The ball is still in a host’s court as to whether or not they wish to host a prospective guest. Hosts can decline any reservation request they feel uncomfortable with.
When doing do, hosts have the option of choosing whether or not they wish to provide a reason for why they’ve chosen to decline the request.
As a word of caution however, declining many or most reservation requests can negatively impact your placement in search results.
When deciding whether or not to accept a reservation request, use all information available to you to determine whether it’s a booking you wish to accommodate. Below we outline some of the key things you should consider when screening guests to decide if you wish to host them:
Despite having the ability to screen guests and decline reservation requests, Airbnb hosts should remain mindful of Airbnb’s Non-discrimination Policy and its principles of inclusion and respect.
The policy outlines rules around accepting or declining reservation requests as well as stipulating a prohibition against indicating a preference for guests of a particular race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
When listing your place on Airbnb, you’ll be asked to familiarize yourself with Airbnb’s Nondiscrimination Policy. This policy promotes treating everyone in the Airbnb community - regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age - with respect, and without judgement or bias.
Breaches of the policy may result in a range of measures being taken against hosts; such as an insistence to remove language that’s in contravention to the policy, confirming explicit intent to comply with the policy, or suspension of accounts. Be sure to familiarize yourself with this policy before you screen guests and decide who you do and do not let into your space.
Airbnb users have the opportunity of verifying their identity by connecting their Airbnb profiles to other social networks as well as scanning official ID and confirming personal details. These users earn a verified ID badge on their profiles:
Guests with multiple forms of verified ID provide a higher threshold of authentication that enhance their trustworthiness and credibility.
These guests will have provided a Passport or Drivers Licence; linked their social media accounts (each of which requires its own additional forms of verification) and have confirmed a real email address and phone number to Airbnb.
All of this should help in building a more complete picture of who you’re actually dealing with.
Hosts also have the option of requiring guests to verify their ID before booking with you:
Despite this safeguard, anyone attempting sly or malicious behavior on Airbnb may still be able to do so. The Airbnb ID verification process is not foolproof, and even Airbnb state that it is not an endorsement or guarantee of a guest’s identity.
In theory, there is nothing stopping someone from making fake accounts or finding ways to cheat the verification processes if that were their objective. These forms of added verification therefore need to be understood within that context.
For prospective guests that lack multiple forms of verified identification, consider asking additional or more probing questions to gain the assurances that would otherwise have been forthcoming had they provided them.
Reviews and References
Hosts are also able to look at a prospective guest’s reviews and references prior to accepting a reservation request.
Hosts can trust that any review they see on a guest’s profile is the result of the guest having actually stayed at another Airbnb host’s place. Reading prior host reviews will be the best insight into the type of person a prospective guest is likely to be. A large number of positive reviews should also reinforce this.
Despite the rigorous review process, many Airbnb hosts end up giving better reviews to their guests than they may deserve. This occurs for a number of reasons. Psychology suggests that human nature is biased towards keeping unflattering thoughts to oneself unless there’s a strong reason for doing otherwise. Many hosts also (wrongfully) fear “retribution” reviews they believe they will receive if giving a bad review to a guest. And some hosts also leave no review simply out of laziness or forgetfulness.
Therefore take a “big-picture” perspective when trying to get a feel for a prospective guest based on their reviews. Ninety-nine glowing reviews with one less-than-shiny review is better than five standalone averagely-good reviews. Humans are still humans.
For less-than-glowing reviews, try to understand the crux of the issue: Was it specific to the individual reservation, or is there a consistent pattern of negative behaviors to be concerned about? Was there a particular disagreement between host and guest, or does the review flag an ongoing safety concern?
Trying to understand the nature of any issues will help in predicting the likelihood of their recurrence or anything you might need to consider when deciding whether or not to accept a reservation request.
Also distinguish reviews that simply aren’t bad from those that are actually good. The former shed little light on the type of person the prospective guest truly is, and at best indicate that no noteworthy issues arose on a given host’s watch. The latter are true testimonials to the good character of the guest and frequently provide insight into why that is so.
A host that takes the time to spell out each and every little thing that made the guest as great as they’re being made out to be is going above and beyond what the review process requires of them. This is a personal choice. You can therefore take a lot more comfort and place more value on reviews of this nature.
References, though much easier to obtain and influence, are also handy insights into a prospective guest’s good character.
Your Own Further Independent Research
Where possible, use identifying information you’ve been able to ascertain yourself to conduct your own further research.
Even though you will only have limited information to work off, Airbnb profiles may just provide you with little nuggets of information that you’re then able to utilize to dig a little deeper.
Some Airbnb users will list the school or university they went to as well as the place that they work. If you’re lucky enough to receive a reservation request from someone with a unique name or other specific identifying information; using all of this to do a quick search on Google, Facebook or LinkedIn may provide a wealth of information.