How to Delight Your Airbnb Guests with an Early Check-In

Lizzie Griffin
Lizzie Griffin

February 12, 2024

Picture this: An Airbnb guest messages you to ask if they can check in earlier than planned.  

Do you:

  1. Panic and frantically start messaging cleaners to see if they’re somehow available
  2. Risk upsetting the guest by answering a curt ‘no’ because there’s no way you can be ready in time
  3. Say ‘yes’ instantly knowing your operations are set up for easy, early check-ins as standard?

If you answered a) or b), read on. With a few tweaks to your setup, you can make c) your new reality.

Guests love early check-ins and are more likely to leave you a positive review if you can help make their stay easier right from the start. Plus, early check-ins don’t have to be the logistical nightmare you might think if you use dedicated software to automate and simplify as much as possible. It’s early check-ins, without the stress.

How? Follow our four-step plan to prepare your Airbnb rentals for early check-ins, and try our top three tips for communicating your policy with ease—for happy guests and better business.

Enable early check-ins with automated scheduling
Manage your Airbnb ops in one user-friendly dashboard, coordinate your team, and communicate with guests using Breezeway. 

Learn More

Why guests love early check-ins

Guests love it if their short-term rental hosts can offer early check-in (whether you offer it as standard, or just when guests ask).

Why? Because it's:

  • Helpful: They see you as a friendly host, as you’ve said “yes” to one of their first requests.
  • Stress-free: They don’t need to worry about timing their arrival to a specific time.
  • Easier: They have somewhere for luggage storage before heading out for the day.
  • Better value: They feel they’re getting more for their money, as they’re effectively extending their stay for little (if any) extra cost.

This is great news for you as the host. Happy guests leave five-star reviews and refer you to friends and family. 

This means you’ll get predictable and consistent bookings in the future. More great reviews also help you get (or maintain) Airbnb Superhost status, so your rentals show up higher in search results. Your Airbnb listings will get more views, potential guests will trust you more, and travelers will book you more frequently.

And, if you charge an extra fee for early check-ins—and make it super-easy for guests to pay it—you’ve got yourself a nice little upsell that will earn you extra cash without much (if any) more work.

Plus, satisfied guests are more likely to return, so you’ll build up consistent repeat bookings as well. Pleasing guests right from the start by being flexible and allowing early check-in is just good business.

4 ways to prepare your Airbnb for early check-ins

Early check-in might sound like a logistical nightmare, but with some small-but-effective tweaks in your tech and guest messaging setup, you can start offering them with ease.

1. Stay on top of your booking calendar

To offer early Airbnb check-ins, you have to be flexible and responsive to your guests, which you can only achieve by connecting your cleaning ops with your booking calendar. Therefore, you need to synchronize your Airbnb account and/or property management system (PMS) with how you manage your operations.

An Airbnb management software tool like Breezeway does precisely this by integrating with multiple online travel agencies (OTAs), including Airbnb, and PMSs. Once connected, Breezeway tracks your check-in and check-out dates,  access codes, and other essential information.

This will give you an easy, at-a-glance view of your bookings, and allow you to coordinate your housekeeping fully aligned with your latest booking information—even if a guest changes or cancels a booking in the middle of the night.

2.  Run watertight cleaning operations 

You can’t let guests arrive early if the rental is having its turnover completed. That’s why running super-efficient cleaning operations is central to making early check-ins work.

With the power of dedicated Airbnb cleaning software and management technology, you can schedule turnovers for the moment guests check out—and track your cleaners’ progress—so your rentals are ready for the next guests as early as possible in the day.

Breezeway does this by:

  • Automating cleaning schedules based on your customized rules, check-in and check-out times, and your cleaners’ availability
  • Centralizing your operations with a dashboard that lets you see task and unit status in real-time
  • Allowing you to customize and share Airbnb cleaning checklists for each unit, where you can provide reference photos for housekeepers, and they can upload pictures of their completed work for you to remotely inspect

Also, you can automate a checkout alert whenever guests leave, so cleaners are notified and can start turning over the unit without wasting any time.

With these automated solutions to Airbnb operations management in place, you save time on manual tasks, avoid human error like sending two cleaners to the same property, and get units clean and ready in time for an early check-in.

Breezeway operations dashboardBreezeway gives you a complete real-time view of your operations.

3. Establish your policy

When deciding to offer early check-in, establish a written, clear policy—so you can streamline your early check-in processes, set guest expectations, and offer a simple and consistent service every time.

You’ll want to decide:

  • If you’ll offer early check-in as standard to every guest, or only if they specifically ask
  • If you’ll allow guests early check-in on the day, or if it needs to be agreed in advance
  • If you’ll charge extra—and if so, how much? Will you charge per hour, or a flat extra rate?
  • If you do charge, how and when will you take the payment for minimum friction for the guest?

If you can offer early check-in as standard, and/or for free—and the rental would be empty anyway—then that could be an easy way to impress guests from the start, without extra costs for you.

Once you decide on a policy, make it clear at every stage of your guest communication, right from the start (you can even say early check-in is possible right on your listing.) Write down your process in advance and send it to guests as standard (see below for more on excellent guest communication.)

4. Provide keyless entry at your property

Keyless entry makes early check-ins much easier. Once you’ve agreed a new check-in time, you can remotely offer guests a self-check-in process even if they arrive earlier than planned, so neither you nor a team member has to be there to meet them for a key handover.

No more rushing to meet guests, or worrying if your assistant will make it in time. No more stressing about guests waiting outside and having a negative first impression before their stay even begins. With keyless digital entry, you can send a keypad code to guests in advance, so they can access the property and check in, even if they’re hours earlier than planned. 

A platform like Breezeway lets you pull smart lock codes from your PMS automatically, so each guest has their own personalized access code that works for the duration of their stay.

You can even text them their code automatically via the same system, and terminate their access when they check out, for extra security. Plus, you can send codes to your cleaners or other staff when they need them, in the exact same way. Easy.

3 tips on communicating with guests about early check-in

Early check-in might sound like a logistical nightmare, but with some small-but-effective tweaks in your tech and guest messaging setup, you can start offering them with ease.

1. Share detailed house rules 

As soon as guests make their reservation, they should receive confirmation of their booking, with an extra reminder of the house rules and check-in instructions. These should state the check-in and check-out times so everyone is aware, and guests can plan their travel arrangements.

One effective way of sharing house rules is by doing so within a digital guidebook, where you also share information like directions, access codes, and WiFi details. If you integrate this with your guest messaging and ops management solutions, you can centralize all your guest communications, which allows guests to be so independent they rarely need to ask you a question, anyway.

Breezeway’s digital guidebook showing directions SourceBreezeway’s digital guide provides guests with easily accessible information for their stay.

2. Let guests know as soon as possible

If you only let guests know about your check-in offer and policy 24 to 48 hours before their check-in date, they’ll likely have plans already, and may not be able to take advantage of it. So offer early check-in as part of your booking confirmation. 

This has the additional benefit of helping to engage guests in their stay, which makes them less likely to cancel the booking as the check-in date nears.

3. Automate your messages

It’s a lot easier to communicate with guests consistently—and repeatedly, ahead of their stay—if you automate messaging.

With Breezeway, you can create message templates, schedule messages for key events like check-in and check-out day, and manage all your guest messaging in one centralized location—where you can also create and assign work orders.

This saves your hours or work, allows you to stay on top of when in the guest journey you send out key communications, and helps ensure you never let a guest message slip through the net without it getting a prompt response.

Pro tip:
Just as you offer guests early check-in, you can also offer the chance to extend their stay at the end of their trip too—with a late check-out or even additional nights. Breezeway’s Gap Night feature coordinates this automatically and easily, so you can fill otherwise-empty gaps in your calendar, boost revenue, and give guests a great deal to continue their vacation with zero hassle.

How to delight guests with early check-in: Communicate and coordinate using smart tech

Guests love early check-ins, whether they’re planning to start their vacation earlier, or have arrived earlier than scheduled and don’t want to hang around. As their host, you can delight and impress them right from the start by offering early check-in as standard (and even boost revenue if you charge for it.)

Using Airbnb operations technology like Breezeway means you can handle everything remotely, automating cleaning and maintenance management, auto-messaging guests with essential information, and enabling keyless access. 

No more hurriedly messaging cleaners manually, no more rushing to the property to give guests the keys, and no more stress that maintenance tasks won’t be finished before guests arrive. Just a streamlined and consistent professional process that you can continue to roll out as you grow your portfolio. For happier guests and a better business, with less stress.

Enable early check-ins with automated scheduling
Manage your Airbnb ops in one user-friendly dashboard, coordinate your team, and communicate with guests using Breezeway.
Learn More

Frequently asked questions about early Airbnb check-in

Do Airbnbs allow early check-in? 

Airbnb hosts are free to set their own check-in policies and times, so if you don’t want to offer early check-in to guests, you don’t have to. However, offering early check-in (or saying yes if you’re asked) can be an easy way to impress guests without any major costs or extra effort.

This is especially true when you use automated operations management software to coordinate your cleaning and maintenance processes with a platform like Breezeway.

How do I say no to early check-in on Airbnb?

As the host, it’s mainly up to you what you allow in your Airbnb vacation rental property, including early check-in. You can easily decline an early check-in request with a polite message reiterating your standard policy, along the lines of: “We’re so sorry, but the rental won’t be ready before [check-in time here].” However, allowing guests to drop off their luggage and/or check-in early can be a simple way to make them happy. 

If you want to offer early check-ins, but are worried about how to coordinate them in time, automated management software like Breezeway can make this much easier. You can automate guest messaging, get alerts, schedule cleaning, and grant guests access even if they arrive hours earlier than planned.

How much does early check-in cost on Airbnb?

It’s up to you as an Airbnb host whether you decide to charge more for early check-ins. Some hosts may offer it for free—especially if the property would be empty anyway—as this can be an easy way to be accommodating to guests without any additional costs.

If you do want or need to charge extra—for example, to cover early cleaning costs—be sure to set this out clearly in your early check-in policy (e.g. in your House Rules and booking confirmation email).