International phone fees if guests don't have 4G

How does everyone handle communicating with foreign guests who don’t have 4G?
Is it OK to say in rules that guests must have 4G to communicate by the Airbnb app or WhatsApp on arrival day, so I don’t have hundreds of dollars in international call and text fees to overseas phone numbers?
I’m in Europe if I have to call or text north American or Asian phone numbers I’ll go bankrupt.
What do you do if a guest does not have 4G, and you are sitting there waiting for him to arrive for 3 hours?
Any ideas/stories/advice, thanks!

No you can’t tell guests that they should use 4G @lililou1 it’s unreasonable and there is no way you can implement it.

Your call costs to guests are a tax deductible expensive (at least they are for me in the UK) and are part of your business costs.

You can use Skype or one of the other providers in Europe, that give you very cheap call access to foreign phone numbers.

I’m not sure why you are having to spend so much on overseas calls, I haven’t had to call/text a guest about check in, in nearly two years :slight_smile:

If your guest doesn’t check in at the agreed time don’t wait around for hours, just message them through Airbnb and send them a text to say you are now out for the next XXX hours and to contact you and you will come back ASAP and they can wait at XXX and have a drink/meal.


Why do you need to call them on the phone? Just text them on ABB platform. If they answer fine, if they don’t just go with the default. For example I have a guest from China (I’m in US) arriving tomorrow. I sent her instructions how to get in on ABB platform and another message asking what time they are going to arrive. If she can’t get in is her fault cuz I sent the same message to tens of other guests before her and if she doesn’t reply with the hour I’ll assume is 3PM the default check in time. Let her call me if she needs me. it’s her who needs to get a SIM card at the airport, not me to call international numbers.


The Airbnb check in instructions, check-in guide, house manual etc are all available offline on the app. There shouldn’t normally be any information the host needs to give to the guest to check in. They should have all the information they need to check in available without data. Confirm before they leave what their plan will be and if they don’t have a smart phone or can’t manage with Offline Maps etc, ask them to print out a map, the house manual, reservation confirmation email etc. It might be worthwhile to let guests know that its expensive to receive texts and phone calls from foreign numbers and that the best way to reliably get in touch with you is through the Airbnb app. Then you can start the discussion about 4G data plans etc.


I use the Airbnb messaging app. If I need info from the guest and it’s about a week before check in I reach out to airbnb via message and ask them to get in touch with me. I also state in listing and in messages that the door codes won’t work until I get the info. I refuse to spend money on international calls and texts.


I’m not sure why you want to phone them? I can honestly say that since I started with Airbnb, I have never phoned a guest.

I’ve messaged them on the platform, I’ve What’s App-ed them, I’ve texted them and I’ve had them call me but I’ve never called a single one. And that’s with guests from all over the world.

So maybe the real problem is why you have a need to call them?


Exactly. Making up a new rule will at best reduce the number of recurrences, but it’s never a solution. You need to make a change in how you operate. In general, we hosts need to think of things we can change to solve any and all recurring problems.


Yes obviously we use the Airbnb app or email or WhatsApp before their trip to send all the info.

And that’s exactly it, I never have to call a guest if they have WhatsApp! The only guests I’ve had to call are people who don’t have 4G, and elderly guests who don’t know how to use WhatsApp or texts…

Having good WhatsApp contact on arrival day lets me provide a much better service:

  • if they are lost I can send them a localisation that they can click into Waze
  • or I can WhatsApp voice call and guide them the last part of the trip
  • they can keep me posted of delays if they are driving a long way or better share their trip on Waze so I can be there in the street exactly when they arrive
  • they can call when they arrive nd I meet them outside to help with their luggage and direct them to the parking garage
  • if the apartment is ready earlier than check in time, I can tell them and get them in early
  • we have had people who do not read arrival instructions, arrive on time on their flight, then go out to lunch or other errand keeping us or property manager waiting for 3 hours. In that case you need to call or text them.
  • if they are accessing using a lock box, I’ve had people not be able to input the code or work the lock box and need verbal instructions or photos on how to do this.
  • if they have a problem with the wifi or the modem in the apartment (guest who kept inputting the wrong password for example OR electricity down and modem rebooted changing password etc…) => I can’t send instructions with photos or verbally guide them how to resolve the problem


You can’t WhatsApp them if they don’t have 4G.

Interested on hearing how this went!

If they don’t have 4G and are driving, they will not get an Airbnb message. There is no free wifi around my apartment so a phone call or text would be necessary.

And many guests either want early check in or have delays and so if we can be flexible we are, but for that we need to text or call (WhatsApp) on arrival day.

You are right though large part of the problem is because I can’t and don’t want to allow self check in.

The need for communication on arrival day is mostly about finding the apartment and meeting up to give the keys.

I have only had one set of guests get lost and this is because they didn’t print out their map to my place and didn’t bother to charge their phone or stop somewhere to have a coffee so they could charge it.

That is in three and a half years and hundreds of guests @lililou1

I think much of you having to do so much communication on the day is down to your check in process and your prior communication around check in.

You shouldn’t be having to do this much communications on the day.

Why is you having to call the occasional guest who can’t use Whats App going to bankrupt you ? you didn’t reply as to why you don’t use Skype or another cheap provider to text them.

As already stated if guests don’t come by the agreed check in time, you can easily use Skype rather than What’s App to let them know to call you when you arrive.

You easily inform your guests in advance that if they don’t arrive within half an hour of the agreed check in time (apart from plane delays or other exceptional circumstances) that there will be an hourly waiting charge for the person who has to stay at the premises to check them in

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Where is it that you put the map to your place on Airbnb?

Once a guest has booked you can email them a PDF or jpg., send them a link to a map on your website or Google maps or a self-created map, etc. etc.

It definitely seems that you are calling guests unnecessarily. There’s no need to call guests to see if they are delayed, to see if they’ve arrived, to see if they’ve accessed the key from the lockbox, to sort out a wifi problem or most of the other issues in your bulleted list - it’s the guest’s responsibility to call you.

As I said above, I can’t remember ever calling a guest during the time I’ve been using Airbnb and when I think about it, I can’t remember calling a guest in my entire hosting life. (And that’s from well before cellphones and even email were invented).

I’m sure that most hosts never or rarely have the need to call their guests. So if I were you I’d seriously look at why you need to call them and how you can prevent it. It’s simply not a problem that most other hosts have.


It’s in my guide book, but you can also email it to them using the Airbnb email address @lililou1

My guests normally just use Google Maps though.

I couldn’t agree more @jaquo @lililou1 seems to have created an unnecessarily complicated process for themselves.

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Do you cater to people from specific countries that makes this a common problem? Are you a property manager that has a lot of listings so that these add up?

Many of these can be solved by proper planning and changing how you communicate earlier in the process. The rest should not be happening so frequently that they cost you so much money.

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They can’t use google maps if they don’t have 4g.

If they have google maps that means they can also pick up your Airbnb app messages.

Do you have good results emailing them with the Airbnb hidden email? In my experience 50% or more just zap those emails to spam. Worthless.

Yes they can. Go back and read my previous response. You can download offline maps and use google maps without data.

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