I’ve read here that it is recommended that the communication between hosts and guests should be on the airbnb or vrbo platform. But when guests book my place, I assume they would get my phone number. Would it be natural for them to call me to ask questions instead of having to go through the platform? Also, I have a home manual at my place. Should I post my phone number in there in case they need something? Or do they have to communicate thru the apps on their phone? I’m confused on how to approach this. Thanks in advance.
I can speak only about Airbnb, as I’ve never used VRBO.
When a guest makes an actual reservation through Airbnb, both the guest and the host can then see each other’s phone numbers.
However, it’s strongly recommended that all communication between guests and hosts (both before the reservation and after it’s made) take place on the Airbnb platform. That can be either on the Airbnb website (on a computer) or on the Airbnb app (on a phone).
Why? Because if there end up being any issues (such as the guest claims “the host said . . .”), then all the communication is recorded and available for Airbnb to review. The communication on Airbnb is part of the “contract” between the host and guest.
For example, if the guest asks for early check-in and the host agrees—on the Airbnb platform—then that’s part of the “contract.” If the guests asks to bring an extra person, and all the details are recorded on the Airbnb platform, then that’s part of the “contract.”
There are some relatively rare situations when hosts/guests end up communicating by phone, but that isn’t ideal. A host can also communicate with a guest by Airbnb-supplied email address. But the website/app is better.
Certainly any communication about a problem or potential problem must really be on the Airbnb platform.
Although registered guests do get our phone number, very few guests have called us. Most of them know to communicate through Airbnb.
You can use both. Yes, guests get your phone number. Sometimes they call, sometimes text, sometimes they use the messaging on Airbnb. If it’s a problem or issue or the guest wants to do something that is a violation of Airbnb policy then put it in writing on the platform. If they are locked out of the rental and calling you, answer the call, don’t wait for the 5-40 minute lag on the app.
(Anyone who says ALWAYS do this or that should be taken with a grain of salt. There is no one size fits all to every situation.)
We rent through both Vrbo and AirBnB, and have a three-bedroom home in a fly-to location (Caribbean). Our guests have LOTS of questions about cooking and driving services, activities, restaurants, etc.
I’ve created pdf files with a lot of the information and send it through our rental’s email after they book (VRBO lets me send the files before they book).
Very few guests call to talk - it’s easier to read.
However, if there is something that might be an issue (such as they show up and start smoking and I have to tell them to stop it), I send that communication over the platform so there’s a record in case it’s needed.
I send all my communication through Air’s system, but also give guests my phone number if they need immediate attention. Most just call if they have trouble with directions.
Some guests text me, and that’s fine for general questions like where to go for brunch.
Any calls or texts related to their stay (special asks, changes to guest count, any hint of a complaint) are recapped on Airbnb. Like if they stop me in the yard and ask about a late checkout, I’ll put the specific terms in an Air message. “For checkout tomorrow, please XYZ. And as we talked about, you’re welcome to stay as late as 2pm”.
Some guest want to call or text because they’re more comfortable with it. I think I’ve had maybe 3 guests out of 40 that really didn’t use the messaging system at all.
We communicate through the platform(s) initially, then by SMS or WhatsApp. It works for us.
I provide my number in my house manual but would prefer the platform as CYA. When a guest contacts me, I “always” backup the communication to the Airbnb platform. For example, if they text about early check-in, I screenshot the communication and put something along the lines “Per our call/text, guest and host are in agreement that check-in will be allowed for 1pm”. I thought this was overkill until I recently had an entitled little princess that lied her butt off and attempted to coerce me into giving her a good review. Denied!
Thanks all for the great suggestions!
I move the guests communication to direct text early on. If I thought I was going to have a problem with a guest I would move them to the app. I want them communicating with me directly, I will be asking for actual email address and as far as I am concerned Air is out of the equation once the booking is made. I want to build relationships with the guests.
I generally use the Airbnb messaging, but for things which wouldn’t lead to any contention, phoning or texting is fine. For instance, I pick most of my guests up at the bus station, which is a 5 minute drive from my house, which is quite hard to find the first time. So I ask them to phone or text me when they are ready to get on the bus by the airport (most of my guests fly in), an hour away, so I have a heads-up on their arrival time, and then again when they arrive here, so I can jump in the car and pick them up.
In our first or second message we put this:
We prefer to communicate through the AirBnB message system, because it’s easier for us to have all information in one spot. In case of emergencies you can call (name) (phone number).
If people start sending WhatsApp messages, we just reply that a reply was sent through the AirBnB messages.
Use whatever suits you and your guests, bearing in mind the advice above.
Some guests will prefer to speak on the phone, others will prefer to use the app. Then there’ll be the guests who want to text and others who, if you live on the premises, will prefer to knock on your door.
Every situation, every rental and every guest is different.
If you have a guest who prefers to speak on the phone, don’t refuse to do it simply because some people have told you to keep all communication on the platform. As a host, one of your jobs is to make sure that your guests are happy and comfortable dealing with you.
Yes, of course they will need your number, or that of your co-host, during their stay. And you (or the co-host) needs to be prepared to move quickly to resolve any problems or answer queries.
Whether this is in the manual, on your business card that is in the rental, written on a ‘greeting’ chalkboard or whatever you like, it’s entirely up to you. Just as long as you know that guests are aware of the contact details they need.
I agree, up to a point. If a host finds that a guest is calling or texting them with complaints and such (you know the kind of guests I mean- the ones who seem like they are just looking for things to criticize or who are angling for an undeserved refund), I’d advise other hosts to bring the communication back to the platform, so there will be a clear record of the exchanges. And to back up a phone or text conversation via messaging. “So, XX, just to be clear- did I understand you correctly during our phone call, when you said you wouldn’t leave a bad revew if we allowed your 5 unbooked visitors to stay?”
I don’t get scammy guests myself, and you probably don’t either, but I know a lot of hosts do.
I’ve had the odd strange one though - like the guest who contacted me from the beach to complain that the ocean wasn’t blue enough. Sigh…
We’ve all read about hosts though who have had bad reviews and have said ‘if only the guests had told me about the problem, I would have fixed it for them in no time’.
So although it can be annoying, especially when guests contact the host wanting to report that the colour of the ocean isn’t perfectly up to their requirements, I prefer guests to let me know if there’s anything going on that I can fix for them.
Unfortunately in the case of the aforementioned guest, the Atlantic Ocean just won’t behave no matter what I say to it.
Hey, I had a guest who had booked another Airbnb in my town for the 3 days before she was booked into my place. She texted me the first night she was in town, staying at the other place, at 3AM to say there was some really loud music nearby that was preventing her from sleeping, and did I know what it was. My place is 2 kilometers from there. However, I turn my ringers off when I go to sleep, so didn’t see her text until I woke up at 9, not that I would have answered her in the middle of the night for something so off-the-wall.
If I had this happen I would move them to the platform. Luckily it has not happened in the two short years I have been hosting.
Honestly I consider my business more like a small hotel than a “AirBnb” . Air brings bookings though and I like that:) . Can’t wait to get the Airstream ready… One more listing, heads in beds.
I use both VRBO and Airbnb. I hate the VRBO platform and use the guest email address for all communications. For Airbnb I use the platform.
For both, I include my mobile number in the communication. I also text the guest the day of arrival so that my mobile number is in their phone, in case they have any issues. For the duration of their stay I flag their mobile in my favorites on my iPhone so that calls will come through 24 x 7 for any emergencies.
We recently had a glitch in our lock system and our guest wasn’t able to get in. She texted and I immediately responded and unlocked the door remotely. They were totally impressed and very complimentary re: our response time. I was able to recode the lock with her on the line and the issue was resolved.
As a guest, I’ve had issues with using the app and getting a timely response.