Hosting Fears: Screening your Guests

With the world of travelers one step to booking your home, how will you determine who is safe? How do you deal with the mystery of who is coming to stay?

As a corporate sponsor, how is your approach to working with a family-owned BNB?

From a host’s standpoint, It’s good to have an expectation that any prospective guests offer you a reason why they are coming to your area and if they’ve had the experience of staying at someone’s home before (this is where previous guest reviews become important).

It helps if your listing has “house rules” so people aren’t as apt to treat your home too impersonally. When they can see your rules upfront they have a better idea what you expect. Sometimes, you need to politely ask them if they’ve reviewed the rules if you suspect they have not – it could’ve been something they inadvertently overlooked. For example, the may only cite one of your rules, like “yes, none of us smoke” because that rule happened to show up without having them to pulldown the entire list. Then you might reply, “There are 26 rules, I’d be happy to answer any questions or concerns once you’ve reviewed them.”

After a while, there is something relevant to “The Truth has a Ring to it.”

When people offer their clear reasons, it is a positive. Not only do you need to commit to them, but they need to make a commitment to you. They may know a little or a lot about your depending on your website profile, but you know nothing about them so you can take the opportunity ask some simple questions if they do not take the initiative to provide you an adequate introduction.

So far, after a year of serving the community, cancellations are pretty rare and they are accompanied with good reasons, such as, “the conference was moved from Palo Alto to San Francisco” or “Our child’s surgery needed to be rescheduled” or “we now have a funding problem.”

So when these things happen, you just have to move on. Be understanding, you are in the hospitality business, not military recruiting. There is some variations how hosts handle their cancellation policy, some can be very strict while others can be very flexible.

Corporate coordinators are worth their weight in gold when they can help put you at ease when they are making arrangement for a team of executives or engineers. These are usually some of the most seamless transactions. As we have discovered, corporate guests tend to be without any issue and they have (so far) never attempted to barter my prices down (which so far only happens rarely).

There is more uncertainty within the typical 24-hour period before the actual reservation booking is made, as you can imagine, a potential guest is searching for the ideal accommodation of which your listing may only be one of a handful they are looking at, or if the potential guest does not have any significant guest history, you may be seeing to find out more about the guest(s) who will be staying at your home. There will be moments when you are living in a grey area of uncertainty. In either case, I like to get prompt and candid answers from guests and that can influence whether you extend an offer to book your house or not.

I had one guest who needed to communicate through their minor child, and I was really stretching my tolerance level when they couldn’t nail down how many people were staying or respond to my questions promptly. The reservation was being made a couple months out, so I could be flexible, but as a guest, you don’t want to give your host the inadvertent impression that you’re planning to hide anything, particularly if you have made any suggestion that the guest count was over your limit (ours is 6 normally).

As a host, I like to respond to inquiries within an hour or as soon as possible. I like to communicate with the guest, in a way that I would like to be responded to, as someone needing to resolve their accommodation problem ASAP, even when ½ the world away, they send an inquiry in the middle of the night.

A tip to guests, you should know that from a host’s perspective, we would really like to feel comfortable with everyone from the first inquiry. If there is anything unusual about the condition or circumstances of your inquiry or reasons for you needing to stay, please understand  the need for host to make inquiries to you.

And please, no marketing or spam-based inquiries on a reservation/booking messaging service. Those are a drag.

Yes, your phone should stay on all the time since you are in the 24/7 business of hospitality.



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