As a vacation home owner, checking in guests is one of my favorite things to do. Although my property manager greets his fair share of guests, I try to do it myself as often as I can. I like doing check-ins because I get to meet my guests for the first time and learn more about why they’re visiting. I also think personally presenting the keys to my guests and showing them around provides an experience that will keep guests coming back. In all, guest check-ins are a great way to learn about my guests and be assured that they will take care of my property.
But, admittedly, there are times when checking in guests is a major pain. My property manager and I have spent hours waiting for guests whose flights are delayed or who are stuck in traffic.
Even when things go according to schedule, sometimes guests’ arrival times just aren’t convenient. I’ve had guests plan to arrive in the wee hours of the morning. While my property manager and I are usually happy to meet guests, we aren’t too keen on waking up at 3 AM to do so.
There is a simple solution to the check-in issues homeowners and Airbnb property managers face -- checking in guests without actually being there. The concern here, of course, is ensuring your home is secure and that guests feel comfortable letting themselves in. There are different methods for doing this, each with different stages of security and control. Let’s take a look at your options to see what kind of solution is right for you.
Checking in Airbnb Guests Without Being There: Hiding the Keys
Photo credit: www.blog.geozilla.com
Hosts have shared that they use an old method that works, but it isn’t the most secure, and that’s hiding the door keys. They can be placed under the doormat, in a flowerpot, or hidden behind a ledge, for example.
This method is reserved for the bravest of hosts, who are willing to take the risk that anyone (even those with ill intentions) can also locate the keys to your property and enter easily. Of course, it is convenient for you as the host and lets you do away with having to be there during check-in.
The Next Stage in Secure Guest Check-in: Using a Lockbox
Photo credit: www.lockboxforkeys.com
Lockboxes are quite common in countries like Japan and Australia. Essentially, you secure your lockbox to a door handle or railing and keep your keys inside. You manually set a PIN code, which you give to your guests so that they can use it to unlock the lockbox.
Sounds straightforward enough. In terms of security, this is an improvement over hiding keys. Also, lockboxes are pretty low cost.
But lockboxes are not the perfect solution either. What often happens is that during checkout, guests punch in the code for the lockbox and then place the keys back in it. They then close the lockbox without clearing the code. This means that your supposedly secure PIN code is still shown on the lockbox, in plain sight for everyone else to see. It ends up practically announcing to the world that your keys are free to take.
Also, PIN codes need to be manually set on the lockbox, and if you don’t visit your property frequently, you may end up having to use the same PIN code for many visitors. If a previous guests decide they want to enter your property again, they simply use the PIN code you had given to them in the past.
Taking Lockboxes to the Next Level: The Smart Keybox
Photo credit: igloohome
To keep your property safe, time-sensitive PIN codes are the way to go. PIN codes that are valid for specific durations, such as 24 hours, or three days, or two weeks, free you from worrying about unwanted guests in future.
The igloohome Smart Keybox lets you create time-sensitive PIN codes or bluetooth keys via a mobile app. Because granting of access can be done from your smartphone, you could let guests in even when you’re on the other side of the world.
There are even access logs that show when bluetooth keys are used to unlock the Keybox, so you have a record of the exact date and time at which a guest has retrieved the keys.
While the price tag of the Keybox may be higher than that of a conventional lockbox, the convenience and peace of mind it brings the host more than justifies the amount that you’re paying for it.
Because igloohome is a preferred partner of Airbnb, you can choose whether you would like full automation of check-in at a small fee each month. This means that when a guest makes a reservation on your Airbnb listing, a PIN code valid for their duration of stay is created and sent directly to him or her. So there is no need for the host or property manager to even lift a finger for check-in, and it makes the process seamless for everyone.
Perfecting the Check-in Process
Check-in is the first contact your guest has with your property and it sets the tone of their stay. If you’re like me, you may prefer to do check-in yourself whenever possible, with your property manager being a close second choice when you can’t do it.
But sometimes, it’s just not possible or convenient to have someone there. Or, maybe you prefer to just streamline the process and never do personal check-ins. When that’s the case, it’s nice to know there is technology available that top Airbnb property management firms and homeowners are turning to as a way to ensure an enjoyable and secure check-in experience.
Check-in service is just one of many things you as a vacation rental property owner needs to worry about. That’s why it’s often best to work with a professional property management firm who can handle everything from booking to guest check-ins to managing your Smart Keybox. If you don’t have an Airbnb property manager yet, get started by creating a free profile on Rented.com. Once you do that, local property managers in your area can bid for your business, allowing you to compare and choose the one that best fits your needs. Visit Rented.com today.
Lead image: Flickr CC user Johan Larsson