Accept Bookings with Confidence
We present 5 tips on party prevention - all coming from experienced professional property managers and hosts.
Since the recent Airbnb party ban, parties and their prevention have become a hot topic in professional host circles.
Parties have always been troublesome for short term rentals, given the damage and neighbor complaints they cause. But the problem seems to have become more dire in the past few months, pushing Airbnb to announce that they “will be taking action both on guests and listings if [they] receive reports from neighbors.”
Now that public gatherings are illegal in many countries, and Airbnb took such a strong stance on the matter, the responsibility that rests on Airbnb hosts has become even greater. As a result, hosts are searching for most effective ways to deal with parties, some of them turning to quite unorthodox measures:
At 11pm, the next door apartment messaged me to say there was a party kicking off. I immediately went down to find 20 kids in a 2-bedroom apartment, and the girl who booked wasn't there. I kicked them all out and refused to let them back in. Next day, the girl messaged to say how sorry she was and that she'd left her shoes - they were a pair of Balenciaga - in the apartment. So I made her pay extra for cleaning and my call-out to get them back.
While holding a pair of designer shoes hostage is an ingenious way to address the problem, below we list a few other, arguably more practical solutions. Read on for our 5 tips on accepting bookings with confidence - all coming from experienced professional property managers and hosts.
1. Tighten up your house rules
Parties are now banned by Airbnb, but the consequences for guests have not been specified by the platform. That’s why you should use your house rules to account for what happens in case of an illegal party and/or property damage.
Start with stating that no events are permitted in your rental, and that all such gatherings will be promptly shut down. Then move to the specifics: are there quiet hours at your property? What happens if guests don’t respect them? Do you require a security deposit, and will you keep it if there’s damage? What about exceeding the occupancy limit? Some hosts introduce penalty charges for each guest over the maximum number, while for others any person above the limit equals eviction.
Thanks to crystal-clear house rules, you’ll be setting the expectations right for the guest before they even book - and many hosts think it’s good practice to confirm the rules with the guest before their arrival as well:
Anybody without multiple positive reviews, anybody who’s local, anybody whose account is generally new, we will reach out to them, after they book, and will say: ‘Hi!… I would like to remind you to read our house rules before arriving. I would also like to ask that you confirm that you read our house rules here in the message thread’ ...That message is our first line of defence.
Tightening your house rules is a great first step to protecting your home and maintaining a good relationship with your neighbors - but you also need to decide how you are going to enforce them. Before guest arrival, make sure you have a plan, and implement other party-prevention measures to further mitigate the risk.
2. Verify guests
It requires a lot of trust to let a stranger into your home, so many hosts try to protect their properties by being very careful when it comes to accepting guests. One way to do so is making sure you know your potential guests’ identity before they check in. Just enable Airbnb’s Verified ID feature, and the platform will confirm it for you.
I always use Airbnb's Verified ID feature as it adds an extra layer of protection. Having a guest verify their ID gives them a warning sign not to break the house rules. If someone has verified their ID then they are traceable in the event of an issue... For example if there is a party at your property and damage is caused then without the ID it could be very difficult to recoup the damages and prove the guest was in fact at the property.
Ozzy also notes that requiring verification may have an adverse effect on the amount of last-minute booking you receive (if a new Airbnb user tries to book and doesn’t have their ID on them, the reservation won’t go through). For some hosts this won’t be an issue - many consider same-day bookings higher risk -, but it’s best if you take the business impact into account before enabling this feature.
If you want even more control over who’s staying in your rental, you can disable the instant book option on your listings, and approve every guest yourself. Some hosts only feel comfortable after exchanging a few messages, or reading the guest’s reviews.
I pay close attention to who’s trying to book. Same day bookings really raise my antenna. No reviews raise my antenna. I can get comfortable with them, but I ask questions.
Screening customers helps diminish the risk and can give hosts a greater peace of mind - but it does not prevent fraudulent guests from using other people’s accounts to book. Note that even though 3rd party bookings are against Airbnb’s terms of service, they can still occur. That’s why you should always combine ID verification with the other suggestions on this list.
3. Introduce booking restrictions
Another way to eliminate a certain type of unwanted guest is to introduce booking limitations, like excluding locals and under 25s.
Some booking patterns are more suspicious than others. Let’s say that a same-day reservation for a 5-bedroom villa, for 1 night, on a Friday evening, made by a 22-year old living in the same city as where the property is located, is suspicious.
Some settings are in your channel manager or on websites like Airbnb, Vrbo or Booking can help you: No same-day booking, no 1-night stay on weekends, for instance
However, such a solution can be costly - one-night stays often bring in much higher returns than long term ones. So if you want to avoid sacrificing that extra cash, having a party detection and shutdown plan is a must.
4.Install a noise-monitoring system
Even if you screen all your guests with great diligence, confirming that they know and accept your house rules, there is always a risk that one of them tries to throw a party anyways. That’s where party prevention devices come in - such as the Minut home sensor designed to alert hosts about the noise level in the rental home.
Minut detects issues in real time by monitoring the sound level, and informs you (and your guests) whenever the noise rises above your pre-approved threshold. Unlike other listening devices, Minut sensors do not record sounds, so no personal information is stored and therefore guests’ privacy is maintained.
Excellent party prevention deterrent that keeps partying guests from even booking in the first place. Also helps guests who are just enjoying themselves and don’t really know how loud they are to know when they need to keep it down so peace with the neighbors is maintained. These should be mandatory for any host that rents out remotely. I wish I could have installed it sooner!
Additionally, Minut home sensors offer motion detection, letting you know when your guests come and go. They also recognize glass break, other alarms going off, and can provide you with temperature and humidity alerts - so they’re a great way to provide a better experience for your guests while protecting your property.
5. Get STR Insurance
While all hosts hope they will never have to use it, many choose to take out a specialized short term rental insurance just in case. This way, they know that should all else fail, at least they’ll be able to recuperate their financial losses.
A homeowners policy is for your home. If you have a claim and they find out it was an STR that you didn’t tell them about, they can deny your claim. For me, the extra $100 is nothing compared to the risk!
It’s important to know that a regular homeowner’s insurance won’t cover damage caused by an Airbnb guest. Instead, look into specialized packages like the ones offered by Proper Insurance which caters specifically to professional hosts and property managers.
Combined with the preventative measures, an STR insurance should give you a greater confidence listing your home and accepting bookings as an STR host.
Do you have any other tips? We’d love to hear them at firstname.lastname@example.org.