I have a few questions for the "seasoned" Air BnB hosts. I have insta book on but most of my reservations become requests. I have no idea what criteria about my insta book they are not meeting. Do I need to ask them every single question that is on insta book? What about identification? I feel some people who showed up this summer were not the people on the account. Also, someone brought big dogs into my place and caused a premium amount of damage to my epoxy floors, unfortunately it was weeks before it was noticed (the sun had to hit it a certain way) and then we found two big bones under the couch! It states in my rules that there are no pets. If the request by passes insta book, why are we not told what criteria they did not meet?
I am close to pulling the plug on being part of air BnB, I had nothing but problems this summer, not only did I lose 2/3 of my business, I suffered damage and someone was literally entering the property when no-one was there. We are in the process of installing an outdoor security system because of it.
If anyone has any ideas on the best way to screen guests, I am all ears. I read awhile ago of a host will not do insta book and screens everyone themselves. I am all ears to anyone that also does this.
Thanks in advance!
I don’t do Instant Book and I screen all guests. Over time, you learn what red flags to look for. Also, just getting to know your guests a little, and being attentive to their needs, goes a long way towards making more guests feel more of a sense of personal responsibility.
It’s never 100% guaranteed that you won’t get a bad guest now and then, but for me they are few and far between - less than 5%, and “bad” has never been as horrendous as some host experiences I’ve read about (knocking on wood!). Something helpful I’ve learned is to detach myself emotionally, and to look at most minor mishaps as costs of doing business.
An outdoor security system sounds like a good idea in your case. An outdoor camera with remote access and notification, as well as notification and remote control of the locks and thermostat, are also very helpful. Good luck; I hope you have more rewarding hosting experiences in the future.
You are right, 5% are the bad guys, unfortunately that 5% can cost a serious amount of money as well as create a loss of faith in the system.
If I decline a guest when not on instabook is it held against me? When I go to shut it off it comes up with all these reasons why I should use it and that declining so many reservations was subject to penalties, correct me if I am wrong.
When you screen are you allowed to ask for government ID? And do you ask all the same questions about the rules: Pets, smoking, number of people etc?
I would like tips on what I can ask when doing my own booking confirmation.
@Michelle1648 Once you disable instant book the only thing that will change is that reservations will not automatically be confirmed. They will come through as requests and you will need to decide whether or not to accept or decline. How do you make that decision currently?
I ask them to tell me more about their trip, I make it clear no parties, pets or extra people (this was after being burned). Even with these questions, someone brought I believe to be two large dogs (judging by the size of the scratches and the amount and two large bones). I wasnt sure if the rules were still agreed to, if they don't agree, how does a request even get through, it should be automatic cannot contact the host and waste our time.
These are the three requirements that could prevent a guest from the instant booking (will come through as request if not met) Profile Photo, Government ID, or Recommendations from other hosts. There are other instances as well, like if it is a last-minute booking and the guests indicated a check-in time outside our window.
Do you have any of these boxes checked?
If you turn off instant book then ALL your reservations will come through as requests. Will this make much of a difference since you say mosts are requests now anyway? I have always used instant book but still screen all of my guests. The only difference is the reservation is already confirmed. But that doesn't stop me from having a conversation and/or asking guests who aren't a good fit to cancel.
yes, I have all those boxes checked and do still get a request so it means they are not meeting some or all of those inquiries and I do not know which ones, why isn't the system telling me so I can ask for them?
It does sound like I have to screen all guests so why bother with instabook. Can I ask for government ID and see it for myself? Should I be confirming in a message, no pets, no smoking, basically all my rules. I feel like because they did not meet instabook requirements they got passed my rules as well because I didn't know any better to ask again when doing the manual booking. This is only my second year doing this on my. own.
If the guest does not have any previous reviews then they would not meet that requirement. If their profile is not verified then they likely have not uploaded a government ID.
A guest reading your house rules doesn't have anything to do with Instant book. You should always verify that the guest knows what to expect regardless of how they book.
I have never used IB, all my guests send requests. My situation is a little different from yours in that my listing is a private room in my home for 1 guest only. So I don't have the worries entire-home hosts have as far as guests being able to sneak in extra people, pets, throw parties, etc.
When a guest sends a request, the message I send them varies depending on what sort of initial message the guest has sent along with their request, as well as what I see on their profile page. If a guest sends a nice, informative message, i.e. "Hi Sarah, I found your listing and it sounds like exactly what I'm looking for. I really need to escape the plummeting temps where I live and look forward to some beach time and just relaxing with a book in a quiet spot. The 20 minute walk to town isn't a issue for me- I love to walk and am the outdoorsy type. I look forward to meeting you and your dog."
A message like that tells me that this is an articulate, communicative person who understands that a home-share host would want to know something about a guest who is asking to stay with them, and mentioning the walk to town and the dog makes it evident that they've read through my listing description, as those things aren't mentioned in the part of the listing info they see without clicking on "Read more". If they also have a page or two full of reviews from hosts stating what a lovely guest this was, I wouldn't have any questions of the guest at that point, I would just accept their request and message them back thanking them for their request, that I look forward to meeting them, and that I'll send them a map to my place and transportation info when it gets closer to their check-in date.
If their first message only says something like "I'll be arriving around noon", when I haven't even accepted their request yet, then my response would be quite different- I would solicit more info. " Hi XX, thanks for your request. I'm just checking that you are aware that I have a dog and a cat (in case of allergies), that the room is for one person only and that.... ". What I'm doing there is trying to determine if they have actually read through the listing info thoroughly. That message usually results in a much more informative reply.
If I see they are new to the platform and/or have no reviews, my first message to them may be more in the way of making sure they understand what staying at an Airbnb means. "Hi XX, Thanks for your request. I see you are new to the platform, so I just want to ensure that you understand how it all works- have you read all through my listing info and house rules? Checked the terms of my cancellation policy? " Etc.
You can create saved messages where you re-iterate all your house rules (this would be more important for entire place hosts- I have almost no "rules") and whatever else you want to convey to guests so you don't have to write everything out each time- the you can just add to it depending on the individual request and any questions they may have asked.
Because you have to either accept or decline a booking request within 24 hours, if a guest you'd like more info from before making a decision doesn't respond soon, you could message again letting them now you require an answer by XX time or you'll have to decline.
Also be aware that if you receive a Inquiry, as opposed to Request, there's no need to either pre-approve or decline- just answering an inquiry message within 24 hours fulfills your obligations.
Declining does lower your Acceptance rate, but don't worry too much about that- that stat isn't included in the Superhost metrics, and while hosts do get warning messages from Airbnb for declining too many requests, it isn't something that gets hosts delisted unless you are declining tons. Always try to get guests to withdraw requests that are inappropriate (they are asking to bring a pet when you don't allow them, kids in a no-kids listing, more guests than you allow, etc) so you don't have to waste a decline on them. "Hi XX, No, sorry, I can't waive my no-pets rule. I get a lot of guests who are allergic to pet dander, as is my cleaner. Please withdraw this request ASAP so you'll be free to look for a pet-friendly listing- I know there are quite a few in my area".