Self Check-Ins for Airbnb and Vacation Rentals: The Host Guide

Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms have revolutionized the way people travel and experience new destinations. However, with the rise of short-term rentals comes the challenge of managing check-ins and ensuring a smooth guest experience.

This is where self check-in comes in. Self check-in is a process that allows guests to access rental properties without the need for a host or property manager to meet them in person. It has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its convenience and flexibility.

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits and pitfalls of self check-in for short-term rentals and provide a comprehensive guide on how to set it up. We will also introduce Upmarket, a vacation rental management service that can help hosts manage the entire self check-in process, from collecting guest details to suggesting arrival solutions, providing local recommendations, and integrating smart locks.

What is a Self Check-In?

Self check-in is a process where guests can access the rental property without the need for a host or property manager to meet them in person. This is typically done using a smart lock or a lockbox. With self check-in, guests receive a unique code or access to a mobile app, which they can use to enter the property. This short video from Airbnb

Self Check-In: What are the Options?

When it comes to setting up self-check-in for your vacation rental, there are a few popular options to choose from. The first step is to install either a lockbox or a smart lock to your door handle or wall. You can also consider key exchange services for a stress-free process of key handover. Let’s explore these popular options in more detail, so you can choose the most suitable one for your vacation rental property.


A lockbox is a small storage device designed to securely store the keys to your rental property. Guests will need a code to open it, and there are several different types of lockboxes available, including push-button, dial, wheel, and electronic or smart lockboxes. If you’re looking for a high-end lockbox, the Igloohome Smart Keybox 3 is a great option. For a more budget-friendly choice, the Master Lock 5424D Portable Lock Box or Kingsley Guard-a-Key Black Realtor’s Lockbox are worth considering.

Lockboxes are durable and easy to use, but guests may accidentally damage them if they are not familiar with how to operate them. There is also a risk of the lockbox being left unlocked and exposed if not closed properly. Padlock-style lockboxes installed via a metal loop may also be less secure as they can be easily broken off. However, lockboxes are generally more affordable than smart locks, with prices ranging from $120 to $170 for a more expensive lockbox.

Smart Lock

A smart lock uses a security code that you can generate, activate, and delete remotely using a smart device, such as a smartphone. Guests can use the code to access your property. Smart locks, like the August Smart Lock Pro, Nuki Smart Lock 3.0 Pro and Yale Assure Lock SL, are one of the most convenient and secure door locks. They’re managed via your smartphone, so you can easily change a lock code remotely after each guest checks out to ensure full privacy for your next guests.

Smart locks are a convenient and secure option, offering the ability to track who enters and leaves the property and even check if the door is locked via a smartphone. However, they can be expensive, with a decent smart lock costing over $200. They also require batteries and access to a phone and Wi-Fi network. Although smart locks offer protection against lock-picking, there is a risk of someone attempting to hack it.

Key Exchange Services

Key exchange services, such as KeyNest or Keycafe, are another option for automating your self-check-in process. Airbnb hosts can track the collection and use of the keys in real-time. Both companies have hundreds of locations in North America where hosts can leave the keys for guests to collect at a convenient time. For European Airbnb hosts, KeyNest has thousands of 24/7 lockers, usually every few blocks in most urban markets. EveryDoor is another key exchange service that hosts can try. They provide a keyless self-check-in service that you can schedule and control remotely. Guests can access your property either by making a phone call or keying in a unique pin code, and they can then use the keys as normal.

These services provide an easy-to-use, affordable, and secure option for self check-in. Hosts can track the collection and use of keys in real-time, and guests can collect them at a convenient location. However, it is essential to note that some locations may not be open 24/7, and some hosts may have difficulty finding nearby locations in their area.

Benefits of Self Check-In


Self check-in provides convenience to guests who may be arriving late at night or have a tight schedule. It allows them to check-in at their convenience without having to coordinate with the host. This also gives hosts more flexibility in managing their time, as they no longer need to be present for every guest’s arrival.


Self check-in can be cost-effective for hosts, as it eliminates the need for a property manager or a professional cleaning service to be present during check-in. This can lead to cost savings and increased profitability for hosts.


Smart locks and lockboxes provide an added layer of security for guests and hosts. With self check-in, hosts can limit the number of people who have access to the property, reducing the risk of theft or damage. Additionally, it eliminates the need for guests to carry around a physical key, which can be lost or stolen.

Downsides of Self Check-In for Short-Term Rentals

Guest Communication

One of the downsides of self check-in is the lack of face-to-face interaction with guests. This can make it difficult for hosts to collect mandatory guest details or provide recommendations for local attractions and restaurants.

Technical Difficulties

Self check-in relies on technology to function properly. If there are technical difficulties, guests may not be able to access the rental property, leading to a negative experience.

Additional Responsibilities

Self check-in requires hosts to be more hands-on with the rental property. They need to ensure that the smart lock or lockbox is functioning properly and provide clear instructions to guests.

Compliance Issues

Another significant challenge for hosts with self check-in is collecting mandatory guest details for local authorities. For instance, in some locations, hosts are required to register their guests’ information with the relevant authorities for safety and security reasons.

How to Refine Your Self-Check-In Process

Refining the self-check-in process is essential to ensure that guests have a seamless experience and everything runs smoothly. Here are some tips to refine the self-check-in process:

  1. Test the self-check-in process yourself: Before implementing the self-check-in process for your guests, it’s important to test it yourself. This will help you identify any issues or areas that may need improvement.
  2. Provide clear instructions: It’s important to provide clear instructions to your guests on how to access the property using the self-check-in process. This can be done by sending an email or message with the necessary information, including the access code, location of the lockbox or smart lock, and any other relevant details. You can also refer your guests to our comprehensive self check-in guide for guests.
  3. Use visual aids: Consider including visual aids, such as photos or videos, to help guests understand the self-check-in process. This can be especially helpful for guests who are not familiar with lockboxes or smart locks.
  4. Automate the process: Using a property management system, such as UpMarket, can help automate the self-check-in process. This includes collecting guest details, providing access codes, and ensuring compliance with local regulations.
  5. Provide support: Make sure to provide support to guests in case they encounter any issues during the self-check-in process. This can be done by providing a phone number or email address that they can contact for assistance.

Perfecting Self Check-In with UpMarket

At Upmarket, we understand that self check-in can be a great option for vacation rental hosts and guests alike. That’s why we offer a comprehensive self check-in service that covers every aspect of the process, from reaching out to the guest to collect necessary details to providing local recommendations and relevant apartment information.

Our service takes the hassle out of self check-in by handling all of the necessary tasks on behalf of the host. This includes:

  1. Collecting guest details: We reach out to the guest ahead of their stay to collect any necessary information, such as their arrival time, preferred method of communication, and any special needs they may have.
  2. Automatic reporting: With Upmarket, hosts can rest easy knowing that all necessary guest information is collected and handled correctly, reducing the risk of fines or other legal issues. By automating the guest registration process, hosts can focus on providing excellent service and a memorable stay for their guests.
  3. Suggesting solutions for arrival needs: We can recommend services such as luggage storage, airport transfers, and key exchange services to ensure a seamless arrival experience for guests.
  4. Providing local recommendations: Our team can provide guests with information about the best local restaurants, attractions, and events, tailored to their specific interests.
  5. Relevant apartment information: We ensure that guests have all the information they need about the apartment, including instructions on how to use any appliances or technology, so that they can make the most of their stay.

In conclusion, self check-in can provide numerous benefits for hosts and guests alike, including convenience, security, and cost savings. However, it’s important to be aware of the downsides, such as communication difficulties and technical issues. With the help of Upmarket‘s online check-in solution, hosts can overcome these challenges and provide a seamless self check-in experience for their guests. Want to learn more? Contact us or open your free UpMarket account today.

Shani Cohen
Shani Cohen
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