Screening Airbnb guests and allowing them into your home is the concept which pretty much defines the foundations of the entire Airbnb business model. I have met potential hosts that could be making a killing, but they simply say “I just can’t imagine letting some complete stranger into my home.” So, some people are more comfortable with this concept than others, understandably. Airbnb has been working on refining this aspect of the platform from day one. As Airbnb’s Chip Conley put in a recent interview, it’s all about finding the right guest for your listing. If you screen your Airbnb guests right, you are protecting yourself and your property, as well as getting well on your way to becoming a Superhost! And I’m here to help you out! Read on.
It can be pretty difficult to tell what kind of person you are talking to because everything is happening online. We’ve heard the stories… (see below image)
Even after identity verification was added, it doesn’t always do what we want. So, let’s take matters into our own hands.
Screening potential Airbnb guests starts with the Airbnb host!
Make a list of what kind of ideal guest you would like to stay with you. Think of an actual person you know and make a list of the qualities that would make them a good Airbnb guest. For example, your good friend Dave may be fun and all, but you wouldn’t trust them in a well-furnished accommodation and a bottle of wine. Your aunt Helen, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Also, make sure that you can also get along with this person well, it has to be a good personality match.
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. If you are renting a trendy pad close to the entertainment part of town, may not be that good for a business person on a work-related visit. Make a list of the qualities of a person that your listing is perfect for.
Now that you have your two lists, there are two things left to do:
- Tailor your listing. This begins the process of screening potential guests from the get-go, before they even contact you, and saves you the headache and effort.
- Figure out how all of the personal qualities you listed translate into the information you will see on the Airbnb website and the secure guest messaging system. You will have to play detective here and there while sizing up potential guests.
Creating a listing description that sounds good, attracts the guests you want and at the same time eliminates the ones you don’t is a mysterious and subtle art. Unless you are a good writer, get help. Get second opinions from people whose taste you trust and keep going back to it and refining it. Remember: your listing’s description is a tool for both advertising and screening potential Airbnb guests.
When it comes to the actual screening, there are some telltale signs right off the bat.
Signs of a good potential Airbnb guest:
- Verification. Now, this one may not be one of your obligatory criteria. Again, depends on what kind of host you are and what kind of guest you are looking for. It can be a weight off your mind, but don’t think that this is an end-all. See if the potential guest also added a phone number and e-mail address. Which brings me to the next point.
- Full Profile. 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.
- Social Connections. This has been a big one since Airbnb added the feature, pretty self-explanatory. Another step to trusting your guest’s identity.
- 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.
- 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.
Signs of a BAD potential Airbnb guest:
- Communication outside of Airbnb. Very bad sign. I would not recommend communication or any transactions off the platform for one simple reason: protections that Airbnb provides. As soon as you go off the platform, you lose all of those protections. If a guest wants you to lose those protections, it may be for a bad reason.
- Bad communication. If the guest doesn’t respond or responds in a way that doesn’t answer your questions or shows that they didn’t read your listing description or messages can be either a sign of general carelessness or something potentially worse (for example, multiple people communicating through the account). The general quality of communication is very important. Trust your instincts on this one.
- Dodgy questions. If your guest keeps asking for details on the location, surveillance, other neighbors, the property, etc., while not giving you the information you want, or, worse yet, if they are inconsistent, that is a major red flag. Trust your instincts on this one too.
- Guests from in-town. This is not necessarily a major red flag, but it does warrant a bit of an investigation. There are legitimate reasons for a guest staying at an Airbnb within the city, but to avoid any possible parties, robberies, and other dodginess, ask all of the questions that you need to, and then some.
If you have any doubts or want more information on the guest, then don’t be shy. That’s what the entire messaging system is for! You can develop your own style and have a set of screening questions that you ask every time and evaluate the reaction of your potential Airbnb guest. One trend that I have noticed is that the guests often do not read the description or house rules carefully. Ask about that. If there is any specific rule that is very important for your listing then always ask the potential guest if they are clear on it. Use common sense and your gut! And don’t forget to have fun while playing Airbnb detective!