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Tips for weeding out a "bad fit"

I’m a new host but live in a place with a lot of demand. I’ve been hosting three months, and in that time have hosted over 70 stays and over 90 nights. I take a lot of pride in what I do. My ratings are generally pretty great but I feel like I’m making rookie mistakes, which is why I’m on this site!

I rent rooms on the upper floor of my house, there is a shared bathroom (which is definitely the trickiest part). I am the cleaner and the decorator and all those things. I tried instant book but felt way out of my depth and switched back to request to book.

My real question is this: are there tips out there for weeding out a bad fit? I’ve recently had one. I knew I should have declined the inquiry but I didn’t trust my gut. Her review was painful!

How have more experienced hosts learned to tell when a guest just isn’t for them? Any tips or hints? I’m feeling a bit discouraged.

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I’ve hosted 100s of guests and still haven’t found the trick. I just use instant book. I’ve had to cancel a couple of people. One, if they have multiple problem reviews, I don’t take the chance with them. I also canceled a repeat guest who wanted to argue with me about my pet fee.

My gut doesn’t work. What did this guest do that tipped you off that you ignored?

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This guest said her boyfriend was apprehensive about shared spaces. I told her basically what was in the listing. She booked anyway, and I’d kinda hoped she wouldn’t.

It became a whole thing - and I just think I should have declined her request - or done what I’ve seen suggested here, which is to block the day of the inquiry.

(The whole thing is that I have 2 listings. Two days before her booking, she asked if she could upgrade to the other listing which is bigger and nicer. I told her to cancel the 1st booking for a single room and rebook for the listing. She didn’t want to do that because of service fees, so I told her to leave me the difference in cash. I had already blocked the second listing because of work conflicts.)

I guess what I’m learning is that people who ask for special/extra/different things are red flags? I always thought those people would be extra grateful because I’m doing something nice for them lol.

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I’m starting to feel like Instant Book might be good for me. I was also reluctant to leave really honest reviews before, but feel good about the review I left for this person. I get now why hosts on here really value leaving honest reviews for guests.

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Yes that often seems to be the case. And many hosts just reject them out of hand. It takes a lot of experience and practice to learn which requests you might be able to deal with and which aren’t worth it. Since you work a job that sometimes conflicts with Airbnb then you might need to avoid these needy guests more than some like myself who is home all day.

Yay for honest reviews.

Many of us have had great luck with IB.

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What about IB do you find especially lucky? Like I said at first I tried it but felt like I didn’t really understand the site/expectations/managing my calendar.

Please feel free to direct me to a previous thread about IB!

I’m just saying I haven’t had any problems using it. I’ve hosted over 700 stays and have been on IB for about the last 4 (of 5) years. It’s less work, puts you higher in search and you can cancel 3x a year without penalty if you aren’t comfortable with someone after they book. I never use my 3 cancellations in a year. And you can call in and explain if you need more than 3 times a year.

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I switched to IB after about a year or two of hosting, and it has saved me a lot of time. I got tired of the back-and-forth conversations and the window-shoppers who ask questions that are in the listing (like “how far is it from the airport?”). IB attracts those who actually want to book.

I was initially wary to use IB because I rent one floor of the home I live in and wanted to avoid bad-fit guests. Fortunately I have not had an increase in guests who don’t read the listing. This was a problem prior to IB and is still a problem, but I don’t think IB makes it worse.

The biggest IB problem I have is third party bookings. I forbid these in my house rules so I know guests have not read them. I call AirBnB to cancel so I’m not penalized.

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This sounds similar to me - I have guests staying on the top floor of my house so I do worry about having to be a hall monitor. @Xena do you rent the whole floor as one listing? I’m wondering about that as an option…)

I have no idea what third party bookings are!

I rent a one-bedroom in my basement. It isn’t the entire floor but has a separate entrance.

A third-party booking is when someone books on behalf of a friend or relative but doesn’t stay. They are against AirBnB’s TOS and void the host guarantee, though the CS agents will try to ask you to “make an exception” and host anyways (bearing the risk yourself). I am always insistant they cancel anyways.

Another problem that didn’t get any worse with IB: sneaking in extra guests. In fact, I think I made it through the whole summer without extra guests (at least I didn’t notice).

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Oh! I get it now. Those are the only requests that I’ve actually turned down. That makes me really uncomfortable…I’m glad to know it’s against the TOS.

What I’ve had happen is a parent trying to book for an adult child. NO WAY! I’ve had this happen a few times. Because I don’t have IB on, I’ve just told them to get the kid to make an account for themselves and then we will talk.

I can see how with IB this is a cancellation issue though…and I can also see how IB is a different style of hosting altogether.

Where I live we have a very definite high season (May-October with strong July-August) and a very slack low season. So I get the chance to do it all again with some space in between.

I’m trying to make sense of what I’ve just been through and gather some insight from experienced hosts! So thank you for your reply, I appreciate it.

As for the extra guests…My spaces are very small. Like, if you wanna cram a third person into a single room…I don’t know what to say to you about that!

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I’ve got a small room and have only had one set of guests bring a third person. After that I put a house rule that said one or two only, anyone arriving with 3 will be cancelled on immediately. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

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What a hassle! I hope that doesn’t happen again to you either!

This is what I mean about being a hall monitor…honestly this forum has been really helpful in creating come context for the really bizarre and confusing human activity I’ve seen over the last few months! I don’t want to be reprimanding people or forcing them to follow rules…but seriously, please follow my basic rules!

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It is OK to take your time before making major changes to your hosting style like switching to IB or changing what you offer. I think you need to be really firm in your boundaries and knowledgeable of your market to succeed on IB, but also know when to let things go. It’s a balance between having a steel spine but also not sweating the small stuff. This just takes experience. Like I said, it took over a year-and-a-half before I was comfortable. I started posting here the first month I was hosting, and used this forum to focus on smaller improvements. I did find the advice here immensely helpful in warding of those unwanted guests. My first guests were the absolute worst I’ve ever had, and it was my rookie mistakes that attracted them!

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Thanks for this! I am going to take some time, peruse this site and think about how I want to change my listings…and I think for starters having 2 listings sharing a bathroom is not great and I’d like to have just one listing with a private bathroom. I feel like I learned a lot this summer. It was really busy, and my town is really competitive. I think for me the biggest challenge is shaking off criticism that isn’t constructive, and knowing when to ignore that stuff and when to act on it.

Is there a thread for rookie mistakes? Cause I do feel like that would be helpful, and also I could add a few there!!

What were your newbie hosting mistakes

I think the biggest is using self-check in. I was offering to meet people in person but couldn’t always organize it. Self check in is the best for me, and with experience I’m learning which guests will have trouble with it.

I think I set my prices too low (as per AirBnB suggestions!) and that attracted a bargain hunter style of person. I changed them pretty quickly but could always tell when a guest was being strange that they were one of the ones who had booked in at the discount rate.

I had a guest show up a day late for a 4 day booking (couldn’t be bothered to let me know) and I didn’t put that in the review. He also destroyed a set of sheet slathering himself in coconut oil (it was disgusting!) and I didn’t put that in my review either. I feel like reluctance to be honest in my reviews is a rookie mistake.

I think knowing that new users of the service will often leave confusing reviews and are less likely to thoroughly read the listing description and know what is a good style of booking for them.

I didn’t put explicitly in my listing that there is no use of the kitchen or any space downstairs. Similarly, I just didn’t really understand at first how important a clear separation of our living space and that of the guests was going to be, so I had a few uncomfortable moments with early guests.

Refining what the ‘guest interactions’ might be with me as host. Essentially, I’m not that into hosting people in my private space, and since the listing is for rooms in homes (even though they are separated). I just want to say hi, give them tips and point them in the direction of town. I don’t want to have dinner or interact with them in my private space. It took me a few weeks to figure that out and to make it explicit in the listing, even though my partner is very clear on this boundary.

Clarity about amenities being really accurate…I think I wanted the listing to sound “attractive” at first. Accurate is attractive lol.

Since there are two listings, and one has a private living room and one doesn’t, telling people to keep the doors closed when they are out - so that they don’t come home to some inexperienced guests eating cheetos in their space. Which happened.

phew this is a long post!

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I’m one of the few people posting here who has hosted two different ways in essentially the same space. I started out as the traditional bedroom in someone’s home. People would stay in the guest room and use the bathroom across the hall. They could use my back patio, kitchen and living area. Though I had some very nice interactions I also had some I didn’t enjoy. After I retired from teaching and could devote more time to Airbnb I remodeled my house to put a separate entrance, add an ensuite bathroom and completely block them from my part of the house.

I absolutely recommend it if there is any way you can swing it at all. Take out a window and put in a door, put a room divider up in the hall blocking off from your areas, etc. I spent $16,000 doing it and could pay cash but I realize for others this can be an unaffordable expense. But it’s worth starting to think about now if you value your privacy.

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People who argue. People who want something you don’t have. People who want something you don’t want to give.

And more subtly, people who are overly aggressive in their communication and people who set conditions.

These are the folks that get extra hoops to jump through, get a little more magnification on their profiles and prior reviews and stays.

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This is really great validation for me. It’s something my partner and I were discussing just this morning. We have a plan that will offer the same thing you are describing - the guests will have a separate entrance, have a private bathroom and two rooms upstairs. We are even considering some plumbing. There will be a divider cutting off the other two rooms upstairs (one I was renting out as a single private room, which was very popular). There are a few options for accessing those additional bedrooms, (there is a balcony - could put in an exterior staircase) and even thinking of making into another separate bachelor apartment. We do the work ourselves; doing this kind of work on the house is partly why we host - so that we can pay for upgrading our home.

I thought I was going to be more comfortable sharing spaces. I’m not! I didn’t anticipate having to be the bathroom police between guests - I’m also not comfortable with that either.

I’m learning!

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