short YouTube video explaining self-check-in at my rental bungalow. To date, I’ve never had a problem getting guests to view it (disclaimer: only a handful of my guests do self-check-in).

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Hi John. Nice video. I’d like to make you aware that this forum is public and thousands of people lurk here every day. I’m not sure if you want the information like your house number and how to get into the bungalow out there on the interwebz.

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Same. And I require guests to demonstrate that they have at least skimmed over the video by putting an Easter egg (hidden phrase) in the surrounding text that they must send to me to get the door code.

I’m really interested in this subject/phenomenon of people not reading, and I have been reading every post with interest, hoping to learn something about reading habits. Oddly enough, despite my keen interest, once I got to this list, I skipped straight past it! I saw ‘1. email with pdf attachment’ and went straight to the next post. What chance have we got with holiday makers who may have spent the entire trip battling with satnavs and just want to get in and put the kettle on?