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Specific Red Flags for Potential Guests? Other Criteria?

I’m just starting out my listing and wanted to know if anyone had advice on any particular red flags you’ve come across for guests requesting reservations? And beyond “red flags”, are there any criteria that you recommend for either accepting or rejecting a reservation request? I like seeing that guests have prior rentals and reviews, but would I be limiting myself too much by only accepting people with prior airbnb rentals?

Thanks for your help!

There is a lot of debate about this issue on this forum - do some searching and you’ll find plenty.

I’ve been hosting for 8 months now. My experience tells me that there is no way to predict who will be a good fit, and who won’t. I’ve had young college kids that took out the trash and wrote me a thank you note, and college kids that didn’t even put their trash in the bin. I’ve had Chinese guests that spoke loudly and were a bit obnoxious and a party of 5 who were so quiet I did not know they were there. I’ve had guest arrive who’s photo was so strange, and her communication so poor, that I was dreading it. They were an amazing family and we just had the best time.

The one thing now is that I am more straight forward with guests if I’m concerned. I’ve had two bookings of college aged people and told them of some bad experiences and asked if they felt they and their friends would be respectful. A group of 5 ladies from the UK just left and they were LOVELY. I have some coming from Malaysia, the kid has kind of a gangster pose in his profile photo. We chatted a good bit about expected behaviors. I friended him on FB and he seems like a sweetheart. I had a family from India book for a week (we share the home) and I told them upfront, NO COLOGNE. We’ll see if MY ‘no cologne’ and THEIR ‘no cologne’ match!!!

Good luck!!!


As a fairly new host (since December last year) all our guests so far, with the exception of one, had no reviews.

The one exception, who had glowing reviews, was quiet and friendly but also left the place in pretty poor shape compared to other guests. So something I have discovered in this forum from experienced hosts -and from that one guest - is that you can’t rely on reviews!

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Red Flags can include, but are not limited to:

–Asking a million questions, hand wringing… This telegraphs a nervous traveler who is likely to find a million things wrong;

–Asking questions about things clearly described in your listing. Demonstrating that they don’t read.

–Trying to bargain you down in some way. (I am really on a budget, could you lower the nightly price for me? Can I not pay the cleaning fee? I promise to leave it clean) signaling an inexperienced, cheap and possibly disrespectful guest.

–Sometimes, but not always, someone who can’t speak a word of English. They can’t understand why you have showering rules and then proceed to take 30-minute showers at 3am. Leave trash everywhere like they were in a hotel, even though removing your own trash is one of my rules since I’m in a rural area. I love visiting both Japan and South Korea and loved the people I met there, but nearly 100% of the time, guests from these places did not seem to understand the house rules. So I will think twice when accepting guests from these countries.

It’s basically common sense.


Speaking of indecisive guests, do you all get those who aren’t ready to book but ask you to hold the dates? I’ve had a few of those so far who seemed surprised when their pre-approval expired and someone else had taken their weekend. (I let them know pre-approval doesn’t hold the dates anyways.) The indecisive guests seem to be all newbies to AirBnB. I’ve had great newbie guests but maybe I got lucky by avoiding the indecisive ones who want you to block your calendar for them.

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Simply respond that it’s not possible for you to hold dates. I would be wary of a potential guest who asks this of you. It’s screaming inexperienced and that in itself is a red flag.

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I had a guest who booked just yesterday (he is brand new to AirBnB and I am his first host), and the day after he booked, he started texting me directly, and asked because he was already nearby if he could come by and see the house. I had guests over already, and if the current guests saw me bringing a future guest over, that may not have scored too well.

He went through the verification process and explained his stay, and is just staying for 12 days…it did not appear anything was wrong. He seemed normal and honest…until after the booking.

Because I have two rooms and I list the two rooms and one bathroom (the whole upstairs) as one whole room…he asked if he could have a discount since he says he is coming alone and will use just one bed. It’s like going to a hotel room with two beds…would you ask for a discount if you went to a hotel room with two beds and only used one? My listing clearly states what is included with the rate. He already got the deeply-discounted weekly rate…and asked for a one-room discount on top of it.

I’ve had many single/couple travelers and just used one room, and they never asked for a discount.

He also asks because there will be a couple days he will stay somewhere else overnight, and wanted a refund for the nights he won’t be using. Hah! If he made two separate reservations, he could be paying more…but then, that is his loss.

I thought this person was pushing his luck, or trying to tug at my heartstrings because I am a single woman. I swear if he asked all these questions before booking I would have declined him.

I’m with Guesty, Inc and they also explained how my listing works. If this guest disagrees with the final result, and he cancels…oh well.

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This “gentleman” knew what he was booking and made his booking at an agreed upon rate. Trying to negotiate after the fact is just unethical. If he didn’t need a two bedroom, I’m sure there were other smaller listings out there that could have accommodated him. Don’t give in. There are people who will try to walk all over you if you give an inch. It’s really too bad he didn’t make such a request before reserving so that red flag would have been up and you could have run in the other direction.

As far as the request for viewing the place before his reservation, you would be assuming all of the liability for that encounter. The insurance doesn’t kick in until the reservation begins. Beyond that, it’s just rude to make such a request. It’s generally a waste of time. If he doesn’t believe the accuracy of your listing, why did he book to begin with?

What’s your cancellation policy set to?

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Yeah, those are quite annoying. Unless the cancellation policy is set to strict, there isn’t even much on the line for them if they book and choose to cancel down the road.

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My cancellation policy is flexible

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I think it is guests who aren’t prepared to pay for the whole room upfront, since they also ask when do they pay for the room, and can they put down a deposit. They are probably used to hotels, where you pay for the first night, and then the rest when you check out. So far these would-be guests pre-booking inquiry always expires and someone else books the next day. I haven’t hosted any of the confused folks yet, but sometimes I go back and look at their reviews a few weeks later, and it seems like they weren’t bad guests at the place they did end up staying (mutual good reviews left).

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We had this happen late last year. A group couldn’t decide if they wanted to book or not. Then they wanted us to hold the dates for 60 days while they decided. Near the end of the 60 days they wanted to come take a look. We were out of town and had guests staying there at the time, so they decided to go ahead and book. Sure enough, a day before checkin, they called Air to say they had a death in the family and they needed to cancel and wanted a full refund.

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What happens here? Can you ask for a death cert?

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Did you hold it for them?

I just had this happen. I’ve been played so many times I told her no. In the end she sent some sort of proof to Air and they sided with her. I lost the booking. Luckily it was only for three nights.

The trip experience folks allowed reached out to us asking if we wanted to refund of not. I suppose we could have ask them to verify it. At the time, we were a bit less wise to the possibility of tricks, so we refunded. That being said, we would always seek verification in the future. It’s too easy to say something came up. In the end, though, we have a product we are selling and if days go unsold, we lose out. So, I think the airline approach is the best. Sudden last-minute cancellations get refunded with proof. Otherwise, the cancellation policy has to hold.

We did hold it and they still flaked out at the last minute even after booking.

I started my airbnb 2 years ago and have had a couple of instances when I decided the pay off just wasn’t worth the hassle. Granted, I do not do this for a living, but only as a supplemental income and for enjoyment because I like meeting people, so I am in a position of being a bit picky, which has seemed to payoff.

A couple of situations that i turned down flat were quite amusing. There was a man who wanted to bring his entire family so they could barbeque in my backyard. I specify that I only have room for three people. Another person kept badgering me because she and her husband wanted to ride the horses on my property that don’t even belong to me. Still another insisted that I pick her up at the train station and then drive her around Amish country as her tour guide. These were all a “no”. Also, I won’t take anyone who is not verified.

I hope this is helpfu.

Oh, that’s a good one. It reminds me of a request for 24 people to come do hair and makeup before a wedding. Not only that, they wanted to pay 25% of the going rate because they would not be staying the night.

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Same here (with an offline ID) that is giant red flag if they haven’t done this.

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