Tag Archives: Screening

Guest Tips: Initial Communication

When you try booking a BNB, especially for the first time when you have no review history, It’s important to keep an eye on your messenger to make sure the host does not have a question for you.



I had a recent request from a businessman out of the Midwest (exact city to keep it confidential) for a one-night stay, and in his brief introduction he asked to stay two hours after the standard checkout time.

Well, that was worth a quick response from yours truly as I have to prepare for the worst case.

Now, I don’t have problems with people needing to check out later, though not too late, because we do have a tight cleaning schedule and we take that very seriously.

Especially since we allow same day reservations, I don’t want to push cleaning out too late and then interfere with an oncoming guest. Plus our cleaning crew, we don’t want to have to play with their time either as we all have children to pickup from school, so on and so forth.

Armed with all these concerns, I send a reply to see how we can work out the issue. I send it within 10 minutes and get no response.

I send a follow up message 3 minutes later, no response.

Well, well, well…. That puts the host into a bind.

The request automatically blocks my schedule with a guest who I do not know if they are responsive or flexible enough to coordinate cleaning with his need to stay two extra hours.

If I accept, I may not have enough time to not interfere with the next guest or have enough time or people to hang out at the place to clean it.

If I decline, I could lose out in income and kill someone’s accommodation plans.

I compromised in the end, I waited 18 hours for a response, and on a Sunday morning, I declined it and offered a detailed explanation and an invitation to rebook if they wanted but to acknowledge we need to work out an issue first..

The rational was the guest was not responsive and I’d rather let someone else book who was a more reliable even though the booking was within a week’s time. It was one of those “peace of mind” versus money decisions I wrote about in a previous blog post. I could easily lose a day’s income.

Fortunately, this particular person, given half a chance, jumped gracefully through the hoop. He finally read my messages after the Decline and was apologetic, flexible and understanding, plus good for a few back-and-forth iterations to get a handle on our respective needs.

While it was not my ideal track to a smooth booking, it turns out this person proved himself to be a really good person to work things out with.



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Copyright © 2019 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.


Compelling Reasons for a Stay

A thought that sometimes comes to the tip of a host’s tongue but without the words is,

“Does this guest have a compelling reason to stay in our house?”

instead, you just feel uncomfortable. Have you as a host ever felt like this?



As a host, you often go on your intuition whether to accept a guest reservation or not. The conflict occurs when in the case a host feels uncomfortable to the point it leads you to thinking you want to decline a booking request or inquiry. I find this case is RARE though one begs to understand his/her own feelings to be a fair judge.


There may be several reasons why a host may believe a guest is not a match without violating anyone’s rights, some are clearly delineated in the basic house rules related to:

Smoking, Pets, Parties, Max number of guests

Yet, there could be less definable reasons why a particular inquiring guests may be giving off bizarre vibes in how they offer their reason for their stay.

We have had over 50 groups stay with us and all except for 1 had what I would consider a compelling reason. Some may have had other issues but their reason to stay was reasonable and believable.


Common reasons are:

Flying in for a Business trip (seminars, company training, meeting clients), family vacation, loved one having surgery at local hospital, extra space needed for family gathering (holidays, funerals), reunions, small group retreat, visiting main office from out of state/country, child attending tech camp (Summer school).

Almost all are guests are from out of state or out of country with a few from some distal part of California and in a brief messenger communication they manage to  candidly express their reasons.

When all of these factors converge, combined with (when available) good reviews, this results in a compelling and reliable framework for the guest that follows through without issues.

In other words, it’s unlikely that anyone will have a vague reason why they are flying in from a foreign country to stay at your home. So you get use to a certain level of direct and honest communication and learn to be apprehensive of vague purposes.


For instance, I experienced the not-so compelling and actually quite vague reason which was: “Need a place to crash for one night after an “event” (“Event” was undefined and the guest were all local residents).  It’s this reservation that resulted in the most difficult cleanup job, which I will not detail, but… at least it was only a one-night stay.


You might imagine what type apprehensions you might have when another inquiry comes in from another local who, upon questioning, contentiously offers only a vague reason why they would want to stay… and want to book, not for days, but for multiple months.


A BNB is different than a Hotel

It helps to know that a BNB listing is not like a hotel where the potential difficulties caused by a higher risk guest are somewhat eased by large numbers of unrelated guests. One guest only takes one room of many units in a hotel drawing income from a mass of guests.

Conversely, a BNB home is a key income source, and can be THE key source of income for a family, so it is with great reliance on host’s judgment to best avoid unnecessarily risky contracts that may interrupt a steady income stream for their family. By establishing a pipeline of guests with compelling reasons  to hold and fulfill reservations will a host ensure a stable income and, perhaps more importantly, peace of mind.

When there are no reviews to support a new guest to BNBs, then the relationship is completely based on the rapport generated in a brief messenger conversation. I’m very glad by the fact that virtually all guests do not come across as entitled to stay at your private residence.

I believe most guests pretty much get it. They are respectful, if not kind and respectful, if not kind, humble and respectful while certainly not easily angered or triggered by a polite and logical question by a host of a private home.

I remember one woman was so polite, unassuming and understanding when I told her I made a mistake by allowing her to make an instant booking reservation (didn’t turn it off in time or thought I had turned it off) when I was in the process of working with another guest over the same booking period. The displaced guest was remarkably gracious. It’s beautiful people like her, who did not even have a chance to be my guest but, filled with understanding, helped me accommodate another person who she didn’t know. It’s considerate people like these I would want to do something special for if I have a chance, they make the world go around.


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Copyright © 2018 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.



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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Copyright © 2018 Challen YeeAll Rights Reserved.