12 things your Airbnb hosts wish they could tell you
An Airbnb can be a cheaper alternative to a hotel, while giving you the chance to live like a local.
But dealing with an Airbnb host, as opposed to a hotel concierge, can be tricky.
We spoke to Airbnb hosts across the US — here are 12 things they wish they could tell all guests.
Since Airbnb's launch in 2008, more than 1 billion guests have rented its properties.
Hosts use the app or website to rent out their apartments, houses, or even solo rooms in their homes, to travelers as an alternative to hotels. According to the site, there were over 1 million active listings by March 2022.
But, like with anything in the service industry, there are some kinks that can still be worked out. Insider spoke to multiple Airbnb hosts and asked them what they wished they could tell their guests.
Here's what they told us.
First things first: Don't use Airbnb or similar services, like VRBO, if you don't have to
Multiple Airbnb hosts told Insider they'd actually prefer leaving Airbnb out of the process altogether. Some homes have a property manager, and booking directly with them will save the renter money.
Jorge Zarate, from Best Colorado Mountain Getaways, said the "number one" thing he wishes he could tell guests is to "find us on our website and book direct to save on Airbnb booking fees."
Similarly, Phillip Foxall, who hosts a property in Rockport, Texas, said he'd prefer guests to stop booking through online travel agencies (OTAs) and book directly with owners instead.
"Booking direct typically provides more revenue to the host while saving the guest money by eliminating fees," he said. "If you find something you like on Airbnb, take note of the name and search for it on Google. If they have a direct book site, it should show up."
Foxall added that checking various platforms is always the best move, because "prices can vary greatly between different platforms."
Erika Hall, a host in Connecticut, agreed. "The commission that Airbnb takes is either paid by the guest or the property. Either way, it adds significantly to the cost of bookings. It also puts more pressure on hosts, because guests judge the value of their stay on the total cost, not just by what the property is being paid."
Make sure you read about the property carefully, including all instructions
As Adam Smith, who manages two Airbnbs (one in South Carolina and one in Colorado), told Insider: "Read the details about the property. All of them."
Similarly, Airbnb superhost Niko Fonseca said, "Read the entire listing and house rules. Each property is unique and our house rules are designed to ensure that everyone enjoys their stay."
We always know if you're trying to sneak extra people in, so don't even try it
"It's 2023 — we have cameras outside and we can see you," Heather Bull, an Airbnb host and interior designer, told Insider.
We also notice when you move furniture around, and we'd rather you didn't
Bull also told Insider, "We notice when you do weird things, like move furniture to different floors, or bring fabric ottomans outside to smoke."
Please don't disturb the neighbors
"We don't care if you are having a good time and raging at our house (we do it too!) — as long as you don't damage anything/disturb the neighbors, go ahead and party it up! You're on vacation," Bull said.
If you think there's no cleaning fee, that just means it was already folded into the price
"The guest is paying the cleaning fee one way or another," Foxall said. "No host, whether they own one or 100 rentals, are paying for the cleaning service [themselves]. Even if the cleaning fee is set to $0, it is baked into the daily rate."
Please respect the cleaning staff. They're not there to pick up your garbage or clean out the fridge.
While, according to some guests, some hosts might ask a little too much of their renters at the end of their stay — on top of charging a cleaning fee — it's also not right to treat the cleaners as if they're your maid.
"[Cleaners] do the laundry, dust, clean the bathrooms and kitchen, and sweep and mop the floor," Lauren Keen, who manages multiple properties in Tarpon Springs, Florida, told Insider. "They're not there to take out your trash, clean your food out of the fridge, or pick up trash throughout the place."
Many other hosts echoed this sentiment: Picking up after yourself is a common courtesy at all Airbnbs, and you shouldn't be leaving the place a total disaster. The cleaning fee does exist, but it's not an excuse to be a slob.
But don't do extra work. If we don't ask you to clean something, don't touch it.
You might think this is obvious, but you'd be wrong. Skye Sherman, a host in West Palm Beach, Florida, told Insider a bizarre story about some overeager guests. Their hearts were in the right place, but it just caused a big hassle.
"We recently had a guest take down all the blackout curtains in our Airbnb, and put them in the washer. When the maids arrived, they found a wet load in the washer and moved it to the dryer. This ended in disaster when the vinyl-backed curtains (which should NOT have been washed or dried) ended up totally melted and destroyed," Sherman said.
"While we appreciate the gesture, this was the opposite of helpful and turned into a major headache requiring replacement of the curtains and a fee to the guests. I have no idea what possessed the guests to take down all the curtains and do this, but I really wish they wouldn't have."
Unless something truly terrible went wrong, please give us 5 stars
Even a four-star rating can be devastating to a property's listing.
"I wish I could explain that four-star reviews are BAD. Only leave someone four stars if things went badly, like the cleaner missed the clean and the host didn't make it right," Keen said.
Foxall echoed her words: "The star rating on OTA's is not like your typical star rating. A three- or four-star rating to a host can be devastating to their business. If you had a good time and the property was clean and as described, leave the host a five-star review and then message them privately to correct any issues and then message them privately to correct any issues."
"When guests leave a four- out of five-star review, Airbnb lets a host know that while guests enjoyed their stay, the host needs to do better. Too many four-star reviews and the host risks losing Superhost status," California Airbnb Superhost Nathan Waldon told Insider.
"I encourage guests to be honest, please don't give the overall review four stars because of something unrelated, like it rained and you wanted to be on the beach, or anything that's completely out of the host's control. Most hosts work very hard to make sure your stay is perfect, so things like weather shouldn't be a factor," Waldon continued.
Some hosts simply shouldn't be hosts — don't let that put you off Airbnb
"The main reason people should get into this business is to provide exceptional service to guests. If you are adversarial to all of your guests and forget you are in the hospitality business, you shouldn't be a host," Foxall said. "The reason we started this business is because we love to travel and see new places and meet new people. We want to share our vacation experiences with everyone."
Writing in the guestbook is always appreciated
Many of the hosts we spoke with said they love it when a guest takes a little extra time to let their appreciation be known, whether it's giving a tip or writing a note.
"I read all your handwritten messages in the guest books and sometimes they make me cry in a good way," Keen said.
Please use any resources made available to you
"I try to be extremely proactive with my guests," Colorado host Jake Cohen told Insider. "We send out our guidebook with recommendations and have info about how to use everything at our property in the guidebook. Very few people read [either the] online or paper guidebooks."
Cohen continued, "We often get the same questions from our guests. If your host provides a guidebook, use it. You will be amazed at all the insider info, recs, and ways to make your stay better just by flipping through the few pages of info."
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