The 9 Cardinal Sins of Airbnb Hosting

9 cardinal sins of airbnb hosting

By Rowan Clifford

Author of Airbn’b’ Smart and Smartbnb user

To be fair, Airbnb travelers are a pretty forgiving bunch.

Most of them are not hunting for perfection or the sterile settings of a hotel, instead, they’re looking for a more intimate, unique experience.


That does not mean that Airbnb guests are complacent, and don’t have super high standards.

Sure, running out of tea or coffee might be brushed under the carpet and overlooked. However, if you make one of these major hosting blunders (more on that in a minute), then watch out…

As things can take a turn for the worse.

Get your pen and paper out as you’re about to learn 9 sinful hosting mistakes that’ll drag your Airbnb hosting reputation through the dirt.

Let’s go…

1.  Toilet paper (or lack thereof)


I mean, really…

There’s really no excuse to EVER run out of toilet roll (except in extreme circumstances, but I won’t go there in this article…).

It’s such a small gesture, I know, but it goes a long way.

I say do yourself a favor, bulk buy, and overstock toilet rolls for every new guest at your property.


2. The stalky host


This is a bit of a controversial one.

As a host, do you have the right to show up unannounced? I mean it’s your property, right? So does that mean you can check up on your guests whenever you like?

If you want to look like a control freak and creep the hell out your guests, by all means, show up at the property unannounced.

However, if you want your guests to feel welcome, safe, secure, and leave you a 5-star review, cut your guests a bit of slack, respect their privacy and NEVER rock up on your guests unannounced!

And showing up isn’t the only stalky blunder hosts make, I’m sure we’ve all seen reports on the media of hosts having surveillance cameras in the living areas… Another big no-no.

3. Zero Towel Game


It’s easy to want to skimp out on things that cost you money. But seriously, things like not providing towels just makes you look like you’re a Scrooge.

The majority of guests that travel using Airbnb are a pretty cruisy bunch but don’t take advantage of that, and make sure you’re at the very least, providing nice clean towels for each and every guest.

*TIP: Buy a few extra sets of towels so that you never have to stress about washing and drying for tight changeovers.

4. Lost key dramas


Accidents happen, and your guests aren’t perfect.

Oh, and your key…

Yeah, it’s going to get lost. Definitely.

It’s going to happen at some point, so you might as well be prepared.

The last you want is for your guests to be coming home after a late-night, losing their key, and not being able to access the property.

Granted, it’s not your fault, however, it’s a massive headache for you, and a terrible experience for your guests.

To avoid this, either have a secure key lock box with a spare key close by or a sneaky spot where you hide your spare key for situations like this.

It’s not a question of if, but when.

So you might as well preempt this problem with a quick, easy solution.

5. Last-minute cancellations


Last-minute cancellations suck, and they’ll kill your reputation on Airbnb.

Not only will Airbnb penalize you for doing it (by dropping you down their rankings), your guests will hate you for it too.

If you’ve made a mistake with your calendar, that’s your fault, just accept it and learn for next time.

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6. Involuntary insomnia


Your guests are coming to your property to relax, unwind and rejuvenate, and the last thing they want is a terrible night sleep because the mattress is so damn uncomfortable.

So, please don’t skimp when it comes to providing a decent mattress.

If your budget is looking a bit slim around the edges, even a good mattress topper should do the trick (without costing a fortune).

If you can give your guests a good night’s sleep, they’ll be back time and time again.

7. Charging for WiFi (really!)


Seriously? Charging for WiFi! Believe it or not, some hosts are still doing that..

Charging for WiFi is just plain mean.

So if you’re doing it… please, don’t.

Oh, and whilst I’m here… make sure the WiFi you provide is good too. There really is nothing more frustrating for your guests than a snail-paced internet connection.

8. Biblical length House rules


Don’t do this, don’t do that… The last thing your guests want is a set of house rules that reads like a textbook of things you can’t do!

Of course, there are a few rules you need to lay down to keep things in line and make sure everything goes smoothly. But don’t get petty about it.

Remember, your guests are paying you a fair rate to stay at your place, so cut them a bit of slack, don’t treat them like kids, keep rules to a bare minimum, and you’ll be just fine.

Consider also there’s a better way to remind guests about important tips, which is to send timely messages before/upon check-in, and before check-out.

Prepare your messages well and drop them into your messaging automation solution (Smartbnb, of course), and you’ll never have to worry about whether the house rules are too long or whether they go unread because you’ll be weaving them in your conversation with guests.

9. False expectations


It’s actually pretty easy to be a little sneaky and misleading with your Airbnb listing.

Overengineered camera angles with perfect lighting, elaborate listing descriptions, etc.

The trouble is, once your guest arrives and realizes your property is up a huge flight of stairs, or above a nightclub, they’re going to be severely disappointed.

I’m not suggesting you downplay your listing by focusing on the negatives, instead, I recommend making your guests aware of them, but packaging any negatives by putting a positive twist on them…

For example:

If your property is close to a noisy bar, you could frame it like this:

Slick modern apartment nestled in the heart of the city, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life, with vibrant nightlife right at your doorstep. From the comfort of the apartment, you can soak up the sounds, smells, and ambiance of this eclectic neighborhood.


There you go…

The definitive guide of how NOT to be a terrible Airbnb host.

As you can see, not being a terrible host really isn’t that hard. If you can avoid these hosting mistakes, everything should be fine and dandy.

However, the goal isn’t to avoid being a terrible host, the goal is to be an incredible host. And for that, you need to go above and beyond expectations, offer huge value, and generally have your guests’ interests at heart.

Pretty simple, really.

Peace out.


Rowan Clifford is a serial solopreneur and founder of Airbn’b’ Smart, where he writes tips, tricks and hacks for savvy Airbnb hosts looking to maximize their earning potential with minimum effort.

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