Can I have a early check-in? How do you respond?

29 Replies

Can we check in at 11am (instead of 4:00pm)? 

What say you and why?

Depending on the guest and circumstances, my usual answer is my insurance agent and my lawyer advise  me not to allow early check-Ins without charging for it. Only then can the time of your door code activation be changed. The fewer times I say “I” or “we” the better. 

Additionally, I don’t want them to write in their review “they were so nice, they even allowed us to check in early” and I don’t want to tell them not to say that, either. 

How about you? 

We list our check in time as "flexible". If the property has to be turned, obviously the check out and check in time can't be that close together. If we're able to accommodate an early check in, most of the time we will. We don't usually allow remote access and our Airbnb spaces are in our home so it's sometimes inconvenient to us to be there at an unplanned time. We never charge for an early check in but do for a late check out.

Also, we've found that most of the time that people check in early, they view the space, drop luggage and leave until later in the day. So it's not really a load on the property.

@Nancy Bachety I can speak from a customer’s POV. If I travel from far away, have sick child, or any inconvenient hand dealt in that trip, you would be my hero, and I’m very likely to be a repeat client. Why charge a few hours extra and lose a potential repeat stay? It’s just business common sense.

You’re right on. An hour early if you know it’s clean is fine. But the last thing you need is a review stating you allowed early check in. You know what you’re doing!

If I can accommodate the guest with early check in, I do it. If the place is clean and ready to go I think why not.

I also allow late check out if I can as well. If I have a back to back, then I can't do it. I have had 2 people ask for either early check in (2pm instead of 4pm) and one a late check out (2pm instead of 11am). Both I was able to do.

Personally I think it is part of good customer service as long as they aren't asking for the moon.

@Nancy Bachety At my cabins in the Smokies, they're usually booked back-to-back and I have plans in place with my housekeepers on how to deal with it.  Basically: I require at least 24 hours' notice, and there's a $20 charge because of the logistics it requires.  I don't get too many requests for it, but when I do, I do my best to accommodate (a lot of the time I can't because my housekeepers are too busy).  If I can guarantee it, I charge the $20, nobody's ever fussed.  If I can't guarantee it, there's no charge, I just let them know as soon as it's been cleaned.  The $20 charge is more a deterrent than anything; I think it heads off any frivolous requests.

My place in California is a whole other story.  EVERYONE wants early check-in and plenty of people feel fine taking their time checking out.  It makes me nuts.  However, plenty of the time there I don't have same-day turns, so I can usually accommodate.  When I DO have same-day turns, I never guarantee it, since the laundry alone at that place takes ages.  I just tell them I'll let them know if it's ready early.

I have a lot of back to back so I just usually have to say unfortunately I can't as the cleaners need all that time to get the house ready for them.

If I can accommodate it I do allow an early or late checkin or out.

I have never had anyone mention this in a review on VRBO. They may say something like I was accommodating or easy to work with or just nice.

Just strictly from a customer point of view as someone who rents a home every year when I visit Saratoga Springs, NY to attend the horse races there, the early check in accommodation is a super big deal for us because the races start at 1p and we like to be at the track by noon. 

While we completely understand if it cannot be accommodated, we probably would not stay at the place the next time we visit and if they can we will literally stay up there every year. If you have competition where you are renting and it is not a major inconvenience I would consider allowing the early check in.

Only do it if it convenient for you; otherwise just say 4pm.  And we have over 65 reviews and there hasn't been one guest who we approved to check in early actually put that as a positive in the review.  I wouldn't worry about setting an precedent.  It's def at your discretion.   

I don't have a check in time, just a check in day.  My tenants can arrive anywhere from 6am to after midnight.  But my tenants stay for several weeks to 6 months at a time.  So the house might be empty a few days to a few weeks in between rentals.  That's enough time to clean and restock it at a leisurely pace.  Plus, with 23 rentals there are always several to choose from.  Today I can accommodate a group of 2, a group of 4, and a group of 8; all I have to do is unlock a door and turn on the air conditioning.

We all know Airbnb’s reputation for denying claims so I was thinking they could somehow use that against hosts somehow, liability wise. I suppose if early or late access is allowed, I’d want to change the reservation to show that, whether a fee is charged or not. 

An hour or two is one thing but a request to come in at 11 AM because they think the house is empty is another. It’s nervy IMO but then again, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.


@Nancy Bachety

We offer an early check in for a fee. Depending on if it is off or peak season the fee is normally between 50% to 100% of the maid service that they already paid. So during the peak season they are paying double the cleaning fee.

Our normal checkin is 4pm but the early can let them in around 12. The biggest issue with the early check in is it can rush the maids which leads to guests not being satisfied with the cleaning. We definitely don’t advertise early checkin as we want to make it an exception process versus the norm.

@Nancy Bachety We allowed a few times if we were able to and we noticed that it was a reoccurring theme, so not a major risk factor there. 

Now, if you are getting that a lot for your STR, then you may want to reevaluate your check-in time going forward, as it is indicative of the market telling you something

Stop yourself from resisting and use that intel as a competitive advantage against your competitors. Heck, you may even say early check-in available upon request to get more guests! 🤗🤗🤗

It's all about being market-specific welcoming free intel (customer pain points are essentially free insights)! 

My standard line is , I always strive to check in guests early where possible. But I can make no guarantees in back to back busy season. I call the guest when housekeeping is finished. It's a premium that I can provide that doesn't cost me anything, fosters communication and buys Goodwill come review and check out time. I find in general the rules of reciprocity apply.

Just wait until you get the guest that asks for an early check in and a late check out in the same sentence... and it’s not really them asking but more like a statement.

Those are the best!

@Mike V.   I sometimes get those kinds of people on the phone.  My standard thing is to refer them to my competition (a few other STRs, some motels, a trailer park with cabins).  I defer a problem tenant and give my competition the problem.  

Last year I stuck a person with 1 STR some deadbeats that left after a few weeks but occasionally pay them a small amount to store their stuff for the last year.

@Nancy Bachety

I don’t know much about short term rentals. But I know some hotels would charge and some wouldn’t.

If I owned the short term rental I would charge per hour they are requesting.

@Nancy Bachety

It depends how early they ask. Some people ask for noon other ask for 2PM. Check in is at 3PM. I only charge the noon people because they’re an inconvenience to me. 2PM isn’t as big of a deal. Sometimes I ask for money, sometimes I get beer, and one time I got wedding cake. Instant 5 stars for that group. It’s all how you want to interpret your guest.

Yes to 1-2 hours early, if it's convenient for us. We have a beach rental, so as someone said above, people like to drop their stuff and head to the beach. We have never had anyone ask for late check-out, as far as I know. If we did, I guess it would depend on the circumstances. I can see good reasons to ask for early check in, but late check out just seems like bad planning on their part. But really our management company usually deals with this for us. They have only called us once when a repeat renter asked for something, and we said yes, of course - we love our frequent flyers!

@Nancy Bachety we allow early check in if the timing works for us or if we happen to not have had someone the night before. We have done this many times and no one has thanked us publicly in a review, but it does build tremendous goodwill among our guests. Our check in is on the late side at 5 pm, but if it is ready sooner, which is 90% of the time, we send them a message that they are welcome to come early, which again builds those great reviews.

@Nancy Bachety If you're able to allow them an early check in then go for it. We have allowed it a couple of times even though we honestly don't like to. Usually we need the time for our cleaner anyways but every now and then it's ready 2-3 hours early and we'll allow them to go ahead and check in.

From the begining we are just honest about it and say it won't be a problem but since we're making an exception just please don't put anything about it in the review.

We handle it like @Julie McCoy does, it sounds like. If a guest inquires about early checkin, i let them know we have a service they can opt into, costing $25. That pays for my coordinating with the cleaner to ensure we're on the beginning of their route for the day in question vs an unknown slot... and I let the guest know that means they can get in 3 hours earlier than normal time. 

I also follow with the message that hey, if you don't need certainty, we always let guests know if the cabin is ready ahead of time - this builds up great good will and costs nothing but a moment's time.

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