What AirBnB instant book guest requirements do you have?

12 Replies

Wondering what you guys use!

I've had some bad experiences early on with people who do not have AirBnB reviews, and it kind of turned me off. Do you guys filter with recommendations from hosts? Also government issued ID?

From your experience, are they actually useful or not to get an indication of how easy to deal with a potential guest?

It is important to disconnect from the property itself. I manage a ton of properties here in Tampa for other owners. If they only knew the kinds of things we've cleaned up or fixed they would be devastated. The point here is, expect things to go wrong. Be prepared for when they do. Emotionally detach from the property. It's just a big game of money coming in and money going out.

For the first month I set my listings to Instant Book anyone with a valid ID. After that we slowly start to tighten up restrictions once we get reviews and traction. 

@Andrew Wong  

For some people, they disconnect from a property by hiring a property manager to do all of the guest interaction. They only watch their bank statements and lose that sense of emotional connection. 

For others, they just don't allow themselves to get beat up over tiny guest interactions because they only see it as a business.

True story:

Just yesterday, I woke up to a guest wanting a refund for the last day of her stay because of issues not even pertaining to my listing. I gave her a refund for that day, my housekeeping crew turned the property and at 3PM I had gotten an Instant Booking from a new guest. I still ended up making the same commission on the nightly rental plus I was able to get a second cleaning fee. Oh and the guest that checked out early... gave me an INCREDIBLE review. Had I gone back and forth with her and poisoned the relationship, I likely wouldn't have ended up on top like I did.

The hardest thing about accepting my first booking was worrying about how strangers would treat my house!  After the first few, I was able to (mostly) stop worrying about it - even though, as my first property, I'm still a bit too emotionally attached. :)  But that mostly means I spend more money and time on it than I would on a pure investment.  (I also am at the property a lot)

I've actually done the opposite of @Jared Higginbotham - my worry made my instant book settings begin very tightly, requiring host recommendations on top of gov't ID and disclosing trip information.  I've since relaxed them and no longer require host recommendations, but I do still want verified gov't ID and for them to tell me why they're visiting the area and who (generally) is in their party.

@Andrew Wong - the issue with having your settings really tight is that you don't have as large of an audience. 

Take @Jared Higginbotham 's advice and try to disconnect from the property. Money in and money out. If it's positive, that's what you want. Additionally, his advice on keeping it professional/pleasant and seeing it in the reviews has absolutely proven true for us as well. I didn't always feel that way or have that attitude and that also showed up in my reviews. It's important to be as diplomatic as possible, think about the bigger picture and keep people (for the most part, and within reason) happy.

It depends on your location. Audience in a big city with a 1 night minimum  is very different than a beach house with  1 week min. I'm in this since 3 years and keep things tight for LA while in a beach house in OC guests are cool. Airbnb guests can be wild in a big city so, I require reviews and ID.

For my listing, I've always set my instabooks to 'recommended by hosts". I do make exceptions on a case by case basis if the guests message me. From my perspective, I would much rather charge a lower rate knowing that 5 star guests are staying in my home than worrying about unknown guests.

I know that for guests starting out with no reviews, someone has to give them a chance. Although after a few bad experiences I think I've paid my dues.

Here is a quick and dirty method I use to evaluate my short term renters:

I look at what they are driving and how well they have taken care of it.

Most of the time they are driving a full size truck with seating for 4, they have a $3000 lift kit, and it is clean.  These tenants I normally don't have any problem with.

If they are driving a dirty or dented or rusty car with not so new tires, I'm usually going to have problems.

Disclaimer, my tenants are all temporary workers at a refinery. Not vacationers.

I personally use all of the settings for the IB but IB's setting for good review is kind of a joke. The user can have one 5 star review and then instant book your place which makes it a bit unreliable. They should have at least 3 5 star reviews in my opinion to make the feature more reliable. Fortunately I haven't had any bad experiences with people that instant book that have 1 5 star review.

Good points, everyone. Instant booking is a matter of vetting and filtering. You can initially vet guests through the "story" your listing tells. 

Are you trying to sell to weekend warriors or to the casual business traveler? Who is your ideal guest? 

The copywriting is important and should serve as an emotional driver and a filter. The pictures can also help serve this purpose too. Cheers -J

@Andrew Wong I use the most strict instant book options. Government ID... All of my boxes are checked. I want people to be able to instant book but I want them to have to put as much effort into it as possible. I figure theres a slightly higher chance they'll actually READ the listing if they take the time to put in the drivers license. 

The best guests READ about what they're buying before they buy it. 65% of guests do NOT read the listing they just flip through pictures. I've considered adding a sign in my pictures that says "the pictures are awesome but you should READ the listing." 

My favorite is when they show up and call me and talk to me like I've never been to my own property. "I just wanted you to be aware that that road is very steep." "Yes, I know, you wanted to come to a MOUNTAIN which rises up out of the earth into the sky. And it says 4 times in my listing that the road is steep. And you had to click a box that said you were aware the road was steep. Yet you decided to CALL me on my cell phone and waste my time rather than taking 2 minutes to READ the listing. Oh and maybe you didn't realize this but this is my house. I own it. I had to go up the road before i even bought it."  Oh the things I wish I could say :) 

I wouldn't buy my nephew a $75 big wheel without reading the box and the reviews first. I wish my guests knew how to READ. 

I'm pretty strict on who I book regardless of instant book. We are 25+ only. (be careful with this airbnb doesn't like age discrimination. VRBO doesn't mind. I don't like 21 year olds learning how to drink with 7 moonshine distilleries right down the road). 

I can tell right away if someone is going to be trouble. If they ask me 5 questions that were easily answered by reading the listing I know I'm going to have to hold their hand before during and after their stay. I can generally tell if they're going to be pukers and I'll deny them. 

I find that other hosts, especially other superhosts are the worst people to have in your property. They can't relax. They spend the entire trip looking around your house thinking about what they would do differently. I have only had one host that didn't leave a snarky review and I ended up being a guru for her. She still messages me with linen suggestions etc. I will have a little chat with another host before I book them. "This is not your market. This is not your house. Will you be able to relax, enjoy yourself, and leave a great review, or will you scrutinize the whole time?" 

I'm also not opposed to offering $50 for a good review IF something happens that was clearly my mistake. "Here's a couple bucks what do you say is it water under the bridge?" Sounds crazy but it works. Learned that from one of my gurus who became a partner. 

@Lucas Carl I make sure that all guests have to read every detail because I instruct them to. We never take a phone call about our listing but we definitely use to. Those individuals looking back were almost always newbies or very new to STR. We have basically eliminated those individuals and it has been a blessing doing so. I attach every filter and require all communication through the site. Cuts down on the crazy newbie asking if we have bugs, or even better, do you clean water. Yes, clean water. Take care!

Best Regards,

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