When you offer a vacation rental on Airbnb, you're essentially welcoming people who are total strangers into your home. For many hosts, this might seem a bit worrying. Airbnb offers some features to help put your mind at ease. You can browse through the profiles of potential guests and read reviews left about them by other hosts. Of course, this won't give you a complete picture of what a potential guest is really like. But there are a couple of things that you can do to screen your guests on Airbnb and minimize the chance that something will go wrong when you let them in your home.
What Qualities Should Your Ideal Guests Have
To start, you can think of a list of criteria that you would like your ideal guest to have. You need to ask yourself this question: “what kind of person would I truly be comfortable letting into my home?” If you can't come up with too many ideas, think of colleagues, friends and family members that you trust and consider reliable. Which qualities do they have? What makes them reliable in your eyes?
Don't forget that fair housing laws may apply even with a short-term vacation rental. This means you may be prohibited from excluding guests based on their national origin, race, sex, religion and similar criteria.
Once you've thought of your ideal guest, you will need to figure out how their qualities would be reflected on Airbnb. This usually involves looking through their Airbnb profile and the reviews they've received from other hosts. You also have the ability to require that all guests that stay in your home to have an Airbnb verified ID badge, which confirms that they've verified their identity with the site.
How To Use Information On Airbnb To Find The Ideal Guests
Here are some things to look for which reflect positively on a potential guest:
A complete profile and verification. Airbnb doesn't require its users to fill out their profile completely or to add their photos. However, those who are serious about the whole process will take the time to complete their profile fully, as it gives potential hosts a clearer idea of whom they are. Having a verified ID badge on their profile is a good sign as well. If you don't consider that one of your mandatory criteria, you should at least check to ensure that they've added contact information, such as a phone number or email address.
Social networking connections. One useful feature that Airbnb provides is the ability for users to link their social networking profiles with their Airbnb account. It is possible to add a Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn account. This gives you another way of confirming that your guests are who they say they are. Browsing through their social media pages provides you some additional insight on what kind of people they are and you can see whether you have any friends in common.
Reviews and references. Hosts can leave reviews for their guests on their profiles. Taking a quick look at a user's reviews can instantly tell you whether they're someone you would trust. Furthermore, Airbnb allows users to list references from people who know them that also have an Airbnb profile.
What Should You Watch Out For
There are certain red flags that you should be on the lookout for:
Attempting to do business outside Airbnb. If a potential guest insists on communicating only outside of Airbnb or doesn't want to do the transaction through the site, this is a big red flag. It is against the terms and conditions for users to conduct business in that way and those who do lose the protections provided by the service. There is simply no legitimate reason for a guest to insist on completing the deal outside of the site and you should stay away from anyone who tries to do so.
Spotty or suspicious communications. As part of your screening process, you will naturally want to communicate with potential guests. If they don't respond to messages in a timely manner, this could mean that you're dealing with a person that is irresponsible or just isn't serious about renting your home.
Don't hesitate to engage potential guests in conversation and ask them some basic questions, such as how long they will be staying in town and what they will be doing during their stay. Those who are trustworthy will also want to learn a bit more about their hosts and won't hesitate to have a short discussion with you. Beware of those who seem to give overly vague or evasive answers to simple questions, as well as responses that seem scripted or inconsistent with what they've told you before. It is also recommended to pass on guests who ask you suspicious questions, such as whether you have surveillance cameras or at what time your neighbors are home.
How To Make The Final Decision
It may not always be possible to find a user that fits your idea of an ideal guest based on the information available on Airbnb. In this case, you can always use your judgment to determine how you will proceed. For example, if a guest would otherwise be ideal but they have a bad review, you can ask them to explain their side of things and see whether it makes sense. If their profile is missing some information you would like to know, ask the guest about it.
Be up front about payment or house rules and see how the potential guest reacts. If they show signs that they don't fully agree with them, this is a sign of possible trouble ahead and it's probably best not to have them as your houseguest.
Use all the information you have at your disposal combined with common sense. Trust your instincts. If there is something that makes you uneasy about a certain user, even if you can't exactly pinpoint what, it's best that you just decline their booking.
One last important element to keep in mind is that Airbnb provides you with some protection as a host. They have a guarantee which will cover certain damages to your property caused by the actions of a bad guest, so you won't be entirely on the hook should you make a bad decision on who you let in your home.
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