Nobody likes to be the bad guy.
Doling out a list of regulations is not the most rewarding part of owning or managing a vacation rental, but it’s a necessary one. And even after you’ve set your house rules, it’s a crapshoot as to whether your guests will actually heed them.
It goes without saying that to get guests to follow your rules, you need to make sure they read them. Let’s be honest: most guests’ eyes gloss over when they’re handed a list of things they’re not allowed to do.
So how do you get guests to pay attention to your do’s and do not’s? Here are five ways we’ve found to be effective when writing Airbnb house rules.
Give them personality.
Who says your reader needs to yawn their way through your house rules? Believe it or not, your brand voice can shine when you’re laying down the law—and we recommend letting it.
Not only does employing your brand voice make your house rules far more interesting, it also makes them more human. Guests are likely to have more respect for rules if they seem like requests from an actual person.
If you’ve taken a playful approach to your other copy, there’s no reason you can’t throw a few jokes into your Airbnb house rules. Which of these is more memorable?
“The front door must be shut at all times to keep animals out.”
“Please keep the front door shut. If you don’t, you may find that the local bird population will be joining you for your stay.”
By using the latter, you’re not only helping the rule to stick out in guests’ mind, but also showing them what kind of host you are—one that’s warm, friendly, and invested in their good time.
It’s natural instinct: when we’re given a rule, we want to know why we need to follow it.
Show your guests you’re not just on a power trip by giving a reason for your Airbnb house rules. You don’t need to write a thesis—just a quick phrase will do.
Explain that you’ve set quiet hours because you want all of your neighbors to enjoy a good nights’ sleep. Or that guests aren’t allowed to bring a pet because you want to be able to comfortably host any future guests with allergies.
Write your rules to take the focus off the restriction they’re setting, and put it on the courtesy that they provide instead.
Make them readable.
No matter how much personality you put into your rules, they’re still that: rules. Make it easy for guests to breeze through them, get the information they need, and move along.
We recommend a one page maximum bulleted list with no more than two short sentences per rule. If you find yourself exceeding those limits, think about how you can state your rules more simply. For example, instead of saying:
“Please keep shoes off the bed, sofas, chairs, coffee table, hardwood floors, and bathroom tile to prevent any staining or scratching.”
You might say:
“We like to keep our floors and furniture scuff-free, so please leave your shoes at the door.”
One more tip for legibility: to make extra important information stand out, use bold text, but use it sparingly. Too much can give the impression of yelling.
Present your house rules at the right time.
Start telling your guests your Airbnb house rules too early, and they’ll pass you by for another more laidback competitor. Tell them your rules too late, and you’re setting yourself up for a lot of headaches. So when is the right time to fill them in?
Your listing description is where you make guests fall in love with your rental. Unless you have rules that could be a total deal-breaker for many guests—like that you don’t accept any children under the age of 18—the listing description is not where you lay down the law.
If you have pretty strict rules by most guests’ standards, and you don’t use instant booking, you may consider attaching them to your first booking email. Otherwise, attaching them to a booking confirmation gives guests plenty of notice—and the chance to cancel immediately, should they decide that your rental isn’t a good fit.
You’ll also want to have a physical or digital copy of your house rules easily available in your rental, so that guests will never have a question about what’s allowed during their stay.
Test your reader.
Earlier this year we wrote a blog post about Natalie Vowell’s $29/night Airbnb that became a five-star sensation. Her properties have wear and tear and are located in neighborhoods that some may consider rough, so it’s vital to her that guests read her entire listing before booking.
So how did she ensure that guests read every word? She placed a sentence with a code word halfway through her description and instructed those inquiring to use that word in their booking request.
And it worked. Not one of her reviews indicates that guests were unpleasantly surprised by the rental they showed up to.
We don’t recommend this trick for every vacation rental—but it’s an especially effective method if your home has a strict set of rules. It’s a simple way to hold guests accountable and ensure they understand what they’ve signed up for.
Need some help crafting your list of Airbnb house rules? Guest Hook specializes in writing for vacation rentals. We help you establish a brand voice and use it to make all your communications personalized and engaging. Get in touch with us today.