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Screening guests with no reviews?


#1

Hi everyone,

My wife and I are new to Airbnb and have just listed our property (3 bed house) for rental.

We have had an enquiry from a lady whose profile says that she has been on Airbnb since 2013. However, at first glance she does not appear to have any reviews from hosts in that time.

Should reviews be visible on a profile for hosts to assess? If not how do we go into a profile to see if there are any negative (or any at all!) reviews of this person as a guest?

Thanks

Blake


#2

Hi Blake, sometimes this means a guest has stayed at airbnb, but no one reviewed them. Typically the only reason hosts won’t review is if the experience was bad and they just want to forget it. It is worth asking the guest about themselves and including the question if they have used airbnb before. If they reply they have used airbnb before, then I would be very wary to book my home to them, because it would seem a host chose not to review. Ask casually and include other questions.

The other possibility is that they’ve been a member for 2 years but never used it. I think this is less likely, because most guests sign up to use the service. It may be the case. The best thing to do is enter into dialog with the person, and see if you get a good feeling about it. Obviously a reviewed guest would be the best for your first rental, but you can’t always get them, especially being new.


#3

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for the reply and your thoughts. They echo ours in that it doesn’t quite add up with either of the scenarios that you highlighted.

We are happy to wait and see what happens with regards to enquiries, but even this is a good learning experience.

I think we will reply with a couple of questions, including whether they had used Airbnb before, and see what kind of response we get.

Thanks again,

Blake


#4

Always a great practice. I try to have a bit of dialog with whomever wants to book my home unless they have a lot of good reviews and seem like a sure bet. At that point I just welcome them. But no reviews (especially a member for a long while) is always pause to consider and dig a little deeper in as polite a way as you can :slight_smile:


#5

Hi Blake! Welcome to the hosting neighborhood!

I joined airbnb in 2012 looking for places to stay in Shanghai - but nothing came together and I rented an apartment through a different service.

In 2015 I looked again for a place in Mobile, AL, visiting my parents. That was my first booking. I stayed in with an ‘air’ host again a month later, and a few days later, listed my own room.

I was surprised to receive so many inquiries from guests that are not reviewed, and obviously joined just that day. However, so far all 20 or so experiences have been very positive. I had qualms about two bookings in particular but they both turned out absolutely fantastic.

Not saying you should or shouldn’t accept anyone, but my first host accepted me on those terms, and she loved us. ; )


#6

Thanks DC,

Appreciate the comments from the other side of the fence.

Cheers,

B


#7

DC, I wonder if you could put your other great post here. It was also very pertinent to this issue I thought. Or hopefully Blake will see it perusing the site…


#8

Blake, I’m in a different situation than many of you because I am in Hawaii and a trip here usually takes a fair amount of planning. So a good majority of my guests are newbies. Just opened their accounts to plan their trip to Hawaii. I cannot tell you HOW MANY great guests (to say nothing of their money) that I would have missed out on had I not taken them because they had no reviews. The ones staying right now, for example and the ones who left previous to them and several others. All wonderful, first timers. Sometimes the “virgins” bring a certain innocence if you know what I mean :)… they haven’t learned to be demanding or spoiled yet. So I find the noobs to be a plus… But as I said, that is me, and I have an advantage because I’m not a drive-up AirBnb.

That said, if I notice they have no reviews, I state this: “I see you are new and have no reviews yet so I’d ask you to read through my guest documents carefully and make sure you understand everything and let me know if you have any questions.”


#9

Do you live next door to your rental, and is Airbnb your first experience with listing your rental?


#10

Thanks for your help and questions guys. I appreciate the sentiment that we might be missing out on great guests who have not got reviews yet, but as per Sandy’s post yesterday, for someone to have been on Airbnb since 2013 and had no reviews seems odd. As pointed out by several of you, the new people with no reviews that you have put up have been exactly that - new - and have joined because they need to find somewhere immediately. Looking for something 3 years after joining just seems a bit suss.

Maybe we are being too critical, but we are happy to wait and see what else comes in. We are still fine-tuning our pricing and posting information, so I’ll see what our additions/changes generate.

cabinhost: I don’t live next door. It’s our family home and yes, it is our first listing.


#11

Blake, naw… not suss… Don’t be overly suspicious. :slight_smile: They may have opened an account then and didn’t travel or we just looking. They could have, as Cabin said, have been guests before and didn’t get a review… Honestly I don’t think that No Reviews automatically makes them bad guests.

Think about it…People may be getting a little burned out on the Review this, review that mentality… Starting with eBay. And proceeding onto Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc… And now AirBnB. Review, review, review… enough already!

I often don’t bother reviewing guests unless I KNOW they will be positive in return OR if they were terrible, and then I review them at the last minute. So some perfectly good guests got no review because I wasn’t totally sure if they would be good in return.

As a host of five years, I will say this… you can’t trust guests…I have been burned… Leaving guests a good review and getting a smack in return. Because of that, sadly, most get no review and they were in most cases perfectly good guests.


#12

Sure, Sandy - it was interesting writing it as it gave me time to reflect back over the summer and how interesting it was. I never anticipated having such a flood of first time airbnbers … I finally just stopped thinking about it.

You should be able to find the (unreviewed guest or host) on facebook or just google him/her and get an idea.

I joined airbnb in 2012 and never used it until 2015. I joined to search for some rooms but didn’t find one that worked for us.

My first guest that booked with me had no photo, no profile write up, not reviews or ID checked. Upon request he added a photo, etc. He was a young French kid traveling with two girls. I thought I was crazy for booking him.

But he was an exceptional guest - when one of the girls had a little accident he came and told me right away so I could get the linens in the wash - what a gentleman - was kind and thoughtful with his friends - stripped the beds and took out the trash before leaving. Left with metro smart cards by mistake and put them in the mail to me with a little note of thanks.

I know, I got very lucky.

Had another guest - in her photo she looked creepy!! And conversation wasn’t all that easy - but she and her family were gems and when we travel to Philly in February we’ll stop and have coffee with them.

Again, very lucky.

A group of 4 young Swedish guys with no reviews or experience. I expected them to come home loud and rowdy. They were incredibly polite. They left me a nice tip and were totally a pleasure to have. They even left a google watch in the sheets - unfortunately they wanted that back. ; )

Another group - guy who booked the room was one of my first experienced, well-reviewed guests and a good communicator. Then he showed up early unannounced (I work several jobs, have three kids, time is important to me, we are not often home in the evening so he got lucky). When his friends arrived around midnight (expected and normal because of traffic from NYC, no problem) they were loud and disruptive and obviously made no attempt to use ‘inside voices’. (I never ever hear guests from their quarters). Then they left beer bottles and trash all around. They were VERY VERY loud at breakfast. My family couldn’t hear itself think. (And nothing is as loud as a foreign language-loud!!!).

My first arrival was an airbnb host from France with lots of reviews and an experienced guest. He kept communicating with me all day and dragging me along until the absolute last minute before actually booking. It was very stressful. I didn’t know until 7 or so that evening that they were actually coming in - and because they planned poorly they arrived after the buses stopped. I was happy to pick them up at metro anyway, especially as they had a baby, but had to scramble to find a baby seat - without even knowing if they were actually going to come. (I’d handle that differently now)

So…I just don’t know what to think… A huge percentage of my guests have been new users. And have been great. I wish there was an easier way to know.

But at the end of the day, sharing you home with strangers is RISKY. That’s why people haven’t done it in the past. Open your door to someone walking down the street? Are they clean? Dirty? Well dressed? Speak English well? Talk haltingly with an accent? None of those things are going to tell you what will happen after they walk into your home.

I know my day will come when we’ll have much worse guests than students being raucous and loud and leaving trash around.

Until then, my family is having a blast meeting all these new people, and now we have connections with people all over Europe, Asia, and Australia.


#13

Great question, Blake. My best guests have been newbies. As others have said, it’s always wise to ask politely for more info…I say things like “I would love the opportunity to host you. It looks like you are new to Airbnb, as there is very little info and no face pics on your profile…I would love to know a little more about you and your travel interests so we can determine if this is a good fit for you.” Either you won’t hear from them again, in which case DECLINE. Or, they’ll give you enough info that it will raise your comfort level. Whatever you do always trust your gut. No amount of money is worth taking a psycho into your home.


#14

Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate the stories of renting a room to a stranger whilst you are in the property, but if you were looking to rent out your whole property while you were away, would you want to have reviewed people living in it or newbies? Just more of a general question.

Cheers,

Blake


#15

It’s all about your comfort level. If you get a bad vibe from any guests, just say no. Doesn’t matter if you are sharing the space or it’s an entire place. It’s about your comfort level.


#16

Lol DC, why am I NOT surprised by your disruptive guests being well reviewed guests from NYC? I truly agree with new guests being great guests many times. They also leave awesome reviews! Sometimes they are inexperienced and treat your home like a hostel and that sucks, but it’s really the luck of the draw.


#17

Blake,

I rent out a two bedroom home on Airbnb. Just a warning but many travelers will withhold information if you do not specifically ask. For example - they may think their babies and toddlers don’t count as guests and are free. They aren’t free in my rental. Or they will list the maximum number of guests but fail to tell you that they are planning to hold a private wedding ceremony at your house.

Or they don’t disclose that they planned to invite their sister’s family over on the last day. So I always, always ask “will there be any visitors during your stay?” Note I do not ask if they “plan” to have any visitors, but if they “will” have any. You would be surprised what people will divulge once asked.

It took me several attempts to get the traveler to divulge about his private wedding ceremony. If you feel like they are dancing around the answer, they probably are. Just ask again and be very direct. If you don’t have house rules on your listing, go ahead and create them.

When I have guests enter in 6, that is my max. So I still ask the visitor question. I just don’t let them know that if they say they will have visitors that I will decline them. You’d be surprised what people consider a visitor. I had one family tell me their college age son would be visiting them. No, your son is a guest staying with your family. Just because he will be arriving in his own vehicle does not make him a visitor.


#18

Thanks cabinhost - we will keep that in mind when setting out the house rules etc.

Cheers,

Blake


#19

We’re new to airbnb too but have had many, many years of great home exchanges (20+). Had 5 fab airbnb guests (in the first month) who we checked out beforehand and have had good reciprocal feedback - all great. But the other day we got a request (for one night) from someone who’d been with airbnb since 2016 - with zero reviews. We declined the booking. Our situation is we’re sharing a bit of our very precious home and not going to be used as a cheap hotel option. With home exchanges it’s a trust and respect thing which we’re going need the same from airbnb.


#20

Dear @Blakebnb25 When you’re screening guests, there are other things that you can look at too in addition to guest reviews. For instance, when a guest wants to communicate outside of the Airbnb platform it could be a red flag. Another bad sign is when a guest is unwilling to answer your questions but he/she keeps on insisting that you provide him/her with extra info. Good luck!


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