researching a guest

Researching A Guest Before Approving Booking Them

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Hosting an Airbnb can be a lot of fun. You get to meet new people, show off your home, and make some cash on the side. It can even generate enough money to be your main source of income. Unfortunately, hosting can also be a nightmare if you book guests that trash your home, don’t pay on time, or won’t leave. So, how do you find great guests? The answer is to do a little prescreening and to research your guest before you approve their booking.

Guest Research: Benefits

There are four good reasons to prescreen your guests.

Avoid Potential Issues

Sometimes doing a little bit of research helps you find red flags that cry, “Run away, run away!” Potential issues with guests can usually be seen immediately just by their correspondence with you. In this case, there isn’t much research to be done.

Increased Bookings

Conduct your research well, and you can avoid using restrictions like requiring a minimum five-day stay, and begin to trust the Instant-Book feature. Fewer restrictions equal more bookings and more money! Reducing stay restrictions translate to an income increase of 10-15%!

Reduce Host Anxiety 

Do you have stranger-danger fear? Getting to know your guests better can help you feel more like you’re inviting a friend into your home.

Manage Expectations

Looking into your potential guest can help you manage your expectations of them. This will help ensure their stay is a good one.

Guest Research: Screen Yourself

Yes, screen yourself. But not like a background check! To filter through potential guests and book the ones you want staying at your Airbnb, you need to understand what it is you want.

Define your Perfect Guest

What type of person or people are you hoping to attract? What kind of “stays” do you want booked? Do you want singles or families? Long or short bookings? Guests that will keep to themselves, or act as part of the family? Identifying your ideal guest will help you write and market your listing to bring in that kind of guest. It’s a form of pre-screening on its own.

Review Regulations

Check fair housing laws to make sure none of the items on your “perfect guest” list are illegal. You don’t want to be discriminatory. Read your state and local laws to see if there are any regulations in place regarding Airbnb rentals in your area. After all, you’d rather know the cash you earn from the stay is taxable before you spend it, right?

Establish House Rules 

Providing this list helps your guests know what you expect of them. Say you have a noise curfew put in place for 11 pm. If a guest skips over your listing because of this curfew, then already, you’ve conducted a guest screening. 

Complete Airbnb’s Verified ID Process

You have to be verified to see if your guests have completed the process. The Verified ID process assures both sides that everyone is who they claim to be. It also provides basic information about the guest: name, age range (over or under 25), and a profile photo.

Guest Research: Online Screening

Now that you’ve looked inward, it’s time to turn your attention to your guests. You can do a decent amount of research without even speaking to them.

Review Their Airbnb Profile, Especially The “About Me” Section

Is it skimpy, or full of information? The more you see, the better. After all, this is a guest’s opportunity to help you know them.

Check Out Their Social Media

Did they include a link on their Airbnb account to any social media accounts? See if what they’re posting matches what is listed in their “About Me” section. Do their posts show that they’ll be a good fit for you?

Verified ID

Was your guest willing to complete this process? A lack of willingness could be a red flag.

Read Their Reviews

Have they been good guests? Are the reviews generic, or are there positive reviews that really stand out? According to, most hosts avoid giving poor reviews to avoid getting a negative review in return. Look to see if any hosts have made an effort to be specific about a good experience.

Guest Research: Reach Out

Now that you’ve done some basic research online, take the time to reach out to your potential guest and ask some questions. Call them or send an email. Pay attention not only to their answers, but also to their willingness to respond, how fully they respond, and what questions they may have for you. Their responses, or lack of them, can be very telling.

Don’t know what to ask? The Airbnb community suggests asking questions that will assess the guest’s reason for booking your home, and what they are planning on doing during their stay. You may also want to ask questions regarding their schedule, so you know when they will be leaving the house and returning. 

It also isn’t a bad idea to ask for the main contact’s information, a list of any people who may be planning to visit them during their stay, and whether or not they need you to clarify anything about house rules.

Now that you’ve done all of your research, it’s time to make a decision. Will you book, or won’t you?

Contingency Plans

Have you gotten to know your guest, but are still concerned about damages to your home and other liability issues? Airbnb has you covered. Literally. According to their Help Center, Airbnb has a Host Protection Insurance program that provides “primary liability coverage for up to $1,000,000.00 per occurrence in the event of a third-party claim of bodily injury or property damage related to an Airbnb stay.” It’s also available regardless of what other insurance you may already have.

Bottom Line

You want to feel safe inviting strangers into your home and for your guests to have a good experience. Researching your guests before approving their booking is a big part of achieving those goals.

About the Author Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones is an award-winning writer and editor from Oklahoma City, OK. Her work has been published on influential sites, including Entrepreneur and International Business Times. She spent several years in property management and leasing, handling short-term rentals, student housing, and community rentals. Rachel is also experienced in staging and real estate photography. With a B.A. in English in her back pocket, Rachel combines her passion for property management with her storytelling ability to offer Airbnb hosts helpful advice as they monetize their homes.