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Guest Red Flags for Airbnb, VRBO Rental For Hosts – How to Safeguard Your Investment from Bad Reviews

Being an Airbnb host can be a challenging endeavor. From marketing your listings to managing communication with guests and overseeing property maintenance, there’s a lot to take care of. Unfortunately, due to the widespread popularity of short-term rental platforms, scams and illegal activities have become a concern for hosts. Exploiting loopholes in the system, individuals without reviews on Airbnb are particularly prone to engaging in such activities. To help hosts make informed decisions when accepting guests with no reviews, we surveyed over 100 super hosts and compiled a list of red flags to watch out for. Read on to learn more!

1. Guest Profiles with No Reviews

Guests with no reviews may indicate that they are either first-time Airbnb users or have created duplicate accounts. That’s why our editors suggest just saying No to these potential customers. If you are going to dip the toes in the water and say Yes to hosting individuals with no previous host reviews, assessing guests based solely on their profiles can be challenging. In such cases, it is advisable to communicate with the guest and request that they complete their profiles, especially if they haven’t provided identification or photos. Here are some questions hosts can ask Airbnb guests with no reviews:

– What is the purpose of your visit?

– How many people will be staying?

Additionally, hosts can use the following message template for Airbnb guests with no reviews who show interest in their property:

“Hey there, {{guest’s name}}!

Thank you for your interest in my property and welcome to the Airbnb community. As your host, I want to ensure a smooth first stay for you. Before I approve your booking, please verify your profile photo with a government ID and kindly provide the following information:

1) Brief information about your stay and the number of guests.

2) What brings you to the neighborhood and what are your expectations?

I look forward to approving your request pending this information. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!


{{host’s name}}”

2. Inappropriate or Missing Photos

Similar to guests with no reviews, those with inappropriate photos or images that don’t clearly show their faces may raise concerns. Profiles without photos could indicate that they are new to Airbnb or VRBO, and in such cases, hosts can request that the guest updates their profile using the aforementioned message template. If the guest hesitates to upload a photo or if the uploaded photos appear altered, it should be considered a red flag. Hosts should ask for proper verification when suspicions arise before confirming the stay.

3. Failure to Read or Follow Rules and Guidelines

To prevent last-minute changes such as bringing extra people or pets, it’s crucial to remind guests of the rules and regulations before confirming their stay. While this may not always be a red flag, guests who repeatedly violate the stated rules should be reminded to carefully read the listing details to avoid any confusion or complaints.

4. Booking Outside of the App

If a guest attempts to book a listing outside of the hosting app by sharing their contact information, it’s a major red flag. Keeping all conversations and transactions within the VRBO or Airbnb app is crucial. This practice protects hosts in case of property damage or other incidents during the guest’s stay. It also ensures secure payment and provides a record of communication that can be used as evidence if legal action becomes necessary. Moving conversations to another platform not only increases the risk of scams but also leaves hosts without any means of assistance in case of mishaps.

5. Unconventional Names or Emails

It is rare to find email addresses without numbers or strange symbols today. However, be cautious of offensive, sexist, or racist email addresses, as scammers often create pseudo-emails to register on booking platforms. Unconventional names or email addresses are employed to avoid leaving traces of their real identities in case of investigations.

6. Poor Language Quality

Scammers pretending to be guests may use bots to reach out to multiple hosts simultaneously. These bots send personalized messages based on hosts’ listings using learned patterns. You can identify these messages by incorrect grammar or nonsensical sentences. Usually, these bots can only maintain a conversation for a few seconds until a human takes over. Be vigilant and watch out for sentences that appear auto-generated by a bot.

7. Exchanging Services for a Stay

If a guest offers to clean the house in exchange for their stay instead of paying money or providing another agreed-upon service, it’s a red flag. The likelihood of the person leaving without fulfilling their cleaning duties is high. As an Airbnb host, it is advisable to have your property cleaned by a reliable cleaner or cleaning service to avoid scams in these situations.

8. Screening Questions

For local guests staying for only one night, it is recommended to inquire about their motive for visiting the property and ensure they agree to your house policies. If guests are visiting from out of town, casually asking about their plans in the city can help identify their intentions and offer relevant suggestions.

9. Trust Your Instincts

Sometimes, there are no clear red flags, but you may still feel uncertain about entrusting your property to a particular guest based on their profile and messages. In such cases, it is best to trust your gut instinct, as it is often right.

When to Take the Risk of Accepting Guests with one or multiple red flags

While red flags should be taken seriously, it’s important to note that some guests may have difficulty creating accounts due to being new on the platform. Here are some positive signs for hosts considering the risk of accepting guests with no reviews:

1. Guests Provide Necessary Information

If guests promptly provide a valid government ID and a clear photo upon request, along with a clear intention for their visit, your concerns should be alleviated to some extent.

2. Instant Confirmation of Payment

Hosts often worry about guests with no reviews being no-shows, potentially leading to wasted bookings. However, if a guest promptly confirms their payment online, it is recommended to take the risk while still following the precautions mentioned.

3. Willingness to Undergo Security Checks and Account Verification

Guests who willingly undergo security checks and verification on the booking platform should be regarded as positive signals for hosts to accept their booking. At the same time, hosts must ensure that guests remain responsive and agree to the rules and regulations of the property.

By being vigilant and considering these red flags and positive signals, hosts can better protect their investments and provide a safe and enjoyable experience for themselves and their guests.

Ready to safeguard your Airbnb or VRBO investment and ensure a smooth hosting experience?

Contact My Home Wizard for expert cleaning, maintenance, and property management services to make your hosting journey worry-free!

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