By The Hospitable Team
If you’re starting a short-term rental business or expanding an existing one, you already know that pre-check-in guest communication can be tricky.
After all, you want to make sure that your guests feel welcome and comfortable from the moment they arrive and know everything they need to know to seamlessly begin their stay, but you don’t want to overwhelm them with too much information at a time.
In this blog post, we’ll share insights on:
- How to break up your pre-check-in communication into small, digestible chunks.
- When to send each pre-check-in message and what to include.
- How Hospitable.com can help automate your entire check-in process.
Plus, we’ll provide examples of great pre-check-in messages that you can use to get inspired and create your own message templates to welcome your guests and help get their vacation off to the best possible start.
Have conversations with your guests even when you sleep.
What to include in your pre-check-in messages
As a host, you want to ensure your check-in messages hit all the key elements that will help your guest have a great stay. Here’s a helpful checklist:
1. Welcome your guests
Your check-in message should aim to reassure your guests they’ve made the right choice and they’re in safe hands.
A simple, “Welcome to your home away from home!” can go a long way—an unequivocally warm and enthusiastic welcome sets the tone for your guest relationships, and lets them know you’re eager for them to have a special stay.
But even the warmest welcome can feel insincere if it’s just a template message. To get past this, personalize your messages. Mention something specific about your guest’s trip, like: “We’re so excited to have you stay with us during your daughter’s wedding weekend” or “We hope you enjoy your anniversary getaway.”
You can find out such details by asking your guests “What’s the purpose of your trip?” when you respond to an inquiry or send a booking confirmation message.
2. Directions to the property
Make it easy for your guests to find your rental property by including step-by-step directions in your check-in message. This is especially important if you live in a remote area or have any tricky turns.
A link to a Google Map is always helpful, but you should also include your own directions if you think that would be easier for your guests of if Wi-Fi can be unreliable—especially if there are some useful points of reference, like a local store or a distinct building.
3. Parking information
Parking is especially important if your rental is in a city and if parking restrictions exist. Include clear and concise instructions with a photo on where they can park, so you leave no room for doubt or misunderstanding.
4. Check-in instructions
The check-in process can often be the most stressful part of a journey. If you’ve implemented an automated check-in system with a smart lock, make sure your instructions are clear and practical.
Here’s an example:
“To enter the property, please use the keypad to the right of the door. The code is 1234. Please remember to lock the door when you leave.”
5. In-room explainers
After a long day of travel, the last thing your guests want is to have to search for things like extra towels or the remote control. Include all the in-room details in your check-in message so they can immediately relax and feel at home.
As well as clearly explaining where any essentials like linens, coffee pods, and toiletries are kept, provide instructions for devices and appliances like the washing machine, dishwasher, oven, blender, coffee machine, and television.
Also, don’t forget to make the instructions for connecting to the internet as clear and simple as possible—if you don’t, your guests will soon let you know.
6. House rules
Include a brief overview of your house rules in your check-in message so there are no surprises later. House rules often include information on:
- Quiet hours
- Additional guests and parties
- Housekeeping schedules
7. Emergency and important phone numbers
Making sure your guests know what to do in case of an emergency may prove crucial, but mostly it provides guests with some peace of mind. So, while your guests probably already have information like your phone number, it’s helpful to include a short list of local emergency numbers, too.
Depending on your property and its location, emergency numbers could be for the local pharmacy, a vet, or rescue services.
8. Local attractions and recommendations
If you have insider tips on the best local attractions or restaurants, include them in your check-in message. Your guests will appreciate having a head start on exploring the area.
Alternatively, you can provide a digital guidebook that includes all of this information, and include a link to it in your message. Or, if you provide a physical guidebook, let them know exactly where to find it.
“For restaurant recommendations, please see the folder on the dining room table labeled ‘Guest Favorites.'”
How to nail the timing of your pre-check-in messages
Now that you know what to include in your pre-check-in messages, it’s time to focus on when to send them – and how to break them up. After all, the timing of your messages is just as important as their content. And you don’t want to send all the above information at the same time – some of it would inevitably get lost.
1. A week before arrival
If you want to get your guests excited about their trip, it’s a good idea to check in with them a week before their arrival. This will give you a chance to send them information about your property and the surrounding area to help them prepare for their trip. And, it will leave them enough time to ask questions.
Your week-before message should:
- Contain your digital guidebook (complete with a house manual)
- Reiterate your house rules (for example, on pets and parties)
- Provide guests with local recommendations
You can even send a packing list if you want to be an extra attentive host. Just put yourself in your guests’ shoes and ask yourself what information they could use as they’re mentally preparing for their stay.
Lastly, be sure to mention that you will send them a message with detailed check-in instructions three days before their arrival, so they know what communications to expect from you.
2. Three days before arrival
The message you send three days prior to arrival is one of the most important messages of the entire message flow. It contains vital information that your guests need for the check-in process to go as smoothly as possible. Include essential details like:
- Check-in times and instructions (with pictures and videos if needed)
- Directions to the property
- Parking information
- Contact details
If there is a smart lock, be sure to explain in detail how to use it, and reassure guests that you will send them their unique door code on the morning of check-in.
3. On the morning of arrival
Last but not least, send a short, bite-sized message on the morning of your guest’s arrival containing the door code (and the WiFi password if you haven’t provided it yet).
This is the last step in the pre-check-in message flow and it’s absolutely necessary to ensure that your guests can commence their stay without encountering any issues.
How to automate your pre-check-in messages
Automating your pre-check-in messages is a great way to take the stress out of the process and ensure your guests always have the information they need. Hospitable.com is an amazing platform for automating your entire message flow because it allows you to customize the timing, content, and delivery of your messages.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
Step 1: Set up a new messaging rule
Messaging rules are the foundation of your automated check-in messages. They dictate when and how often your guests will receive messages from you. From the messaging rule builder, you can choose the criteria for your messaging rule.
For example, you can choose to send a message before check-in, you can easily schedule it for a week or a few days in advance. You can also set up a rule to send a message on the day of check-in, or even an hour before check-in. The options are endless!
Step 2: Use a template or create your message
Now that you’ve chosen when you want your message to be sent, it’s time to write the content of your message.
In the message editor, you can choose from a variety of templates or start from scratch. If you’re starting from scratch, we recommend going through the above checklist and checking off each important item so your guests have everything they need to begin their stay.
And don’t forget, while using templates is a great way to save time and improve your workflows, it’s also important to personalize your messages. Hospitable.com allows you to add short codes to your scheduled messages that pull information from the booking, like the guest’s name and the dates of their stay.
If you want to take personalization to the next level, you can use what you know about the guest’s stay (are they traveling to celebrate a special occasion? Are they bringing their kids or their pets?) and embed some personal details into your messages. Hospitable allows you to easily edit scheduled messages from your inbox so you can add whatever details you like.
Step 3: Scope your message
One of the best things about Hospitable’s intelligent messaging system is that it can automatically adjust your messages based on a number of different factors.
For example, if you manage multiple properties, you can create a unique message for each of them. This can come in handy when you’re crafting check-in instructions for your properties, and one unit has a smart lock, while the other has a lockbox or other entry solution.
Besides creating unique messages for specific properties, you can also define which hosts or which channels each message should apply to. Just calibrate these settings in the Scope section when creating a new messaging rule.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully created an automated message to ensure a smooth check-in for your guests.
The calendar management tool in Hospitable.com gives you an overview of all your upcoming check-ins and can help you keep track of any changes or special requests.
You can view the guest’s contact information, arrival date, length of stay, and any special requests they may have. You can also add notes to the calendar entry so that you can keep track of any changes or important information.
The best part about automating your check-in messages is that it gives you more time to focus on other aspects of running your business. With Hospitable, you can be sure your guests will always have the information they need, when they need it.
Check-in message example from a Hospitable.com user
Automated messaging is one of the most powerful tools you can use to improve your guest communication. Here are some examples of great check-in messages our users have sent:
Jason and Rachel Wolohan run a remote rental in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. They wanted a solution to manage their rental from afar and improve communication with their guests. After signing up with Hospitable.com, they automated their check-in process and now use it to send a series of helpful messages to their guests.
Here’s an example of one of Jason and Rachel’s automated check-in messages:
Sharing his thinking behind this check-in message, Jason says: “I present the link to the guidebook first because it generally answers 99% of the questions we get asked.”
Jason also adds information about consumables that are stocked in the property and where the nearest grocery/convenience store is. This way, their guests know what to expect and can plan accordingly.
Regarding the WiFi details, Jason says: “I purposely leave the access code/WiFi info for the end of the message because it increases the likelihood they’ll read the entire message.”
By sending this message in advance, Jason and Rachel are able to reduce the number of questions they get asked and give their guests all the information they need before they even arrive.
Check-in message best practices
Now you know what to include in your check-in messages and exactly when to send them, here are the three most important best practices on how to communicate with short-term rental guests.
- Communicate your brand personality
Be consistent throughout all your messaging so you always express the values you want your brand to embody.
- Personalize your messages
Personalization makes guests feel special and valued, which means they’ll be more motivated to leave a stellar review.
- Proofread before you hit send
If you don’t have an automated solution in place, be sure to check your messages—first for essential inaccuracies (for example a code or direction), and then for clarity, so guests never have reason to be confused.
Ready to automate your check-in messages?
With your knowledge of what to include in your pre-check-in messages, how to time them, and the best practices you should always observe, it’s time to craft your own. Use the tips and examples in this article as a starting point, and feel free to get creative with it.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution—it all depends on your business and guests. So take the time to tailor your messages to fit your needs, and with Hospitable’s automation solutions in place, start delivering better guest experiences with less time and effort.
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