|In this article, I will discuss 5 common checkout potholes to anticipate and use as an advantage in getting more positive reviews from your guests; and to keep our owners informed and happy.
Airbnb hosts are not able to simply just ignore their guests, give them a key drop-box, and hope they leave the home intact. Yes, it will save time, and reduce call-out costs but this is about increasing demand with positive reviews.
Today’s professional Superhosts rely on getting 5-star reviews from ALL departing guests. As you know by now there is a nearly direct link between the number of reviews and occupancy.
One way an Airbnb Superhost can gather up more five-star reviews is by coaching and guiding the initial guest conversation and setting firm expectations for the stay and departure.
Setting the scene will better ensure the integrity of the house after checkout and that all parties are satisfied.
Why do Airbnb hosts need to be present at the time of checkout?
Besides the first and last moment, this is your final opportunity to positively influence a guest’s impressions.
Take note: Guests are prompted to review their experience within 24 hours of checking out.
If you have given the departing guests a great experience, all will be good.
Or will it?
The scene, however, must be set with the pre-and at arrival “setting-the-scene” expectations discussion.
Just like with check-in, being there in person at checkout is always advisable whenever practical. You want them to feel obliged to your hospitality. Give. And give. Your heart is enough. They’ll know.
Being there in person re-activates the “human element” of the Airbnb hosting experience and allows you to confirm that your guests have had a positive experience or address anything that may have been an issue throughout their stay.
Both of these outcomes will be important in ensuring you receive the best possible reviews very shortly.
As you know, everyone’s priority is to get out of your Airbnb rental as quickly as possible. It’s understandable but there can be a lot lost in the process, including any feedback you may have wanted from the guest! Guests are the best (only) judges ever.
This can be as simple as asking if there is anything that needs attention or checking on any concerns they may have had during their stay. Obviously, when they mention something serious, it may mean they did not feel at ease approaching you during their stay.
I remember a lady staying with her son for a month in a great home. She was given the whole pre-arrival spiel. When she left she gave us a nasty review because a doorknob was broken. Apparently, she is a private person and did not want anyone to attend to the issue.
A guest arrived, the instructions indicated that there was only street parking. He was never told where to “street park” and gave the host a 1 out of 5 overall.
In the big scheme of things, one extreme guest will not break the bank. But as hosts, we must try and anticipate the off-the-charts demands and expectations.
If you have something that may go wrong leave it to a fool to find it. Rather do a foolproof audit and inform guests before they book and repeat it at arrival. Fools tend to be less foolish when he is told about things that can go wrong.
Something we have not done, but is recommended, is where hosts ensure guests complete a quick and easy online Guest Feedback Form. Cool ideal. Don’t you agree?
Well, if you have any doubts, read Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion Robert Cialdini. He will tell you that when people put their signature to anything they feel obliged to defend it.
Let us, in the future, use this psychology at checkout; with their exit interview with the host present, they may give you good feedback. And when they do the Airbnb review they will just continue in the same vein. More in a future edition.
Guests Expectations Settings Starts Before Departure
I have referred to this topic above but let us elaborate:
It’s imperative for a host to set expectations from day one. The guest must feel very welcome while confirming the stay guidelines in a gentle but firm manner. They will love you for being honest.
Guests do not always know what to expect from a self-catering home. Most new guests often compare it unfavorably to hotels that come with a certain expectation of services.
We understand that it is not always possible or feasible for our guests to get everything they want, but we cannot allow a guest to have such unmanaged expectations. Seeking out these unspoken needs and giving them a voice is the way out. If not they will drop you a bad review on departure.
Let your guests know that you will be present when they checkout during their arrival during check-in. Tell them that they should have fun, use the house but please leave it tidy.
This reminds me of checking the number of guests who booked.
Only technology can assist you to verify if guests are honest. But larger houses that may attract the party crowd should invest in tools to check guest numbers.
- Airbnb is clamping down on parties and this includes houses prone to parties.
- Airbnb may allow you to kick guests out if they are more. But if you establish the excess numbers only on departure you are to blame.
- The cost to count guests every day and the little risk (although severe) does not warrant a daily check. Rather invest in technology – like these but there are others as well. I wrote about parties here but the suggested tools are too invasive.
Asking Guest For A 5 Star Review Rating
Setting expectations of your own is important. Most guests do not know that a 5 out of 5 ratings is great. Some believe 4 out of 5 is good enough although they were very happy. We have had guests who gave us 5 out of 5 for every sub-item but overall 4 out 5. Never let that happen. Ask them for a 5-star review.
And tell them at arrival, “If you have any issues don’t wait for the review! No. Tell me immediately. NOW! My job is to ensure your 5-star experience.”
It’s important to tell them you are giving them a 5 star home. You expect them to have a 5-star experience but YOUR SuperHost status depends on them returning the favour.
Why Is It Critical To Check For Damages & Losses Immediately?
If you need to make a claim under the Airbnb Host Guarantee or your security deposit, you only have 14 days from your guest’s checkout date or before the next guest checks in to do so. This last bit can be tricky. You don’t need all the evidence and costs but get the claim in as Airbnb will try and use their T&Cs.
It’s important to have proper evidence in place when making a claim. Take photos of everything. Everything. If your guest is a nightmare, you’ll need to provide Airbnb with evidence in the form of text messages and other communications. Keep records.
How To Check For Damages and Losses?
Various guest checkout procedures exist. I believe the best is to keep it simple but effective. You’ll notice the following house check-out form is very simple (here) – or see below. We call it the “5 Star Property Certification.“ The intention is to focus the mind of the host on our core expectations.