Avoiding bad Airbnb guests is a real issue for hosts. What a guest may seem like over the internet may not necessarily be what they are like in real life. Many hosts have been victims at one point or another of damaged property, unhappy neighbors, or broken house rules due to Airbnb guests.
Not to worry, though, as you can do a few things during the booking process to reduce the likelihood of a negative situation from arising. Here are 5 ways to avoid bad Airbnb guests.
By analyzing how communication goes between you and your guests, you can get a good idea about their intentions. If at any point the guest would like to take proceedings outside of the Airbnb platform, this is an immediate red flag!
If guests are polite and friendly, you’re more likely to book them for your Airbnb. Other things to take note of when considering a booking include response time, number of guests, special requests, and identity and payment verification. Does it constantly feel like they’re ghosting you? Also, take a closer look at what questions they’re asking. If they’re questioning your policies or asking to break the rules, watch out.
Upon checking the guest’s reviews, you will immediately know if there is any reason to worry. If you see any review of 3.5 stars or less, you should begin to question why and if you’re willing to run the risk. Reviews are subjective, as some reviews say that the guest was rude but was clean and followed the rules. For some hosts, they can put up with this if it makes them money. For others, it might be the answer they were looking for.
Read reviews carefully. Sometimes, a reviewer may make errors between selecting a star rating and giving a written review. If a written review is stellar and the star review conflicts with that, you may ask why and consider them based on the written review.
Below 2 stars, and you may want to consider that to be an automatic no unless there was a one-off terrible experience that brought their rating down. This can happen even to the best of hosts or guests. If you do decide to proceed with a booking with an overall rating of 2 or below, you run a risk of having more problems than it’s worth because, ultimately, they are below 2 stars for a reason.
If a guest has no reviews, you will need to consider the first impression, communication, and guest verification more carefully and go with your instinct. Remember that when you started on Airbnb as a guest or a host, you also had no reviews and someone gave you a chance. Use your best judgment.
As soon as you take bookings outside of Airbnb, you’re completely on your own should something happen. Basically, if anything were to go wrong, you, as the host, would not be covered by Airbnb. The platform is considered a safe place, as things are constantly monitored and attended to accordingly if need be.
If a guest asks to communicate using other platforms such as social media, say no. If they want to set up an arrangement without the “hassle” of Airbnb booking, say no. If they aren’t happy with your answer, it’s a dead giveaway that something shady is going on.
Payment, like communication, should never occur outside of Airbnb. The whole point of paying via Airbnb is to ensure that all security and verification measures are double-checked prior to payment, not to mention the benefit of the Host Guarantee. Accepting payments via a third party will void these security measures. Avoid all possible outcomes and tell the guest that you are unable to take payment outside of Airbnb. You may also wish to mention to your guest exactly why, just in case they aren’t aware. Refer them to Airbnb’s own policy on off-platform requests.
While not directly related to booking outside of Airbnb, you may want to consider declining people who claim to be ‘booking for a friend.’ Airbnb policy states that people who book should be the guest. Despite their reason for booking, it should raise concerns as to why the guest themselves cannot actually book. If you want to save yourself the possible hassle, you can politely decline their request. There may also be insurance and liability issues when the person booking isn’t the person staying. Check your policy and have these restrictions handy if any guest should want to book for someone else.
If a guest states they are trying to book your place as a gift to someone, you can let them know that Airbnb now has gift cards available to purchase for this purpose.
One way to have more control over who requests to book your listing is to remove it from Instant Booking. If your listing isn’t noted as an Instant Book property, guests must send a booking request, which gives you the opportunity to inquire further about their intended use of your space and any special requests. Booking request communications are helpful in developing communication with the potential guest that can make you more comfortable with them or raise red flags.
While this tip won’t guarantee a guest isn’t going to be a problem, it can give you more control by requiring communication with guests prior to them booking. Due to an Airbnb policy change, you can’t access a guest’s full profile until after you’ve approved their reservation. But when you are able to see it, check to see if their profile is incomplete or unverified. This can be a red flag and will help you brace for potential problems once the guest arrives.
You can spot an incomplete profile if they don’t have a profile photo, if it doesn’t contain the person’s full name, or if the description is less than 100 words, and if the person hasn’t been fully verified.
If their profile is incomplete, sending the guest a message can help you feel more comfortable. Ask them if they’re willing to provide some additional information before their stay. There are acceptable reasons to decline guests, however it’s also important to understand that your decline and acceptance rate can impact your host status with Airbnb.
At the end of the day, if something doesn’t seem right, then don’t put yourself at risk. As the old saying goes, ‘trust your gut,’ and this could not be more on-point. While your gut isn’t correct 100% of the time, it can help you determine who is and isn’t a risk. If you have completed all of the above steps, and you are still uneasy about it, don’t ignore those feelings.
Airbnb does not tolerate discrimination. Be sure to review their Non-Discrimination Policy and understand your responsibilities in this regard.
Technically, yes. You can cancel a reservation on a guest you’ve already booked. Just be aware that cancellations on a reservation can result in additional fees and penalties. Airbnb will also post on your profile that you’ve canceled a guest. You usually have the opportunity to explain what happened, but the post can’t be deleted. After all, you’re canceling their booking, affecting their plans for the night, and leaving them without a place to stay.
Although Airbnb wants to avoid as many cancellations as possible, if you don’t feel comfortable communicating with the guest, you have the right to protect yourself and your property. After all, safety first is always a good idea. Take the time to review Airbnb’s Host Cancellation Policy to remain compliant.
Don’t let a few lost bookings deter you from preventing the headache of bad guests. If you think there could legitimately be a safety and security risk, broken rules, or property damage, then it’s best to say no. If it’s too late, and you’re dealing with a difficult guest, visit our post, How to Deal With Bad Airbnb Guests for tips on how to resolve issues with difficult guests after they’ve already arrived.
Jake Leavy has worked in the content industry for 8+ years. Travel writing has been his main focus, however, he also has luxury hotel management experience under his belt. He has traveled to over 50 countries and loves immersing himself into different cultures. Jake combines his passion for travel and hospitality experience to offer hosts tips and tricks to improve their business.
5 Tips on Hosting a Kid-Friendly Airbnb
How To Start An Airbnb Business
How To Gain a Competitive Edge & Thrive in Your Evolving Vacation Rental Market
Elevate Your Vacation Rental with AI: A Quick Guide for Hosts
The Importance of Great Reviews for Your Short-Term Rental
Should You Allow Pets in Your Short-Term Rental? What You Need To Know To Decide
Are Themed Airbnbs Worth it?
Top Tips for Asking Airbnb Guests for Reviews