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We’ve all heard the horror stories of bad Airbnb guests—and we’re not talking about missing towels or the odd broken vase.
Inviting the wrong guests into your property can be a costly business, bringing about damages, upset local residents, or even a criminal investigation. The resulting loss of income or impact on your reputation as a host could have lasting consequences for your business.
On the other hand, a careful screening process might not only protect you from the risks of a bad guest, but it could also do wonders for your Airbnb business, increase occupancy rates and revenue.
If you’d like to find out more about how to screen Airbnb guests and why it’s so important, read on.
RueBaRue is a guest communication tool that lets you automate all of your guest messaging – including sending your house rules via text and email. To see how it works, book a demo now.
Whether you use Instant Book or not, you probably know that turning it on lets you automatically accept bookings. Since Airbnb prioritizes listings that are more likely to get bookings, listings on Instant Book get a boost in search results.
As a result, putting your properties on Instant Book can help you get more reservations and maximize vacation rental income with last-minute bookings.
But there’s a catch to Instant Book’s advantages over Request to Book, Airbnb’s other setting.
When bookings bypass the need for a host’s confirmation, there's a greater chance of problematic guests getting through the net, intensifying your need for an effective screening process.
So if you don’t want to leave yourself open to the possibility of disturbances, vandalism, and fraud, you either have to trust in Airbnb’s in-built screening system or create your own.
Airbnb does screen guests, but it’s a limited screening process, focused on fraud prevention.
In your Reservation Requirements settings, you can require guests to have a “Verified ID” badge to book your property. They will then have to provide Airbnb with a government ID (like a driver’s license or passport), possibly with a recent photo, which Airbnb will verify with background checks.
But as Airbnb themselves state:
“Please be aware that completing this process isn’t an endorsement of any Host or guest, a guarantee of someone’s identity, or an assurance that interacting with them will be safe.”
So, while Airbnb does verify guests, it’s not a foolproof system, and guests could even get around it by having a third party make bookings on their behalf.
This is why hosts should undertake a more thorough screening process for all their guests, which is what we’ll address next.
The first way to vet guests is to set vacation rental house rules which they must accept before booking.
Your rules should specify your expectations of what is and isn’t acceptable during their stay. Once they’re provided with a detailed rundown of what you consider unreasonable, guests intending to throw a party will normally ‘out’ themselves by either not proceeding with a booking or canceling their reservation.
If your property has smart technology, use it to your advantage and explain that you have noise monitors installed to discourage late disturbances. There are tools designed specifically for this purpose, NoiseAware being a popular example.
You can often put your mind at rest simply by carefully checking through a guest’s Airbnb profile.
The first port of call is your guest’s reviews. If a guest already has a number of positive Airbnb reviews from other hosts, there’s usually no reason to suspect you’ll have any problems.
If you do see they have a negative review, contact them to see if they have a reasonable explanation. Use your best judgment here—you may find them to be entirely open and transparent, in which case a single negative review due to an out-of-the-ordinary situation.
Also, you can see if your guest has an Airbnb “Verified ID” badge on their profile, which ideally you’ll have already stipulated as a booking requirement via the platform, as mentioned above.
You should see if the guest has a complete profile—a fully completed profile with an accompanying photo is normally a good indicator they’ll be a respectful guest since it shows they understand the value of the screening process. The more information they share in their profile, the less likely it is that they’re a bad guest.
When you receive a booking via Instant Book, you should check that there are no obvious reasons not to proceed with the reservation—according to Airbnb rules for hosts, you have up to 24 hours before check-in to cancel an Instant Book reservation without penalty.
With RueBaRue, you can add your questions to your automated booking confirmation in your vacation rental email templates. Some questions you might wish to ask are:
How a guest responds to your questions can give you a strong idea of how they are in person—someone who’s invested in the Airbnb screening process will take the time to give you full answers, which is a great sign.
If a guest tells you they’re booking your property for a celebration, provide them with some house rules and see how they respond. If they say they’re traveling from close by, inquire further—a local guest could be looking to hire out a space for a party. Alternatively, if they tell you they chose your property because they’ve always wanted to visit that area, you could give them some great local recommendations—like your favorite bar or some local sights.
And if they tell you it’s a romantic occasion? Then why not leave a bottle of wine as part of the welcome basket , and set them up for a fantastic start to their vacation?
This way, your questions aren’t just a precaution, but also an opportunity to help create a special, personalized guest experience—great for guests and even better for your reviews!
You may wish to check your guests’ IDs, such as a copy of their passport or driving license, which you can compare with their Airbnb profile to help put your mind at rest. Hopefully, you won’t ever encounter a guest with a fake ID, but to be sure, there are tools you can use to check. For example, Autohost and Safely are guest verification tools that integrate with your property management system (PMS) to perform background checks on your guests during the booking process.
The background checks are non-intrusive, requiring no more information than what’s provided in an ID—a name, date of birth, and address. Once your guest screening app has completed its checks, the booking is confirmed.
You can also ask for a security deposit. This is for three reasons:
To avoid getting stung by a bad Airbnb guest, look out for any obvious signs warning you to stay well clear.
You should consider it a red flag if your Airbnb guest:
No one likes to think they’ll experience that horror story they’d normally only ever read about in a community chat, but when you rent out a short-term rental property, you leave yourself open to bad actors—which is why it’s so important to take the necessary steps and protect yourself and your property.
These are the tips we recommend to make sure you only ever have respectful (and returning!) guests:
By carrying out thorough guest screening as early as you can during the reservation process, you can avoid any problematic guests, and even use any extra information about who they are and the reasons for their vacation to make their stay extra special.
With RueBaRue, you can send your house rules to your guests automatically via text or email. This way, guests are more likely to read your rules – and less likely to break them! To see the platform in action, sign up for a 14-day free trial now.
To protect yourself from bad Airbnb guests, you should request guest ID verification within your Booking Requirements settings, and develop a screening process including setting house rules, asking for a deposit, and checking guest reviews.
Airbnb has a screening process, but it’s limited and focused on fraud detection—so it doesn’t provide much protection against guests who have parties, pets, or other problematic behaviors for short-term rentals.
Screening your guests can protect you against property damage, parties, and even fraud, and gives you peace of mind as a host.
The first step to screening Airbnb guests is ensuring that they have a verified ID. You should also ask their reason for their stay, ask them to agree to your house rules, ask for a deposit, and check their Airbnb reviews.
When screening guests you should look out for bad reviews, and lack of information in their profile, and check that they have a “Verified ID” badge.