You’ve made up the bed with freshly laundered linens, set out clean towels, and completed all of those wonderful extras you do to prepare for your guests. But are you confident they know what to expect (and what’s expected of them) during their stay? From the moment a guest inquires about your listing to the time of booking, it’s critical to state your House Rules and the amenities you offer up front. Be sure they are spelled out clearly in your listing as well as in correspondence with guests. Setting guest expectations—clearly and early—helps prevent misunderstandings.
For instance, we’ve learned that many guests, especially those new to Airbnb, assume hosts will have the same amenities found in hotels such as hairdryers and ironing boards. Whether you do or don’t provide these as a host, making sure that guests know what will be in store for them will ensure a happy experience.
Cultural differences are another factor to consider when setting expectations. What’s common courtesy in your culture might not be so in your guests’. Seize this as an invitation to learn from one another rather than seeing it as a problem. Who knows? Underneath a perceived conflict could lie a connection waiting to happen. When laying down the ground rules, think of it also as an opportunity to impart your Airbnb wisdom and help guide guests on getting the most out of their stay. Melinda, a San Francisco host since 2012, has this down pat and generously shared her experiences, tips, and insight on the matter.
Setting guest expectations in three simple steps
1. When a potential guest without a completed profile contacts you, instead of rejecting them, encourage them to create a profile that includes a photo or to complete the Verified ID process. Also suggest they review your listing in detail and let you know if they have any questions.
“I get lots of inquiries, and even some booking requests, from guests who haven’t filled out their profile and have even used just their initials or a fake name such as ‘Email,’ ” said Melinda, who rents out “ArtHaven”, the art-filled lower floor of their San Francisco penthouse, with her partner Colleen. “I respond to them that Airbnb is built on trust and my profile gives them lots of information about me. Then I explain that I do not accept booking requests from folks with incomplete profiles and then specifically mention that it should include a photo (of them) and offline verifications.”
2. Communicate your expectations more than once, especially to first-time Airbnb travelers.
“Many of our guests are first-timers, so I am not surprised at all and am fine with simply explaining how it works and what our expectations are as hosts,” said Melinda. “This usually begins via messages and continues when they arrive.”
3. Find out why your guest is traveling (business, vacation, visiting family) and who with (family, friends, solo). Knowing these details helps you better prepare to meet their accommodation needs, plus it’s a great way to break the ice and gauge how experienced an Airbnb guest they are.
“I require folks to say why they are visiting San Francisco,” said Melinda. “A week before they come, I message them to confirm their arrival time, again explaining that we live here and need to be home to greet them—no key box or impersonal check-in.” Melinda also never accepts a reservation request from anyone other than the person staying in her space. A guest, whose wife had booked ArtHaven on his behalf, wasn’t keen that Melinda and Colleen’s “god Dog,” Charlie, came to visit. He told the hosts he never would have stayed there if he’d known there was a dog. (The listing clearly states that there is occasionally a dog on the premises and even includes photos of the pooch.) “We sent Charlie back to his dad’s house and I decided [from that point on] that I would never accept a reservation request from anyone other than the person staying in the space.”