We understand the nuances of hosting via Airbnb. These are our fine-tuned instructions to avoid Airbnb hosting mistakes built from our 3-year experience of hosting. Each problem has the actionable steps and scripts you can use to deal with guests and avoid these problems entirely.
#1 Hosting Mistakes: Not Taking Precautions Against Guests Smoking
You’d think no one would smoke in an Airbnb. Think again. Once we checked-out a guest after a 1 month stay, and it was one of our gravest Airbnb hosting mistakes. Perhaps he smoked there every day, perhaps once in a while. But even after scrubbing for 2 days, our next guest complained. It was a drawn out problem that went to Airbnb support. Not our fault and not our new guest’s fault either.
- Buy formal no smoking signs. Put one at the entrance, one in the bedroom and one in the living room.
- Include this clause on your house rules. ““Absolutely no smoking on the premises. If there is a smell of smoke there will be a mandatory extra charge. We suggest that heavy smokers do not stay in our apartment, since any smell of smoke will result in a fine.”“
- Order a smoke detector. You can get it for free from Airbnb.
- Offer a cleaning service. Send someone at least every month to check your property. You can increase this to a weekly clean, if you can fit it in your budget. This lets you check up on whether the guest is following the rules.
Extra caution: include a sizeble break between guests. We had a 3-day window that let us at least mitigate some of the lingering smoke smell.
#2 Accepting Guests Digging for a Bargain
Our most problematic guests have been those that have asked for a discount. The best, those who booked without asking questions, accepting the set price. Hotels don’t negotiate on prices, neither should you. You should include a discount for long-term stays however, which is a different matter.
- Reply to discount requests with “The listed price is the final price. Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.”
- Rehighlight the long-term stay discount that is automatically added by Airbnb in search queries. “We offer a discount of x amount for stay of 7 nights or more. This is automatically added by Airbnb. Your quoted price already includes this discount.”
#3 Not Checking for Lightbulb Switches
Guests are unlikely to steal lightbulbs, but you don’t want to leave out a whole year’s supply of this or toilet roll etc. Therefore, when lightbulbs burn out often the guest will just switch the bulb with one from a side lamp. If you don’t check regularly, you’ll end up with a serious lack of light in the property. This looks unprofessional and is a quick fix.
- Add lightbulbs to the cleaning checklist (access our checklist here).
- Have a locked cupboard on the premises filled with stock.
#4 Allowing unreasonably early check ins
Reasonable check in is no earlier than 10:30 am. Most hotels have pushed this back to 15:00 pm or 16:00 pm.
- Send the following messages to guests so you aren’t hanging around to do check in, but you don’t give the guest all the power. “Hi x, check-in is available from 10:30 AM onwards. What time will you be checking in on x? We will need to make sure someone is at the property to meet you.”
- Include a list of nearby places and cafés where the guest can wait. Since you probably don’t have a lobby like a hotel, this would be useful if the guest gets into town earlier than expected. “There are several good cafes near the property for you to get breakfast, lunch or a snack. Here are few of our favourites.”
#5 Hosting Mistake: Communicating with Your Guest Off Airbnb
We ran into issues when I handed out my Whatsapp because we no longer had a record of the communications we’d had with guests. The worst Airbnb hosting mistakes are when you don’t safeguard yourself. The only official way to talk to your guests is via the Airbnb messaging system. Luckily the Airbnb app is far more user friendly. It allows you to send pictures (for i.d. purposes or repair requests) and you can reply straight from your phone.
- Download the Airbnb App and send your guest a message enquiring about check-in or anything else you need to discuss before arrival. Add this phrase on the end ”We use the Airbnb app to quickly communicate. We highly recommend you download the app. You then have the option to send pictures if there are any queries about appliance use or anything else!”
- Next send a picture of your welcome book. “You can find a lot of information about the property and neighbourhood in our welcome book. It is located under the television in the lounge.”
#6 Hosting Mistakes: Forgetting to Cap Electricity Use
Our apartment is in Rio de Janeiro. It’s a hot place. Because we rent solely for long-term guests, often foreigners who work remote book the apartment. This means they’ll be in the apartment most of the day and probably with the air conditioner on. This is a high consumption of energy and you don’t need to fit this bill.
- Include this clause on your house rules: “For longterm stays, the electricity bill will have a cap of X per month. This is more than enough for two people to stay in theproperty, but will not cover if you leave the AC on continuously or excessively. Please be efficient with the use of the AC for yourself and the environment!“
- Remind the guest in the welcome book and on arrival when explaining about the air conditioner controls about the electricity cap.
- Send them a bill monthly if they are staying extra long-term. Do this in the first month. If they are a little over the first month you could just advise them of their bill responsibility. Use this message “Hi x, hope you are having a enjoyable stay in X. We would just like to remind you that are electricity bill is capped at X. This month you exceeded that by X, see the enclosed billing statement. Please be aware that next month you will need to pay the bill over X amount. You can remain within the limits if you are conscientious when using the AC. Thank you for your understanding.”
#7 Hosting Mistakes: Not Leaving Time Between Guests
Returning to our smoking guest nightmare. You need time to mitigate situations between guests. Secondly, many international flights run overnight. This means international guests will very often ask for a late check out. It is good to offer this especially for reviews. Also guests sometimes just check-out late. You are snookered, when the new one turns up and the property is full.
- Click on settings in the Airbnb hosting panel. Click on the “Listing” tab. In the first section “reservation preferences” click edit. Scroll to “preparation time” and input “block 2 nights before and after each reservation.”