“You will never get a second chance to make a first impression” – Will Rogers
First impressions stick. As a host, your goal is to make your guests’ experience the best you possibly can from the first moment they book with you. This beginning check-in phase is critical to set a positive tone for the guests’ stay.
To provide some tips and tricks for checking in guests we interviewed Kerry Hirschberg. Kerry is founder of Check-In LA, a short-term rental management and check in/check out company.
After 15 years as a TV executive, Kerry decided to trade in his desk, HR staff evaluations and budget proposals to start his own company and have the opportunity to meet fascinating people from around the world. In 2014 he launched Check-In LA, a full service management company that operates in Los Angeles & Palm Springs that is dedicated to removing the ‘hassle’ factor of dealing with guests, check in/check out processes, and rental property needs.
Given Kerry’s extensive background in management and hospitality, we thought it would be great to interview him about how hosts can improve the check in process and improve guest experience from the beginning of their stay!
1. What are some general tips you can offer to a host who does not have a formalized check in process?
Write a “tour speech”. Starts with the greeting at the front door and details the entire tour of your property. For example, “here is the thermostat and here is how it works. Over here is the light switch for the porch light. To use the TV remote push buttons in this order” and most important “here is the internet name and password”
Write everything down. This is an important document that you can pass on to anyone that will greet guests when you aren’t available.
2. What is the #1 best thing a host can do to improve the check in process for guests?
I don’t believe in lockboxes or electronic keys. You take the time to vet prospective guests to insure they are suitable for your home, so why would you just give anyone that shows up at your door a lockbox code and not ensure they are who they claim they are? With personalized check-ins you get to MEET face-to-face the people you are giving your keys too. It might cost you a few dollars to hire a check-in agent, but it’s worth it to have someone meet your guests before they are allowed into your home. Some hosts even take a picture of the guest’s drivers licenses to prove they checked into the property incase there is a dispute in the future.
3. For hosts with multiple units, how do you suggest they make the check-in process more personal?
If you have one rental property or a dozen, the most important service a host can offer a guest is good communication. Make sure you trade cell phone numbers prior to their arrival. Download WhatsApp on your phone, so you can text with international clients without anyone having to pay additional phone charges.
Make sure you know what time your guests plan on arriving and text them your address the day before check in. It can be frustrating to have to scroll through old messages to find the address when you are driving.
A great tip is to send your guests a “Have a safe trip tomorrow” or “Welcome to Hollywood” text when you know they have arrived in your town. This will encourage them to keep you posted on any delays they might incur.
4. Can you explain a host book? Is it necessary?
I create a Host Welcoming Book for each of my client’s properties. It takes less than an hour to create, but your guests will be thrilled to have one available.
Include the following:
- House Rules – the do’s and don’ts of the property.
- What is required of them at check out (take out the trash, start dishwasher, etc.)
- How To Instructions for – thermostat, TV/Cable Box, pool heater, alarm system etc.
- Parking restrictions for your block, what day the gardener/pool person comes, and what day trash bins need to be moved.
- List Internet name and password.
- List in bullet points everything you mentioned in your “welcome speech”. This will ensure you didn’t miss anything, and they have it written down in case they weren’t listening to you during check-in.
- Include a Neighborhood Contact Sheet. Provide phone numbers, address and even Internet addresses for Police, Fire Dept., Hospital, Urgent Care, Pharmacy, Grocery Stores, Office Supply Store, Newspaper stands, etc.
- Add a list of nearby restaurants; provide a few Take-out menus.
The more information you provide the more impressed your guests will be.
5. What have you seen is the impact of a good check in process?
After traveling hours to get to your home guests are thrilled to be met at the door with a big “Welcome”, the lights turned on, AC or heater running, curtains open. There is nothing more depressing then unlocking the door to a house that has been empty for a few days.
I always get a multitude of “Thanks” when I’ve finished giving a tour of their vacation home, and the reviews from the guests on sites like Airbnb & Homeaway are great.
As we all know one of the most important tools in generating bookings is good reviews from guests. By taking the time to greet your guests, give them a tour and provide them with all the information they need to enjoy not only your home, but also your neighborhood will pay off with the 5 star reviews your guests will write you.
If you have any questions, please feel free to check out Kerry’s website at www.Check-in-la.com or email him directly at Kerry@check-in-la.com.
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