Screening guests

in
San Marcos, TX
Level 2
224 Views

I have been hosting since November 2020 in San Marcos, TX and have encountered two situations where the guest that reserved our property was not the guest or guests who stayed in our property.  In both cases I was not aware that other people were staying in our apartment until after they checked out. In both cases the apartment was left in a mess and I had to request money for damaged and missing items. After requesting reimbursement I eventually found out the guest either set up the reservation for someone else or allowed someone else to use their reservation. 

My question is how to avoid this situation in the future. We have auto check-in with combination locks so we rarely meet the guests. Our apartment is attached to our garage but there is only a breezeway connecting our home to the garage and apartment. The apartment has a lot of privacy so we rarely interact with our guests.

I am wondering if I need to require we meet with the guests upon arrival in order to verify they are the same people reserving the apartment.  This could be inconvenient in many cases with late check-ins and such. I have always assumed through Airbnb the profile has been approved but in these circumstances, nobody would know if the guest(s) whose name it is under are the same people staying there.

Anyone else have a problem like this and if so, how to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Thanks!

Tags (1)
13 Replies

Re: Screening guests

in
Arkansas, United States
Level 10

@Melinda213 

 

Third-party bookings are a violation of Airbnb’s policy.

 

 You could prominently state in your listing that all guests will be required to present government ID before admission and that they will be refused if it doesn’t match what was submitted during the booking process.

 

If you can meet guests before they check in it would be a deterrent.

 

 You can refuse to allow them to check in at inconvenient times, ask who they are through the message app, or take the risk that they are impostors.

 

When you catch someone using someone else’s ID to book you should report them unless they can come up with a reasonable explanation and an authentic apology.

Re: Screening guests

in
San Marcos, TX
Level 2

@Brian2036 Thanks for the input and suggestions. Most of our guests are great and we have not had problems. It is very disconcerting when you find out the person(s) who are staying in your place are not the intended and approved guests! Does Airbnb do anything about these violations? Do the people get removed from the platform? In both my cases, I gave very strong, negative reviews and also marked I would never host them again. In each case, as well, I have had to ask for money to replace damaged items and when that happened is when it was revealed the people who stayed in our apartment were not the people who booked it. The communication with the people staying was nonexistent because they never received any of my messages (obviously) and I never received responses from the guests that booked and would receive my messages.

It has never been a problem as far as check in times because we have combination locks for easy access. Some guests have late flights and arrive later in the evening. This really isn't the problem. It is the rare occurrence that someone other than the intended guest stays and I am unaware of it. 

Re: Screening guests

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

@Melinda213 You have instant booking enabled but no pre-booking message set. This is what my pre-booking message looks like:

Screen Shot 2021-09-08 at 9.04.30 PM.png

 

So when guests book I get a lot of communication like "My husband and I are coming to ....." or "I'll be traveling with my sister ...." This lets me know what to expect. I would suggest you work something like this into your booking process.

 

Re: Screening guests

in
San Marcos, TX
Level 2

@Emilia42  Thanks for that information. I actually had no clue. Most of my guests actually let me know the reason they are visiting our area when they book or request a reservation. I will try your recommendation and hope it helps. I am concerned though, as with the two reservations that turned out not be the guests that booked the stay, that this could continue to be a problem without actually verifying identification when they arrive at my property. It feels awkward to ask a guest for identification when supposedly they have already gone through a process with Airbnb.

Re: Screening guests

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

@Melinda213 Take a look back at the communication with the guests who did not actually stay (third party booking.) What does the first message say? Did the guest flat out lie about their intentions? Or was there a miscommunication and the red flag was not caught right away? Most of the time these situations can be prevented well before the guest even arrives. 

Re: Screening guests

in
San Marcos, TX
Level 2

@Emilia42 The first incident was a last minute - same day (within an hour) reservation request with no other communication other than the person was arriving within an hour. I did not see the person who checked in and although I sent several messages during the stay, I never received a response.

The second incident was someone who made the reservation and did let me know they were coming with a friend to visit the area. I found out later this person let someone else take the reservation.

I have decided I may not take last minute - same day reservations but it is the other one that really concerned me.

Re: Screening guests

in
Alberta, Canada
Level 10

@Melinda213 “It feels awkward to ask a guest for identification when supposedly they have already gone through a process with Airbnb.” 

Requiring a visual check of someone’s ID at check in is perfectly acceptable. Airbnb’s identity verification process is a complete joke. Besides which, they don’t ever share any guest information with hosts.

I completely agree with Emilia in that it’s the communication with a guest, the questions you ask, the answers they give, that provides the info that matters the most. This is where red flags will pop up.

 

Re: Screening guests

in
San Marcos, TX
Level 2

@Colleen253 Thanks for the input. I have heard of hosts who do ask to meet their guests upon check in and perhaps I may have to start doing that. Obviously, Airbnb's identity verification is a joke!  

 

The communication with guests is a tricky thing. They can tell you one thing and it turns out to be something else. As I mentioned, we have actually had really good luck with our guests and I have only had the two incidents which prompted my questions.

 

I appreciate your feedback. 

Re: Screening guests

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

@Melinda213 

"I have decided I may not take last-minute - same-day reservations." That is definitely a good call. 

 

For instant book reservations, your pre-booking message could say something like :

"Hello! Please let me know the reason for visiting the area and who you will be traveling with. This helps me better prepare for your stay.

 

Please note that that guest who owns the booking profile must be present to complete the stay (no third-party bookings allowed.) Guests may be asked for ID at check-in."

 

This will let guests know that they cannot be flighty about handing their reservation over to someone else. You don't always have to ask for IDs at check-in but if you have a funny feeling about a reservation you can follow this "policy." Make sure you also put a blurb about potential checking ID at check-in in your house rules to cover yourself if a guest complains about this process to Airbnb. 

Re: Screening guests

in
San Marcos, TX
Level 2

@Emilia42 Thanks for these suggestions. I am definitely going to implement them. You are right that I don't always have to check ID at the check in process but if I need to I have it available. 

 

Thanks so much for all your input. I do appreciate it!

Re: Screening guests

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

@Melinda213 Also, don't be afraid to confirm details. A week before check-in, you could send a message to this guest: "Hi, XX. I hope you are getting excited about your stay! Just confirming that you will be traveling with your friend (2 people) and plan to check-in on XX date anytime after the 3 pm check-in time. I will send you check-in instructions in the next day or two. Thank you!"

 

This will give the gues the opportunity to let you know if any plans have changed. In my experience, 98% of guests are transparent but questions need to be asked. 

Re: Screening guests

in
San Marcos, TX
Level 2

@Emilia42 Yes - I always check with my guests to confirm their time of arrival when I send check-in instructions. As mentioned - most guests have been absolutely great! Too bad there are those few which start the chain of suspicion and distrust.

Re: Screening guests

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Melinda213  What do you think Airbnb's verification process has to do with who actually shows up?

 

All verified ID means is that the person who made the booking uploaded a driver's license or some other form of ID.

 

That has no bearing on whether the people who show up are the  people who booked. Asking for a guest to show  you ID when they arrive tells you whether they are the same person who made the booking and you don't need to feel awkward about it. Tell them it's a requirement for your insurance, or whatever, and state in your ad that you require guests to show ID on arrival. 

 

Of course this is a moot point if you or a co-host can't be there to check guests in.

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