Contactless Check-In for Vacation Rentals: Is It the New Norm?

Finding someone you trust to take care of turnovers and maintenance isn’t as easy as it sounds, and managing guest welcomes, check-ins, and key handovers can put a huge strain on your team. Especially now, when according to recent World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) research*, an estimated 1 in 15 job postings supported by the travel and tourism sector go unfilled. 

The vacation rental industry has grown rapidly and so has the demand for experienced and reliable hospitality workers. Even if good scaling opportunities come your way, not having reliable and experienced staff can put the breaks on growth.

But, where there are labor shortages, there are ways for technology to fill the gaps. 

Automating tasks like check-in and property access can help you to cut down on time, save on labor expenses, and provide your guests with a more streamlined experience. In fact, many guests consider automated check-ins to be a big plus.

But what are your options when it comes to contactless check-in? In this article, we’ll address all of your pressing concerns about setting up a contactless check-in system. We look at:

Connect your operations

With Operto, you can automate the check-in process and generate custom guest access codes based on guest’s booking information.

Contactless check-in: Exceeding guest expectations

It’s clear that check-in technology is becoming a big must-have for guests and property managers alike. According to our whitepaper from 2021,

  • 85.9% of surveyed hospitality managers said that “using technology to automate operations was a priority for them in the next two years.”

  • 82.4% said that implementing “keyless technology” was a priority for them in the next two years.

  • 52% believe keyless technology and property automation software are either “essential or expected.” 

  • Just 3.5% of respondents said that the technology was “not important at all” to their guests. 

Over the past few years, industry standards have adapted to meet guests’ growing expectations. Guests now demand more than just cleanliness and safety when booking their stay. They’re looking for a stand-out experience, quality service, and superb communication.

Automating the check-in process can help you to surpass expectations and make guests feel more secure and autonomous. Also, there are ways to customize your communications to deliver guests a truly personalized and memorable experience.

An automated contactless check-in workflow, from integration to check-out

We’ve explained why guests and hosts are choosing to make the check-in process contactless. So, what does a contactless check-in process actually look like? Here are the five steps of automation for vacation rentals explained. We’ll start from the moment you install your smart locks to the time that guests check out:

Phase 1: Integration with smart locks and PMS

To automate the check-in process, the first step is integrating your smart locks with your PMS through a hospitality automation platform. You can do this in two ways: (1) Find a smart lock system that works with your tech stack or (2) Update your existing door locks with a solution like Operto Boost. With smart locks in operation, you can use the latest booking information from your PMS to inform how you provide access to your properties. 

Phase 2: Access code generation

Once new booking information and guest data are received, the automation platform will generate a new access code for guests. With Operto’s keyless access system, unique codes are generated for every check-in. This is an important security measure to consider, as you don’t want previous guests to reuse their code and gain access to the property.

Phase 3: Email confirmation

Next, the automation platform sends guests an email confirmation. Ideally, this email will also include all of the essential information that guests need for their stay. Operto, for example, sends guests an email that shares your branded digital guidebook, where they can find their property access code alongside other key insights about arrival, the property, and the local area.

Phase 4: Check-in and access code activation

For security reasons, guests won’t be able to use their codes and gain entry until they are activated. With a hospitality automation platform, this is triggered automatically the moment that guests digitally check in. Guests can easily do this before their arrival and so independently begin their stay as soon as they’re at the property.

Phase 5: Check-out and code deactivation

When guests check out, the hospitality platform deactivates their access code. This way, you don’t have to manually change key codes or worry about guests using old ones.

Connect your operations

No need to update keycodes codes manually. Operto Tech automates the check-in process from start to finish.

How a guest experience platform supports the contactless experience

With a guest experience platform, you can manage the guest experience throughout contactless check-in, be responsive to questions, and maintain visibility across all your units without ever having to be physically present.

For example, with a guest experience platform like Operto Guest, you’ll be able to:

  • Create a custom guest web-based app that reflects your brand

  • Manage two-way guest messaging

  • Automate digital check-in

  • Verify IDs and screen guests before their stay

  • Create a digital guidebook that shares key information and answers guest questions

  • Provide arrival and access information

  • Share details about amenities, like WiFi codes, TV settings, and coffee machines

  • Embed photos and videos to support your instructions

  • Share the latest news about what to do, see, and visit

Use a guest experience platform for frictionless digital check-in for guests and streamlined guest management.

Connect your operations

With Operto Guest you can welcome guests digitally without losing the personal touch.

What are the benefits of contactless check-in for vacation rentals?

Let’s take a closer look at the four main benefits of contactless check-in and keyless access:

  • Automated processes

  • Improved security

  • Better guest experiences

  • Easy remote management

Automated processes

Implementing an automated check-in workflow means turning time-consuming manual tasks into a self-sustaining process. By automating check-in, you’ll be able to cut down on operational expenses, increase efficiency, and provide the best guest experience. Also, automating check-in can help you to:

  • Meet guest demand for self-service technology

  • Reduce time spent on time-consuming manual tasks

  • Strengthen guest communication and eliminate confusion

  • Increase flexibility and autonomy for guests

  • Reduce stress by ensuring an easy arrival process for guests

With an automated check-in system, guests can arrive whenever they like. They aren’t dependent on meeting a staff member or host to collect the keys, meaning no waiting around for guests or your team.

Improve security

Unlike physical keys, contactless check-in codes cannot be copied, lost, or stolen. And, as any host or property manager knows, lockboxes are clunky and easily compromised.

With a secure contactless check-in system, only people with the access code can enter. Also, it’s easy to manage your housekeeping access–and keep a log of who’s entered at what time. 

Improve the guest experience

Digitizing the check-in process doesn’t just eliminate waiting on arrival: It appeals to modern, tech-savvy travelers by giving them autonomy and a seamless guest experience—and it doesn’t mean you need to lose the personal touch.

Using a solution like Operto, and connecting it to your PMS provider, means you can remotely offer guests personalized messaging, confirmation, and reminder emails, as well as friendly concierge service. You can also give precise check-in instructions by providing a digital guidebook. With a digital guidebook, you can also:

  • Automatically reply to guest questions

  • Provide guests with photos and videos

  • Share information about on-site amenities

Check-out is just as easy as check-in and guests receive all the information they need for their stay in advance, so they can access it whenever, wherever. This way they feel taken care of from the moment they book to the moment they leave you a five-star review.

Manage your business remotely

If you’re managing your property remotely, guest communication, security, and sustainable operations are top priorities.

Digitizing the process means you can manage all aspects of your short-term rental from afar, including:

  • Booking

  • Check-in/check-out

  • Digital guidebook

  • Housekeeping and maintenance

  • Reviews

While managing remotely, it might be difficult to know when guests arrive and check in. With a smart lock system, you can easily see when guests access the property and automatically greet them with a friendly welcome message.

Smart devices, and platforms like Operto for centralized control and oversight, are the future when it comes to remote management.

Save on labor costs

Contactless self check-in can boost efficiency, and save you time and labor expenses. 

Firstly, this is because it requires far fewer staff to manage the process. There’s no need to pay staff to hang around on-site, or to be present “just in case.” Staff don’t need to drive over to hand over physical keys. With a contactless check-in system, the guest is independent, which means that your team can focus on more important issues, like turnovers and maintenance tasks.

Secondly, you won’t need to invest time and energy into recruiting and training new staff. With the labor shortage and increasing demand for hospitality workers, it’s increasingly difficult to find reliable and trustworthy staff. Having contactless check-in in your hotel or vacation rental property allows you to eliminate the need for someone to be waiting on a guest’s arrival.

Contactless check-in for better guest and host experiences

Switching to a hospitality automation platform doesn't have to come at the expense of quality guest communication. With a contactless check-in system, you can do both: Provide guests with a personalized experience and make your operations much more efficient.

That said, you need to be sure that the check-in process runs smoothly and securely, especially while scaling your business and managing remotely. If you are reusing the same door codes, it can be a huge security concern. 

Take it from one of our customers who started using Operto to scale and manage his diverse portfolio:

“We were hoping to scale and we were using the same code for all of the properties, which is kind of scary. If a guest or an employee that we hired knew that they could get into a property at any time…. it made me nervous thinking about it. Now there’s no driving to a property at midnight. We can handle it all remotely. The unique door codes help our clients and our guests feel safe and secure.”

Connect your operations

With Operto, you can automate the check-in process and generate custom guest access codes based on guest’s booking information.