How to Identify Problem Airbnb Guests Before They Book10 min read

How to Identify Problem Airbnb Guests Before They Book 6

Prefer to watch a video about this topic? I recorded an Airbnb Quick Tip on the subject “Use This Profile Strategy To Avoid Bad Guests Entirely“.

 

Key Points

  • Reviews are the most important factor, by far. Other than reviews, an incomplete profile correlates with a poor guest experience.
  • Up to 40% of reservations are from new guests. If you receive an inquiry from an incomplete guest profile, simply ask them to complete more of it. Example message below.
  • The content of the message thread is important to consider if you’re not sure about the guest.
  • A live check-in allows you to detect any red flags based on the guest behavior.

 

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It all comes down to this question: “how complete is the Airbnb guests’ profile?

 

Did the guest do the bare minimum to set up their profile? Did he or she spend time poking around the website and filling in the optional profile fields? Or, does the profile land somewhere in between?

 

As an Airbnb property manager, I’ve encountered thousands of profiles and noticed a common theme: an incomplete profile correlates to a “bad guest experience”.

 

To clarify, a “bad guest experience” does not mean that you did not get along with the guest personally. It also does not mean that a guest made some late-night noise that disturbed a neighbor.

 

A “bad guest experience” means a more serious situation that causes damage to the property or the host. This could range from a guest who invites unconfirmed friends for a party or leaves the house extra dirty, to a thief who makes a reservation for the sole purpose of robbing the host.

 

It’s important for me to note that these instances are extremely uncommon, a fraction of a percent. Airbnb is safe. However, bad guest experiences do happen. As an Airbnb host, you want to turn over every stone to avoid ending up in that fraction of a percent.

 

An incomplete Airbnb guest profile correlates to a bad guest experience. Click To Tweet

 

This blog post will cover a few things:

  • First, I’ll show you a completed Airbnb profile and explain each of the eleven sections
  • Second, I’ll show you a profile that meets the bare minimum standard
  • Third, I’ll point out which parts of the profile are most important and why
  • Fourth, I’ll give you some tips on how to identify potential problem Airbnb guests based on profile alone and strategies to encourage guests to complete their profiles

 

A Completed Airbnb Guest Profile

Like I mentioned above, there are eleven parts to complete a profile. Below is a 100% completed profile (yes, it’s me!). Completed Airbnb Profile - bad airbnb guest

 

 

Not to toot my own horn but if I requested to stay at my listing, I would happily and easily accept because I went above and beyond to complete the profile. The above is a 100% completed and perfect Airbnb profile. Welcome to my listing!

 

Let’s examine each section of my profile:

  1. The profile photo is a close-up of me, and it’s not blurry. As I’m the author of the best-selling book for Airbnb hosts, I have decided to forgo a normal portrait for this.
  2. I listed my full name.
  3. I created my profile many years ago (note: this is automatically populated in any profile; however, it’s an important piece of information).
  4. I am a Superhost
  5. I have hundreds of reviews (as you’ll see in both 5a and 5b, they come from both hosts and guests)
  6. I verified myself with an official identification
  7. My description is more than 100 words.
  8. I identified my current city or where I’m from, the languages I speak, and my work.
  9. I provided additional information to verify myself and increase the trust score of my profile
  10. I am an Airbnb host of multi listings
  11. I created at least one Airbnb guidebook.

 

We’ll get into each section and which are most important soon. Now, let’s look at an incomplete profile—one that can’t be any less complete.

 

How many sections are complete on this profile? Trick question. The answer is zero.

 

The profile photo (1) is not ideal because we cannot see the person. The name (2) does not count because, well, “J” is not a name. The guest wrote a single word for their description (7) which I’m not going to count as it’s less than 100 words. The verifications (9) are incomplete because you must verify an email address to register with Airbnb. If a person with this profile sent me a request, I would deny it.

 

Later in this post, I’ll touch on a strategy on how, as a host, you can encourage a guest to complete his or her profile. This will put you at ease when managing requests from Airbnb guests with brand new profiles.

 

Importance Of Each Section In Your Airbnb Profile

Before I discuss how you can encourage Airbnb guests to complete profiles, I’d like to rank each profile section in order of importance. The number inside the parenthesis refers to the section of the profile as identified above.

  1. Reviews (5/10/4) – If other hosts reviewed the guest, this gives you a clear indication of who they are as a guest. If they have reviews from other guests, it means they’re also a host— this is the holy grail of good Airbnb guests because they knows what it’s like to be a host. Obviously, you should ensure the reviews are positive or that they responded appropriately if the reviews are negative. Being a multi-listing host (10) or a Superhost (4) doesn’t give me any additional comfort as to the quality of the guest.
  2. Date (3) – Though the profile automatically populates this field, it’s extremely important when it comes to bad Airbnb guests who may be thieves trying to rob you—thieves don’t plan months or years in advance. Neither to party-throwers. Let’s say you lost your wallet, a thief recovered it, created an Airbnb profile, and even verified the ID. If the thief were smart, he would put up a nice photo and fill in a name, location, and description. However, with a recently created account, the profile may still lack reviews. Profiles without reviews raise red flags for me! Unfortunately/fortunately, Airbnb gets so many new guests every day that profiles without reviews are common. In scenarios like this, review the remainder of the profile for completeness.
  3. Verifications (9) – The bare minimum verifications are phone number and email address. When you start seeing Facebook, LinkedIn, American Express, Offline ID, and so forth, the guest went above minimum standards.
  4. Verified ID (6) – Verified ID is important but because a thief can verify any ID, it shouldn’t be as important to a host as other elements of a guest profile. In conjunction with a completed profile that’s a few months old, a verified ID is a powerful piece of information.
  5. Description (7) – You can tell a lot about someone through his or her writing. A profile without any writing raises a sizeable red flag, whereas a profile with a description of less than 50 words raises a small red flag (think “I like to travel and looking forward to staying with you.”). Anything around 100 words is great! For reference, my profile is 177 words and probably on the longer end. Learn how to craft a perfect Airbnb profile description.
  6. Photo (1) – A photo is not as important because anyone can add a photo, and Airbnb does not verify identity through photos. However, is the photo blurry? Is it a group? Is it the sunset? Is it a drawing? If it’s anything but a clear and up-close photo of a guest, this would raise a red flag.
  7. About Me (8) – Has the guest taken time to fill in his work, location, and language? If not, it might raise a red flag, depending on what else he completed on the profile. If he completes the About Me section, he went above and beyond the minimums. It’s great if this section is complete but if it’s not, I would scrutinize the rest of the profile. Regarding location, if you live in a volatile Airbnb market like New York, Barcelona, San Francisco, etc. then I recommend you change your city to someplace nearby that’s pro-Airbnb. This is especially true if you have multiple listings. You never know who’s scrapping the website for data on hosts in certain cities.
  8. Name (2) – Although this is not as important, a red flag should raise if the guest’s name is something like “xyz” or “J”. The guest can type any name, and it’s not necessary to match the profile name with the verified identity. Overall, this would give you another bit of information about the guest if the name is anything but, well, a name.
  9. Guidebook (11) – This is only applicable if the guest is also a host. This section means the host created a guidebook for their Airbnb guests. It’s not highly used or highlighted on Airbnb, so a lot of good hosts do not use this feature. If the guidebook is there, it would give me increased confidence in the guest.

 

When To Accept An Inquiring Airbnb Guest Reservation?

At what point is a profile complete enough to not raise any red flags? It really comes down to two questions:

  1. Has the guest been reviewed by other hosts?
  2. Has the guest been reviewed by other guests?

Reviews are the most important section of any profile, hands down. If the guest has more than three reviews as either a guest or a host in the past 12 months, it’s a safe bet.

 

Reviews are the most important section of any Airbnb profile, hands down. Click To Tweet

 

The decision gets subjective when the guest does not have any reviews. For these guests, I defer to the 10 remaining sections of the profile. I consider four of these sections important (3, 6, 7, 9). Barring any egregious items on the profile, I would accept any guest who has at least five sections complete.

 

For clarification, egregious items are, in no particular order:

  • Any text is hateful or distasteful.
  • The name appears to be hiding the guest’s identity

 

If three or four sections are filled in, I would defer to my judgment and to the complete versus incomplete parts of the profile. If less than three sections are filled in, I ask the guest to complete the profile. I write something like this:

 

“I’d like to know more about you before accepting the reservation; do you mind completing your profile, including verifying your ID? This can be found at www.Airbnb.com/Verify.”

 

Typically, the guest will respond that she was in a hurry and will finish the profile when she gets home or something along those lines. If the guest responds negatively, this should be considered a red flag.

 

The Airbnb Message Thread

One aspect of the reservation process that I left out is the message thread. The message thread is equally important as the profile for the same reason why the description is important—you can tell a lot about someone by how they write. If the messages are extremely short or sound suspicious, ask more questions to get a feel for who he is and the purpose of the trip.

suspicious inquiry message on airbnb

A good inquiry message from a future guest looks more like this:

bad airbnb guests

 

These are strategies I’ve developed over the past three years as a host and Airbnb property manager, in which avoiding problem Airbnb guests is of the utmost importance to ensure the safety of my hosts and their homes.

 

If all else fails and you’re still unsure, consider accepting and doing a live check-in. Don’t inform the guest in advance of your live check-in. Meeting the guest face-to-face will allow you to detect any red flag indications from their behavior or attitude.

 

Did you know an Airbnb profile has 11 sections? How many have you properly filled in? Click To Tweet

 

What are your strategies? Please tell me in the comments below.


Also published on Medium.

I'm Danny, the Airbnb expert

About Danny Rusteen:

Starting in 2012, Danny has been an Airbnb employee, Superhost, and Airbnb property manager. Danny lives in Airbnbs (1,000 nights). As a guest, Danny has traveled to 33 countries and sifted through thousands of Airbnb listings, so he knows what makes a listing stand out and how to offer a world-class experience to your guest. Follow his journey.

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