Planning, Anticipation, and Check-in Day

With guests, it’s all about first impressions.

Planning and Anticipation

This phase of the trip covers the time between booking and check-in. Guests are reviewing arrival day instructions, planning the days of their stay, and getting excited. The Arrival and Local tabs of your Coral Guide will prepare your guest for check-in day and let them know what they can do in your neighborhood.

Preparing Your Guests

The Arrival tab of your Coral Guide comes in handy here since it has your Welcome Message, Address, Directions, Parking, Key & Entry, and Wi-Fi information. This helps your guests feel prepared and ask any questions before they leave home, reducing the chance of receiving a crisis-mode call from your guest when they get off the plane.

Getting Your Guests Excited

The Local tab will showcase all of your favorite places and activities so that your guest can plan their days and tell everyone how great their host is because “look at all the things we can do when we get there!”. Also, having this information available before arriving at your place will allow your guests to book anything they may need to reserve in advance, such as a fancy restaurant or a popular tourist attraction.

Once, we stayed in San Francisco, California and were bummed we didn’t know to reserve a ticket to Alcatraz a month in advance during the summer season.

Check-in Day

This is when your guests are most vulnerable. They’ve just arrived in an unfamiliar place, they’re tired, possibly jet lagged, and may not speak the local language. Any hang-ups at this stage could put you in a rough spot for the rest of their stay. It doesn’t help that this is a tough problem to crack as well.

This could be an offline experience if your guests are foreign and didn’t pick up a SIM card at the airport. There are many variables to coordinate and many services have popped up to help fill in the gaps. To automate this process you could go a few different routes: hire a property manager, use a key exchange service, or a computerized lock made for rentals.

Pro-tip: If your guest speaks a different language, your Coral Guide can translate all of your information into their preferred language using a button on the top of the Arrival section.

Property Managers

Property managers cost the most, but it is likely they will offer other services to help you manage your listing. Typically, your property manager will show up to ensure your guests have received the key. They often will also give your guests a tour of the home to help them get settled. This has the added bonus of making your rental feel very professional, something not many Airbnb’s get right. An example of a property management service like this is Pillow.

Upon arrival in Shanghai, China, we discovered that the passcode provided by our host was not up to date and were locked out. Luckily her property manager was located a few blocks away and was able to arrive very quickly to let us in and correct the mistake. This saved us a lot of headache and smoothed out this wrinkle in the process.

Key Exchange

Key exchange services have local businesses who sign up to be keyholders. These can be coffee shops or cafés where your guest will go to retrieve your keys, some even have their own office in a city where all the guests go to pick up keys.

The benefit of using a key exchange service is no longer needing to remember to leave out your keys. You can put the instructions in your Coral Guide without having to worry about security. Just remember to tell your guests where to get their key. You can do this in the Key & Entry section of your Coral Guide or even in the Personal Message part of the email when you share your Guide.

Examples of key exchange services are KeyCafe and City CoPilot. They have slightly different models, but both get the job done.

Once, we were really excited to stay at a one-of-a-kind home in Williamsburg, New York, but when we arrived the key was nowhere to be found. Our host had flown to Israel without telling us the key was at a KeyCafe down the street. If he had a Coral Guidebook, we could have referenced it and solved our own problem without so much as a peep. Instead, we had to deal with Airbnb customer service who found us a new place — for the night — a few hours later.

Smart Locks

Computerized home locks, or smart locks, are great for those who don’t want to rely on other people. These locks can be pricey, but are a one-time cost, unlike the other options. The added benefits here are the ability to change the passcode between guests and not needing to worry about exchanging/hiding/losing a physical key.

If you want to reap even more benefits from a smart lock, you can use a service like RentingLock. This service will allow you to send your guests a new passcode every time and the code can be set to only work during specified time intervals.

There are some specific smart locks like August Smart Lock and Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock which require an app download and a smartphone with bluetooth to unlock it. This could fit your target audience. Just remember to remind your guest to download the app beforehand.

We arrived at our tiny house Airbnb in Nashville, Tennessee and waited out in the rain as our smart lock app downloaded from the App Store. Signing up for an account on a smart lock app while getting poured on is exactly as much fun as it sounds. The instructions to do this were buried deep in the house manual and we didn’t find it until we arrived and tried to open the door ourselves. Your Coral Guide displays your Key & Entry information right on the first page because it’s one of the first things your guests will need.

This is an excerpt from our original white paper series: Hands-off Hosting, which was distributed in PDF format. It has now been adapted into a series of posts on this blog which you can find here. Another white paper series we published is “Listing Site Independence, A Cheat Sheet” which has also been adapted to our blog. You can find that series here.