Time, money, and planning are all invested into vacation stays, whether Airbnbs or hotel rooms. That is why one of the most infuriating things for a host to experience is to come back to their property after a recent check-out and find their property has been destroyed. Sometimes only sheets and duvets get damaged. Other times it’s bed frames, cabinet doors, or sticky floors. Whatever the scale of destruction may be, it means now you must spend more money fixing and replacing what was damaged. This can result in significant losses for your business. While this seems like a helpless situation, there are measures you can take as a host to minimize these damages. One great way to do this is by introducing a hotel guest screening into your booking process.
What are hotel/Airbnb guest screenings?
A guest screening is what it sounds like. It is the process of asking your incoming guests a few questions about who they are, if they are alone or in a group, and using your judgment. While initially, guest screenings can seem somewhat invasive, it only makes sense to want to know a little more about who you will be hosting. People going about daily are unlikely to welcome strangers into their homes. A person’s home is entirely personal. Airbnb, and especially hotels, indeed have a bit of neutrality. But this is a private space that you, as a host, have personally poured countless hours and finances into. It only makes sense that you would require some background information on who will be staying at your property, and this is something that most guests understand. While hotels are not personal, according to an article written by the Washington Post, it is possible hotels can end up paying upwards of $250,000 annually in damages.
Why are guest screenings important?
Completing a hotel guest screening is essential to your booking process because you have a much better chance of protecting your property from potential damages occurring from guests. Guest screenings help as a preventative measure in both hotels and Airbnb. In understanding more about your guests, you have a higher chance of predicting whether or not they are likely to damage your property if you should charge them a security deposit or refuse their booking altogether.
What kinds of behavior you should screen for
Some general red flags to keep in mind when screening your guests are:
- Last minute bookings
- Guests between 18-25
- Bachelor or bachelorette parties
- If they are coming specifically to throw a party
- If they are very against the guest screening process
Of course, there can be perfectly reasonable explanations for everything listed above. Part of what you will have to do when screening guests is discern between real troublesome guests and the circumstances of their visit. One thing that signals to you if they are red flags to be concerned about is if there is some combination of these things in one booking. If you receive notification that a booking has been made for six guests who want to arrive the next day and the guests are all between the ages of 18-21, this may tell you that they are here to party. They probably don’t have the intention to damage your property. It can happen very quickly when young adults and enough alcohol are involved.
What kinds of screening questions you should ask
You don’t want the screening questions to be too personal about the guests. But it would be best if you got an idea about who they are and the purpose of their stay. Here are some questions you should consider including in your screening process:
- Are you traveling for business or pleasure?
- Are you traveling solo or with a group?
- Can you tell me a little about yourself and your group?
- Can you tell me a little about your plans for this stay?
- Have you been (insert the area of your property) before?
These questions are good because you aren’t diving into too much depth. But you can get a good idea of the guests they will be. It is safe to assume all will be well with your rental property if they are traveling for business. Maybe the people applying are a group traveling for a bachelor party or a birthday celebration, so it may be a good idea to charge a security deposit. If they have not been to the area before, you better understand their plans and what they will likely have to do with tourism.
What to do if a guest refuses the hotel guest screening process
Usually, guests understand the purpose of asking screening questions and do not have a problem doing so. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, guests will feel uncomfortable with these questions. They may be used to staying in places that never required screening questions before. If guests are initially uncomfortable and confused by the screening questions, explain why you have this process. Usually, they become more receptive to the screening. Sometimes some guests still do not want to answer these questions. The best thing to do in these cases is to call them. If they still refuse and you think they seem alright, use your judgment to decide whether they are allowed to stay at your Airbnb. You only risk allowing people into your space that you do not understand well. Even though you may not want to cancel their reservation, you risk losing much more from the damages of their booking than you would have had you denied their stay.