Guest check-in is a very important aspect of hosting, and I have to say that it’s quite difficult to get right. A few years ago, I would have wondered, “What’s so difficult about showing a guest to their room?” But if my hosting experience has taught me anything, it is that drafting great check-in instructions is an extremely delicate business and entails much more.
It begs the following questions:
- How will guests find my place?
- How do I give guests access to my place?
- What of parking instructions?
- How will guests locate the particular room they booked once inside the house?
- Do guests know how to operate the thermostat or TV?
- Do guest know where to locate certain amenities or supplies in my place?
- How can I help my guests find nearby facilities, attractions, and activities?
The questions go on and on. You might think that some of them have no place in your check-in instructions, but the goal here is to minimize how often a guest has to reach out to you asking for information.
And I have a formula that is tested and proven.
First, Get Your Content Ready
Your content, in this case, means all the information you believe your guests will ever need. You can present such info in three ways.
This includes important documents like:
- Your house rules
- Tenancy agreement
- House manual
- A list of nearby facilities and activities and their driving distances. In order words, a guest book.
- Answers to frequently asked questions like can I check in early or check out late? Can I have visitors over? Do you allow pet or smoking? And more questions.
- Parking info. Example, where can guests park? Do they need a permit? Do you provide permits?
- How to unlock the door or turn off the alarm.
- And more.
Sometimes text isn’t enough or is just too tiring to read. So you might want to make short videos showing guests how to do stuff like:
- Unlock the door. This is highly recommended if you have a smart lock installed or are using a lockbox or a key exchange service like KeyNest.
- Where to find this or that in the house.
- Which parking spot is reserved for guests.
- Where in the house to get parking permits.
- You can even record a greeting message for your guests.
You can also use images marked up with text and arrows to illustrate various aspects of check-in to your guests. For instance, you can use labeled images to:
- Show guests how to get from the nearest bus stop to your house.
- Show guests their room, the kitchen, where to find extra bed linens, and so on.
The goal is to make the info easier for your guests to digest. As they say, an image is worth a thousand words. Therefore, always favor labeled images over text.
Second, Create an Online Wiki for Your Property
You obviously weren’t planning on sending to your guest all the content you have created above. That would most certainly overwhelm them. So what you want to do is create a website for your property. It doesn’t have to be a richly designed website. Just something that is user-friendly and mobile responsive.
Then create a page for each piece of content you have created. For instance, the house rules should have it’s on page. Getting to the house should have its own page. Parking info should have its own page. So should your frequently asked questions and other content.
The goal here is to reduce your check-in manual to links guests can click should they require information on a particular subject. The last thing you want is to bombard your guests with book-length check-in instructions they obviously will never read.
In the end, you will have something like this:
- Parking: www.myproperty.com/parking
- House rules: www.myproperty.com/houserules
- Frequently asked questions: www.myproperty.com/faqs
- What’s Nearby: www.myproperty.com/whatsnearby
- For your videos on how to unlock the door and stuff, upload them to your YouTube channel, mark them as unlisted so that they are not discoverable through search, and then get links to the videos for sending to your guests when needed.
- You can also create a page for each video on your website by embedding the YouTube links on the pages.
- Your labelled photos can go on your website too, just like the text.
Now make sure you have a navigation menu that works. The navigation menu on your website should display the titles of all the important pages. Thus, should a guest land on the website, they can easily select which info (page) they want to view.
Third, Create Your Check-In Instructions
Short Is Good
Your check-in instructions have to be as short as possible. You want your guests to get the most pertinent info without any stress.
For instance, all properties we manage at Helot have RemoteLock installed on their doors. A simple check-in instruction will thus go like this:
The sample check-in instructions above don’t include all the info I’ve mentioned so far, but it offers guests a way to access that info. Certainly, if a guest needs parking, they will click the parking link. From there, they will discover other links on the website and click on ones they believe can answer other questions they may have.
That way, they don’t come running back to you every time they need something.
What if after all this, a guests still contacts you, asking you for info that is already on your website?
This shouldn’t be a problem, because you already have that info written down or illustrated somewhere. Perhaps, the guest is finding it difficult to unlock the door using their code. The solution is simple. No need reinventing the wheel. Just send them the link to the YouTube video or the particular info they need.
Just a link or a labelled image. No long story. Problem solved.
What if I told you that you can even automate your check-in process?
What if I told you that you don’t have to manually send check-in instructions ever again? That would be cool, right? Keep reading.
To make this work, you need two things
What RemoteLock basically does is help you provide your guests with temporary access codes to your property. Such a code starts working at check-in and expires on check-out. It also allows you to remotely monitor access to your home, which means that you will be notified when a guest unlocks or locks your door. If you don’t reside on the property, you’d be able to know if a guest checked in successfully or not.
With this channel management software, you can synch calendars from various booking channels and manage all bookings from one user-friendly dashboard. That’s not all. Click here to read more on the immense benefits that come with Beds24.
RemoteLock + Beds24 = Automated Check-In Instructions
When you now integrate RemoteLock with Beds24, they begin to do wonders. Of course, you will need to do an initial setup, which involves:
- Specifying how Beds24 creates an access code for each booking. For instance, creating a random four-digit number or using the last-four digits of each guest’s phone number.
- Creating template check-in instructions that Beds24 can automatically send to guest.
- Specifying when you want Beds24 to send out the automated check-in instructions. Immediately after booking or three days to check-in? It’s up to you.
- For a more personalized message, Beds24 allows you to use tokens (template variables) in your template check-instructions. Take a look below.
In the screenshot above, [GUESTFIRSTNAME] is a template variable on Beds24. This means that Beds24 automatically changes that to your guest’s first name when sending automated check-in instructions.
How Does It All Work?
I will illustrate below:
- A guest books on, say, Booking.com
- Booking.com immediately updates Beds24 with the new booking.
- Beds24 creates a temporary 4-digit access code as specified and sends it to RemoteLock
- RemoteLock updates the lock on your door.
- Using the guest info sent in from Booking.com, Beds24 sends to the guest’s email an automated check-in instructions containing the access code.
And that’s it. Your check-in instructions taken care of without you lifting a finger.
But what if a guest cancels after receiving the check-in instructions? Doesn’t that still give them access to your house?
No. Should a guest cancel, their access code is automatically disabled and deleted from both Beds24 and RemoteLock. Just like magic. So you have absolutely nothing to worry about. It’s an efficient process.
That’s it for today. Please remember to share in the comment area your own tips for creating check-in instructions that actually work. I would love to hear how you handle everything.