Hosting On Airbnb
Common Questions Every Host Should Already Know
Hosting on Airbnb takes a lot of courage and some thick skin! You are essentially inviting people into your home with the power to critique. You will get your share of easy-going guests and you will also get your share of finicky ones that expect more. It’s all part of being a host. The platform is for homeowners and investors to turn their home into a side hustle. I notice a lot of hosts simply do not spend the time to offer good check in directions. Last winter, we had an impromptu road trip from Seattle down to California. Although the drive was technically doable in one go, we wanted to enjoy the coast and unfortunately we didn’t. It was a particularly bad winter so we had a helluva trip going down to warmer weather from snowy Oregon. We ended up taking scenic highway 101 and driving by these tiny trailer towns of no more than 56 people. The Airbnbs we stayed in during that trip were “sufficient.”
[ This is another installment of my Airbnb series. Check out the Airbnb glossary here! ]
I mean sufficient as in the hosts were nice and things were as described but there was probably 2 or…20 things the host should have addressed if they wanted to do this with full transparency. I understand most Airbnb hosts are not always serious since it’s just a side income to them after all. But if you are thinking of doing Airbnb long-term and aim for full occupancy then I would take a gander at the list before.
You need to have the answers to these questions because at one point of another, it will be brought up to you. My guests sometimes shoot me questions and I’m think to myself, “oh that’s an excellent questions, I never thought about it but that would impact the reservation.”
My Airbnb Mantra is this: these are your guests; this is your business. You are representing your home, your neighborhood, Airbnb and yourself.
These things seem obvious but it took me a few tries to get a hang of hosting on Airbnb without any minor hiccups. Note to address details of the following:
1. Parking information.
Detailed, clear, concise information explaining the parking situation of your location. We had one Airbnb guest from Arizona receive a parking ticket because they did a horrible parking job next to our driveway and someone in the neighborhood saw it and tattled. They didn’t move it after my warning and then they got a ticket. The guests weren’t happy with me or the $46 dollar parking ticket.
My takeaway here is to warn guests gently and they can choose to take the warning or risk being fined.
2. Personal pet(s) information.
Any in-door pets under Airbnb must come with a disclaimer. We devote an entire paragraph on our listing to Grace. We mention her mannerisms, her breed, age, size, training and general personality so when guests see her they don’t feel frightened or too excited to see her.
There was one guest a few weeks ago that booked with us even though she was afraid of dogs. Whenever she entered the house she would wait in the hallway until Grace leaves. I have no idea why she booked with us – we gave disclaimer after disclaimer about having a dog and I even told her it was not a good idea to book with us! No issues from that guest though because of our disclaimers.
3. Do you charge pet boarding fees?
I hate fees, I really do. But I’m a proponent for pet boarding fees for the simple fact that pets are capable of doing a lot of damage or at the least lots of extra clean up. I have weight limits, training requirements and breed (coat) restrictions to protect my property. If a dog is well-trained, under 15 lbs and hypoallergenic then I don’t bother to charge a fee at all.
4. Wi-Fi information.
Stick it to the wall! It’s important!
5. Heating instructions.
Even if it seems completely simple, write down the heating instructions any way because what’s obvious to us might not be to others.
I ended up buying a bunch of space heaters for each room. Since living in the Pacific Northwest, I think hubby and I are more used to the “cold” compare to our tropical visitors from Hawaii and Singapore.
6. Location of the ventilation fan (it helps to mitigate mold).
We put a sticker on the outlet switch to distinguish ventilation fan from lights. Without that sticker, only about 50% of our guests actually use the vent fan which drives me crazy. That’s how you get mold guys and girls! Excessive moisture + small closed space = mold!
7. If there are locks to each bedroom.
If you are hosting for the long-term, I would put doorknobs with locks on every bedroom and keep the key hidden somewhere where it’s not obvious but you can tell guests where it is if they locked themselves out.
8. What is in the fridge that’s off-limits?
We don’t split a kitchen with our guests but when I was an Airbnb guest myself I was afraid of going into my host’s kitchen. There was no information besides “the kitchen is for you to use” on the listing and that’s just not enough to make me feel welcome. I didn’t know what was in the fridge, what we could use, which utensils we were allowed to touch etc. Super ambiguous!
9. Are snacks & refreshments provided?
Make sure you disclaimer you will not stand by any specific dietary restrictions and it’s just a little refreshment station with seasonal pickings (which brands of granola bars, cookies, chips etc).
I had a guest who ranted about me not stocking calorie-free & sugar-free options and I immediately thought to myself: are you serious? Where did I state that I stock a dietary full service cafe for you?
10. Instructions for garbage & recycling.
Where are the locations of the trash bins? Which colored bin is for what? There are different customs for garbage so if an international guest put trash in the recycling, don’t freak out. They probably don’t know what they did.
For long-term Airbnb stays: what time and day of the week is trash pick up?
11. Location of the first aid kit & fire extinguisher.
This is critical. I put stars like this *** next to important information like first aids and extinguishers – and you should too!
12. What they should do with perishables and leftovers.
I tell my guests to leave their perishables. They’ll be on the road or getting on an airplane – it’s more convenient for them to leave it and more convenient for us hosts to just dispose of it properly ourselves.
13. Do shoes come off when guest enter?
If you’re hosting, I strongly recommend having your guests remove their shoes. It’s just common sense. Walking in-doors with out-door shoes on is my biggest pet peeve. It is the first thing I address to guests in both my listings and my “things to note” tab.
14. Instructions for TV / Cable / Netflix.
Give very detailed instructions from which remote to use to turn on the TV and what to do from there to access Netflix etc. Airbnb has a smaller but stable older demographic who are technologically less receptive to the new stuff like Amazon FIRE TV. I gave my guests detailed instructions on how to access Netflix but I forgot to give them instructions on which remote to use to turn on the TV and which TV input to use. Whoops! Didn’t even think of that! So yeah, be precise and go through it as if you’re new to it yourself.
15. What is usable in the linen closet?
If you are home sharing, there will be cabinets and closets that will be shared. Our hallway has a linen closet. Most of the stuff in there are for guests to use. We have lots of extra blankets, towels and pillows. I do have an arts & craft basket that is only mine. I leave that in the top shelf, out-of-the-way, so they have the free reign of everything on the lower shelves.
16. Rules for kitchen cleanliness?
My courtesy rule is for guests to clean up their personal mess in the kitchen (if they used any dishes/pots, utensils, etc). That way I can keep the cleaning fee low for everyone because not everybody uses the kitchen during their stay. I don’t feel right increasing the cleaning fee across the board for everyone if only 3 out of 10 guest didn’t wash their own pots and pans.
17. Any particular house quirks?
Every house has small quirks so think hard what’s something particular about your residence that others should know about. For example: the freezer door of our refrigerator needs a hard pull with both hands in order for it to open – things like that I would let my guests know so they don’t have to yank off the entire door.
18. Any specific instructions for the bathroom?
Is there a set time in which you must occupy the bathroom (if it is shared?)
Does it take a few minutes to get hot water going?
Some of our guests confused the low flush toilet button with the high flush button so we ended up labeling all 3 bathrooms. It’s the small quirks of a home that you learn you should either fix or explain.
19. When is the start of courtesy quiet hour?
We live in a townhouse with different floors so noise doesn’t bother us. There’s an entire middle floor that separates the bedrooms on the 1st floor and the 3rd floor. But we forgot about our next door neighbors who were in closer proximity to the first floor (commonly townhouses share a land lot with another town home.) After having a pair of rambunctious guests stay, my husband saw our neighbor on the bus and she told us she’s been hearing screaming and laughter late into the night. From then on, we started a courtesy quiet hour and alerted our neighbors to let us know if a guest violated those terms. So far, so good, and our neighbors are pretty cool.
20. What should guests do with the sheets on check-out day?
I tell my guests to not make the beds since I will be washing all the sheets & blankets anyway. If they want to go the extra mile, they can peel off the sheets (and some of my best guests do) although it’s not really necessary but appreciated.
21. When is check-in & check-out time?
Airbnb makes this visible on the listing but I still get guests asking me when check-in/check-out times will be. It can be confusing – we have had first time users mistaken check-in for check-out, vice versa. It’s common for the Airbnb check-out times to be around 11AM. The standard check-in time for Airbnb is around 2PM-3PM range. Mines are very slightly earlier and slightly later for the reason below…
22. Is an early/late check-in/check-out possible?
Always put your check-in slightly later than what you can afford and check-out time a little earlier than what you think should be. I get a lot of requests asking for an earlier check-in and later check-out and I hate saying no to my guests so I make sure I give myself ample time to clean if they do need to check-in early or run into car trouble and check-out later.
23. Who lives in the residence / how many people is it shared with?
Some guests understandably will not book an AirBnB if it’s shared with another guests. It goes back to feeling safe (like having bedroom locks).
When guests knows and have researched the hosts but they have no information on the other guest, it’s fair to assume some hesitation.
That was one of my main concerns with hosts renting out individual rooms in a full rental to different people without direct host supervision. It’s the fear at the now higher chance an altercation or feud breaks out between two different guests and the host cannot be reached.
24. Disclaimer kiddos
My husband and I have no kiddos so I have no personal advice here. The only advice I have is to let your Airbnb guests know you have children and at what age and level of activity in the house. For the most part I will say Airbnb guests are open-minded, friendly, understanding and adventurous.
25. How to properly lock the front door / entrance.
We enabled an auto locking feature to our front door. We told our guests to NOT “lock” the door and leave everything as is. Roughly 30% of our guests doesn’t read or believe us (?!) so they lock it themselves but that actually UNLOCKS the auto-locking so we wake up the next day and see that they left the door completely unlocked the entire night. Hahahaha, sigh!
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