So you’ve decided to take the Airbnb plunge for the first time? Great! I have no doubt if you’ve picked an experienced host (make sure you do for your FIRST stay) that you’ll find your stay will be far more rewarding than a hotel, traditional BnB or backpackers. Just make sure you double check the size of their dungeon with your Airbnb Host. ;)
My girlfriend and I would consider ourselves a ‘busy enough’ Airbnb host (generally booked around 50–75% of a month) so whilst we always go out of our way to respond to queries quickly with lots of detail, we are most certainly screening our guests. Our Airbnb rental, not surprisingly is also our home and we want everyone to feel comfortable. Hosting guests from all corners of planet Earth is a great experience but we enjoy a bottle glass of wine or two on regular occassion so it’s natural that our lifestyles need to share some common ground.
So as a flexible, relaxed and reasonable Airbnb Host, here are 5 tips for the budding Airbnb Guest who is looking to book on Airbnb for the first time.
- Carefully consider your booking needs — Before you even start trawling Airbnb’s website make sure you are clear in your accommodation needs. Airbnb generally present a long list of broad rental options so narrowing down your search requirements will help reduce the ‘Oh dear, I’m swamped and must run away!’ feeling I’m sure some first time Airbnbers feel. As a recommendation, try to have a clear understanding on how many guests will be staying, the rental type you’re after (whole apartment, private room or shared room) and maybe some loose budget ideas. Airbnb hosts do their best to be very specific on what they do and don’t offer, being able to match your requirements without confusion is the aim. Definitely play around with the search functions on Airbnb, you may find the perfect hidden gem.
- Check out the reviews and host’s approach — So you’ve found a few interesting rental options, now it’s time to get a feel and develop some trust in your potential host. As a first timer you’d be strongly advised to stay with a host who has a few reviews. Every review left was a real, paying Airbnb Guest so the reviews can be trusted. The magic of being a great Airbnb citizen (host or guest) can only be gained through doing fun things with your hosts and guests real world experience. We look to include our Guests in some of the weekly fun stuff and that’s generally reflected in our reviews also. Aside from the reviews, take a look through the Host’s photos are they Airbnb Verified? Has the host verified and connected themselves to their listing? How quickly do they respond? These aren’t hard and fast rules but as a first timer, best to play it safe — your Host’s approach should give you nothing but confidence in staying with them.
- Always contact the host before sending a booking — Remember that most hosts are personally tied to their rental — we live in and share ours with our Airbnb Guests. Most rentals that provide the entire home typically go and sleep at their partners or families place during your stay. As we learned in our travels, some Hosts take to the couch and give up their room for their Guests — I didn’t feel that comfortable about this initially. Given this, reach out to the Host via message as a first point of contact, don’t just send a booking request through. Personally, I’ll ignore (not reject) most instant booking requests, have a quick look at the potential Guest’s profile and send a message back to the Guest to assess the situation — that said, it doesn’t make the best initial impression. Some hosts have no issue with instant bookings, in my experience this typically means the rental is being maintained by a professional BnB, agent or similar. If you’re after cheap, professionally ran accommodation then this avenue can be suitable (and great) although you will most likely miss out the personal touch that a good Airbnb Host can provide — checking in and checking out can also be less flexible.
- Build some rapport, be conversational and ask questions — Experienced Hosts understand that Airbnb is a quickly growing beast and that most potential guests are first timers. That said, we are humans and enjoy a bit of friendly interaction with our potential guests so don’t just drop a message with 10 demands or expectations laid out. Don’t be that potential guest I call my girlfriend over to read your enquiry with a ‘get a load of this’ approach. ;) Instead, a quick introduction on you and your fellow travellers followed by a quick summary on why you’re hoping to stay with the Host is always well received and generally met with hints, tips and positive vibes. Finally, questions are good! Ask away. As a quick example, I’m a tall guy so when travelling I always made sure to double check that the bed (usually shown in the pictures) is a Double or Queen size. It’s all about making educated decisions so pose as many questions as you need, Hosts for the most part will go out of their way to be accommodating and answer clearly.
- Don’t stress, most experience Airbnb Hosts have seen a lot — When you arrive… RELAX! You’re probably on holiday so you should be relaxed! As an Airbnb Host we understand you’ve probably been bouncing through airports, travelling out of backpacks or suitcases and occasionally in need of a beer as soon as you walk in the door. We Hosts are a very friendly bunch so will do our best to bring a balanced introduction and experience whilst you’re living with us. That said, don’t be afraid to make some simple, practical requests… most of us have been jet-lagged before so know you’re sleeping habits could be upside down. :) The best experiences are always those where both Host and Guest take a little bit of time, each day, to have a chat.
We can’t travel the World all the time so hosting with Airbnb brings the World to us. — Airbnb Host 2012, Porto, Portugal
This is by no means an extensive list and is influenced by personal experience, we can break the above tips down further and add more in later blog posts. For the first Airbnb first timers though this should be a good start in your Airbnb and globe hopping adventures.
What other tips and hints do Airbnb Hosts & Guests have for the first time traveller?