Your Guide to Airbnb’s 2022 Winter Release
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Your Guide to Airbnb’s 2022 Winter Release

Protecting rental properties from damage is typically top of mind for all property managers/hosts. Knowing who your guests are and how they plan to use your rental is incredibly important, especially as winter party season is getting closer. Queue Airbnb’s 2022 Winter release, which was announced last week (November 16th)!This release was well overdue; #Airbnbust has been trending across social media platforms for many months, so hosts will welcome the improvements with open arms. But, while Airbnb markets this as a “big improvement” (there are some improvements), many are actually things that have existed for a while.    So the question is, is this some marketing ploy for Airbnb to grow its supply and attract more hosts, or will it benefit current Airbnb hosts? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Airbnb’s 2022 winter release from a risk management perspective, why it’s important and what it includes.

Round-up of Airbnb’s 10 major upgrades:

1 – Aircover increased to $3 million

Is it new to Airbnb? No

Is it an improvement? Yes

Damage protection is, of course, a necessity for all property managers and hosts. Making sure you are covered for guest damages while renting your short-term rentals is a no-brainer. In 2021 Airbnb introduced Aircover (up to $1 million in damage protection) to inspire new hosts to join the platform in unprecedented times. Now: Airbnb has increased Aircover protection to $3 million, and now includes:

Protections for cars and boats parked at your homeExpanded coverage on art and valuables.

An increase in the coverage is great to see; however, it seems likely that this increase was implemented to try and outperform Airbnb’s biggest competitors – Booking.com and Vrbo, who have recently introduced $1 million in damage protection for all their hosts/property managers who list with them. While the increase from one million to three million is an improvement, realistically will this be an improvement for property managers and hosts? Likely, no!If you are interested in full damage protection that protects your properties across all your booking channels, as well as for direct booking, check out how our damage protection feature can help you here.

Know Your Guest’s Damage Protection. Competitor comparison is based on public information as of 23/11/22

2- Guest Identity Verification

Is it new to Airbnb? No

Is it an improvement? Yes

Inviting a wide range of guests, especially big OTAs, into your properties makes background checks and guest screening even more important. As a responsible property manager/owner, you must ensure that guests are who they say they are, can be trusted to respect your rules, and are not liable to bring problems to your property. Without identity verification/screening, you are opening yourself up to major risks such as damage, fraud, and noise complaints, which is exactly why Airbnb needed to implement this improvement. Identity verification has been present since Airbnb’s inception, but it was never at the forefront due to Airbnb’s guest-centric stance. Previously, Airbnb asked guests to verify their identity to check they are who they say they are; however, identity verification was not a part of the Airbnb signup process, meaning not all guests on Airbnb are verified.In Airbnb’s 2022 winter release, the new “comprehensive verification system checks details such as name, address, government ID, and more to confirm the identity of guests who book on Airbnb”. While this update is a step in the right direction and one we are incredibly excited to see go global in the spring of 2023, it does leave some questions unanswered. Is Airbnb’s identity verification really insufficient, and why should we trust them now if, it wasn’t working before?Airbnb still has a long way to go to provide property managers and hosts with more transparency regarding identity verification and to explain how their tech works, especially as it is still incredibly easy for guests to book.

3 – Reservation screening technology

Is it new to Airbnb? No

Is it an improvement? Yes and No

A property manager or host’s worst nightmare is having their properties trashed and neighbours complaining due to out-of-control parties.Airbnb’s reservation screening AI ‘technology looks at hundreds of factors to block bookings that may lead to unauthorised parties.’ – Brian Chesky. Airbnb’s red flags include: 

guests of a specific age group (below 25 years old) who live in the same area as your rental,booking properties for 10+ people,booking an entire home for a one-night stay, guests who have no positive reviews.

With the tightening of short-term rental regulations in the US and popular European cities, further improvements to the screening technology come as no surprise.It is important to note that this is not a new feature. Airbnb introduced this technology back in October 2020 to limit house parties and crack down on unauthorised gatherings. The major improvement here is that it will be extended across more countries.While guest screening is great, Airbnb’s AI reservation screening has brought some questions from hosts, especially those with larger properties. Property managers are worried Airbnb AI bots will block booking requests that could have in fact been a very solid booking. “relying on AI to screen that is very very scary, also I have many large homes that sleep 12-15 people, this part makes me very worried” said John Hildebrand, Founder of HildeHomes, when speaking on Mark Simpson’s Boostly Podcast. While this is a move in the right direction, it does leave the question of how much choice and control will remain with the host when it comes to accepting bookings.After all, the guests aren’t staying with Airbnb, they are staying with a “host”, and therefore the risk is still being taken by the hosts. So shouldn’t it be up to a host or property manager to decide whether or not they want to accept the booking?

4 – Easier to file a claim

Is it new to Airbnb? No

Is it an improvement? Yes

This is a long-standing battle that hosts have requested, making the process to file a damage claim against guests as simple and the payout as quick as possible! And it seems like Airbnb might have listened! In an interview with Skift, Catherine Powell, Global Head of Hosting, said Airbnb has reduced the “steps to file a claim from the current 14 to 3. The process for getting compensated for a claim would remain an average of two weeks after the claim gets filed”. Music to the ears of many Airbnb hosts!However, it has been made clear by hosts that it is not the process they do not like, but rather the fact decisions typically favour guests than hosts, and that Airbnb is notorious for taking the guest’s side, leaving hosts to deal with the damages themselves.Let’s see what comes out of this one.Articles that may be of interest:

5 – Ground rules for guests

Is it new to Airbnb? No

Is it an improvement? Yes

Improvements that force guest accountability will be a win in our books!It’s great to see that Airbnb is working towards building a more trusted relationship between hosts and guests by acknowledging the behaviours of both parties, and this has been well received by hosts.“Finally, we will be able to educate the guests on what is responsible on the guest’s side when they’re booking an Airbnb… Lately, guests just think if they’re booking an Airbnb, they can get away with whatever they want. Whatever they want is always right, and us hosts have to do whatever it takes to make them happy. Otherwise, we’ll get a bad review.” – John Hildebrand, Founder of HildeHomes and Airbnb Ambassador. Airbnb had House Rules (text the hosts would write to inform guests of what was expected of them) but these rules were not enforced and often left hosts to deal with the consequences.Ground Rules are an extra layer of protection on top of the House rules, so it will be interesting to see how the ‘new set of enforceable standards that all guests must follow’ will play out. The penalties for breaking the ground rules include:

First a warningA suspension for the guest if they continue to break themRemoval from Airbnb, if warranted

Let’s see how Airbnb executes this!We are optimistic and we hope the introduction will contribute to an increase in guest accountability and ultimately reduce the push and pull seen in guest verification.

6 – More details in reviews of guests

Is it new to Airbnb? No

Is it an improvement? Yes

Reviews are an important metric when it comes to organic marketing. People trust people. Yet, the predicament comes when a review system is not solely understood by both transacting parties. It’s common knowledge that the rating system of hosts and guests on Airbnb has its flaws, “not all super hosts are experts”, and the true definition of 5 stars is still awaiting an answer. We know hosts will welcome this new improvement with open arms as they will be able to leave more pre-filled details when leaving a guest review, which will then give a clearer picture of the guest’s behaviour (e.g. cleanliness) to future hosts the guest books with.    But does this feature really matter if your listing is instantly bookable (the default booking option for all listings on Airbnb)? Once again, it comes full circle in making sure you know who your guest is before taking the booking. If intelligent guest verification/screening is what you are looking for, check out our comprehensive screening solution or book a call with our experts today.

7 – Retaliatory review protection

Is it new to Airbnb? Yes

Is it an improvement? Yes

All hosts know that Airbnb reviews and ratings are important. A good review could be the difference between a guest deciding to book your rental or moving on to look at the next listing. Plus, reviews are a major factor in ranking, which means they play a massive part in determining whether a guest comes across your listing.So when a guest leaves a bad review, especially one in retaliation, it can hurt! The new retaliatory review protection implementation will bring a sigh of relief to hosts as Airbnb has made it simpler to request the removal of a bad review – no matter how long ago it was left. If you want to get rid of bad reviews altogether, an option to look into is risk management! Use different solutions to bypass guest disagreement quickly and efficiently, so you can focus on what really matters. Find out more here. An article that may be of interest:

8. Introduction of Fast Pay

Is it new to Airbnb? Yes

Is it an improvement? Yes

In a climate battling a cost of living crisis, this new addition to the Airbnb platform couldn’t have come at a better time, “Fast Pay allows you to receive the money you’ve earned from hosting even faster”. Although specific to the US only, you are able to opt in and out at any time. While fast payments are great, this is definitely a way for Airbnb to make extra cash. With every Fast Pay, there is a transactional fee of 1.5% (capped at $15) per each Fast Pay payment.

An article that may be of interest:

9. View Category

Is it new to Airbnb? No

Is it an improvement? Yes

When Airbnb rolled out the new categories search criteria in the summer 2022 release, one burning question from hosts remained unanswered. Hosts wanted to know where their property fell in terms of the category topic, and Airbnb has listened and acted upon these requests. The new release will not only allow Airbnb hosts to assign their listing to a category, but they will be able to view the category under which their homes fall.

10. Six new categories

Is it new to Airbnb? No

Is it an improvement? Yes

Six new categories have been introduced in Airbnb’s 2022 winter release, with one category outshining the rest: the adapted category.In an interview with New Mobility, Suzzanne Edwards, Accessibility Standards Lead at Airbnb said, “The goal isn’t to provide units that will work for every wheelchair user, but to provide a baseline of access – hosts who’ve intentionally modified their homes with access features and enough variety that you can find something that works for you.”Statistics show that over one billion people (or over 15% of the world’s population) experience some form of disability. The new adapted category is a huge step forward in accessibility within the home-sharing space and will be warmly welcomed by guests who use the platform. We hope to see this category available across all short-term rental platforms in the future. 

Other new categories include:

NewTrendingTop of the WorldPlayHanoks

Know Your Guest Takeaways

The industry is evolving. Direct bookings are increasing, PMCs are growing and booking channels are just trying to keep up. Risk prevention services are needed across ALL booking channels. In response to Airbnb’s attempt to roll out new services to address host pain points, one thing is for sure, risk management technologies are a necessity for hosts and property managers. At Know Your Guest, we say prevention is better than intervention. Safety should never be an afterthought, but rather at the forefront of your operations to guarantee confidence in each and every booking. Airbnb’s 2022 winter release has shown that the host’s needs are being listened to, and although the improvements may not be innovative, they are warmly welcomed by users of the platform.With 2023 set to be a year focused on risk management strategies, get ahead of your competition, protect your properties and mitigate the risks of parties, fraud and criminal damage by implementing Know Your Guest today. Learn more about how Know Your Guest can integrate across any of your booking channels by booking a demo with one of our risk management experts.

How to furnish your airbnb like a pro and a few shopping secrets

How to furnish your airbnb like a pro and a few shopping secrets

127,587 views Nov 8, 2021Join the 12-month Host Camp Mentorship Program 👇🏽👇🏽 https://tinyurl.com/hostcampmentorship Download my Airbnb shopping list 👇🏽👇🏽 https://www.robuiltchannel.com/host-c… So many of you have asked me for a video on how to shop for an Airbnb, so I figured it was time to divulge all my super-secret furnishing knowledge bombs. Okay, but really. For…

The importance of collecting a vacation rental security deposit
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The importance of collecting a vacation rental security deposit

For property managers, the vacation rental security deposit can be both a savior and a hindrance.When collecting a security deposit, you need to find the right balance between collecting the right amount to cover any damage caused by a guest, and not deter that guest from making that all-important reservation with the security deposit amount you are charging them.It’s a fine line. Not collecting one at all leaves you open to huge amounts of risk and is something we would advise against. Below we’ll outline the ins and outs of collecting a vacation rental security deposit and explain the other options on offer to property managers.

What is a vacation rental security deposit?

A vacation rental security deposit is usually a fully refundable agreed amount set by you, that guests pay in order to cover the costs of any damages they may cause during their bookings, such as breakages, missing items and other incurred costs, like excessive cleaning fees.If there is no damage after check-out, the deposit is returned to the guest in full, but if damage has been caused or additional cleaning is required, then the cost of those repairs/services are deducted from the deposit to cover the expenses before returning the rest of the amount collected.

How much should you charge for a vacation rental security deposit?

As mentioned at the start of this article, getting the balance right for how much you charge is important.You’ll want to charge your guests enough to deter them from causing damage or throwing a party, but you don’t want to set it so high that it drives a guest to not even consider booking your property and sends them to a competitor instead.You also must consider the type of property and what it offers in terms of amenities. The security deposit on a smaller one or two-bed apartment will be much lower than on a 5-bedroom 6-bathroom villa.There are two types of vacation rental security deposits that property managers can choose, depending on their business model: fixed-rate and percentage.

Charging a fixed-rate security deposit

This is a fixed amount regardless of the nightly rate and length of stay, with the most common amount in the industry being between $250 and $500. If you manage luxury rentals or larger properties then, of course, you may want to charge more, with these ranging from $500 up to $2,000+.One of our top tips if you are unsure about how much to charge, is to check what similar properties in your area are charging. The reason is that it’s important to stay competitive with your surrounding competition as the security deposit could be the deciding factor for the guest.

Charging a percentage rate security deposit

A percentage-based security deposit is calculated based on the total price of the booking. Most property managers set this at between 10% and 12%, so if you manage a villa that costs $5,000 a week, you may ask the guest to pay a $500 to $600 security deposit.When it comes to which to choose, it’s entirely up to what works best for you and the types of properties you manage. Most property managers go with a fixed-rate security deposit because it’s easier to manage and automate as the amount never changes.

4 ways to collect a vacation rental security deposit

When it comes to collecting a security deposit from a guest, it’s crucial that you make it clear to them the amount you are collecting, what the deposit covers, and most importantly, how long the deposit will be held for. This should be explained in detail in your terms and conditions and your house rules.Here are 4 ways to collect a vacation rental security deposit:

Via a payment provider (Stripe, PayPal, Worldpay, etc.)Via a credit card pre-authorizationVia the OTA that you use (Airbnb, Booking.com, etc.)Via a specialized security deposit provider1. Via a payment provider

Using a payment provider like Stripe takes all the hassle out of collecting, handling and refunding a security deposit and is integrated with most property management software (PMS) providers. There are of course fees that come with collecting and refunding a security deposit through a payment provider and they vary from between 3-5% per transaction but come with added security.

2. Via credit card pre-authorization

This is where you place a temporary hold on your guest’s card for the security deposit amount. Due to there being a short time limit on how long the funds can be held for and with the process being easy to integrate, this option is favorable for short-term rental businesses.

3. Via the OTA that you use

Here’s an overview of how the top booking platforms handle security deposits:Airbnb – Airbnb keeps a credit card imprint that gives you 14 days after the guests left to report any incident and request funds from the deposit. This is handled directly with Airbnb and if you do not make a request within the 14 day time frame, Airbnb will remove the guest’s card details from their system.Vrbo – Vrbo allows you to collect either a card to put on file, an upfront refundable damage deposit, or you can request that a guest purchases property damage protection to cover potential damage. You then have 14 days after checkout to assess if damage was caused and make a claim with Vrbo.Booking.com – Booking.com does not collect damage deposit payments from guests on your behalf. Instead, you need to arrange the security deposit payment directly with your guests according to your house rules.

4. Via a specialized security deposit provider

SUPERHOG ensures a smooth booking experience that keeps your properties protected by combining guest screening, property damage protection, and deposit collection into one easy-to-integrate solution, allowing you to control the required processes to protect your properties pre-stay, from one centralized account rather than bouncing around between different providers.Our deposit collection is built directly into our quick and comprehensive verification process that saves you time and transaction fees, is protected from fraudulent chargebacks through 3D Secure authentication, and can be easily managed through your SUPERHOG dashboard.

How our deposit works

Step 1 – CollectionAfter completing our guest screening process, guests are asked to pay the deposit amount set by you, with the payment authenticated using 3D Secure to protect against fraud.

Step 2 – HandlingWe keep the deposit securely in a trust account, taking a small handling fee to cover our administrative costs.

Step 3 – Refunding

If the guest does not cause any damage, we refund the deposit amount directly back to the guest. If damage is caused, then we will refund the required amount of the deposit to cover the damage back to you, and the rest back to the guest.

If you would like to simplify your deposit collection process and benefit from our Know Your Guest™ checks and industry-leading $5,000,000 Host Guarantee for guest property damage, please get in touch with us below!

When should you return a vacation rental security deposit?

When returning a guest’s security deposit, you need to be very clear about the time frame and you need to stick to that time frame. You should always aim to return the deposit either partially or in full as quickly as possible, so we would advise that you inspect your properties for damage as soon as your guests leave.If you don’t manage the turnover before a new guest arrives or are not within a commutable distance of the property, train your cleaning staff to know what kind of damages to report to you, or if you have a good rapport with someone local ask them to inspect the property.Once you’re sure there’s no damage, let your guests know that you’re returning their security deposit. This also acts as a great opportunity to follow up with the guest and ask for any feedback on their stay and seal a repeat booking or a future direct booking!

The pros and cons of a vacation rental security deposit

Many property managers charge a deposit to help protect their homeowners and the properties they manage. However, there are plenty of pros and cons that come with collecting a security deposit:

The pros of taking a security deposit

It’s one way to ensure that as the property manager, you aren’t financially responsible for any damage caused by any guests. If you don’t collect one at all, it will be very hard for you to get a guest to cough up the sum needed, and you’ll have to dig deep into your own pockets.If a guest does cause damage and the amount is covered by the security deposit you’ve collected from the guest, you have instant access to the funds and are therefore able to resolve the issue quickly.Relying only on insurance or a platform’s (OTA) damage reimbursement scheme (if they have one…) can be time-consuming, with payouts taking weeks/months (or longer!) and will negatively affect your business by preventing you from taking bookings until the issue is resolved.When there is the risk that a guest could lose their deposit, it gives them a greater sense of responsibility and respect for the property, making them think twice about their behavior.Unfortunately, 1 in 20 guests admit they treat a rental with less respect than their own property, and 1 in 10 guests have caused damage of $200 or more, so having the funds in place to account for that one guest is crucial.Like guest screening, vacation rental security deposits are a great deterrent to guests who might have a hidden agenda for renting your property – e.g. to throw a massive party.The cons of taking a vacation rental security deposit

Having to hand over extra money and the worry of surprise charges can deter some guests from reserving your properties.It’s often the guest’s word against yours and this can lead to big disputes, bitter guests, and negative reviews.Guests can always dispute the charge with their credit card company and request a chargeback. Fraudulent chargebacks are on the rise in the vacation rental industry and are something that property managers need to watch out for. For more information, take a look at our blog post on how to manage and prevent fraudulent guest chargebacks.Deposits involve a lot of extra work for you and your team and take up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere, such as on host acquisition or guest experience.If you rely on an OTA/Platform (like Airbnb or Vrbo etc.) to collect a damage deposit and then reimburse you in the event of damage, this can be a long and painful process.

The alternative: collect a vacation rental damage waiver

Collecting a vacation rental damage waiver offers property managers another way of covering any accidental damage caused by guests during a stay quickly but also allows a new income stream.Instead of collecting a $500 deposit and dealing with all the admin processes and fees that come with that process, you could collect a damage waiver that is non-refundable, only takes one transaction, and waives the guest’s liability for any damage caused up to a set amount by you.For example, instead of collecting a $500 deposit, you may choose to collect a $35 damage waiver. The benefits of collecting a damage waiver over a deposit are that you build up a purse from the guests that don’t cause any damage that you can dip into when, unfortunately, a guest does cause damage, and you also remove the friction that comes with collecting a security deposit, improving the guest experience.Because the damage waiver fee is substantially less than the deposit amount, guests are more comfortable purchasing it and it gives you that extra peace of mind that you have the funds if needed.Interested in offering a damage waiver? SUPERHOG’s deposit/damage waiver solution allows you to collect either a deposit or a damage waiver or provide guests with the option of paying one or the other.

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Book a discovery call with our expert team to see how SUPERHOG can help your business.