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Guest booking request message totally uninformative

I hope I can get some guidance on an issue I’ve encountered. I don’t use instant book, so the first line on each of my listings is as follows: “Welcome! If sending a booking inquiry or request, please include information about your group and trip plans.”

While many do what is asked, quite often, potential guests include no message, or a totally uninformative one like the one I just received today: “Hi! We are excited to stay in your home!” Totally uninformative and the guest’s profile is also blank. There are no reviews.

When this happens, I write a polite note back, asking for the information requested in the listing. Recently, when I did this, the person cancelled right away, and in today’s instance, I have received no response. Meanwhile the 24 hour response clock has been ticking. While it is tempting to agree to a booking request when it comes in, the basic information I ask for does not (at least in my view) seem to be too much.

Any advice?

There has been quite a bit of conversation regarding this type of request. There is the host point of view and the guest point of view. A host wants to know what brings an individual or group to the area and if it is going to be a good fit for their home. A guest may look upon it as intrusive and you don’t need to know why they are coming to the area or their plans. IMHO asking “what brings you to the area” isn’t being to nosey however asking what their plans are might be. The whole thing is, they can lie and tell you want to hear vs why they are actually there for and you wouldn’t know the difference until during their stay or after. Of course, you have to do what you feel is best for your situation however I will say that 99 percent of my individuals who are “newbies” have been great guests.

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I do agree Cindy… but even if a newbie has no reviews- their profile should be filled in. If you have it in your listing to get the info- then if they aren’t responding and following your br ukes- decline. Can’t expect someone to follow your rules if you don’t follow/ enforce yourself.

Yes and the profile, if you are speaking of verification information would need to be completed before the reservation would go thru. I will admit that a newbie that hasn’t completed the required information for same day arrivals I do not accept without further conversation.

I’d say that about half our guests don’t give any information about the people in the party or the reason for visiting. Mind you, I don’t ask because as @Cindy_Turner_Dodd says, there are people who think it’s absolutely none of my business (and I agree that it isn’t).

There are also people who will lie. That’s not because they are up to anything dodgy - it’s just that they are the customer], they are paying you for a service, so why would you need to know?

As Cindy and MissSwan have rightly pointed out there’s a fine line between finding out about your guests and being nosy! But it’s your pad - so you’re right to want to make sure potential guests are above board. It’s fair to expect profile information to be completed, after all guests wouldn’t be keen on booking your place if you hadn’t filled in the details about it!

Review wise, as previously mentioned, newbies won’t have any! However, that doesn’t mean you can’t screen potential guests. Make sure your listing clearly states what you offer (this will hopefully rule out certain peeps) and keep an eye out for the good guests who are polite and communicate well!

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I have instant book and a high volume of guests (46 so far this year) and I’ve noticed guests are becoming steadily less communicative. Many/most don’t tell me their check in time, why they are in town or anything really. After I send a 4 paragraph check in message I typically get “thank you” or nothing in reply. This makes sense for my room as I take same day bookings, late arrivals, and have a private entrance. It’s very hotel like and guests are getting more hotel like as is Airbnb. That works fine for me but as more people use Airbnb and come to expect hotel like standards the harder it will be for hosts like yourself.

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I think it is fine to ask a few questions. I will usually follow up with: What brings you to xyz? Who will be traveling with you ?

There was an earlier thread that had a host asking for employment info.

Need to balance guest vetting with the fact guests probably don’t want to be interogtated. Find a balance that works for you.

I’m on instant book for those guests with positive reviews. You could also try that.

Thanks for your responses, everyone. I agree that it isn’t a host’s business to probe too much, but I have found how a guest responds to a simple informational request helps me to figure out if our property is going to be a “fit” for them, and to screen whether a guest will take the time to read things during a stay (such as safety related instructions in the house manual) and be responsive to issues we need to reach them on. I am constantly re-jigging my listings and messages to make them more simple and point form oriented so they are easier to read. But people have alot of competing demands it seems and I find this is an ongoing challenge.

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Interesting. Most of my inquirers (and even IBers) voluntarily tell me even more than I would ask to know to feel comfortable. “Traveling for a friend’s engagement party. I used to live nearby, on such and such street. Really excited to be visiting, I haven’t been back here for x years.”

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I always ask about their plans, on both of the platforms that the house is listed. I simply need to know so that I’m aware of the intent of the stay. I’ve gotten no push back from anyone yet.

And like someone said up above, the number of folks who never reply to my informative “one week before arrival” email is increasing. I always wonder if they got it but its up to them to reach out if they didn’t.

This brings up a question in my mind… what would constitute a reason a guest is booking your home that you would not want them to stay (other than parties)? Most of mine are vacation, visiting family, just need a break or business so I am at a loss as what would not be a good fit for your home… just asking… no criticism intended.

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We have been on instant book for 2.5 years now with very few problems. I’ve cancelled a very small handful of folks that were 3rd party bookings (and I’ve accepted a couple of 3rd party bookings too). I recently had someone book that was brand new, no photo, and only said “Hi” in the message. It made me uneasy so I asked him the purpose of his trip and that a photo would be nice. He didn’t reply. Then I gave him until 9 am the following morning to reply or I would cancel. Well he did write back; asked me how to upload a photo which he then did, and explained that he was new and didn’t know the “customs” of Airbnb. I apologized for almost cancelling and explained that most folks give a small introduction, etc. and that it makes hosts feel more comfortable sharing their homes or personal property. He thanked me and said he’s looking forward to his stay. Hopefully it goes well and moving forward he’ll know what’s expected. I will also add that my husband said he looks like an axe murderer, but since it’s a separate unit I think that will be okay, LOL.

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Something similar just happened to me on HomeAway. A Memorial Day booking for 2 adults and 2 kids with no comment or message whatsoever. That is very unusual. Sometimes the messages are brief (“Hi! We are excited to come to the Catskills!”) but they say something. It was an Instant Book - or at least HomeAway’s version of that - and I use SmartBNB to auto respond to every booking with a reminder of all the rules including a statement that all pets must be approved and there is a fee. He didn’t respond to that, either.

While I accept children my home is NOT child-proof so I quickly followed up the automated message with a thank-you-for-booking and a question - ‘I wanted to make sure you realize my home is not child proof’ and then went on to list a number of the things a parent of a young child may not like. ‘May I ask how old your children are?’ After 48 hours of no response, I just cancelled him. Call it a gut-feeling or just being fed up, but I was just in No Mood. THAT the guy responded to almost immediately and then said that they also hoped to bring their TWO DOGS, which he didn’t declare at booking or after my automated message said all pets must be approved at the time of booking.

I have been hosting since 2011. On the one hand I don’t sweat the small stuff and I am less sensitive than I used to be, but I also find myself less tolerant of certain red flags and one of them is bad communications. When you book with no comment and then don’t respond to questions – you’re out.

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The questions I ask them aren’t pivotal - I’m just trying confirm that they are real people and they have an accurate understanding of what we offer (e.g., to avoid disappointment for someone who doesn’t have an accurate understanding of the location). When a user’s profile is completely blank and all they say is “hi”, I have no idea what I’m dealing with. On rare occasion I’ve declined someone based on their response (e.g., “the buddies and I are here to party”) - probably I’m penalizing them for being honest! One of our listings is a condo building in a resort area in another country, so in case anything arises during the stay that is concerning to the building admin, I want to make sure I’ve done a little bit of due diligence. I know this isn’t a fail proof system, but I have managed to identify some situations where our property isn’t a good fit for guest needs (or in some cases, host needs), and I’d like to think that contributes towards keeping guests happy and maintaining Superhost status (but who knows).

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Like Henri Van Breda or like Lizzie Borden? LOL.

Good communication is the #1 benchmark we use to measure a guest’s level of courtesy. Perhaps it’s just a fluke, but over the last year (our first year as ABBers) we have seen a trend regarding communication. Good communication has resulted in wonderful guest stays. Poor or no communication has resulted in bad stays i.e., breaking house rules, which we do not tolerate and the guests chose to cut their stays short. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, but it’s one that has worked well for us.

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Definitely Henri Van Breda!!

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I send this out if I get a request or an inquiry. Even if their 1st note is short, I get a reply and if not send another variation ie " please confirm you’ve read the rules…"
Hi AIRBNBN GUEST,

We would be happy to have you come stay. Thank you for choosing the Tiny Tiki Trailer Zone:) You will love it here!
Please realize that the outdoor bed is only available after May 1st and we will have other comfortable outdoor furniture for your use, if it’s not rainy.
Before confirming your stay, please take the time to read all of the listing, including rules and cancellation policy. No smoking or parties are ever allowed.

Then a little bit about our actual location being remote etc…

Thanks very much for your request to stay here!
Kind regards,

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They could disclose a party. I also like this from a marketing standpoint. Sometimes people will say they are in town for a conference, wedding, or other event. I can better keep track of what is driving demand.

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