Tips for Using Airbnb: How To Screen Potential Guests
The idea of welcoming complete strangers into your home can be nerve-wracking for Airbnb hosts. While most guest stays turn out fine, it’s not uncommon to hear the occasional horror stories about unruly guests or damaged or stolen property.
This is why Airbnb has a built-in system of checks and balances which allows hosts to screen guests before accepting their reservation. Guest profiles and reviews by previous hosts allow for more transparency and communication between users so you can get to know a little bit about potential guests before you give the final okay.
In the same way potential guests are reading reviews about properties and hosts to decide if a listing is a good fit, you should also look into the people who are seeking to book your listing. As a community of hosts, leaving reviews for guests provides invaluable information for others to mitigate risks in renting out their properties.
While this superficial information about potential guests can’t really paint the whole picture for you, it is a way to have a little bit of background and to be aware of any red flags.
Here are some tips for using Airbnb’s platform to screen potential guests and make smart choices about your rental.
Decide on Your Deal Breakers
Just as you want to predetermine the rules for your property, you want to be very clear in your mind about the requirements you have for guests. Think about your ideal guest and what qualities enable you to feel comfortable to trust them and open your doors to them, as well as what red lines you have.
Keep in mind that according to Airbnb’s Nondiscrimination Policy, you are not allowed to discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical ability or marital status. It’s worthwhile to read this policy in full before you reject any reservation requests. Here’s a brief excerpt:
“Hosts should make every effort to be welcoming to guests of all backgrounds. Hosts who demonstrate a pattern of rejecting guests from a protected class (even while articulating legitimate reasons) undermine the strength of our community by making potential guests feel unwelcome, and Airbnb may suspend hosts who have demonstrated such a pattern from the Airbnb platform.”
As you can see Airbnb prides itself on being an inclusive and welcoming community, and they take this seriously, so you need to have a good reason before you decline someone’s request.
On the other hand, guests are expected to contribute to the community as well by filling in their profile information and being active participants on the platform by writing reviews. If you are suspicious of a potential guest, or unable to find any information about them, this can definitely be grounds for declining a reservation request.
If a guest doesn’t have any reviews or information available in their profile, you can ask them for more information before you commit. You can also decide to require guests to have verified ID badges, which essentially confirms that your guests are who they say they are. (Provided this is something you decide to require, you will have to become a verified host first.) Taking this sort of action will help weed out some unqualified guests before you spend the unnecessary time assessing them.
So what are you looking for when screening guests? Here are some things to consider:
Airbnb’s Signs of a High-Quality Guest
- Full Profiles
Any Airbnb user who has spent the time to complete their profile clearly takes the process more seriously than someone who hasn’t bothered to fill in all the information. Guest profiles provide the opportunity for you to get a grasp of the type of person you could be hosting and whether or not that person will fall in line with your set criteria. If they have uploaded a photo even better, as this is one more step they are taking to commit to the process and community.
- Positive Reviews
As the essence of the entire review system, guest reviews are one of the best ways to get an idea of the type of guests your prospects are. Look for comments about how they communicate, care for the property and respect the rules. If you do see something alarming, make sure that you look into the host that left the review as well to make sure they aren’t just the type of person that tends to be nitpicky and give poor reviews.
Of course, it will probably be a huge weight off your shoulders to know that a potential guest is sporting a verified ID badge, but that may not be one of your obligatory standards as a host. In that case, you may still want to check that they’ve supplied a few minimal forms of identification, such as an email address and a phone number. This will give you that extra confirmation that your guest’s profile is authentic.
Airbnb users can compile references from colleagues, friends, and family members just as job applicants might when seeking employment. The one limitation to keep in mind is that only individuals with an Airbnb profile can become a reference for another guest. References are less common but they are just one other way for hosts to screen potential guests a little more thoroughly, and to learn as much about them as possible from online sources.
- Social Connections
Airbnb has conveniently created a social connections feature that allows its users to link up their Facebook and Google accounts to their Airbnb accounts. Why is this beneficial, you ask? Because now hosts like you can screen guests for mutual friends and tap into reviews made within your circles. This will bring you that much closer to feeling comfortable trusting your potential guest’s identity. From there, you can also browse for mutual friends and any other relevant and available factors that you may deem important in a booking.
Digital Red Flags
1. BEWARE: Guests who try to do business or communicate with hosts outside of the Airbnb interface could be bad news. For one, Airbnb enforces certain terms and conditions that are designed to protect its users – external transactions run the risk of losing these protections and coverages. Also, Airbnb is a rewarding environment that allows good, trustworthy users to thrive and standout. If your potential guest wants to step out of this circle, there may be a suspicious reason.
2. Naturally, part of your screening process will include some form of communication. If your prospects fail to respond to any messages or questions, they’re giving you insight into the kind of guests they will likely be (this could mean irresponsible, careless, etc.). While there could be a good reason for their lack of response, it can also be telling of their personality.
3. Pay attention to the type of information your potential guest is giving you while communicating. If you’re receiving questions about surveillance, neighbors, or anything else that could be dodgy, you might want to consider pushing those potential bookings aside. If any responses sound odd, rehearsed, or inconsistent, inquire further or trust your instincts.
Don’t Be Shy To Ask
If you have concerns about the details you are seeing, or you are missing information, it’s perfectly acceptable to reach out and initiate communication. In some cases, you can even inquire about missing information or a bad review to hear their side of the story.
Making The Final Cut
The final place for screening your potential guests is within your correspondence with them about your property. If it seems like they are trying to negotiate payment policies or house rules, those could be warning signs that you are not on the same page.
As a general rule, approach the system with common sense and above all, listen to your gut. Always communicate before you book, as it’s a valuable opportunity to get to know the individual on the other side of the line.
Don’t forget, even if you do make a bad decision on allowing a particular guest Airbnb offers a host guarantee that will make up for certain irresponsible guest damage. So even in the worst case scenario, you hopefully won’t end up paying for it. Ultimately, it’s all a learning process. You can use any negative host experience as an angle with which to tweak your criteria for the next stranger you invite into your home.