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Best Airbnb Self Check-in Processes | Automated Airbnb Checkin

Best Airbnb Self Check-in Processes | Automated Airbnb Checkin

As automation gains further traction in the Airbnb hosting world, self check-in by guests is slowly but surely becoming de rigueur. With the pandemic in particular having given hosts with self check-in an added advantage, the option is increasingly becoming a sought after feature by guests.

8 Best Airbnb Self Check-in Processes

  1. Check-in with a message
  2. Provide detailed instructions
  3. Check on the lock
  4. Turn on a light
  5. Welcome with a flair
  6. Remain contactable
  7. Checkup on your guests
  8. Have a backup plan

What is Airbnb Self Check-in?

When a guest is able to check in to an Airbnb property without needing the host to be there, it is known as self check-in. Hosts have a variety of tools to allow guests to easily gain access to the Airbnb at any time after their designated check-in time. These include key lockboxes, smart locks, and key exchanges. There is also the old-fashioned option of leaving a key with a front desk attendant (when in the case of an apartment building for instance).

Why You Should Use Airbnb Self Check-in?

There advantages of using Airbnb Self Check-in are many:

Saves Time

Because guests don’t have to wait around, luggage in tow, for hosts to grab keys and then show them around, they get to check-in and make themselves feel at home almost immediately. And because hosts don’t have to wait for guests to turn up to check them in, they save on their time too.

Skips the Hassle

As long as guests arrive after the designated check-in time they are not forced to change plans to fit the host’s schedule while hosts don’t have to adjust their schedule to fit guests’ arrival times, freeing both parties.

Eliminates the Stress

Delays and miscommunication about arrival times are inevitable, even on the part of the best guests and hosts. Self check-in prevents this from being a problem to the other party, eliminating the stress of delays and mistimed arrivals.

Creates a Good First Impression

Because neither party is expected to put their plans on hold or adhere to the other’s schedule or whims, self check-in inevitably leads to a great first impression.

Shows Trust

Self check-in leaves guests with the feeling that their hosts trust them with the safety of their belongings and property. This not only improves their experience but inspires them to take better care of your Airbnb vacation rental.

Provides Privacy

Not all guests appreciate a welcome routine, particularly when they are tired from all the traveling to get to the Airbnb. Most appreciate the privacy of checking in to the property they’ve booked unaccompanied rather than a hovering host.

Enhances Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic brought vacation rental safety to the forefront. Self check-in allows guests to eliminate host interaction during check-in improving safety and hygiene.

Caters to Last Minute Bookings

Because hosts don’t have to be there in person, property managers can be more flexible in accepting last minute bookings, provided the vacation rentals have been cleaned.

Markets to Business Travelers

If you provide high speed wi-fi and laptop friendly workspaces, the addition of self check-in will enable you to attract business travelers both local and international. Business travelers in particular will appreciate the time, hassle, and stress that is removed when they can check in on their own.

Earns more

All these can lead to better reviews, more stars, and higher Airbnb ranking which means you increase occupancy and revenue.

Airbnb Self Check-in Tool

How do Self Check-in Tools Work?


A lockbox is like a safety deposit box for the keys to your Airbnb, except guests punch in a code to open it and retrieve the key rather than the other way round. There are different types of lock boxes: dial lockboxes, wheel lockboxes, keypad lockboxes, etc. Lockboxes are easy to install but only safe if you keep resetting the code between guests.

Find out how you can purchase, install, and safeguard an Airbnb Lockbox for ease of use and maximum security.

Smart Lock

Unlike lockboxes, smart locks bypass the need for keys altogether. They can be attached to an existing lock or replace it. They are wi-fi and bluetooth enabled and open with the guest’s smartphone. Others open with a unique password that you generate and send to each new guest.

Some smart locks can directly integrate with your property management system and even other tools. For example, TTLock, SALTO, Akiles, Mondise, and Nuki seamlessly integrate with the Hostaway system, providing you full control.

Key Exchange Service

A key exchange service is when the provider holds the keys for the guests on behalf of the host. Keycafe for example has key exchange locations across the world where guests can access and drop off their keys at their convenience without the need for hosts to be present.

How does Self Check-in Work on Airbnb?

Adding self check-in to your Airbnb listing is easy.

  1. Log into Airbnb
  2. Select your listing
  3. Under ‘Listing Details’, go to ‘Guest Resources’
  4. Under ‘Check-in Instructions’ click ‘Edit’
  5. Select your chosen method of self check-in
  6. Provide instructions for guests on your self check-in process. Consider including pictures for each step of the process to make it easier to follow.

How to Ensure a Smooth Self Check-in Process?

To reap the full benefits of a self check-in process, you need to make sure the process is a smooth one.

1. Check-in with a Message

Airbnb only sends guests instructions on checking in just 3 days before check-in. This however is not ideal as it may not get read in the rush to travel. To ensure guests are prepared for your self check-in process, send them a check-in message on the morning of their arrival so the necessary information is at hand at the right time. With Hostaway’s automated messaging feature you can automate the sending of check-in messages to your guests at a set time.

2. Detailed Instructions

Because you don’t give your guests a tour of your Airbnb vacation rental, you need to ensure guests receive the information they need by other means. This is where a house manual comes in handy. A comprehensive, easy to understand house manual will answer all your guest’s questions from what the wi-fi password is to how to use the coffee machine. Add the house manual to your Airbnb listing and it will send it to your guests once their reservation is confirmed. It is better to send it to your guests on your own accord along with a welcome letter and leave a printed copy in your vacation rental.

3. Working Locks

Make sure your lockbox or smart lock is fully charged and working beforehand. This prevents guests arriving at the property and not being able to let themselves in.

4. Turn On a Light

If your guests are set to arrive in the late evening or night remember to keep a light on. Not only will guests be able to see adequately to let themselves in but appreciate your thoughtful gesture.

5. Welcome with a Flair

Just because you are not around doesn’t mean you can’t welcome your guests with a personal touch. Consider a welcome basket with a hand written note welcoming your guests. Make sure the welcome basket reflects the theme of your Airbnb and/or adds value to your guests’ experience.

6. Remain Contactable

No matter how great your instructions, there will always be those rare guests who simply can’t get the hang of punching in the code. Make sure you are contactable by phone so guests can call for help/support.

7. Check Up On Your Guests

Send your guests a message checking up on them the morning after the day they checked in. This is not too intrusive to guests who don’t want to be bothered while pre-empting any minor issues from growing into issues that lead to negative reviews. Hostaway’s automated messaging feature will allow you to do this without having to tap a finger.

8. Have a Backup Plan

The beauty of self check-in is that you are not required to remain on the property until your guest arrives (particularly if they are late) saving you time and effort that can be better spent on other tasks running your Airbnb business. This also means that you may not be close at hand to the property in the rare and unfortunate case of something going wrong. Even if you live in an adjoining property, it does not necessarily mean you will be present when the guest checks in. Make sure you have a backup plan in case something goes wrong so you or a trusted party can arrive soon to fix the problem.

Key Takeaway

Self check-in can be great for guests and even better for hosts, saving them time, hassle, and even profit in the long run. Always remember however to take security very seriously, updating codes and combinations between stays. Even the nicest guests may inadvertently put your Airbnb in danger by losing the piece of paper they wrote the code or combination on.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!