With over 4 million listing worldwide, there are as many as 2 million guests staying in Airbnb accommodation on any given night. That’s a lot of hosts and a lot of guests. Unsurprisingly then, misunderstandings can happen between guest and host. That’s why Airbnb etiquette is important but, unfortunately, not always easy to get right.
Do you have to talk to your host? Should you clear your personal clutter for your guests? There are a lot of questions that don’t have obvious answers if you’re new to Airbnb and other short-term accommodation providers.
Here then, are our best tips on getting Airbnb etiquette right, for both hosts and guests.
Make sure to Communicate
Communication is hands-down the most important aspect of Airbnb etiquette, whether you’re checking details with your host or communicating information to your guests. Both guest and host need to be able to clearly communicate their expectations of each other and the Airbnb experience.
Communicating in advance can help to set the tone for your visit. Your host will know the purpose of your trip and what you hope to get out of your stay. As a guest you can set the tone for the entire visit – after all, you’re paying for the accommodation.
Etiquette guide publisher, Even Debrett, recently teamed up with Airbnb to produce a new guide to online home sharing. The guide makes no qualms about how challenging etiquette can be in this new environment of online home renting.
“The traditional guidelines about having guests to stay, and the behaviour that is expected of them, are being challenged by the myriad ways in which we open our doors and share our homes.”
Key to navigating these challenges is communication. Begin by negotiating arrival and check out times in advance and urge hosts and guests to formally introduce themselves on arrival. Communication throughout your visit doesn’t have to be extensive, but if you do have any issues, you shouldn’t be afraid to raise them with your host there and then.
How to be an Impeccable Airbnb Host
If you aim to be a “superhost” – with an 80% or more 5-star rating and a response rate of at least 90%, you will need to become a master of Airbnb management etiquette. Below are some simple tips to getting there.
1. Know when to be hands-on and hands off
The trick with being a great host is to know when your guests expect personal interaction and when they want hotel style privacy. Try to individualise your style of hosting based on clues you pick up from the initial interaction. As a rule of thumb, guests using instant booking tend to prefer to be left alone so keep interaction to a greeting and showing them the accommodation.
2. Be the perfect concierge
If you want your guests to feel at home then put yourself in their shoes and put together recommendations on everything from great local restaurants to historical walks and places worth visiting. Putting together local information with your house rules is another way of staying hands-off without being impolite and answering your guests’ questions so they can be as independent as they want to be.
3. Be thoughtful
Some guests find it embarrassing to have to ask for extra towels or kitchen equipment so be thoughtful and make sure your Airbnb is equipped with good quality bed linen, towels and pillows, decent china and nice glasses. Cutting corners in this department is a false economy and investing in quality will reap many times back what you invest. Being thoughtful creates the seamless Airbnb experience your guests are looking for so turn up the charm with a special feature that your guests will remember, from a freestanding bathtub and luxury toiletries to a well-stocked kitchen and directions to the nearest farmers market.
4. Tailor your welcome to your guests
Everything from your welcome basket to your toiletries can be tailored to your guests to create that all-important welcoming atmosphere. You should start by always making sure your toiletries are a match for the age and gender of your guests. Try finding out a bit about your guests so you know what kind of things they’ll appreciate (a fridge full of beers or a bottle of wine). You can add treats for children – and dogs if you know they’ll be staying too! For newlyweds, a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of champagne and a congratulations card is an extra thoughtful touch and will almost guarantee you great feedback. It’s the little things that generate the positive feedback your Airbnb success depends on.
5. Deliver a local experience
Provide your guests with a local map and some advice on great local restaurants and attractions (making sure to ask them what they’re into and what kind of food they like). If you’re hosting guests from abroad, make sure their experience is as flawless as possible by giving them hints and tips on the country’s local customs and cultural norms. It’s a thoughtful way to optimise your guests’ experience and to make sure they don’t run into any difficulties. Be prepared to make restaurant bookings and give information on tipping, ordering and a few helpful phrases to help them enjoy the experience.
How to be the Perfect Airbnb Guest
Etiquette goes both ways and it’s important to get it right if you’re a guest as well. Here are a few simple but essential etiquette tips.
1. Book quickly
If your host is reserving your dates or has offered you a special deal, don’t leave them hanging. Even if you’re shopping around for the best deal available, it’s rude not to let a potential host know with a simple yes or no. As we’ve said already, communication is paramount to Airbnb etiquette.
2. It’s not a hotel
Hotels are fully staffed with receptionists, concierges and porters ready to carry out your every whim. If that’s the experience you want, book a hotel, not an Airbnb. Your host is under no obligation to fulfil all those functions in their own property so do be considerate and bear this in mind. If you’re sharing a house, you may also be sharing a bathroom so ask for the schedule and always let your host know if you’re running late. Basic politeness and respect go a long way when you’re a guest in someone else’s home.
3. Don’t be afraid to complain
Nothing ruins an Airbnb experience more quickly than being afraid to complain about something. Most hosts prefer to know as soon as possible if there are any issues. While it’s fair enough to complain if a problem isn’t dealt with satisfactorily during your stay, it’s not very fair to give a bad review about an issue you didn’t raise at the time with the host. You will probably find that your host will thank you for the feedback.
4. Be considerate
Don’t let your children run amok around the house (this advice goes for hosts too) and don’t try and smuggle your pets in if pets aren’t allowed (you don’t know if your host has an allergy so this could be a very bad idea). Being a good guest is all about being considerate to your host so, however welcoming they are, don’t assume you can just invite a friend to come over – always check whether this is OK and whether you need to pay extra.
5. Leave feedback
Hosts love to get feedback – it helps them to make their Airbnb welcome even better and to iron out any issues. It’s also the backbone of the Airbnb system and helps guest and hosts make informed decisions on where to stay / who to let into their homes. Be fair in your assessment and leave constructive criticism. If you feel your hosts have gone above and beyond, reflect that in your feedback. Finally, if you really loved your stay then why not leave a little present or a thank you note when you leave.
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