SCREENING AIRBNB GUESTS
Screening Airbnb guests and allowing them into your home is the concept which pretty much defines the foundations of the entire Airbnb business model. If you screen your Airbnb guests right, not only protecting yourself and your property, but you will well on your way to becoming a Superhost. Now take a good look at your listing. Ask yourself, what kind of person is this listing perfect for? Consider the amenities, property layout, the neighborhood, general atmosphere, what visiting purposes the property is good for, etc. For example, if your listing is right near the downtown business center, it may not be ideal for a couple of vacationing seniors. Make a list of the qualities of the person that your listing is perfect for.
SIGNS OF GOOD POTENTIAL
Verification is important but this one may not be one of your obligatory criteria. Again, it depends on what kind of host you are and what kind of guest you are looking for. It can be a weight on your mind, but don’t think that this is an end-all. Check if the potential guest also included his/her phone number and e-mail address. Which brings me to the next point.
1. Having a full profile is the main criterion as this is the first easy way to figure out if the Airbnb user is serious about the platform and is open to communication. If the profile is filled out fully, you can begin to figure out what kind of Airbnb guest you are looking at.
2. Social Media plays an important factor since Airbnb added the feature, which is pretty self-explanatory. This is another step to trusting your guest’s identity.
3. Some potential Airbnb guests are awesome enough to compile a handy list of references from actual other people! This a very good sign that the guest is making an effort to be transparent and trustworthy.
4. Reviews. They don’t get removed and are the most obvious place to look to get some insight on the user you are dealing with.
For example, you received an inquiry from a potential guest. “Hey there, I’d love to book your property! Unfortunately, my budget is tight. Do you mind lowering your price?”
How should you respond?
Your goals are to: Be polite but firm, get a full-price booking. Given that objective, here’s the WRONG approach: “I’ve already priced as low as possible. Any lower and I’d be losing money!” What’s wrong with that reply? It focuses on you, not them … which means they’ll keep building their case.
Here’s a BETTER approach:
“Hey there! I understand your budget is tight. My pricing is competitive for the area. Have you looked at listings located 15-20 minutes away? Those are typically cheaper. You can also find budget hotels near my home, like Best View Budget Hotel and Star Inn, at a lower price. “If your budget changes, I’d be happy to host you at full price. Best of luck!”
Why is this reply more effective?
• If the guest is genuinely cash-strapped, they will appreciate the advice. • If the guest is just trying to haggle, they can’t object. You’ve offered choices. Your reply is helpful. It is polite and firm. And it crushes the negotiation.
DIRECT CASH PAYMENT
It is human nature to ask for discounts. It is also human nature to try to avoid paying for Airbnb fees. There will always be one or two people who might ask to talk to you outside of Airbnb so that they can book your place and thus circumvent Airbnb’s fees.
What Should You Do?
The short answer: Refuse. Just say no, unless you really want to circumvent the system too. But of course, this leads to much bigger problems. Airbnb’s ID and credit card policies are great deterrents against bad guests, or worse, criminal guests. Another thing you want to consider is if you book this way, you will not get a review, and you will not get the search rank juice that Airbnb awards to hosts who book. Therefore, in the long run, you will lose more money since you will be less visible in the listing.
Before you reply to your guest on any question about your listing, you really should advise the guest to read the terms and conditions first to see if it is answered within (spoiler alert: it probably is). Furthermore, asking too many questions may actually discourage you as a host to decline the guest of their stay.
Airbnb hosting can be time-consuming, and it can be rather aggravating answering the same questions again and again. There is also a perception amongst experienced Airbnb hosts that guests who dutifully read the entire listing are the best guests and are most likely to have their expectations fully met and leave the best reviews.
GUESTS WHO MISBEHAVE
It does not happen a lot. And with the new safety features Airbnb is putting in place, it is become more uncommon. Not to say that it is out of question – horror stories of hosts exist in the news. Some find their place trashed by addicts or used as a brothel by guests who happen to be prostitutes.
What Should You Do?
Every sharing a system like Airbnb will always be subject to this small risk. In fact, all hotel businesses have to deal with it too. There is really only one thing you can do. Be vigilant with your safety. Secure all your items of value. And most important of all, choose guests wisely.
Take the time to look through all the reviews of your potential guests. Take it a step further and check their facebook page if possible. If you are serious with this enterprise, you might want to consider adding a security deposit to your listing or add another insurance plan (outside the one Airbnb provides) so that you will have all your bases covered.
Bad things happen. But Airbnb requires guests to provide verified IDs and phone numbers as well as their credit cards. These checks and balances keep the transactions, generally safe. But it does not hurt to be extra careful. Problem guests are not many, but they do exist. Some nag, complain endlessly, are dirty, or have bad habits in general. Once they have booked and shown up at your door, just be prepared. They will leave eventually anyway. It is all part of the experience. Then, give them a bad review.
This article was first published in the iProperty.com Malaysia July 2016 Magazine. Get your copy from selected news stands or view the magazine online for free at www.iproperty.com.my/magazine. Better yet, order a discounted subscription by putting in your details in the form below!