Paola Bassanese is a freelance author and writer specialising in food, lifestyle and entertainment.
I am writing this article from the perspective of an Airbnb guest. All of a sudden, I went from newbie status to pro in a matter of weeks.
Having spent on average two days in each location, and moving from place to place over the course of a month, I got some excellent insights into different Airbnb service standards and how to behave with different hosts. I have summarised my findings as follows, and whether you are completely new to Airbnb or just need to improve your references from hosts, I hope you will find these tips useful.
1. Be Punctual
I must emphasise the importance of being on time when you make your check-in arrangements with your host. An Airbnb is not a hotel, so in the majority of cases the hosts work a full-time job and can only meet you at specific times. They don’t have reception staff, so please don’t expect that you can check-in at any time that suits you.
Note: The exception to the rule is when places allow self-check-in using a locked box that you can get your keys from. Even when you self-check-in, however, make sure you let the host know you have made it to the location.
My first experience with Airbnb was with self-check-in and I never got the chance to meet the host. However, I kept within the allocated check-in and check-out times stated in the listing and everything went smoothly. This also resulted in a very positive first reference (review) from my host, which helped enormously to build trust with future hosts.
2. Keep It Clean
Whether you are sharing your Airbnb with other guests or with the hosts, you really need to do the washing up if you are making yourself a hot drink or have cooked a meal. Some hosts may not even allow you to have access to the kitchen (more on house rules later), so if you are only entitled to use the kettle to make tea or coffee, make sure you wash your cup.
When I stayed in an Airbnb house with other guests, I was not impressed when I saw dirty cups in the sink. Even though you are paying for cleaning, this does not justify you being inconsiderate towards other guests.
Also, leaving your room clean and tidy is one of the most important factors that hosts consider when writing a review about you as a guest.
3. Communicate Openly
Whether the host is onsite or offsite, use the Airbnb messaging platform to notify them if there are any delays on your way to check-in, if you need directions (some hosts may even offer to pick you up at the nearest station, but don’t assume all hosts will), if there is a problem with your room or communal space, and so on.
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If you break or stain anything, let the host know straight away. Also, if you are not happy with the service, talk to the host and don’t wait until you write your review. At least, if there’s something wrong with your accommodation, give your host the chance to rectify the situation before you start spewing poison in your review.
4. Respect the Hosts' Personal Space
Some Airbnb houses are owned by families who live there and rent out their spare room. If you are flexible with your schedule, ensure that the whole family can use the bathroom first in the morning, as they get ready for work and school. The last thing they need is for you to hog the bathroom for your beauty rituals while the clock is ticking for them to be out of the door.
Also, don’t leave your belongings in the communal areas; for example, in one Airbnb I stayed at, a previous guest had to make an arrangement to pick up an item of clothing forgotten the day before. Not all hosts may be available to meet you to return your item—and things get complicated if you are leaving the country, as you are imposing on your hosts to post stuff for you. Check and double-check your room and the rest of the house (especially the bathroom for toiletries) to ensure you are not leaving anything behind at check out.
5. Read the House Rules Thoroughly
Are you allergic to pets? Make sure you read the listing and house rules as you may end up sharing your bed with a fluffy companion. If the house rules clearly state that no extra guests or parties are allowed, don’t try to outsmart your host and do whatever you like anyway, because the walls have ears; for example, a neighbour might complain about your behaviour to the host.
If you see a washing machine, don’t use it unless it is written in the house rules that it is included in the service; the same thing applies to the kitchen.
6. Add Value
If a host has been particularly generous with you or if you had a fantastic experience, on top of writing a glowing review, you may also want to add value in some other way.
If you have the budget, you can offer to take your host out for dinner as a way to say thank you. If money is tight, you can offer to make a meal at home or do a small job in the house if you have the right skills. For example, I have baked for my hosts as a token of my appreciation.
The Perfect Airbnb Guest
While it’s beneficial for you to be on your best behaviour to get a positive reference on Airbnb as a guest, beware of setting expectations too high. In the long term, it will be exhausting and expensive, taking a toll on your ability to enjoy your experience. You may also start feeling resentful for not being appreciated.
When it comes down to it, be respectful, quiet and tidy—that’s all that matters when you are staying at an Airbnb.
© 2018 Paola Bassanese