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Accepting Bookings from Guests With No Reviews

#1

We are Superhosts and have had approximately 25 previous bookings in the last year in our upmarket apartment in South Africa. Most guests have been fantastic and a pleasure to host.

However on the few occasions that we have accepted bookings from guests without any previous host reviews, we have greatly regretted doing so. The worst experience to date was a couple who used the shower as a toilet.

As a result, we decided to accept bookings only from guests with at least one prior review. I know this is no guarantee but at least it gives some level of comfort.

This obviously means declining guests from time to time, Recently Airbnb seem to have become uncomfortable and are threatening to demote our position on the website.

Could anyone suggest how best to handle this so that we can safeguard ourselves and our property without at the same time jeopardising our standing with Airbnb.

Thanking you in advance.
Peter

#2

Instead of declining the requests, tell them to withdraw the request because the property is not available or any other excuse. That way you’ll still have a high acceptance rate.

#3

On the basis that we accept guests from BDC, who have no reviews, we accept Airbnb guests without reviews.

The way we look at it, when you join up with Airbnb you have to start someplace. If we all rejected guests who have just joined, or have no reviews, then how is someone meant to build up reviews?

Overall, not found a great difference between folks starting out with Airbnb and those with lots of reviews.

JF

2 Likes
#4

Me neither. The majority of my guests have had no reviews and touch wood, I’ve never had an issue. Maybe the fact I live across the street is a deterrent of bad behaviour.

1 Like
#5

This ABB article includes only accepting IBs from guests with positive reviews:

https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/484/how-can-i-control-which-reservations-i-get-with-instant-book

#6

You create a Visitor’s Manual with things to do in your area and include house rules for guidance on your expectations of caring for your home.

#7

Have you set your listing so that only those with reviews can book automatically?

1 Like
#8

I accept guests with no reviews, a good portion are, and have no issues. If they’re paying me money to stay in one of my spare rooms they’re welcome. :slight_smile:

…I have also been known to pee in the shower on occasion. :stuck_out_tongue:

3 Likes
#9

Welcome to the forum @PeterBern!

Last year when I was a new host, I decided that I would accept guests with no reviews, but required that they be verified. I figured if they were choosing me as a new host, without reviews, or as the season progressed, minimal reviews, they should also have a chance to book as a new guest.

As long as you provide clear expectations in your listing and in your communications with your guest, you have the opportunity to “teach” them what is expected of a good guest.

I have accepted many guests with no reviews. They all were great! I was able to give them 5-star reviews because they earned them. I consider this positive reinforcement for their next Airbnb booking. They will want to be good guests.

We were all “new” once, and someone gave us a chance.

1 Like
#10

If I read this correctly you are not on instant book. You review every request and have turned down several and are now being warned by Airbnb. Several people have advised you as if you are using instant book but the setting of only accepting bookings with prior reviews is only available if you turn on instant book.

You could enable that and see how it goes but it seems to me that you have a feeling that you need to try to control who books your listing based on this statement:

How many guests with no reviews have been acceptable and how many with no reviews have been regrettable?

Airbnb is moving towards the hotel/booking dot com model of pushing hosts to accept everyone. This is done under the guise of preventing discrimination but I suspect its more about making money. As someone who uses Airbnb as a guest I can tell you that the process of finding a place is cumbersome. I’m expected to search using a limited number of filters and then if the home isn’t an instant book home I may have to wait up to 24 hours for an answer. And if I am then rejected it makes me want to give up and go to a hotel aggregator site where there are no long descriptions and rules to read and I have a guaranteed reservation in minutes.

So you could turn on instant book with the requirement of prior reviews enabled. Then you can vet the guests who have booked by having an conversation with them about their stay and expectations. You can cancel up to three bookings a year without penalty if you are uncomfortable. It’s counter intuitive but using instant book actually gives you a bit more control than request to book. Using IB will improve your acceptance rate and response time and boost you in search results.

If you don’t have CCTV cameras on your property you should get them. Make sure you disclose them on your listing as required.

5 Likes
#11

I’m in the same position. The struggles you’re having are no different here. I can’t reject all of the first timers either. What I’ve been doing is I setup instant book except they have to have one positive review. If its a new guest, they send in the booking request. If the booking request seems normal and there’s no obvious red flags, I have a ‘pep talk’ with them. If the guest isn’t being transparent about who they are, what they’re doing and that they intend to follow the rules and respect my property, they get denied.

The ‘pep talk’ is a saved message about expectations. I explain to them that many guests think Airbnb is a cheap hotel but this is really more like a friend’s house. Many things are shared and thats how I keep costs down. Then I explain that this is more of a social environment rather than commercial and as long as everyone is respectful and considerate, its fun and works great. Finally I say that this house wouldn’t work for guests who need more privacy or commercial grade facilities. Basically I hit ALL the pain points and try to make the expectation crystal clear of what my place is and what it isn’t. This is intentionally geared towards turning off bad guests and very rarely, one will cancel their booking request after the pep talk.

I still get first timers who break the rules or are just total pigs and make a huge mess. The review follows and most likely they won’t be using Airbnb again or at least a private room in shared house Airbnb.

#12

Peter and Gem: I did this recently and the guest said she didn’t know how to do that. I ended up declining, got paused for 5 days and threatened with demotion. The whole picture is that that was my 3rd decline. The other two were overbookers. My place is 450 sq ft with a twin bed and both parties were couples who put a reservation in.

#13

Thank you all very much for your thoughtful and valuable replies and suggestions. As I understand it, we are on Instant Book but with the ability to accept or reject potential guests without any reviews. Perhaps I am being over-cautious and will have to learn to accept the risk of getting some less than ideal guests. Perhaps we have just been lucky but I would say that 100% of our guests who already had reviews were great. Of those without reviews, it was more like 50%.

1 Like
#14

It’s interesting that you choose to see the glass as half empty, not half full. If 90% of the guests with no prior reviews were a problem it would be more compelling evidence that the problem was no prior reviews.

#15

What I do is go into the calendar and block the days then send message to guests telling them someone has already booked. This way I don’t have to decline.

1 Like
#16

I’ve done that before. I’d love to know what Airbnb would do if they got wind of it.

1 Like
#17

Remember that when you get a “Request to book” because they can’t instant book without reviews, you don’t have to accept or reject them! You can simply send a message or sequence of messages asking more questions about whatever makes you uncomfortable and then just let the booking request expire when it times out at 24 hours. Air will hound you to accept or reject, but you don’t have to do either. As an alternative, you can send them a special offer that’s expensive enough that they probably won’t accept it (and if they do, you make a lot more money which should cover damages).

1 Like
#18

No reviews does not bother me. A bad review might, or I may take it as an opportunity to set expectations. Dear guest, I am considering cancelling your reservation because you left a mess at X’s house, can you insure this will not happen at my cabin?

RR

2 Likes
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