The idea of accepting unknown guests into your home during the early days of online room-letting and couch surfing was an unusual concept for many. Nowadays, society is much more flexible and open-minded, partly due to the increased security provided by OTAs and vacation rental insurance. However, many short-term rental owners would argue that there’s still more that can be done to protect their homes and valuables.
Understandably, inexperienced hosts are sometimes quick to accept booking requests without doing thorough background checks because they’re looking to fill up their calendars.
While it may seem like the right decision at the time, letting ill-intentioned guests into your home can lead to conflict, damage, and other risks. It’s wise to remember the importance of the Airbnb screening process to protect yourself and your property.
To help put your mind at ease and prevent future complications, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 best Airbnb guest screening tips that every host should know.
Guest screening, or vetting, is the process of running a background check on potential guests – a critical factor in spotting unwanted visitors before it’s too late.
Despite what some hosts might think, proper guest screening will actually save you time, money, and effort. Even if you feel like house rules are enough, not background-checking your guests can leave your property susceptible to risks like damage, criminal activity, scams, unauthorized parties, and noise violations.
Making the effort to set a structured vetting process will give you breathing room as a host and will most likely prevent an Airbnb horror story from unfolding.
Although these processes are essential, it’s important to know that rejecting a large number of booking requests can drop your listing’s position in search results.
Why Airbnb guest screening is important
Let’s dive into some of the main reasons why unverified guests can be a problem and why setting up an Airbnb screening process is crucial.
Reduce your anxiety
Not knowing enough about your guests can make you feel uncomfortable and nervous. A thorough background check can quickly ease this stress and make the hosting experience much more enjoyable. Besides, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Minimize the risk of damage
When vetting your Airbnb guests, you drastically reduce the chances of letting a problem guest into your home. Therefore, the risk of damage to your property, valuables, and business is minimized.
Improve your local reputation
In addition to your own home being at risk, you must also consider the potential for damage to your neighbors’ property. The last thing you want is to upset your local community by unwillingly hosting guests that cause harm or throw noisy parties.
On the contrary, if you’re attracting the right guests that positively impact the area’s tourism, your neighbors and local businesses will be delighted with you. A comprehensive background check on your Airbnb guests shows you’re taking responsibility for the people you welcome into your neighborhood.
Manage guest expectations
An Airbnb guest vetting process allows you to manage guest expectations before they make a booking. Ensure to include your rules in your listing, putting off any troublemakers from booking in the first place.
Although property managers can’t collect additional fees without authorization from Airbnb, hosts using API-connected software can include a sizable damage deposit provided they’re mentioned in the listing and included in the price breakdown before booking. Guests, therefore, know about the risk of losing it right from the start and will endeavor to take good care of your property. If guests can tell that you’re a strict host and are likely to foil their party plans, they will probably cancel the booking themselves.
On the other hand, by managing expectations, you’re helping to ensure you attract the type of guests that will appreciate the experience you offer.
Does Airbnb do background checks on guests?
As of November 2022, every booking made for any of Airbnb’s top 35 countries will be subject to guest verification. Presently, this covers 90% of all bookings made on the platform. By spring 2023, Airbnb will verify 100% of all global bookings.
What’s more, Airbnb’s latest reservation screening technology reviews an array of factors after receiving a booking request that can block any request that may seem like a potential rule-breaker.
If Airbnb has enough information on a user living in the United States (all they need is a first, last name, and date of birth), they check databases of public state and county criminal records. They also check national sex offender registries for criminal convictions and sex offender registrations.
According to their website, Airbnb will perform background checks on guests 10 days before the check-in date of their reservation or even later if the booking is made within 10 days of check-in. However, this service is only available in the U.S. and India.
Keep in mind that during the Airbnb vetting and screening process, hosts may not discriminate against race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. To learn more, we recommend looking at Airbnb’s Nondiscrimination Policy.
The limitations of Airbnb’s background checks
Despite conducting general background checks, Airbnb’s screening process still needs to be improved, and search results can be incomplete or inaccurate. It’s always recommended that hosts continue to use their judgment when accepting bookings.
How to screen Airbnb guests successfully
Aside from Airbnb’s screening process, you should also do your own background check.
1. Review your guest’s Airbnb profile
The first and easiest step to screening an Airbnb guest is checking their profile. Airbnb users can verify their accounts by connecting their profiles to other social networks, confirming personal details, and scanning their IDs.
As a verified host, you can also require guests to verify their accounts before booking with you. Here’s how to set it up:
Go to the Reservation Requirements page
Check the box for Require guests to go through verification
Click Save Reservation Requirements.
Don’t judge too quickly – an incomplete profile isn’t always a red flag. You can contact the guest and ask them to fill in the missing information – chances are they’ll do it right away!
Preparing questions for Airbnb guests does not mean you will be interrogating them. There’s nothing worse than being a guest and feeling like you’re being interviewed for a job. So, keep that in mind when you’re planning to converse with them.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some examples:
What brings you to (city/town/country)?
What is the purpose of your stay?
What attracted you to my listing?
Will anyone be with you or visiting you during your stay?
What have you planned for your stay?
Where are you traveling from?
Have you read the house rules and have any questions about them?
What are the full names and contact details of those on the reservation?
Do you have previous experience of staying in an Airbnb?
Always keep the tone friendly and professional.
3. Check past reviews
In the same way guests check your reviews, you should also be checking theirs! If a guest has a bad reputation for being noisy and breaking house rules, it’s more than likely that you’ll be aware of it based on what other hosts have said in the past. And since reviews are only removed if they violate Airbnb’s Review Policy, the system is quite reliable.
Suppose someone has a few negative reviews, and you’re curious to know more about them before accepting a booking. In that case, you can always respectfully ask your potential guests to clarify what happened in that particular situation.
4. Do some social media stalking
While stalking your ex on social media is highly discouraged, we do suggest checking out potential guests’ profiles to get to know them a bit better.
Look over their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts to understand their social and professional life, as well as the people they surround themselves with.
Now that you know how to screen Airbnb guests, it’s time to take it a step further.
5. Prepare a vacation rental agreement
A vacation rental agreement is a straightforward and official way of laying down expectations and rules for both hosts and guests. These documents cover property and guest details, house rules, cancellation policies, payment details, and other important information.
Although many of the larger OTAs offer some form of guest screening, hosts can further enhance their vetting process by investing in an additional screening tool.
The following companies provide affordable guest screening tools, and as an added bonus, they can be integrated into Lodgify’s vacation rental software.
Safely uses a rigorous guest-screening system that identifies problem guests before they book their stay. Safely only requires the name, date of birth, and address to perform scans of various databases, including criminal records, credit history, and a list of previous problem guests.
Know Your Guest by SUPERHOG is an all-in-one risk management platform that provides intelligent guest screening and damage protection for short-term rentals. It can be easily implemented across all booking channels and uses innovative biometric technology to perform comprehensive database checks.
Effectively screening your Airbnb guests is key to running a successful vacation rental business. At the end of the day, you can either face the risk of letting strangers into your home or you can put in the work to ensure that your guests are trustworthy and well-intentioned. All it takes is patience and preparation!
Ready to take more direct bookings?
No set up fees, no credit card details, no obligation. Try Lodgify free for 7 days.