With Airbnb now a lucrative income stream, hosts are having to think and act with business heads on to compete in a market where exceptional customer service is now the norm. Meanwhile these same hosts are also looking to manage their short-term lets with maximum efficiency – and one way that they are attempting to strike this balance is by fine-tuning the check-in process.
It is a commercial truism that competition drives up standards, and one sector that demonstrates this maxim better than most is the burgeoning business of short-term property lets.
When home-sharing first took off in the form of couch-surfing in the late 1990s, its nascent economy was driven by social as much as monetary currency. Arranged informally through websites like CraigsList and Courchsurfing.com, budget travellers would turn up at your home expecting nothing more than the use of your sofa for a few nights.
How far we’ve come. Today there are more than 170,000 active Airbnb listings in the UK alone, with everything from basic studio flats through to multi-bedroom palatial homes on offer. As a result hosts are having to be ever-more imaginative, both in their efforts to stand out from the crowd and in how they manage the logistics of short-term letting.
One aspect of short-lets that is rapidly evolving is the check-in process, with hosts increasingly making use of smart technology and creative thinking to enhance the arrival experience for guests.
Check-in is the first impression your guests have of their stay, and research suggests it plays a key role in whether you receive positive reviews. Meanwhile as a host, having to conduct regular meet-and-greets can be a real drain on your time. Many have turned to Airbnb management agencies as the solution, while for others, the addition of a check-in instructions tool to the Airbnb app which lets you include a step-by-step guide on how to get to your home and what to look for when they arrive, has been gratefully received.
If you’re a host and are keen to manage your lets in a time- and cost-efficient way, while also giving your ratings a boost, here are five ways you can optimise the Airbnb check-in process for your guests:
- Keep them on the right track – Doing everything you can to help guests find your home is a sure-fire way to earn instant gratitude. As well as using the Airbnb check-in instructions tool, you can also contact them directly by sending them useful information such as directions from the nearest train station, GPS coordinates for drivers, and descriptions of your entranceway. To save time, you can even create a one-time PDF that can then be resent to all future guests.
- Devolve check-in to guests – Key lockboxes allow guests to check in themselves 24 hours a day, with no need for someone to meet them on-site to hand-over keys. But now an even more convenient option is available in the shape of smart locks. Klevio’s digital keys allow you to let guests in remotely from your phone, or you can send guests their own time-limited keys so they can let themselves in from their own phones. By eliminating the need for physical keys, this kind of smart lock check-in can save you time and money on meet-and-greets, as well as on the perennial hassle of replacing lost or stolen keys.
- Provide a warm welcome -In an effort to replicate the luxury hospitality sector, hosts can create a Welcome Pack for their guests. This would typically include practical information about their home, such as appliance instructions, Wi-Fi passwords and check-out times, as well as tips about where to go and what to see in the local area. As with our directions advice above, this can be be created as a one-off document that can then be distributed to all future guests.
- Sprinkle some small touches – Another way that hosts can mimic high-end hotels is by leaving some snacks and other treats for your guests to discover on their arrival – a gesture that is always well appreciated after a long journey. This could be anything from biscuits and mineral water to a box of posh chocolates and a bottle of Prosecco. If you’re worried about this eating into your rental income, you could even build some of the cost into the nightly price you charge.
- Don’t be a stranger – After your guest has checked-in it’s probably wise to give them some breathing space to settle in, but there’s no harm in dropping them a quick message the next day to check if everything’s ok, and to remind them that you’re available if they need anything. It’s these kind of gestures that can make guests feel that their host genuinely cares about their experience – and it’ll go a long way to landing you a stellar review.
If you’re an Airbnb host and have any tips on how to enhance the guest experience while making hosting easier and more efficient, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise we’ll keep them to ourselves!