New to airbnb looking for all sorts of advice :)


We are going to list our vacation property on Airbnb in the very near future and I am looking for some advice in regard to the number of guests, privacy and other concerns.

We had previously list and rented the property through a local real estate agent, but we were ultimately unsatisfied with the results. The property is not an investment property, we use it as our family cottage, and it was heartbreaking to find the place and bad shape, with zero recourse from the rental/real estate agency. Especially considering the fee’s we were paying for nothing more than handling a transaction and having a place to pick up the keys.

The home is large, and can accommodate many people, but we set a reasonable limit to ensure the home was not over run. We have a neighbour who who lives on the lake full time, and would often tell us that is was a “full house” and the number of people he described were usually greater than what the rules stated. Its uncommon for us to be able to meet the guests in person, due to proximity, does anyone have any advice on keeping guests honest in this regard?

One idea I had was to install a ring doorbell system, so that 1) The guest could reach me without using their mobile, and 2) I could keep an eye on the number of people going through the door. Would this be considered a breach of privacy? Does anyone else use similar devices? The home also has a nest thermostat that I installed for my own convenience, have you ever had people voice concerns with regard to hosts being able to access such devices?

Does anyone have any generally advice that a newb like myself may have overlooked/not considered?

Finally, in the event that I do find the place in bad shape, and the rules were not followed, what is the course of action? I apologize if this is covered when signing up for the service, but the property is a family effort and a sibling has gone through the host sign-up process.

We are very excited that vetting guests is possible through the community/reviews, but just a few last i’s to dot and t’s to cross. Any input/experiences you could share is greatly appreciated in advance.


First and foremost - read, read, read everything on the AirBnb site. Many of your questions about procedures will be answered. Jot down thoughts and questions as you go and you may find the answer in a later category.

Next: read, read, read this forum. Again, many of your questions and ones you may not have thought of, will be answered. Again jot down thoughts and questions. Use the search field to see if the topic has been covered. Doorbell systems, remote cameras, remote thermostats have been covered.

This is a great place to find answers, exchange opinions, and learn new things.

Welcome! AirBnBing is an adventure!


I would just echo what Terry said. Please review this forum history thoroughly (and the guidelines here) before asking basic questions like “what happens when a guest cancels?) And I also agree, you need to read Airbnb site first.

A lot of it is trial and error. What works for one Host is not going to work for another.


Set a higher minimum night stay to help avoid parties. I find that most people staying a week will not be on a bender the entire time. I set my minimum at 4 nights

Expect wear and tear, if you want your place to remain perfect, don’t rent it.


I echo advice of other hosts suggesting a deep dive of both this and the forums. There’s a steep learning curve and it’s easy to make mistakes as a new person - the biggest (IMO) being managing your calendar/pricing and house rules.

It is a business, so it pays to do research!

A couple of points:

  • I’d suggest not doing “Instant Book” as a brand new host – without it you are asked to approve each stay, so any mistakes you made in availability, pricing, minimum nights, are easier to rectify. Airbnb takes cancellations very seriously, so avoid them at all costs. Be sure to change minimum night requirements and research any events/holidays that merit increased prices. (I missed this as a newbie and sold just the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend for far too little :frowning: )
  • As a new host, you get a bump in search rankings for an intro period. Make good use of it, because this builds your reviews before you lose the “bump”.
  • Take shorter bookings when you start so you can work the kinks out (a max of a week or so) and build up your reviews during your “bump” time. Guests can be a great help on feedback.
  • With a family owned property, you’ll want to carefully consider who the main account is associated with, as they’ll get the 1099/income reported against their SSN. Your Sis can also make other managing family “co-hosts”, but the main account is the one that ultimately has control over where $ is deposited.
  • Use your house rules to enforce things that present an issue for you/your property; if it’s not in the house rules, it’s difficult for Airbnb to support you if a guest issue arises. Some people have VERY few rules; I have a laundry list, but I also get great guests – biggest damage in 3 years were some bad heat rings on a buffet top. I found it helpful to read house rules of other hosts in my area, and those of hosts on the Airbnb forums.

I’ve rarely had guests bring additional people, but it sounds more common at remotely hosted and larger houses. I love my Ring as a way to see when guests arrive. If you have more than one entrance, you’ll have to consider getting additional cameras or shady people will just bring the party through the back door. Any security cameras must be disclosed in your listing description. I’d put a house rule like “Only registered guests are allowed on the property. Please be sure your reservation guest count is accurate prior to arrival; if our Ring doorbell camera shows additional guests on the property, we reserve the right to, at our discretion, charge $X per additional guest or cancel the reservation without refund.”

Nest is great – a lot of hosts like being able to set min/max values so guests don’t run the heat at 90 for a week. (Probably better to set an acceptable range than tinker with their temps remotely. As a guest, I could see that being annoying)

The reviews on Airbnb help, but they’re not fool-proof. You’ll find many stories on forums of hosts who weren’t paid out on damage that (IMO) far exceeded regular wear and tear. Sometimes it seems hosts have a valid claim, but didn’t follow Airbnb’s claim process (like claim has to be submitted before the next guests check in – difficult if you have a tight turnover!). Here’s the official Airbnb help article on claims:

I hope you enjoy hosting on Airbnb - forums are a great source of collective wisdom - let us know if we can answer anything else!

My advice would be start small. One guest, for one minimum stay. I also used to have the thought of offering a friend to stay and review it personally. I did get booked and got my feet wet.

I live in a very casual area, don’t have any smart devices in our home so I can’t answer that. My feeling is that the more you do in technology can mean the more you have to handle.

A lot is about your personal tolerance level. I don’t know if it is practical or not, but if you had someone who could be your experiment and/or just start with one guest that is what I would do.

Lastly, one thing I have learned is not to rely on abnb procedures when it comes to website updates. I can tell they are making changes a lot and if you choose (for example) to accept the 10% promotion offer where they send anyone looking at your site a 10% offer, I have noticed that it seems to override my 2 day window for no bookings. I have 2 days before and after each booking for cleaning. I hope to change that if I can find some help… Anyway, my point is always watch your calendar.

I couldn’t tell whose house your neighbor was saying was a full house (his or yours). If it is on a lake I imagine it would be very tempting to have a party. It sounds like you don’t want to, but maybe you can lean into the idea of groups and setup for that?

Make sure you test drive your support too. I am not sure the best way to do this, but be prepared that there might not be just a phone number to call. You may have to figure out categories, etc. to get in a que to get a call. Maybe just simulate that too.

I say no cameras but that is just my opinion. Probably a lot of others (on this site) have better information. Just creeps me out. Sorry if I missed and tried to answer things you already pointed out. Good luck. Wish I had a lake to go to. You will do great.

I’m sorry, but Airbnb won’t solve these problems.

It is inevitable that you will find your house in bad shape especially as you aren’t nearby and will be renting to groups. I rent out my spare bedroom and my maximum guest count is two people. I still find damage from time to time.

As you aren’t nearby, I believe you will have a difficult time using Airbnb’s resolution center to claim damage. You have to put in the claim prior to the next guest checking in. You also must supply proof of the damage and invoices for the replacement/repairs. From what I’ve heard, often Airbnb requires more proof of damage and in different formats that hosts believe to be reasonable. This will be difficult to accomplish from afar.

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@Allison_H’s advice was great.

I have a Ring doorbell outside the only entrance to the airbnb room. It’s disclosed and pictured on my listing. I “sell” it as a security benefit not a device for catching people in the act of doing the wrong thing. As you said, it can also be used for communicating. Keep in mind though it doesn’t work if the internet goes out. If I had a large lake front property I’d have an entire exterior security camera system. You called it a cottage but then said it’s a large house that holds a lot of people. If’s it’s large, you’ll need more than one Ring doorbell.

If people don’t like it, by all means I hope they book elsewhere but so far I’ve had no complaints about it.

start small, but try and get that ‘small start’ at the start.
It’s very tempting to slash your prices, so that you can get going, but don’t forget - CALENDAR!

Nice to get your first guest sorted, but what if they book 2 years in advance at your cheap "I want a a review’ rate?

That’s my main advice: Try and grab your first guests in the first couple of weeks, then off you go! Unblock those dates!


I have used instant book from day one, there is no way you can tell good from bad via messages. Strongly suggest you look at local listings of similar type to get a feel for what others are offering. Most important, don’t leave anything in the place that it would devastate you if it was lost or broken. Guests will break into locked rooms, cupboards… find a local who can act as a trouble shooter, also local cleaners.


I second @Allison_H’s advice about avoiding Instant Book, at least at the beginning. Personally I don’t use it, and don’t consider it a good idea, but Airbnb continues to push it down everyone’s throats, using their automated systems - computers are great for this kind of thing.

And communicating with guests before accepting a booking has obvious advantages. If there any problem with the booking request, you can just hit abort. For this to really be useful, you need to ask all the questions you need to ask up front. And make sure you get answers! I recommend a template. This is particularly desirable if you are a remote host and have no contact with the guest. It’s also particularly desirable when you are new and have not yet figured out all the ways a booking can go “wrong”. Some random examples:

a) The guest booking request is too far in the future. You forgot to block off dates.
b) The guest comes with pets or children. Maybe you don’t want one or both of those.
c) The number of guests is too large.
d) The guest seems suspicious. Perhaps you can’t find out anything about them, and they won’t give you proper responses.
e) Sometimes they just respond in a weird way, or don’t seem to understand what you are saying, which always sets off alarm bells with me. Some of this can just be things like language barriers, but it’s good to have notice of this in advance.

Though Airbnb will put you lower in the search, of course, if you don’t use IB. But if you are getting enough bookings without IB, you don’t need IB. Another reason to just wait and see.

And exterior security cameras are obviously an excellent idea if you are not staying at the listing, and even if you are.

Otherwise I don’t have much to add to the advice you’ve already received.

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I think it’s important to determine who are your guests. If it’s obviously a vacation property than put a minimum of a week . This way you will attract more family style vacation but not someone who just wants to “relax” at your cottage.
Cameras will be huge help.
I just found out about Nest and will definitely install it on my properties.

And I would add guests who book my room and think it’s a whole house. This has happened on several occasions and the guest had to cancel their request. If I hadn’t responded to their request with clarification that it’s not the whole house before I accepted I don’t know how this would have worked out.
I was able to tell by the requests wording that they thought it was a whole house. “Your home is lovely and we’d like to book it for …


It sounds like it might be a good idea to add it to your first response to the reservation request. E.g.

Please note that the listing is a room and not the entire house.

if it is a common misunderstanding.

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I agree with @Louise…don’t leave anything in the unit that you treasure personally or is valuable.

On a rare occasion, a guest will break into the owners closet. A friend who listed her condo with a management company instead of self management (airbnb, VRBO) because she thought the agency would help monitor her home, was horrified to find that one group of guests took her locked owner’s closet door off the hinges to break in & took everything (wine, beer, liquor, sheets, towels, an electric grill, and much more).

It doesn’t happen often but one time is all it takes…

I’ll say it again. It’s the 3 R’s: Read, read and read!

  • Read the Airbnb Help/Documentation pages.
  • Read past discussions on this forum.
  • And read Marcus Aurelius - on some days, you need his stoicism to keep you going!

Well, at least, the first two are a must! I spent days and days reading several threads on this forum before I even created an account.

Now when I joined, I already knew so many intimate details about the regulars. :rofl:


Well… not everything



True, I haven’t yet read… all the threads! :wink:

I don’t know how many hosts do it, but I’ve made sure the word ‘room’ was part of the listing title. Plus one of the first things I specify in the description is what they’re getting - room and (shared) bathroom.

I haven’t had this issue since. (I’m usually more concerned about them expecting the kitchen as you’ll see from threads I’ve opened.)

PS: I also assume shared-acc hosts do not have pictures of unshared areas on the listing. Obvious, but easy to see someone overlook this!

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Amazon is coming out with a new camera 11-8-17 that seems like it would work well for this.

You can even have conversations. It can be paired with certain smart locks also. Seems like it would be good for a distant host.(not something I’d use myself being in the home)