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Being a vacation rental host – no matter how many properties you own – entails a number of responsibilities: looking after your home, taking care of your guests and marketing your property. Additionally, you need to manage check-in and check-out for every reservation.

Greeting and sending off your guests is as crucial as providing comfortable pillows and tea and coffee supplies.

In this article, we’ll explain why you should provide an excellent check-in and check-out service for your guests and what exactly the procedure entails.

What do check-in and check-out consist of?

Check-in refers to the moment guests reach your vacation rental, and everything related to their arrival. Whereas check out is the complete opposite. It’s when your guests depart after enjoying a stay at your property. 

But what exactly happens during check-in and check-out? What should you bear in mind to have a smooth process?

The guest’s arrival

Many travelers choose to stay in a vacation rental because they’re more convenient and pleasant than traditional hotel accommodation. Check-in not only includes opening the doors but also the following:

Prior communication

Communicating with your guests most likely starts as soon as they book your vacation rental, but also continues when preparing for their arrival. You need to inform them of the check-in procedure, who will be present to greet them, ask them what time they will arrive and so on. 

What’s more, to win more points, you can also explain the best way to arrive at your place from the airport, train station or motorway, and if you provide food in your vacation rental, ask them if they need something specific (for example, if they have any dietary requirements or allergies).

If your guests have to pay a security deposit when they check-in, send them a friendly reminder the day before they arrive. If you want to implement house rules and obligations for both parties to respect, write a vacation rental agreement for you and the guest to sign. 

Greeting your guests

Greeting your new arrivals consists of handing over the keys, giving a tour of your property and explaining certain things. Show them all corners of your home – especially those details which you’ve prepared specifically  – to leave them excited for their stay. 

Ask your guests to try the key and see how the door opens. It may seem like a silly idea, but maybe their door doesn’t have the same mechanisms as yours. Doing this will prevent an emergency call if they can’t re-enter later without you.

It’s important to explain how the household appliances work, where the products that they can use are (bathroom, kitchen) and even tell them where to leave trash. Plan beforehand what you want them to know so you won’t miss anything out. Now is also the time to explain how your deposit works for possible damages.

Things to do in the area

From how to get around to the best local restaurants, think of good recommendations you can offer your guests and provide answers to any possible questions they could have. If your vacation rental doesn’t have a washing machine, recommend them a laundromat. Are there certain areas they should avoid at night? Show them on a map. Will they use the subway? Explain which tickets are the best to buy and hours of service.

vacation rental checkout list

You can also include activities to do during their stay, such as theater shows, theme parks, etc. Include leaflets and maps so they have a variety of options to choose from.

Emergency contacts

Perhaps this is the most important factor of the check-in process. Make sure your guests have your telephone number (mobile and landline) and your email. Tell them what hours you are available, and just in case, give them another emergency number they can contact.

Also, make a list of other local emergency numbers: ambulance, police and fire service. 

Remember, giving them a ton of information doesn’t mean that they will remember everything, especially if they’ve just had a long journey and are exhausted. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a welcome book in your vacation rental. Here you can write all the essential information and detailed instructions that you speak about during check-in. 

Vacation rental check out procedure

If you really want to go above and beyond, you can take advantage of this moment by giving them a welcome pack. Here you could include gift cards for restaurants and cafés in the area, or even a basket of original souvenirs to take back as gifts for their friends and family. 

The guest’s departure

Check-out not only entails saying goodbye to your guests, but also getting the key and giving them their deposit back if everything is in place.

Saying goodbye to your guests and retrieving your keys

We’ve already mentioned the importance of a personal and excellent service when guests booked the vacation rental, therefore it’s a good idea to be attentive and be present when your guests are leaving, to make retrieving your keys easier, asking in-person how their stay was and lastly, wishing them a good journey.

Inspecting the property and returning the deposit

Go over every part of your home which the departing guests have had access to. If there are any major damages or imperfections (not just general wear and tear), calculate how much it will cost to repair it and subtract the amount from their deposit. If there is no damage, return the full amount as soon as possible. If your guest is expecting the deposit via bank transfer, let them know how long it will take. 

This is also a great time to remind your guests that you would love them to write a review on your website or on one of the listing sites!

Cleaning and preparing for your next guests

Now you need a clean slate: wash all the bedding and towels, replace amenities such as shower gel and soap, and tidy everything. Remember to disinfect the bathroom and kitchen, dust any surfaces throughout and, if necessary, have a deep clean.

check in vacation rentals

Automated check-in and check-out

What is automated check-in and check-out? It’s when you are not physically present during check-in and check-out, and use other methods of letting guests in and out of your property.

This process, of course, has its pros and cons, so let’s start by defining the different options. It doesn’t only involve giving your guests keys, there are also smart home gadgets and apps available that allow you to check-in and welcome guests without the need to be present. You can even offer all the information about your area through these types of apps. 

Automatic locks

vacation rental lock

There are different types of automatic locks, the most commonly used are WiFi door locks which allow guests to enter a home with a code or a mobile app. 

There are already several solutions on the market that consist of attaching an electronic lock on top of the original lock so that it can be opened using an app or other hardware (such as bracelets) that are connected to WiFi. Another solution would be to place a lockbox that can be opened by a code or mobile application near the entrance, with the house keys inside.

Hire a company

If automated check-in and check-out appeal to you, but you don’t want to lose that personal and friendly human touch, you can also find a company that specializes in guest turnover who will do the work for you.

Not only will concierge providers be there to welcome guests and explain everything related to their stay and trip, but they will also take care of cleaning your property after every booking and prepare it for the next one. 

Pros and cons of automated check-in

Besides not being able to introduce yourself personally to guests, automated check-in procedures can have other cons. To begin with, you can’t be sure that whoever comes to your home is really who they say they are when they booked online. Nor can you be assured that they understand the house rules to the full extent and know-how all the household appliances work. And, of course, you can’t recommend places in the area in person. 

Nevertheless, you would have a lighter workload with automated check-in, and it would also speed up the process, allowing guests to have more freedom and less pressure to arrive at a specific time.

Whether you prefer a personal touch or to save time, you can now offer a five-star check-in and check-out experience for your vacation rental.

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