Protecting your vacation rental from guest damage and maintaining good relations with your neighbours and the local community should be a top priority when accepting guest bookings.
Most of the time we are so focused on getting a guest to choose our accommodation, that we forget that we have the right to decline a booking if we don’t get a good feeling from the pre-booking communication.
Carrying out Airbnb Guest Screening before you accept a booking should be an essential part of your vacation rental strategy and here are seven reasons why you should start doing it today:
1. Welcome guests who respect your home and community
2. Confidently welcome guests who want exactly what you have
3. Well behaved guests mean a quicker turnover in between stays and cleaning time and expenses are reduced
4. Prevent parties and noise disturbances in your Airbnb
5. Guests will enjoy your home more and you will enjoy a stress-free booking
6. Happy and respectful guests lead to more five star reviews
7. Happy and respectful guests help to maintain harmony with your neighbours
The value of defining your ideal guest
Guests book accommodation based on several factors:
• type and size of accommodation
Your accommodation may tick all of the boxes for a particular guest, but the important question is: do they tick all of the boxes for you?
Should you accept a booking if initial communication suggests that they might not be the ideal guests you want to welcome into your vacation rental?
To avoid this scenario, it’s essential to have a clear idea of your ideal guest profile and develop your messaging and story around them.
How to vet Airbnb guests
Most vacation rental guests are well-behaved and respectful. Many choose a vacation rental for its authenticity and flexibility and appreciate that they are staying in your home.
However, there are some minority guests who choose a vacation rental because they want to ‘do what they like’ during their vacation. Whether that’s having a party, leaving everything messy, damage or stealing items.
As a host, you want to avoid this type of guest and the best way to do that is to screen them before they book.
So how can you successfully screen an Airbnb guest before they book without offending them?
Let’s take a look at ways to vet guests on the Online Travel Agencies (OTA) and on your own direct booking channel.
How to screen a guest before they book on an OTA
You have minimal communication with the guest on bookings received through an OTA, such as Airbnb or VRBO, so it’s essential that the time you have between receiving the enquiry and accepting the booking is used wisely:
1. Check their guest profile
Danny Rusteen from Optimize My Airbnb says that the common theme with bad guest experiences is that the majority haven’t filled out their profile. If you receive an inquiry from someone with an incomplete guest profile, gently let them know that you only accept bookings from guests who fully complete their profile. You can explain it only takes a couple of minutes and helps you to get to know your guests better before they stay and if your home is the right accommodation for them.
2. Monitor the messaging
If during your messaging with the guest they don’t seem open or attentive, ask more questions. Some of the best questions to evaluate whether a guest is right for your home are:
• What is the mix of the group? Are there children in the group or all adults, what age range are the guests?
• What is the reason for the trip? Are they on a relaxing break, family holiday, or friend getaway?
• Is this their first time staying in a vacation rental? Do they understand that booking conditions are different to a hotel? There is no housekeeping service to clean up after them. And the house should be looked after during their stay.
If you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to decline the booking.
3. Check reviews
Feedback from other owners and property managers that have hosted the guest will help you to decide if they are conscientious guests or guests from hell.
How Airbnb, VRBO and Booking.com do guest screening?
OTAs don’t have a fixed policy on guest screening. Some ID verification may take place, but not on every guest. The other issue is that the platforms don’t share guest data, so a guest could surf from platform to platform leaving devastated hosts in their wake.
Airbnb Guest Screening: For an added layer of protection, you can add Airbnb’s ID verification feature, which means you only accept guest bookings which have been verified first by Airbnb.
Booking.com: Booking also adds this extra layer of booking protection, which allows you to only accept bookings from guests who have input a verified email address, mobile number and credit card details.
VRBO: Guests booking on VRBO are not required to confirm their identity to book although random checks may be carried out and the guest is then asked to provide information such as name, email, phone numbers, physical address and date of birth, which is then checked for accuracy.
VRBO does have a ‘Verified Identity’ feature and guests are informed that obtaining this helps to build trust with hosts and their bookings are more likely to be accepted.
How to screen a guest before they book on your direct booking website
Assessing guests is so much easier through your own direct booking channels as you have clear and direct communication with them before they book.
As we discussed with OTA enquiries, the key here is not to be afraid to ask questions and you may want to do the following extra checks:
ID verification: You can also confirm upfront that they are happy for you to take ID copies from every guest over the age of 16, which can be a deterrent for guests who want to party in your home.
Depending on where your home is based, the ID gets lodged with the local police in case of damage or noise complaints, which is also a deterrent.
Social media screening: A great way to learn more about your guests is to check out their social media and search for them on Google. It might seem a bit like stalking but you can tell a lot from social media profiles.
Be clear in your Airbnb description and guest communication
- No Hen or Stag Groups
- Guests travelling without children must be 25 years or older
Being upfront might not seem hospitable but it will avoid a situation where you have to decline a booking from a guest profile that you don’t want.
Make your guests aware of community and house rules
Make sure your guests also read your ‘House Rules’ before they book and be clear that unless they agree to the conditions, you won’t be able to accept the booking.
Guests will enjoy your accommodation more and so will you when both parties know what to expect before the stay.
Your rental contract should include your house and community rules, and it’s essential that your guests read, agree and sign up to these house rules.
Make them aware that whilst you want them to enjoy the best vacation in your Airbnb, they must also be respectful of both your home and neighbours.
Deliver the information in a firm yet friendly manner. You can reiterate house rules through guest apps and you might also choose to use a noise and occupancy monitoring sensor to ensure you prevent parties and are fully protected from troublesome guests.
Airbnb insurance for hosts
As a final layer of protection you can take out specialised insurance to protect your vacation rental against damage. The Airbnb Host Damage Protection protects hosts in some countries for up to One Million against damages (check Airbnb’s policy in your country).
There are also specialist companies, such as Superhog that offer guest screening and ID verification across all of your OTA and direct booking channels, leaving you to run your vacation rental business with peace of mind that your guests are going to look after your home during their stay.