In this guide, we give our Airbnb tips for renters, these will help your learn Airbnb’s system and navigate it to help you pick out a bargain, high-end apartment or a room with an amazing view. First timers should follow this guide, it will only take 10 minutes to complete part 1 of this 2 part series. This may save you money and help you avoid a bad vacation rental experience.
How To Get Started As A Guest On Airbnb
Firstly, you will need to register an account on their site. Get started by claiming your free $35 towards your first stay. Click on this link. Then register your basic details on the site.
What Is Airbnb?
In a nutshell, Airbnb is a marketplace that allows homeowners to rent out their homes, spare rooms or even caravans. Basically, anywhere that people might want to stay. They handle the payments and communication between the guests (visitors) and the hosts (homeowners) They operate in 90 different counties, with over 900,000 properties listed on their website. Learn more about the history of Airbnb.
Is Airbnb Safe?
Since you are staying at the property of someone else, then you can consider this to be slightly less safe than a hotel. But it is rare to have a problem, but a little bit of research and verification will keep you and your possessions safe. We will teach you what to look out for in later chapters.
Airbnb also has a 24/7 customer support desk. If you run into any problems they are always available. unlike a hotel, where you may have to locate the hotel manager and hope that he/she is able to resolve your problem. Airbnb risks are limited by them holding any bookings fees until after you checkin. We have always found the customer service reps to be fair and well trained to deal with a whole host of issues immediately.
What Do Airbnb Charge?
As a guest you will get charged 6-12% on the cost of your stay as Airbnb’s fee, the rest will go to the host. The host also gets charged a minimum of 3% based on their cancellation policy.
Verifying Your Airbnb Account
If you are new to renting on Airbnb you should verify your account by uploading a form of government ID. This only takes a minute and it will give you creditability when you are attempting to make a booking for the first time. As a bonus verify you should verify social profiles as well, some hosts might ask for this, so, save yourself some time and verify as much as you can.
FIND THAT PERFECT PROPERTY
Before you set out looking for that perfect property, first consider what you want from your accommodation. Here are some details that you may want to consider before looking for accommodation.
- What type of property do you want to stay in? A whole property, shared, private bathroom or even luxury vacation rental.
- Are you booking last minute?
- Do you need a late checkin?
- How many bedrooms/beds do you need?
- Do you have pets or require parking or have accessibility needs?
Let’s Get Searching
- Enter your dates
- Enter the number of guests
- Select the location that you want to stay
- Select the property type you need.
- Observe the number of results, if you have a large choice then start to apply your additional filters, like gyms and hot tubs.
- On the left you will see the average pricing, this will give you an indication of how much you’re likely to pay and how busy that time of year is.
First Time Searching On Airbnb
Look at a selection of homes and just click on a few, they’ll open up new tabs and you’ll be able to observe from there.
Things to look for:
1. Examine the photos. You’ve come across lots of pictures that you might love. But here are a few things to look out for.
- The average number of pictures for a 1 bedroom apartment should have on average 5-8 pictures. Anything less than this might be that the host is hiding something.
- Look for the details. Observe how cup and plates might be positioned. If they are aligned nicely then chances are they are quite tidy hosts.
- Observe how the beds are made. If the sheets are tucked under this has probably been professionally cleaned by a management company
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- Look for the “verified” tag on the pictures. This means that the pictures were taken by Airbnb photographers so can be trusted.
- Check vertical lines, if they bend inwards, this means that a fisheye lens has been used, so the room might be smaller than it really is
2. Look at the home highlights. These will tell you what other guests have found great about the property.
3. Check the Amenities to ensure all the things that you might need are mentioned here.
4. Check the Airbnb reviews to see what’s important to you. There are 6 categories that hosts can be rated by: Accuracy (ie their description accuracy) Location, Communication, Check-in, Cleanliness and Value. We personally never book anything that has lower than 4-stars on location and cleanliness.
5. Read the reviews. The things to look for here are objective negative Airbnb reviews and really short reviews, kind of positive reviews. I’ve no idea what you are trying to say here. Try again! More often than not if they have a large number of really short reviews, then you can probably assume that the guests didn’t want to say anything, so left a short semi-positive review.
How to find an Airbnb bargain
It’s possible that a host has no reviews on this current property, however, they may have reviews on other properties, This means they are an established host and know what they are doing when it comes to vacation renting.
If you are in a gambling mood, it may be worth taking the chance on this new property. To promote the property Airbnb often asks the host to reduce their price by upto 20%. You may get a bargain.
Location, Location, Location
Finding a place with a great location can be difficult as a tourist as it can be hard to tell what is good and what is not good. Airbnb by default doesn’t show you the exact location of the property. This is only shown to you after you book.
Tips: On the map itself check the public transit button as this will help you see if you have a station nearby.
Also, go to Booking.com to search to see if there are any hotels nearby. If there are lots of hotels in the same area as the AirBnB that you are looking at then it is highly likely that it is a good area for you to base yourself as a tourist.
Read the House Rules
The House Rules will describe what is not allowed inside that property as well as checkin a check out times. If you are unable to make these check in or check out times then check with the host to see if they will make an exception for you.
Before booking feel free to drop the host a message. You will need to use the message system to contact the hosts. Most hosts will be happy to answer your questions. Click on the “Contact Host” button next to the hosts profile.
You will not be able to send telephone numbers or websites via the Airbnb message system until you have made a booking. Stay safe and keep all communications inside the message system. Once you have messaged the hosts, they will have 24-hours to respond, otherwise, they face a reduction in their response rate.
The Host Has Pre-Approved Me, What Does This Mean?
If the host sent you a pre-approval this means that the host has checked your profile and is happy for you to book their place. It doesn’t mean you have booked yet. You will then have 24 hours to accept the pre-approval by click on the book button. After the 24 hours expires you will need to rebook the property.
Looking Out For Trustworthy Hosts
Airbnb runs a peer-to-peer review system, so leaving reviews to help other visitors out and ensure that hosts stay on their toes. Check for their account verifications, look for the green tick on their profile picture. This tick informs you that they have a verified form of Government ID i.e. passport, drivers licence etc.
Look at the Joined date, this will tell you if they are new. New hosts may not be totally up to speed with the ins-and-outs of Airbnb, so you may need to give them a little leeway.
Check if the host has a superhost badge on their profile picture. This indicates that the host has hosted at least 10 visitors and has, at a minimum, 80% five-star reviews.
The guidebook allows hosts to mark on a map their favourite, bars, clubs, museums, parks and attractions. These can sometimes be combined with the city guide books that Airbnb supply, helping you find things to do in the city or near to your rental.
How to Make An Airbnb Booking
Once you have found the perfect vacation rental, click on the booking button. If the host is using the instant booking feature then you can book immediately.
If you haven’t verified your account, then the host will need to accept or reject your booking manually. Every host has a maximum of 24 hours to approve your booking,
What is Airbnb Instant Book?
Airbnb Instant bookings are listing that do not require the hosts to accept or reject your request. If you are making a booking at the last minute you should look for properties that have this option. On the search filter, select Instant Book and this will show you only properties that have this option. To book using this option you must first ensure that you have completed your profile.
What Is Airbnb Plus?
Airbnb Plus is Airbnb’s attempt to compete with the hotel market. All these homes have been verified for quality by a quality control representative. They inspect over a 100+ quality point to ensure quality and comfort. Airbnb Plus properties have a Plus Badge attached to them. Booking these rentals may cost a little bit more but, if you want to know exactly what your getting, then this is a good option.
Airbnb Plus hosts are some of the most highly rated with over 4.8 in the overall rating and 0 cancellations.
NEVER transfer money outside of Airbnb! They accept all major credit cards and pre-pay cards. They also accept various major debit cards.
Payment should be placed on your card, this is held by Airbnb and charged directly by them. Payment is held in escrow until the day after you check-in and only then is the payment released to the host.
What Does Awaiting Payment Mean?
Awaiting payments means that the host has accepted your booking but your payment has yet to be completed. This could be due to lack of funds or a blocked card. You will have 24 hours to update your payment details. If you don’t, your booking will be cancelled without penalty but you will have to rebook.
Airbnb now allows you to pay for your reservation in multiple parts, Select the payless function and you will not have to pay all the money upfront. They will contact you 3 days before the second payment is required.
What Should I Write To The Host When Booking?
Make the host feel at ease by informing them of the following information as your introduction. Remember they can cancel your booking if they feel uneasy with your booking.
- Who is staying with you in the property e.g. friends or family?
- What time you are likely to arrive
- Let them know your flight details as they might be able to share their locally held information on the easiest / cheapest / most efficient way to get to their property.
Understanding the Pricing
Once you select your dates and number of guests the system will automatically calculate the right pricing for you based on those parameters. You may find that the pricing is now higher than what you were initially quoted per night.
Reasons for this pricing change:
- The dates you have chosen may be highly sought. Airbnb has a dynamic pricing option that lowers and raises pricing for the host automatically based on availability, type of property and various other factors. Hosts and Airbnb smart pricing can change the pricing for each day, e.g. New Year’s Eve may have a high premium versus a lower price on the 30th of December.
- An Airbnb cleaning fee may have been added. This is normally a small fee ranging from $10-$50. This is a one-off fee charged to help hosts cover the costs of preparing the apartment after you depart.
- Service fee, this is the cost to you for using their platform and can range from 6-12%.
- Extra Guests fee, can be included by the guests for any number of extra people above 1 person. This helps the hosts get the pricing right based on the number of rooms / linen that you might use. For example, you are unlikely to use all the room in a 6 bedroom house if there is only one person stay. So they can reduce the price based on the number of people staying.
- Security Deposits. All security deposits are held by Airbnb. Hosts can request all or some of your security deposit to repair damages. They will have 14 days to place a request for this or until the next guests check-in.
NB: Don’t exchange monies outside of the Airbnb system.
Ensure you get your free $35 free credit by click on this link.
Pro Tip: Don’t ask the host for the total price. Whatever price you see in Airbnb will be the price you pay. The host will only see what they get in terms of payout. They would need to calculate exchange rates and other fees (Airbnb service charges etc.) to get you an accurate price.
To help with calculations, ensure you’ve setup the right local currency. This can be changed by visiting your Profile and then Settings. Airbnb will handle the exchange rates.
How to Haggle the right way
If the first thing you send to our team is to ask for a reduction in price, 90% of the time we’ll respond with “Sorry but no”.
Here is what we suggest to get a discount.
First, create a small relationship with the host by telling them about yourself and how you are going to be zero trouble etc. Then ask for a possibility of a discount, especially if it is low season. (Low season in the UK is generally January through to March.)
You can check the hosts calendar to see how busy they are. If they are already fully booked then your chances of a discount are already reduced. If you are booking last minute your chances of getting a discount improve greatly. If they have a cleaning fee, maybe ask for this to be waived.
If they accept your request then the host will respond with Special Offer Pricing in the Airbnb system. You will have 24 hours to accept the “special offer”. Having a special offer doesn’t automatically block the dates for you and the host can send multiple special offers to other guests for the same dates.
If you are staying more than 7 days and the host has not automatically applied a long-term stay discount, then also check to see if they will do anything on the pricing for you.
Hosts generally have 3 types of cancellation policy that they can choose from: Flexible, Moderate and Strict. Check which one your host has before you attempt to cancel your booking.
Flexible: Full refund available up until 24 hours before your booking is due to start. After which the first night will not be refunded.
Moderate: Guests cancel up to 5 days in advance to obtain a full refund. If you are within the 5 day period then you will be eligible for a 50% refund.
Strict: A full refund is available if you cancel your booking within 48 hours of making your booking. 14 days prior to check-in you are eligible for a 50% refund. 7 Days-prior to your check-in you will not be refunded.
Airbnb Cleaning fees are always refunded. You can cancel a booking last minute if you have extenuating circumstances.