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Getting people to read and understand listing types

We have been hosting a private room listing in Florida for 6 years. Lately we are really having a lot more problems with guests and I am hoping to get some advice here. Guests don’t read. They don’t read the rules, check in instructions or know the difference between private room and entire house. All of our recent guests have been providing the wrong guest count, sometimes showing up with more people than the listing even accommodates. We live in the house so of course we are going to notice this. What is going on here? Is it just that Airbnb I’m still really new especially to people in the USA? I never had these problems before the last two years. Is it appropriate to ask more questions of guests in advance of check in? Maybe remove instant book? Looking for some suggestions here. Thanks!

I think that with the pandemic more and more folks are taking close to home mini vacations so we’re getting lots of new Airbnb guests that are not really familiar with Airbnb.

I would suggest that when you respond to their inquiry to book your place, once again explain that it’s a room in your home and that they’re not renting the entire house.

They’re newies and they’re just looking at the photos and not reading anything.

Although this may be new to you it’s not new to Airbnb hosting, nor is it new to humans. There are many many threads here on the forum touching on the topic. Here are some suggestions:

Don’t remove instant book but don’t take same day bookings either. Go to your settings and set it for 2 or 3 days notice. This gives you time to do my second suggestion.

Yes ask more questions. You can write and save messages in advance on Airbnb so you don’t have to spend time typing them out new each time. As soon as you get an instant booking send a message that says something like “Thanks for choosing to stay with me. To make sure my place meets your needs I’d like to confirm that you understood several things about my Airbnb. First, you’re sharing the house with me. Second I need an accurate guest count and the names of all the guests. Third…”
Or whatever you absolutely need to know they know. Keep it professional and friendly but also put in your house rules that people who violate rules can have their booking canceled with no refund.

Third, make sure you are communicating clearly in the listing and put the most important stuff up front, in the title and in the first paragraph. My listing isn’t some empty cutsie title like “Tropical hut with sunset” that means nothing. My title is “Private entrance and bath in XXX at exit XX on XX” Not glamorous but it works better the last 700 bookings than the title I had the first 100 bookings.

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This is great advice. I implemented the same plan years ago and it eliminated much confusion of guests who fail to read. Also with IB you can create an introduction with a few questions or statements about yourself and for some reason every guest seems to respond to it. I never received as much info from guests when they had to go through the inquiry/approval game.

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We have been doing exactly what has been said above. We live in the main house and rent the apartment in back. I have instant book, but when a reservation comes in I send out a standard email pointing out that the entire area is smoke-free because if someone smoked anywhere on the property it would mean a trip to the hospital for our son, who is extremely allergic. That also explains why we do not allow any pets. I also send them a copy of our house rules and tell them I will not approve their rental unless they confirm they have read and understand all the provisions.
We initially permitted children of any age, a big problem occurred when a family came with a toddler and our 62-inch TV had cheese-spread hand prints all over the screen after they left. When we reviewed their stay and mentioned that problem in it, we got an email from them complaining we mentioned it.
Immediately after that we changed our listing not to allow any children younger than three years old.
We have been renting for three years, practically non-stop, and only had two instances when there were problems. We are not renting now and will not. We have had several contacts from former guests who asked if they could come now and told them not until after everyone has their vaccines.

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What has seemed to be most effective for me was adding the guest rule that “We will require the names and ages of all guests prior to arrival” and “Violation of guest rules will result in eviction “ and a blurb in our house summary. “We are quite firm on a maximum of 4 guests to include children” . I always ask for the names and ages of the guests immediately after they book and I do do instant booking. The camera is there to make sure they do not violate those guest rules and that has helped alot too.Before I instituted these measures— most of which were recommended by the forum—I may have had Bigfoot as a guest and never knew it!

How did you do this? I found the age delineation on airbnb and vrbo incompatible with what worked for me so I added a blurb that our place was not suitable for infants and toddlers but kids older than 5 were welcome. If you check no to kids 2 to 12 then you may get no families at all. I did not want that either, so I checked yes and added the above.

It’s in the basic setup menu for the ad.
The child who messed up our TV had assistance from his parents. The TV was on the wall at chest-high level and a toddler could not reach it. His parents had to have held him up to the tv with cheesy hands and ignored the fact he was wiping them on the TV screen, it was a real mess. My wife worked on it for several weeks to remove the hand prints.
Since my ad is shut down until July, I can not go in to see where to go for that, it was really easy to find while I was putting together the ad.

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Probably in “Other things to note”

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It’s not just that guests don’t read - nobody does and that includes hosts. :slight_smile: So expecting guests to do so just isn’t going to work.

The best way to deal with any issues is right when they first happen. And of course, I mean that they have to be dealt with in person.

Also, (and hosts hate it when I say this, I know) if a host is getting repeated problems then it’s a good idea for the host to wonder if there’s something they themselves are doing unwittingly to cause those problems or at the very least figure out how to prevent them.

For example, the guest count thing is easily solved by meeting and greeting your guests (carry masks with you in case your guests don’t have them) and if the count is too high don’t let them in. Say it’s an insurance or license requirement - it probably is depending on where you live.

Often guests cram more people in because they are trying to save money so be sure that your listing isn’t too cheap.

I’ve used IB since I first started with Airbnb and I’ve only had a handful of guests who were less than perfect so I doubt that’s the problem. But it does keep my two apartments fully booked year-round. (South Florida).

And yes, you can ask guests as many questions as you like although I don’t really see how that could help the problem.

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I agree totally that we do not read things . On the other hand, I had an instant book that cancelled their reservation after I resent them my house rules. Maybe they just finally read them and were planning on bringing more people. Maybe they saw the part about having a camera . Maybe they just thought I was a PIA. Either way, it was probably for the best. I was able to book another reservation in their spot. Sometimes just sending the house rules stand alone is something they have to read.

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At the risk of the guest thinking that you are bothering them, I do believe that information one needs to send the guest should be broken up into shorter messages that don’t address too many things at once. For guests who tend not to read thoroughly through things, this affords a better chance that they will.

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But they won’t. I decided that it isn’t worth the hassle. As long as they are on the listing and are clear enough that Air CS won’t argue with me about them, I’m good. If they have an egregious violation, they’re gone, they get a bad review, and I get paid.

If their replies indicate that they plan to violate a rule or misunderstand them, I set them straight. I have a moderate cancellation policy since summer will fill up, so they can cancel up to 5 days before arrival.

I agree with many suggestions that have already been posted. There is one other problem. When people use only a phone and not a tablet, laptop or PC, reading a very long message is sometimes a challenge. I have had guests say that they only saw the first line of a message on their phone during communication just prior to check-in. As noted by other posts, people often just don’t read anything long anymore. I think it is only a matter of time until our listing details have to be short videos or audio clips so that guests will pay attention.

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An Airbnb host friend calls guests after reservation is made and in a friendly manner discusses:

  1. Wanted to introduce myself…
  2. Let me confirm your dates and number of guests…
  3. Oh yes, I’m very good friends with the neighbors. They occasionally help me if a guest needs something.

I’ve made similar calls when I feel uncertain about a reservation. I don’t call every guest

Yes these are off platform communication but can help prevent problems.

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LOL If a guest indicated that we were “bothering them” while gathering needed information then their stay is not going to happen.
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After booking, we send out ALL the questions that we need in one shot, as any professional business would. Along with "please confirm in writing that they have read and agree to All House Rules. We start it with the perfect “Blame the 3rd Party” - as required by Insurance please provide the following …
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If the guest misses something (it has happened) in replying, we ask for the missing bits. A guest has never given us attitude during this. Were that to happen, there would not be a stay.

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Oh, I agree. when I said “at the risk” I meant that hosts shouldn’t be afraid to do this just because the guest might express annoyance. For sure I wouldn’t want a guest who did.

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