Contactless Check-in for Vacation Rentals: A Guide for Guaranteed Success

Years before the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to contactless check-in was already impacting the vacation rental industry. However, over the last year, this technology has quickly become the new norm.

As a property manager, you’ve either adapted to these changes or you’re still perplexed by the upswing of keyless solutions. Regardless of what your situation is, this modern service is here to stay. To help you keep up with advances in the vacation rental industry, we’ll explain what contactless check-in is, what benefits it has, and how you can implement it in your business.

RueBaRue helps you automate your check-in process by automatically sending messages, digital guidebooks, and alerts to your guests. Book a demo personalized to your rentals to see the platform in action.

What is contactless check-in?

Contactless check-in is exactly what it sounds like; a way for guests to access their accommodation without physical interaction. This is usually done through a link or an app that guests have access to upon arrival and throughout their stay. While you may have heard of phrases like remote check-in, self-check-in, online check-in, and mobile check-in, they all refer to the same technology.

According to a global study conducted by Statista in 2020, 62% of hotel guests preferred checking in/out via an app, 30% preferred doing so through a website, and only 8% responded that they preferred going to a public kiosk or front desk agent. While these numbers were gathered at the peak of the pandemic, the trend has steadily continued to this day and we can expect that it's the same for vacation rental guests.

What are the benefits of automating your check-in process?

From social distancing practices to providing a seamless arrival for guests, an automated check-in process will allow you to:

  • Reduce your workload and save money. Traditional check-in will either take up a chunk of your time or it’ll require more staff to be hired. By adopting an automated contactless check-in solution, you can cut costs and drive in more revenue.
  • Increase guest satisfaction and positive reviews. Your guests have most likely spent a few hours in a car, train, or plane on the way to their accommodation. No matter how professional and nimble your team is, traditional check-in will always take longer than self-check-in. By minimizing the time spent waiting around, you’ll improve guest satisfaction and five-star vacation rental reviews .
  • Minimize the spread of COVID-19. Self-check-in processes help reduce the spread of coronavirus by limiting contact between the concierge and guests. Knowing that there’s a contactless option means that visitors can feel more comfortable when booking your property. Even post-COVID, these habits will carry on.
  • Hop on the digital bandwagon. Implementing contactless check-in technology into a vacation rental business will impress younger generations right off the bat. Millennials expect modern solutions and will very quickly opt for competitors that do a better job of going digital if you don’t.
  • Decrease your business’s carbon footprint. In 2019, created a report on sustainable tourism. The result was that 87% of travelers wanted to explore the world in more sustainable and eco-friendly ways. With contactless check-in, you and your staff no longer need to drive back and forth between bookings to drop off room keys. Instead, you can switch to mobile keys and reduce your carbon footprint significantly.

At the end of the day, digital check-in provides your business with a major competitive advantage in both the short and long term. That being said, while this technology in the hospitality industry is certainly not new, the benefits of contactless check-in are becoming more and more attractive for property managers.

How to implement contactless check-in at your vacation rentals

Now that you’re all caught up with the perks of online check-in, it’s time to get down to business. For a seamless procedure and maximum efficiency, we’ve put together five actions you should carry out when implementing this technology.

Send your guests automated messages before and after check-in

Conventional guest communication just doesn’t cut it anymore. Especially when it comes to contactless check-in, it’s crucial to get in touch before and during each guests’ stay. Fortunately for property managers, platforms like RueBaRue exist to make automated messaging a walk in the park. Here’s how it works:

  1. Customizable templates. Edit existing vacation rental email templates or design your own for future use. This means you can prepare a guide with instructions for self-check-in and personalize it depending on each guest.
  2. Macros. Macros allow you to input repeating details with just one click, making customizations extra easy.
  3. Emergency alerts. Aside from keeping guests informed on the contactless check-in process, RueBaRue’s automated messaging system also allows property managers to schedule alerts.
Preview of RueBaRue's SMS and email scheduler

Preview of RueBaRue’s automated SMS and email scheduler.

The advantage of using RueBaRue’s automated messaging system is that it allows you to increase productivity, save time by reducing repetitive tasks, come across as more tech-savvy, and improve overall guest satisfaction.

Provide a digital welcome book

A digital welcome book is a comprehensive manual that includes important information that your guests might need during their stay. This resource makes contactless check-in much easier for guests and streamlines the whole operation. If you don’t know where to start, RueBaRue provides property managers with a Master Guide template that includes basic categories like:

  • Arrival information. This is where you should include your address, directions to get to the property, check-in and parking instructions, and photos to make sure guests know exactly what to do!
  • Departure information. Clarify any cleaning tasks your guests must do before leaving such as taking out the trash or emptying the fridge.
  • About our home. This category is all about making guests feel at home. Mention Wi-Fi passwords, the amenities of the home, and instructions on how to use certain appliances. The more you cover, the fewer questions you’ll receive.
  • House rules. A clear outline of your vacation rental house rules is an effortless way of aligning expectations with guests.
  • Safety information. List emergency contacts and the location of fire extinguishers to prepare for any difficulties that might arise.
  • Re-book. Chances are that if your guests have enjoyed their stay, they’re probably already thinking about the next time they’ll be visiting. Providing a re-booking option in your digital guidebook with discounts will motivate clients to make a move.
  • Local area guide. Save your guests from hours of research by providing them with the best suggestions on restaurants, activities, and essential stores in the area.

You can keep the Master Guide as it is and just edit the content or you can add categories of your own. Look at your vacation rental welcome book as an opportunity to simplify the contactless check-in experience while impressing every guest that walks through your doors.

Preview of RueBaRue's Master Property Guide

Preview of RueBaRue's Master Property Guide

Screen your guests ahead of time using guest verification software

Manually performing in-depth background checks on guests is close to impossible when you’re juggling multiple properties. Unfortunately, all it takes is one bad egg for an entire business to face turmoil.

To prevent unwanted visitors from booking a property, use guest verification software like Safely or Superhog. These digital trust platforms tap into extensive databases to help you identify red flags before it’s too late. The result is a much lower risk of damage or theft and more breathing room for property managers.

Vacation Rental House Rules

Credit: Yaroslav / Pexels

Install smart locks

A smart lock is a wireless device that is enabled through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. All you have to do is download the app corresponding to the lock and generate a temporary code that guests can use during their stay. This keyless entry system is:

  • Easy to use. Even the least digitally advanced guests will be able to navigate a smart lock. Because access codes are sent via email or SMS, the process is straightforward and foolproof.
  • Secure. Smart lock systems enable you to monitor when a guest has accessed the property. If the door is left unlocked for longer periods of time, most systems will automatically lock and notify the property manager.
  • Convenient. Being on vacation can get chaotic so guests often end up forgetting their keys someplace. Smart locks help you to avoid this problem altogether. Even if a guest has left their mobile device inside the property or can’t remember the code, property managers can unlock the door for them remotely.

A cheaper alternative to smart locks is lockboxes. However, you should keep in mind that these devices tend to be less convenient and easier to break into depending on their quality. If you decide to go for a lockbox, opt for a more expensive brand.

Smart lock system for vacation rentals

Credit: Cottonbro / Pexels

Offer early check-in

Contactless check-in increases your flexibility and introduces a new upsell opportunity. With RueBaRue’s feature for extended guest stays, property managers can offer early check-ins for an extra fee and increase their occupancy rate.

The platform gives you access to an easy-to-use calendar where you can spot gaps between bookings. You can then select specific guests and send them a message using a template. This upgrade is well worth the money for travelers that would otherwise have to spend a night aimlessly wandering around the city with their suitcases.

Preview of RueBaRue's Extend Guest Stays feature

Preview of RueBaRue's Extend Guest Stays feature

Frequently asked questions about contactless check-in

We thought you might have some lingering questions about contactless check-in so we’ve decided to beat you to the punch with the answers.

How does contactless check-in work?

The idea of contactless check-in is that guests don’t need to physically interact with anyone before accessing their rental. In most cases, contactless check-in involves three simple steps:

  1. Guests receive a pre-check-in email with instructions several days before their arrival date
  2. On the day of their arrival, guests receive a check-in link with a code
  3. Guests can then access the vacation rental through a lockbox or a smart lock

What are the best tools to use for contactless check-in?

There’s a handful of vacation rental tools that you can turn to for a smooth contactless check-in. We recommend the following platforms:

The prices and features of each tool vary but what they all have in common is that they facilitate the self-service process significantly.

How are hotels doing contactless check-in?

The hotel industry is on a roll! Many large brands like Marriott and Hilton have implemented touchless check-in during the pandemic through their own mobile app. Instead of waiting in a queue amongst a frenzy of exhausted travelers to pay by credit card, guests just have to download an app, check in online, and pick out their room. Once this process is done, they can access their hotel room and other areas of the property with a digital key. Not only does this make life easier for hotel staff and visitors, but it also allows the company to gather guest data.

The approach that hoteliers have makes it easy for guests to request upgrades or extra amenities on the spot. Vacation rental property managers can adopt this upselling strategy by offering upgrades that just require a code. Whether you’re granting access to a minibar filled with goodies or a guest room that stores sports equipment, smart locks make anything possible.

Will contactless check-in remove the “human” aspect of my business?

The short answer is no—contactless check-in can actually improve the interactions you have with your guests! While these moments might not be in person, streamlining your communication means that guests receive consistent attention throughout their stay. If you feel like personalized digital guestbooks aren’t enough to connect with clients, you can also go the extra mile by leaving handwritten notes in between reservations.

A final word

With the right communication tools and property management system, you can set up a contactless check-in that adds value to your guest experience. The most important thing to focus on is making your instructions crystal clear and over-communicating everything. Once you’ve achieved that, the rest is a breeze!

RueBaRue helps you automate your check-in process by automatically sending messages, digital guidebooks, and alerts to your guests. Book a demo personalized to your rentals to see the platform in action.

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