Starting Short term rental: How scary is it to have a guest at home?

You may wonder what it is like to have strangers sharing your space for a few days ? You have done it already several times with friends or members of your family. Everything went well and you never had second thought about how it would go. But what about complete strangers from the other side of the world?… This is the first question you have to ask yourself if you want to do short term rental in your home to make extra money.

Some argue it will depend if you are an introvert or an extravert.

It is normal that your personnality will influence your feeling about the idea of sharing your home with guests. You have read stories about horrible guests who devastated their airbnb ? but statistically this situation is extremly rare.

It actually all comes down to the picture you are having of them in your mind.

Let’s analyse the situation and list the actions you can take before your guests arrive, and when they are in your home.

Before you meet your guest

It actually all comes down to the picture you are having of them in your mind.

Before they arrive you could create endless stories based on the picture they have on the rental website. This one looks like a nerd, this one looks so friendly, this other one is strangly reminding the ex of your best friend…

A first action you can take is to accept of refuse a booking on the basis of your own personal criteria.

It all depends on how you feel about your guest. On Airbnb you should see comments that the guest had after previous reservations he made. If he had plenty, it is very easy to make up your mind. If he just signed up on Airbnb, he won’t have any comments. It is more difficult to take a decision, but you can follow what your guts tells you.

You can set up criteria that are restrictive to infants, pets,… Several options help you make a decision.

Analyse the way they interact with you before the arrival

With the chat on airbnb you will communicate with your guests. Be proactive and send them a nice message. You will feel releived when your guests will answer very quickly to your messages. This chat is the first place you will interact with them and it is the perfect tool to make a good impression.

Think about the kinds of guests you want and go for it.

Some people like interactive guests they can spend time with. They have dinners with them and even tour the city together. Others are more introverted, and would find it draining if guests expected to spend time with them every day. Once, I have been unpleasantly surprised to find that a guest came to work in my city, and spent almost his entire stay in my house every day all day. He barely left the house. Don’t feel obligated to anyone – it is your house.

What do you prefer?

According to what you feel like doing, write a positive note about it in the apartment description or in your profile. For example, “My place is best suited for those who are active and have plans to be out during the day”. The house rules can also help you skim the guests you want.

If you like to have only one guest at a time, or having couples or families stay with you. You can use different strategies that help you filter it on the rental website.

Design the space you rent for the guests you want.

The guests who will select your place will first base their choice on the pictures (among other things). If you make it look like a frat house with a large bar, you will most likely get groups of young male travelers. If it looks more delicate and cosy you should get middle age couple. There is no generalities there but there is a tendancy and you will make your own experience after the first bookings.

What should you do if the guest didn’t fill out their profile ? Ask them.

When you get inquiries, you must ask for what you need from your guests. You do it everytime already to know at what time they will arrive. If they don’t fill out their profile to your satisfaction, ask them. If they haven’t described anything about themselves, ask them to write a few phrases about themselves. You will need to ask the guest to provide what you need in order to decide whether to accept them. If they have trouble understanding this, this may be a “red flag” and a good reason to decline their request. A “Verified ID” is NOT a guarantee that the guest will be a good guest. Your assessment of how prospective guest communicates, how they answer your questions, as well as whether they have any previous reviews that can help guide you, are generally more important than Verified ID in your screening process.

Be forthcoming and show who you are.

If you get an inquiry from a guest with a “blank” profile that has no photo, no verifications, and says nothing about them, you will ask for more. Just like you want to know who your guests are, your guests want to know about you. Your guest will appreciate knowing something about you. Put a photo of yourself on your profile instead of a photo of a monument in your area. It will help your guest feel safer as they can start to get to know you. It also helps to say a little about yourself and your interests in your profile. Sometimes a guest will book a place largely because of what the host says about themselves!

When they have arrived

First impressions are crucial.

During the check-in, smile, smile and smile. But not too much ! It has to be natural. Make them feel you are sending them good vibes. They will judge you on the first look you made them, on the warmth in your voice when you welcomed them. Be nice and they will be nice in return. And once they have smiled back at you, keep your smile and explain them the house rules while you are showing them their living space. Set your boundaries on the first day to avoid misunderstanding, and you avoid to be scared of telling them that they are invading your space. This could end up in bad reviews.

Very important: Keep in mind that they might have travelled long hours and are exhausted. They could be grumpy because the ride was not comfortable of they are thursty and need to use the bathroom. So be empathetic.

During their stay, break the ice and be honnest about how you feel.

Explain to the guest that it is the first time you do it, and that you are willing to make everything good. If they are a little empath they will understand and everything will go smoothly.

“My mindset is that I treat each guest as if they are a friend of a friend or a friend I haven’t met yet”

Conclusion

My suggestion would be to be kind to yourself in this new situation and take care of yourself. All you really need to do as a host is check-in with your guests from time to time to see if there is anything they need and answer any questions they might have.

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