As a longtime Airbnb host, I've seen it all. What many guests don't realize is that Airbnb has its own unwritten code of conduct, and that following a few basic rules will make life easier on a potentially stressed host, while making it more likely they will go out of their way to make sure you have the best trip possible—and leave you a good review.
If you told a host you were checking in at 3pm, and it looks like traffic or a flight delay is going to bump things closer to 8pm, for the love of all that is holy: Tell your host! A huge number of guests—particularly ones more used to hotels—think they can just show up anytime after (or, even worse, before) the listed checkin time and somebody will be waiting for them. The fact is that a lot of hosts juggle Airbnb duties with the rest of their busy lives, and there's a good chance your host scheduled your checkin between work, family, and fun. If you don't tell them that your arrival time may have changed, you may very well keep a good person waiting for hours.
You'll want to confirm other details too. Some guests have a tendency to only look at the checkin instructions once they've showed up at the address. If you have any questions about how to find the place or get in, the right time to ask is before your trip.
Every host is going to deal with this sooner or later, but there are always guests who have no problem bringing five people to their two-person booking. There so many reasons this is a bad idea—even if your intentions are innocent, and your goal isn't to throw a rager. Besides the deceit and lack of decency, guests who aren't part of an official booking may not be covered by Airbnb's customer service, meaning if something goes wrong, things can get real bad, real fast. A host's insurance may also have strict occupancy limits, and exceeding that can create liability issues.
Hosts may also charge an extra-person fee for larger groups. Of course, avoiding these fees is probably the most common reason for the ol' sneakaroo. But the fact is that more people tends to equal more problems. There's more wear and tear on the house, greater utility use, possibly greater insurance costs, more laundry and associated expenses, a greater chance somebody will spill red wine on a white rug, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I promise you we're not trying to rip you off with these fees, it's simply more time, hassle, and expense to host more people. Please respect that.
The other big reason for the sneak-in: A desire to bring in more people than the host might allow as a max. Again, this is wrong for so many reasons. That limit exists for a reason: Whether it's common sense (maybe it's a small place), an insurance mandate, a building rule, or simply a desire to not host parties. Please. Please. Please respect hosts' max. If it looks like your cousin is going to be joining you at the last minute, tell the host. Ask! If a guest is upfront and honest, I'll do all I can to accommodate their group—even if it means bending my own rules. And I always appreciate the honesty.
This is every Airbnb host's nightmare review: "Great stay! Everything was perfect! Four stars." Problem is, many guests view the Airbnb star-rating system as analogous to hotel stars, which have nothing to do with how well a stay met expectations, and everything to do with indoor swimming pools and on-call concierges. When the above reviews occur, I often ask guests what I could have done to earn that fifth star, and the answer is usually something along the lines of: "Nothing! The stay was great and four stars is really good! I imagine five-stars being like the Ritz."
What these guests may not realize: Four stars may be totally great for a hotel, but is pretty much an unacceptable rating on Airbnb. Seriously: The site sends hosts warning notices if you rack up too many four-star reviews, and four-star listings may even be delisted. Airbnb star ratings are effectively binary: Five stars is great, and anything else is really bad.
Bottom line: Rate your stay based on how well it met your expectations based on your needs and how the listing presented itself. Do not rate it based on the standard hotel star-rating system.
It goes without saying: When it comes to Airbnb guests, thou shalt not steal. Less obvious: It's a really, really good idea to ask before raiding the closet for linens and towels.
Such a grab may seem innocuous to guests, but the fact is that those linens could have been set aside for the next booking. If there’s a tight turnaround, finding out those set-aside linens are now soiled can create a real headache.
If you need more than what is provided, the answer is simple: Ask! And if at all possible, do it in advance if, for example, you know somebody will be sleeping on a sofa or you'll need extra towels for the beach or pool. I tell guests I’m always happy to provide whatever they need, but to please let me know in advance.
In addition to the Airbnb site and app, users can read and respond to Airbnb messages via SMS. However, this is something you should never, ever do. The problem: The SMS character limit cuts off all but the shortest Airbnb messages, which creates no shortage of communication snafus when guests miss vital info tucked into the end of longer messages. To make things worse, the guests who tend to lean towards using SMS over the Airbnb app are often Airbnb newbies who could most benefit from whatever important info we're trying to send their way so as to ensure they have a smooth stay.
Instead of using SMS, just download the Airbnb app and use it for your messages. Believe me: It makes things easier for all.
I'm a New York-based writer and entrepreneur. I appear on a few shows on the Travel, Science, History, Discovery, and Nat Geo channels. I also write for numerous publica...