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Vetting Airbnb Guests: Use This Questionnaire to Screen Your Guests [2020]

Inviting strangers into your home can be a nerve wracking experience even for the most seasoned Airbnb host. You’ve never met the person (or people!) before, and now you’ll be sharing a space with them for days, sometimes even weeks? Airbnb hosts are just crazy enough to do it time and time again, but how can we ensure we have the best possible guests staying with us?

Here is Rental Recon’s BEST questionnaire to screen/vet your Airbnb guests!

  1. What brings you to this city/town/country?
  2. What are your plans for this vacation?
  3. What does your typical day look like?
  4. Can you explain any less favorable reviews on your profile (if applicable)?
  5. Will anyone be with you during your stay?
  6. Do you have any questions about my house rules?
  7. Are you prepared to pay a security deposit (if you have one)?

Before we get started…

Create a picture in your head of the ideal guest for your Airbnb. How do they act? Do they have pets or children? Do you show them around town or mainly keep to your own routines? It might seem silly, but a few simple answers to questions like these will help you formulate your screening questions easily.

What Brings You to This City/ Town/ Country?

While the motive behind traveling doesn’t necessarily make or break a guest, understanding their expectations will help you decide whether or not they’d be a good fit for your rental. For example, people coming into town to visit family likely won’t be at your Airbnb a lot, whereas someone looking for a relaxing retreat from everyday life will probably be a homebody.

Some guests are looking for a much more hands-on host than others. People looking for sightseeing and exploration often appreciate a host who can show them around a bit, or at least point them in the right direction.

Some hosts love to do this, others would rather see a bit less of their guests. Whatever your preference, be sure to make your hosting style and offerings clear in both your listing and your messages to potential guests.

What are Your Plans for this Vacation?

In the same vein, asking guests what they expect to do during their stay is a great way to gauge what kind of experience you might have with them. Those travelling for work or business likely won’t be very chatty at the end of a long day, but someone on a cross-country road trip might appreciate a bit more company.

This question is really useful for screening because it also makes guests consider their expectations as well. If they’re in town to throw a wild party, for example, they might think twice before renting with a conscientious host.

If a guest is hesitant to tell you their plans or seems to be intentionally vague, this is a pretty big red flag. While they might not have every detail nailed down yet, everyone should have some sort of expectation of their vacation experience. If a guest refuses to elaborate on their reason for wanting to stay with you or becomes defensive when asked (it happens!), it might be best to pass.


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What Does Your Typical Day Look Like?

Not only will this question help you get to know your potential guest a bit better, it will show your guests that you care about the experience they have with you. Some people are early birds, some are night owls. Not all hosts jive well with extreme schedules, so if your guest is planning on coming in the door at 3am it’s best to find out now!

This will also help you weed out people whose idea of a good vacation doesn’t align with your idea of a good hosting experience. Partiers are a common complaint amongst hosts, so if your guest’s description of their day ends with “going out on the town” you might want them to elaborate a bit before committing.

This question is also an opportunity to get an idea of what level of at-home comfort your guest is looking for. Some guests specifically choose Airbnbs because many of them allow cooking, unlike hotel rooms.

Not all hosts feel comfortable with strangers using their kitchen freely, so asking a guest where they plan to get their meals is also worthwhile. If you are fine with guests cooking, it’s also a chance to go over some ground rules for common areas.

Be sure to check out how to send Airbnb check in instructions ASAP! Once you’ve decided a guest is a good fit, making sure that they’re clear on your check in and check out procedure is an invaluable step to take before they actually arrive. It will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road!

Can You Explain any Less Favorable Reviews on Your Profile (if applicable)?

We’ve all gotten a few… less than ideal reviews before. If you haven’t yet, you surely will soon! You can never please everyone, so a bad review shouldn’t necessarily disqualify a guest from ever staying at another Airbnb for the rest of their lives. If it seems to be a trend, that’s another story. However, an isolated incident might warrant a quick explanation and it certainly isn’t unreasonable to ask for one.

Sometimes it can come off as rude to plainly state “I see that Previous Host says you did XYZ at their Airbnb. What’s up with that?”. Instead, a general blanket statement can be a less confrontational approach.

Saying something like “I always ask my guests if they want to clarify anything that has come up on their profile in the past” or another indirect question keeps things from getting awkward and gives guests the opportunity they deserve to explain their side of things.

Rental Recon Tip: Utilize your review space as much as possible! It’s only fair to your fellow Airbnb users that you pay it forward by giving accolades or criticisms where they are deserved. If you feel you got an unfair review, you can post a public reply explaining your side of the story. If a review is completely incorrect or borders on harassment, you can petition Airbnb to get it removed.

Will Anyone be with You During Your Stay?

While it may seem like a straightforward question, a lot of guests don’t realize that they’re technically not allowed to bring anyone who isn’t listed in the booking into their Airbnb. This is a huge liability for the guests, the host, and Airbnb themselves.

Asking people to clarify who will be with them, even if they did list others on their booking, is good practice in preventing unwanted visitors.

Another good practice to have in place is to require Airbnb’s Verified ID for all your potential guests. Airbnb can verify people’s identity with a pretty high degree of certainty by requiring an official document (such as a driver’s license) and matching it with other identifiers like social media profiles.

Requiring Verified ID will basically guarantee that the person renting your home is who they say they are. It’s not hard for guests to do, so anyone that pushes back against it should probably be passed over.

Do You Have any Questions About My House Rules?

House rules are the bread and butter of an Airbnb. Readers are probably tired of me harping on their importance, but that hasn’t stopped me yet! House rules are like an insurance policy that you write yourself. By staying at your Airbnb, guests are acknowledging that they have read and understand your rules and agree to abide by them.

This will become extremely important if you ever end up in a dispute with a guest. It’s bound to happen sooner or later, and you’ll need all the evidence on your side that you can get. Some hosts even require that guests sign a printout of their rules! In most cases, a simple message with a “yes” response should suffice.

Basically, asking a guest if they have any questions about your rules is a polite way of saying “You better have read these!”. Also, it’s much more efficient to clear up any misunderstandings in advance before any real trouble happens.

Are You Prepared to Pay a Security Deposit (if you have one)?

Vetting Airbnb Guests- Security Deposit

Recently, more and more hosts have begun requiring security deposits with almost all of their bookings. This is a way to get around the lengthy (and often disappointing) Airbnb resolution process that involves requesting money from a guest after the fact. Guests may not respond, and will most likely respond negatively, to any requests for payment after they’ve packed up and left. A security deposit takes chance out of the equation.

If a guest violates your house rules, especially in a way that causes damage, you can take money from the security deposit you’ve collected in advance. Airbnb security deposits work by placing a hold for X amount of dollars on the card used to pay for the booking.

If you do need to collect on one, make sure you thoroughly document the damage and the cost of replacement as you’ll likely need to prove both of these things.

I'm an Airbnb Superhost sharing my Airbnb journey and tips that I've learned along the way.

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