Have you ever considered renting out your house on Airbnb? If so, I bet the first thought that popped into your head was: is it safe? What if my guests damage my lovely home, or steal my precious belongings?
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These are legitimate questions. And you’re not the only one who’s concerned. Almost every single of the 80+ Airbnb hosts that I interviewed on my Airbnb hosting podcast has had these concerns. Including me. Fortunately, after hosting over 250 groups of guests, I’ve never had any serious issues, and neither did the vast majority of my podcast guests.
That doesn’t mean something bad can’t happen to you of course. Although most Airbnb users are well traveled, educated and likely to respect your personal belongings, you always find a few rotten apples who are out to misuse the system.
There are steps you can take to prevent damage to your property though. The most important one is: review your guests before you accept a reservation. Do your due diligence. You are by no means obliged to accept every single booking inquiry. It’s your house and you get to choose who gets access and who doesn’t.
Here are five things you should look at.
Airbnb uses a review system in which guests can review their hosts and hosts can review their guests. Having a positive review or two is a strong indicator that your potential guest is not looking to trash your home.
Airbnb allows their users to add several verifications to their profile. The most important one is the verified ID. I recommend you only allow users who verified their ID to be allowed to make booking inquiries. Other verifications include email, telephone number and several social media sites such as Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Take a look at your guest’s profile. How much information does it show about your potential guest? Guests who take the time to write an extensive profile with details about their background, hobbies and passions are more likely to be on Airbnb for legitimate reasons: because they love the authentic experience it offers.
What kind of impression do you get from your potential guest, judging by the communication? Are the messages well written, elaborate and polite? Generally speaking, I prefer longer messages that contain information that give me an impression of an educated guest. There is a caveat though, if the person’s first language isn’t English you should be more forgiving.
Sometimes there is no communication at all. Guests can make inquiries without sending a personal message. I would advise not to accept those inquiries.
Purpose of the visit
I always like to know the purpose of my guest’s visit. My listing is in Amsterdam, which is known to be a party city where, lets just say, some visitors engage in activities that they wouldn’t necessarily engage in at home. I prefer not to cater to that particular crowd, so before accepting a booking I want to understand what the reason is my guests are visiting Amsterdam. I recommend you do the same. If the guest is not upfront about their intentions, you can ask questions before accepting the reservation.
None of the steps mentioned above will guarantee that your home will be 100% safe from damages. In life, very few things are completely risk free. The most rewarding things often carry a certain risk, and so does Airbnb hosting. However, in general, Airbnb is very safe and by doing your due diligence you can significantly reduce this risk. The golden rule to follow is: don’t ever accept a reservation unless you feel comfortable with your guests. In the unlikely event that you do experience issues, at least you did what you could to prevent it.
Andy spends his time away from the computer cycling or hiking up mountains or catching a wave on his SUP.