This summer, Josh turned over all the managerial duties of our three Airbnbs to me so that I could run the day to day operations while he worked exclusively on the new house during the day. I’ve helped to manage the cleaning and turnover side of the properties before, but there was actually quite a lot about the backside of the operation that I hadn’t previously experienced. Writing reviews, managing the bookings, responding to guests questions, adjusting fees, etc. it’s been a real insight into why Josh is glued to his phone quite as much as he is!
Recently, a friend asked about staying in her first Airbnb. She was nervous about it because she wasn’t sure what to expect from the house or the host and wanted to know if there were any tips or tricks to doing it. While every rental and every host is going to be different, most setups aren’t something to be nervous about. And while there aren’t really any “tricks” to doing it, having been a repeat Airbnb guest many times, and having hosted hundreds of guests, I can offer a pretty inclusive list of do’s and don’ts that will help you and your host before, during, and after your stay!
Here are three things to do, and five moves to avoid during your next vacation rental stay.
Do communicate with your host before arriving especially if you have questions about directions, check in, or plan to arrive late.
We generally try to send address and check in information directly to our guests 5-7 days before they’re scheduled to arrive. Sometimes we miss one, and it’s good that people ask before they arrive. Other times, people don’t plan on arriving until 9:30 or 10:00pm, giving us 6 extra hours to make sure the place is clean and ready. All our units have private, locked entrances, so we allow for 24 hour check in. If you’re in a shared space with with your host, it’s especially courteous to make sure your host knows when to expect you.
Don’t ignore the booking/listing details…and then ask your host a bunch of questions about information they’ve already given you.
Most listings provide information about sleeping arrangements, amenities, check in and check out times, etc. on the home page. We give you this information so that you know what you’re getting when you book the space. So if it’s listed that we supply a coffee pot and ironing board, it’s is really and truly in the house and available to you. You do not need to message to ask if we actually supply a coffee maker and ironing board. It’s in there.
Similarly, do read, or at least page through, the welcome packet or house information provided by the host.
Like the listing information, we leave each of our guests a small packet of information about the house and surrounding area. Included is also information about the Wifi, television, and using the air conditioner. And yet, do you know what the number one question I responded to was last week? How do I use the air conditioner? I’ll give you a hint. Each of our rentals has a window unit. So typically we responded to this question with a visit to the unit to make sure it was working properly. In every case, it was…the guests had just been trying to use the house thermostat to control it. This seems like common sense, and even if it wasn’t, guess where information about those window units is? In the welcome packet!
This goes for the house rules also! This spring someone rented our next door guest house for a college spring break party. We didn’t know it at the time of their booking, but at midnight on Saturday when our quiet cul de sac was bumping, and guys were rough housing with beer bottles out on the street, Josh had to go next door and remind the young lady that the house rules strictly said no parties. She was annoyed; we were annoyed; but honestly, it should have been an easily avoided no brainer!
Don’t ask for random things that it would be unreasonable for your host to supply.
If you want extra towels, we’ll make sure you get extra towels. If you want another blanket because it’s chilly, or perhaps a clean set of sheets during your extended stay, I bet we can make it happen! Requesting extra furniture, that’s weird. Asking to go out and buy a freestanding reading lamp for the other side of the couch because that’s the side you like to read on and the lamp is on the other side, also weird!
Do leave a review of your host and highlight what you liked about your stay.
Unless your visit was truly horrendous, try to give your host credit where credit is due. In the review process there’s a public and private comments box. If there’s something that seems chronically wrong with the rental, and should actually impact people’s choice to stay there or not, do add it to the public review. However, if it’s something that was more specific to your stay in particular, think about putting it in the private comments. We get private comments all the time with quirky suggestions that people think would have made their personal stay better, but don’t overall impact the rental as a whole. More throw pillows. Change in paint colors. Etc. No need to add those thoughts to the public forum where people are considering whether or not to book.
Also, if your host has made an effort on your behalf no need to drag them in the public comments. We recently had a guest stay with us with a dog that left the apartment in much disarray. We cleaned tirelessly, though there was a bit of a musty dog smell left in the apartment, so we left the windows open and an air freshener plugged in, and messaged the incoming guests to apologize in advance for any lingering odor or stray dog hairs they may find. They responded politely with a “Thanks for the heads up. We’re on our way now” and expressed no complaint during their stay. And yet…guess what their public review said, “Strong musty dog odor throughout the whole apartment.”
Which brings us to…
Don’t let your pet trash someone’s rental unit.
We have “pet friendly” rentals, and are always happy to have someone come with their pup. HOWEVER, it is polite to communicate with your host about the pets that you’re bringing in advance so that they can plan accordingly. We provide out pet owners with extra towels/rags for their pup’s feet coming in and out of the backyard, and also like to know if there’s going to be an animal in the unit should we need to go in for maintenance or to respond to questions.
Also, if you have a Bermese Mountain Dog that’s going to leave so much hair in a rental unit that you sweep and mop three times and are still finding hairballs places, maybe don’t bring it along with you. Or, if you do, maybe take advantage of the broom or dust clothes that are available to you and help out your host by tidying up in advance before you depart.
On the whole, we’ve stayed in Airbnb’s here and internationally, and have honestly never had a single issue following the aforementioned guidelines. They’re pretty straightforward and common sense, but can easily be the difference between a good stay and a bad stay for both you and your host. Also, don’t forget that your host reviews you as well, so if you have hopes of having reservations accepted by future hosts (and as host we can reject your reservation for any reason), being a good guest and wracking up high guest reviews from the places you stayed is a ket part of the exchange working the way it’s supposed to!