We've all been burned by bad guests, I've had damage to my home, stolen keys, drugs, blood splatters on the walls (no joke), parties and everything else you can imagine. Those guests cause us to have to shut down for repairs, hassle with Airbnb, lose sleep and cost us even more money.
We all want great guests so we can help them have incredible experiences and run a successful business - but that means we need to weed out the bad guests before they book.
There are many online groups who share experiences, advice, solutions and wisdom. Here are some incredible ideas on how to avoid bad Airbnb guests from battle-scarred veterans that want to save you the lessons they learned the hard way:
1. Beware of Locals
Airbnb parties are an unfortunate trend that has been increasing in the past few years. You need to have your guard up and make sure you are being extra careful with anyone who you think could be local to your city (or short driving distance).
There are obviously legit guests who are local, but something that you should be very careful with and make sure you are keeping a close eye on this booking.
Locals booking my Airbnb is the thing that has burned me more than anything else. Even if someone looks like they are from out of town - make sure they don't have a local phone number (we fell for "I used to live in Chicago and am back for the night visiting).
2. Don't Book Guests Without Reviews
Do NOT book a guest that doesn't have a review - preferably multiple reviews. You want to know what you can expect from your guest. It's better to have a vacancy than deal with bad guest issues.
A prospective guest may sound nice, look harmless - but you want to know that they will be a respectful guest in your home and not cause trouble. We aren't just trying to block someone who will throw a party or damage your house, bad guests can also be needy complainers who will take all your time, ask for rebates and ultimately leave you a bad review.
On the flip side, we had a group of 21 yr olds stay with us over new years. They had multiple glowing reviews, we were skeptical of allowing this group of guys to stay at our place for new years - but they turned out to be ideal guests. I had multiple chat, text and phone conversations with this group. We checked their social media and read all reviews. Glad we didn't judge that book by it's cover.
3. Read The Guests Reviews (not just stars)
This sounds basic (because it is), but so many hosts just look at the total stars. It's worth the extra few minutes to go through the reviews and look for concerns (e.g. bad communicator). You want to know what your guest is all about and if that is a good match for you. Look for trends / patterns in all the reviews.
4. Check Guests Social Media
There are entire social groups for hosts to help identify guests that are planning airbnb parties. These can be great resources to help each other, but also identify bad guests and people that are promoting Airbnb parties.
If someone doesn't feel right, it's worth a quick search of their social media. Look for images or references to other airbnb's in their posts. Many of the Airbnb Party groups will promote these parties on social media, so it's good to be on the lookout.
5. Avoid Discounts
Every time we discounted a night to fill a vacancy, we ended up with a bad guest.
I'm not sure if bargain hunters are the issue, but once we stopped doing this - we stopped having most of our guest issues.
Guests who booked discounted nights seem to complain about everything, wind up asking for further discounts and cost us the most time and money.
If we discounted our Airbnb by 30% to fill the open night, we'd wind up giving that guest another 50% back as a make-good because they were so unhappy with something.
By contrast, when we were charging our highest premiums (summer weekends), those were the guests that were the most appreciative and respectful of our home.
6. Monitor One Night Stands
Sorry - couldn't resist that headline...but you do need to pay extra close attention to guests who only book one night stays. This is when the parties happen.
Don't think that parties only happen on weekends. Our biggest party (the one with blood splatters on the walls) happened on a Sunday night.
There is a lot of debate on this in the Airbnb community between privacy and security. The bottom line is that your home is valuable and you need to protect it. If guests are doing something that violates your house rules or puts your business in jeopardy - you need to know it right away and cameras are going to help.
I'm not pushing any particular camera here. No affiliate deals or hidden agendas (caveat, I do have a few of these, but always transparent about them).
Be upfront with guests that you have them and where they are. You should include this in your listing and make sure guests see it (so you don't have issues after they arrive).
A simple camera on the front entrance will help you know who's coming and going (and how many people). I would recommend not putting cameras in the house, and definitely no hidden cameras.
8. Other Technology
There are other technologies out there that can help to monitor how many people are in the home, monitor noise levels, etc. Many are simple and connect to your phone.
One of the top recommendations among host forums is Noise Aware (No affiliation). Specific features to consider are if they require WiFi, how it monitors, how it notifies you, etc.
9. Clear House Rules
Many hosts don't want to sound too strict or uninviting, but it's important to make it VERY CLEAR what you allow and what you don't.
Clearly identify that you don't allow parties!
Put limits on number of people who are allowed in the house at any time, and that anyone staying there needs to be registered through Airbnb
Also important to indicate if you don't allow smoking and what times guests need to reduce noise. It's helpful to have this written down so you can enforce these when necessary.
10. Make Sure Everyone Staying In Your Airbnb is a Registered Guest
This is important to cover yourself from a liability standpoint. If anything happens, you're going to want support from Airbnb or insurance.
Right off the bat, if you can see that the guest is bringing in more people then they registered - you know you are going to have a bad guest on your hands and you need to be on top of this booking.
This is also critical if you charge for extra guests. Don't let the guests cheat you out of money.
11. Strict Cancellation Policy
Change your cancellation policy to Strict.
This might reduce some bookings on the front end, but will save you in the long run. This is a business and you need to think about the long-term play. Quick money is easily lost when you need to shut down for a few day / week to repair damages from a bad guest.
Strict Cancellation policy will reduce the number of last minute cancellations that will leave you out of money, or scrambling to fill vacancies.
This also helps to weed out people who are booking your place for parties or to hold a place while looking for other options. You don't want to be left with a vacancy last minute - so this will insure that your guests are committed and serious.
12. Turn Off Instant Booking
This is another Airbnb feature that might reduce your bookings on the front end, but will help to make sure you are getting quality bookings - not just quantity.
You want to monitor and approve all guests that stay at your house.
Airbnb pushes this feature, but the benefit is for guests - not hosts. Giving up control of who you host doesn't benefit you in the long run. This is your home and your business, maintain control.
13. Report Bad Guests
Guest reviews are only valuable if we all take the time to do it. Help out the community and make sure you review all guests with meaningful detail.
Report bad guests to Airbnb, write reviews and share with host communities online.
We need to work together to identify bad guests. Reviews only take a few minutes and will help out other hosts.
14. No Third-Party Bookings
This violates terms of service anyway, but you should still avoid.
You should only work with individuals who will be staying in your home and who are listed with Airbnb and ultimately responsible for their actions
If there is a 3rd party who reaches out initially - make sure the actual booking is done by the guest who is staying there.
15. Greet Guests in Person
We only did this when we weren't sure about a guest or something made us feel uneasy.
This helps to ensure they aren't showing up with a ton of people not included on the reservation. It also helps you to get a sense of who they are and what their trip is all about and re-enforce the house rules that you set up before the booking.
16. Set A Security Deposit
There are changes happening to this policy, Airbnb is testing different approaches and we're anxious to see how this plays out.
Truth be told, the existing policy on security deposits is a bit of a joke - guests don't actually put down any money and it's hard to access this "deposit" if there are damages.
However, most guests think this is a real deposit and therefore might help to keep them in line.
17. Get to Know Your Guests
This is a good rule of thumb in general, but comes in particular handy when trying to identify and weed out bad guests.
You can get to know your guests in person, through the chat or phone - you should always try to connect with your guests personally.
If you get to know them and the reason for their trip, you'll have a better idea if they are going to be a problem. Getting to know your guests is also a way to be a better host and make sure you are helping them to have an amazing experience.
There is a fringe benefit - you might also gain some insight that can help you to make extra money from your guests during their stay. Here are a few tips on ways to make extra money from your Airbnb guest stays.