As an Airbnb guest, there are always unexpected twists and turns that may result in a bad situation. In some cases, guests have shown up for a rental property that wasn’t ready or was damaged. Regardless of the issue, you should first reach out to the property owner to ask for assistance. If the property owner is unresponsive, you can also contact Airbnb. This basic protocol is documented on Airbnb’s website and may ultimately require you to seek assistance using the Airbnb Resolution Center.
Assuming you’re not dealing with any major property issues, here are some basic tips you can rely on to manage your stay successfully.
1. Bring your confirmation details
Ultimately, if you arrive late or early and you disagree with your host about your reservation details, having your confirmation details handy may help. As a long-time vacation property owner, I rarely ran into any type of disagreement about arrival time or departure time. If you call the host and are polite with your request, he or she will almost always do their best to accommodate your needs (within reason). You’ll also want to make sure you have the lock box code, property address and any other helpful information. Be extremely careful to also read any instructions or property details the owner may have sent you. In several cases, guests would arrive at our property late at night and couldn’t find the information. Placing a late call to a host because you forgot to bring your check-in information is never ideal.
2. Be up front and honest
After managing a vacation rental for more than a decade, I came to the conclusion that the majority of guests are honest and will let you know when something is broken or needs to be fixed. Do you have an extra person you’d like to add to the reservation even though the property caps at your original party size? Want to bring a dog even though it was never discussed? Reach out to the property owner with a phone call and ask. When guests lie and break rules that were agreed upon in the reservation, it only results in bad outcomes. Of every 20 reservations, it seemed like 1 involved a situation where a guest was deceitful. Don’t be that person and assume the best of your host–they truly want to help you enjoy your time in their home and will usually accommodate your request if you’re honest and respectful. And please, don’t sneak pets, inflatable hot tubs or some other unwelcome item into the home.
Along with the “don’t destroy things” maxim, it goes without saying that guests should never remove things like towels, sheets or any other objects from a property.
3. Be generous (and fair) with your Airbnb property rating
It’s hard to explain how important guest reviews are. Be honest and offer helpful information in your review, but be very careful when rating a property using the Airbnb star system. Airbnb will penalize properties that routinely receive ratings of 4 stars or less, so giving a property anything less than a 5-star rating is punitive. If you do assign anything less than a 5-star rating, reach out to the property owner first and let them know. They may want to address your concerns, which may change your review. I have definitely rated properties lower than 5 stars, but in almost each case I’ve had a discussion with the owner prior to my review and found there was little or no willingness to address my concerns.
4. Use the Airbnb platform to communicate with the host
It’s rare, but if you have issues with the host, having your discussions documented on the Airbnb platform will be helpful. If for some reason your host reaches out via phone or text, reply with a recap of the discussion using the Airbnb platform. When there are issues with the property, you may also want to follow up your email with a phone call. Hosts desperately depend on guest input when things aren’t right with the property. When something is out of order during your stay, it’s invariably the case that the prior guest didn’t notify the host, which resulted in the issue being passed on to you.
5. Compare properties and book early
Ultimately, you reserved your Airbnb property because you thought it was the best property at the best price for your specific purpose or location. If you’re unsatisfied with the property, for reasons out of the host’s control, it may be you booked the wrong property. If possible, book your property early and spend enough time researching the available options before booking anything. While it can be difficult to make reservations with a long lead time, you’ll find better prices and a much larger inventory. In many cases, when you’re booking a property with short lead time, you’re getting the “bottom of the barrel” options.
If you’re traveling with kids, check out our AirbnbGuru Travel Guide for Families.