We think guests don’t read, but . .

I asked this question on Facebook two days ago:

"If you stay somewhere (a hotel, an Airbnb, whatever) where there’s a manual in the room about the accommodations, the area, restaurants, etc., do you read it?”

So far, 65 responses. All but five say yes. Many say “Yes, always!”

I was surprised.


I was shocked when my current guest told me that he would read the House Rules during his 2 hour plane ride to get here!


I’ve sometimes been surprised when guests have mentioned something in the book that even I’d forgotten was in there. :slight_smile:


When I get a Booking Request that makes it unclear whether the guest has read everything, I always send back a message saying something like " Just want to make sure you’re aware that…" About 90% of the time, the guests have replied in a way that makes it evident that they have, indeed, read all through the listing info.


To whom, your Facebook friends?

All my Facebook posts are public. My FB friends are more likely to see them, but actually anyone can.

I started putting in a question, where they have to read the listing closer to find the answer. Some people have told me “Sorry, I couldn’t find it” but most have gave the correct answer. It’s a more than a little comforting, haha

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Years ago, when I hired college students as proofreaders, I made sure the job posting always had a typo. Then I asked each potential proofreader if he or she had noticed anything odd about the posting.

That’s great if you have more applicants than open positions, but do you always have more potential guests than available nights?

Hopefully, it improves the quality of your guests and it’s worth the extra effort on both sides.

I believe it is, for two reasons. The question I ask is the usual welcome, tell me about yourself and “What part of the house is shared with the neighbor?” The answer, “The driveway,” is easily found as it is stated in the listing, no less than twice. (1) If someone is coming to party, they will see that the house isn’t remote and move elsewhere. (2) People originally mentioned that the house was near the neighbor, and now no one is surprised. It’s definitely worth my effort, and if it isn’t worth theirs, then “Next!” The house has never failed to book. I know expectations are better managed this way, all around.


Very clever @Caellai, I may use this. I think my question will have something to do with the cat!


I made a local guidebook that I include in our listing. I also printed it out and threw it in a binder with additional brochures, magazines, etc. I ended up putting an extra copy of the house rules in there as well :wink:

It was an easy thing for me to put together and I didn’t really expect that many people would use it. But I would say more often than not I notice it moves around between guests and I really do think people read it! I was pleasantly surprised.


We have a simple guidebook. There’s a printed copy in a file or I send guests a google docs link.
The back section is about the coast and great places to go, to eat, buy food and activities.
I know guests read it as they’ll say they really enjoyed a particular walk, restaurant or destination we recommended.
Out of nearly 100 sets of guests, we’ve only had one who couldn’t help themselves. They couldn’t work the microwave (manual was in the drawer as per the handbook) - and didn’t ask us.

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But that is different than reading the contract.

Yes, it is. But it does show that they might read house manuals.

Sometimes I wonder if people read pre-arrival instructions or the in-house manual. One person left a review that mentioned it would be helpful if there were extra blankets etc. Well, if she had read the manual, she would know there are 3 extra blankets in the bedroom dresser and 1 in the sofabed storage. A recent guest asked for the address while on the way here. Omg! Mind boggling. The good news is that they are a minority, compared to the many guests we’ve had so far.


I don’t have a house manual because I’m a home-share, so it’s not necessary. But if I did, I would make it graphically eye-catching, with little pictures of the thing I was writing about, different fonts for different sections, and different colors. People are quite visually oriented these days and used to reading 8 word text messages. They tend not to read comprehensively through pages of text. If they thumb through and see a little icon of a bed, they might look for extra bedding info there. If it’s buried in with all the other info, they might never read it.

I usually give it a quick scan. Particularly if I’m staying for a few days.

My findings are totally different. Under my written rules section I have a message that says, "send me the words ‘Great Gatsby’ to confirm that you’ve read all of the rules. I’ve had 75 stays and about 5 people send me that. That is 6.67% of guests who read my rules/listing. I have also had about 5 guests who showed up, appalled, that I only have one bathroom. It says it on the listing in a prominent location. I am going to chalk up those results to self-reporting bias, since people want to feel like they do the responsible thing even if they don’t.

If you’re getting fully booked and it works for you, then great. But when I’m a guest I wouldn’t stay with a host who expected me to answer puzzles like a kid. Mind you, I tend to choose hosts who use IB. But still…

For anyone reading this, I’d seriously consider the wisdom of ‘code words’ and puzzles in your listing and making guests jump through hoops. As @history_hostess says, only 6% of guests respond and you never know how many guests it might be putting off.