Airbnb Guide: How to Use Airbnb for the First Time

Airbnb Guide: How to Use Airbnb for the First Time

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Airbnb has taken the world by storm.  In many cases, it is cheaper and more convenient than booking a hotel room, but if it is your first time using Airbnb you may be wondering how to use Airbnb properly and be looking for some tips for getting started with Airbnb.  Look no further!  I’ve designed this Airbnb guide to share all my Airbnb tips and tricks, including how to set up an Airbnb account, explaining how the Airbnb booking process works, and some suggestions for Airbnb guest etiquette so you and your Airbnb host both get the best Airbnb experience possible.

How to Set up an Airbnb Account with a Discount Code

First things first, before getting started with Airbnb bookings, you should set up an Airbnb account.  Accounts are free, and with this voucher, you can get up to $40 discount off your first Airbnb booking.

GET $40 AIRBNB CREDIT

Once you’ve clicked on the link, it will open up this page, with a discount voucher which will be applied once you set up a new Airbnb account.  If you’d like more information on getting your Airbnb coupon, check out this post which has all the information.  You can sign up to Airbnb using your Facebook account, your Google Account or Email account.  If you choose to set up your account with an email, you also need to input your first and last name, a password, and your date of birth (which isn’t visible to the public).  You have to be over 18 to set up an account.

Airbnb Discount New Airbnb Account Screenshot
How to Set up an Airbnb Account

Airbnb profiles are important as they include information about yourself so any prospective hosts know a bit more about you before you arrive at your Airbnb booking, and even before they confirm your booking.  If I was an Airbnb host and inviting strangers into my home, I’d want to know a little bit about them.  So, complete your profile, add a photo and some information about yourself.  Think about what you would like to know about someone staying in your home – you could include what kind of things you like to do, whether you travelling with your family, if this your first trip or you travel all the time, etc.

Choose a profile photo where you can see your face, preferably smiling!  Airbnb doesn’t require you to have a profile photo, but it is recommended so that potential hosts can see you and are able to confirm your identity once you arrive.  Airbnb profiles without a photograph are more likely to have their bookings declined.  To make a booking you will also need to provide a valid phone number and payment details (more on that below).

Airbnb apartment Lounge - Airbnb Guide: How to Use Airbnb for the First Time
Airbnb Guide – Don’t Get Declined for your Dream Property

Airbnb Guest Profile Examples

If you’re not sure what to write in your Airbnb ‘About Me’ profile, keep it simple and friendly.  I just have a few sentences about who I am and my travel plans.  For an Airbnb first time user try to put as much information as you feel comfortable with, without revealing personal information you don’t want everyone to see!

You don’t have to write pages and pages but put something that will help people know what kind of person you are.  When you request to book somewhere if your guest profile isn’t complete, hosts may not accept your request, or they might ask you for more information before they accept or decline your stay.

This is my Airbnb ‘About Me’ section:

Hello!
I am Claire, I am originally English but have lived in Barcelona, Spain for the last 3 years. I love to travel and have taken the plunge to leave behind my beloved Barcelona and travel around South America. I have recently returned home to England and am exploring more of Europe.

More guest profile examples could be:

Hi!  I’m Claire, a 30-something travel obsessive!  I enjoy exploring new places and I would like to get to know more about the culture and people of the places where I go so am excited to meet local people like you!  I am a pet lover and adore animals, and I enjoy hiking, horse riding and scuba diving.  I don’t smoke and usually travel alone.

Or:

Hi!  I’m Claire, my husband Peter and I are making our first trip to France and wanted to try Airbnb so we can meet some local people.  We are both retired, I used to be a school teacher and Peter was an accountant and we are now enjoying being able to travel more!  I love cooking, so I hope I can pick up some French recipes to cook back home, and Peter is looking forward to trying some real French wine!  We keep our home clean and tidy so will keep yours just the same, we look forward to meeting you!

Even a few sentences can say a lot about who you are and why you want to travel – and to assure potential hosts that you will be a good Airbnb guest!

Once you have a few positive reviews from hosts that also helps to build trust and will get you more chance of booking your preferred Airbnb property.  I also highly recommend verifying your account, so Airbnb and your hosts know that you are who you really say you are and are more likely to accept your booking request.

Using Airbnb for the First Time: A Good Profile will get you a confirmed booking
Using Airbnb for the First Time: A Good Profile will get you a confirmed booking

How to Verify Your Airbnb Account

This isn’t required to make an Airbnb booking, but again it makes potential hosts much more likely to accept your booking when you can prove you are who you say you are.  However, hosts will never be able to see the ID that you provide, it is just for Airbnb to verify your identity.  You can verify your new Airbnb account using a government ID such as a passport, driving license, visa, or national ID card.  It needs to be government issued and include a photograph of you, so no gym cards, school IDs or anything else not issued by the government.  Simply take a photo of it with your phone or computer camera or upload an existing photo or copy of it from your computer to your Airbnb profile.

In some cases, Airbnb may ask for a current photograph of yourself as well.  If you would like more information about how Airbnb uses the information on your ID you can check their policy here.

Airbnb Booking Tips & Tricks for First Time Guests

Once you have clicked on your Airbnb first time discount code and have set up your Airbnb account, you are ready to make your first Airbnb booking.  Follow these simple tips to make sure you choose a good property for your first Airbnb stay.

How to Find your perfect Airbnb Property - an Airbnb Guide
How to Find your perfect Airbnb Property – an Airbnb Guide

Airbnb Guide: Find Your Ideal Property

When you are searching for an Airbnb listing, put in the city or destination where you want to travel, and select ‘homes’.  On the left-hand side, make sure you set the search filters correctly to show you the most relevant search results.  Set the dates you are looking for, how many people will be staying, and zoom in on the map to show the area you want to stay in.  You can also choose whether you want an entire home, a private room, hotel room or a shared room, and adjust the price gauge to match your budget.

The most important filter option for me is Rooms and Beds, especially if you are travelling in a group.  Here you can choose how many bedrooms you want, to make sure you don’t end up sharing a room if you don’t want to.

There are also other filters you can select to only find properties with certain Airbnb amenities such as Wi-Fi or a swimming pool, hosts which speak specific languages, properties with step-free access, and homes which are unique such as boats or yurts.

Airbnb Plus vs Standard Airbnb Listings

Airbnb Plus listings are homes which have met certain standards on Airbnb and have been reviewed by an Airbnb partner to ensure they are of a very high standard.  These listings can be more expensive than standard listings but are a great option for the first time using Airbnb as you have the extra piece of mind that the property and host are going to be good!

Beach House Bedroom - Airbnb Guide
Beach House Bedroom – Airbnb Guide

To qualify for Airbnb Plus, listings must have met the following requirements:

  • Maintained an average rating of 4.8 over the past year
  • Accepted 95% of booking requests over the past year, including instantly booked reservations
  • Not cancelled reservations over the past year (except for penalty-free cancellations)

Additionally, Airbnb Plus spaces must be:

  • Thoughtfully designed in a way that shows your unique style and personality
  • Well-equipped with amenities like Wi-Fi and coffee
  • Well-maintained and clutter-free
  • Outfitted with comfy mattresses, high-quality bedding, and plush towels

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How to Get an Airbnb Discount

How to Use Airbnb: Beware of Extra Costs

When the search results appear, they show the price of the listing per night.  However, you don’t see the full cost until you click on the property to view all the information.  Watch out for the service fee which is added to your bill, and any cleaning fees or other charges.  For example, in this case, there are £40 of extra charges which make what was a great deal nearly 50% more expensive.  The Airbnb first time discount will be applied here too, so make sure that is shown on any eligible booking.

Airbnb Guide - Keep An Eye on the Prices and Extra Charges
Airbnb Guide – Keep An Eye on the Prices and Extra Charges

Read All the Reviews

This is vital.  The reviews will give you clues as to how good the property really is.  And read between the lines too – sometimes people prefer not to be too harsh in their online reviews, so if people are a little critical it could really be worse than they say.  If you are travelling on a budget, listings without any reviews are often cheaper, but booking somewhere with no reviews can be a risky business!  As a woman travelling on my own I only book properties which already have several positive reviews, so I am pretty sure I know what I’m going to get.

Ask the Host Any Questions

If you’re almost ready to make your first Airbnb booking but are still wondering about something, contact the Airbnb host and send them a message with any questions you might have to put your mind at ease.  Good hosts will respond quickly (within 24 hours), but if your message goes unanswered it is time to find another property.

Airbnb Guide - Contact the Host to ask any Questions
Airbnb Guide – Contact the Host to ask any Questions

Airbnb Guide: Make your Booking

Airbnb works differently to hotels and other kinds of reservations as the host can decide how they accept each booking.  There are three possible options for the host to offer on their property.

Instant Booking

For hosts who don’t want to approve each reservation, you can book these straight away and will receive an automatic confirmation of your reservation.  Their listing will say “Instant Booking” or on the button to make the booking it will just say “Book”.

Request to Book

Many hosts prefer to approve reservations before they’re final. In this case, the booking button on their listing will say “Request to Book”.   Once you click, you go through the booking process as you would do normally, fill in your payment details and wait until the host confirms your booking. Hosts have 24 hours to accept your request, and you will receive the booking confirmation once they have accepted.

Pre-approvals and Special Offers

If you decide to contact the host to ask questions before making a booking, the host may respond to your message by inviting you to make a reservation with either a pre-approval so you know that once you decide to go ahead, your booking will be accepted as long as it matches the details you included in your message.

If you asked for an Airbnb discount, the host could provide special pricing, dates, and other reservation details before you book.

Credit Card - Airbnb Payment Options
Airbnb Payment Options – Credit Cards are OK, cash is not!

Airbnb Payment Methods

In order to book your chosen Airbnb property, you have to provide payment details when you request to book.  Once your Airbnb booking has been accepted by the host, Airbnb will take payment for the booking.  You can’t book now and pay later, everything is charged up front.  However, the Airbnb host won’t receive the payment until 24 hours after you have checked into the property, so you have time to contact Airbnb should something not be as expected.

Airbnb accepts most credit cards and pre-paid credit cards, as well as some debit cards which can be processed as credit.  Paypal is also accepted as payment for some countries, and there are various other payment options which vary depending on the country you are from.

Cash payments are not allowed, nor are any payments which are not processed through Airbnb.  If a host messages you to request payment by any other way, report it immediately to Airbnb.  If you pay anything without using the Airbnb platform there is a greater risk of fraud and other security issues, so only pay through the official Airbnb booking page.

Airbnb Guide - Yoou can find Unique Accommodations like House Boats on Airbnb
Airbnb Guide – Yoou can find Unique Accommodations like House Boats on Airbnb

Once You’ve Booked, Confirm the Check-in Details with the Host

Once you have received your booking confirmation, you can message the host to say hello and to confirm any check-in details with them, so you know exactly where to go when you arrive at their property.  This message also gives peace of mind that the host has seen your reservation and you have the chance to ask any other questions such as asking for directions from the airport.

For some listings, your Airbnb host will be waiting at the property for you at a certain agreed time, other listings have a self-check-in process where you collect keys from a coded box.  Make sure you fully understand the Airbnb check-in process for your booking before you arrive!  Most listings will list their check-in time on the property details or house rules.  You may be able to request an early check in with your Airbnb host, but it isn’t guaranteed so try to arrive when you both agree will work.

READ MORE: Finding the Best Backpacker Accommodation Around the World

How to Be a Good Airbnb Guest

Each Airbnb listing has its own house rules which you will need to follow.  That may include things like no smoking in the house, no parties and no additional guests.  Make sure you read the listing description carefully, so you know what is expected of you.

Keep your Airbnb Clean & Tidy - Airbnb Guest Etiquette
Keep your Airbnb Clean & Tidy – Airbnb Guest Etiquette

Airbnb Guest Etiquette

When I stay at an Airbnb, I always think about how I would behave in my own home.  Keep things tidy and clean and try not to break anything!  But make yourself at home.  You are supposed to feel comfortable here while still respecting the space and belongings of your Airbnb host.  Don’t rummage around in drawers or cupboards and respect the house rules specified in each Airbnb listing.  If the listing says you shouldn’t smoke in the house, don’t smoke in the house.  If it says don’t have parties, don’t have a party, it’s as simple as that!

Interaction with your Airbnb Hosts

Every Airbnb listing is different, and every Airbnb host is different.  If you are staying in a room in someone’s home, you can expect some interaction with your host, so friendly conversation, perhaps to share a meal or a glass of wine to get to know each other.

Some hosts prefer to keep their distance and give guests space so you may not see them at all after check-in, indeed I have stayed in some Airbnbs which have an automatic process for picking up keys and check out so you never event meet the host at all!  Each listing will give you an idea of how your host will interact with you.

Airbnb Check Out Process

Again, each Airbnb will have their own rules for check out.  Make sure you know what time you have to leave the property, and if there is anywhere you can leave your luggage if needed.  Depending on the property, some Airbnb hosts might just ask you to leave the key in the house and close the door behind you, other hosts will prefer to be there when you check out so they can make sure you leave the key and have left the property in the condition it was found in!

Check the Check Out Process for your Airbnb - How to Use Airbnb for First Timers
Check the Check Out Process for your Airbnb – How to Use Airbnb for First Timers

Write an Honest Review for your Airbnb Host

Once you have completed your first Airbnb stay (and any future Airbnb stays), you will receive an email from Airbnb asking you to leave a review for your host.  Reviews are very important as they show potential guests what they can expect if they book the property, so be as honest as you can.  You can leave a star rating (out of 5) and leave some comments.  Sometimes it is hard to be honest if you didn’t like something about the property even though the host was really nice, but honesty really is the best policy.

Think about what you wanted to know when you were looking for somewhere to book.  Was the host quick to answer any questions?  Was the listing accurate?  Was the property as you expected; was it clean, tidy, nicely decorated?  Did you have any problems during the stay which were resolved (or not) by the host?  Any detail you give will be useful for all future users of Airbnb.

You have 14 days after your stay to leave your review.  Reviews are limited to 500 words and must follow Airbnb’s content policy, which basically means you can’t include anything in the review to advertise any business, nothing vulgar, obscene, harmful or discriminatory.  You can check Airbnb’s full content policy here.

Your Airbnb host also has the opportunity to leave you a review, which they have to do before they read the review you left for them, so they won’t know what you say about them until they have left you a review or 14 days have passed when the review will be automatically published.

Once you have written your review you have up to 48 hours to edit it, unless your host has already completed their review of you.

Airbnb Review Example

I wrote this Airbnb review for a property I stayed in which was perfect.  I included details about the property and the host, and anything extra that my host did which I didn’t expect.  Those details really helped me to enjoy my stay so I wanted to share how much I enjoyed it!

I loved staying here! The cottage is beautiful and in picturesque [DESTINATION]. [HOST] was kind enough to pick me up from the train station, and drop me off again, which was lovely – it is about 30 mins walk from the station but I had a case with me so appreciated the lift! The house is very clean, with a big private bathroom and a lounge area. The bed was comfy and the wifi was good too which I was surprised at given we were in the middle of the moors!

[HOSTS] are friendly and kind, we chatted in the evening and they gave me recommendations for where to go walking in the area, there are plenty of places to go walking, and the landscape is stunning. The local pub does delicious food, I booked there on [HOST]’s recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also ordered the full English breakfast from [HOST] for the morning which is a bit extra but totally worth it. My only regret about staying here was that I only booked one night, I need to plan a return visit asap!

For a listing which I thought could be improved, I wrote this review example, which was shorter but still included the positive and negative aspects of my stay:

I loved [DESTINATION], it is a lovely town. The house is a short walk into town, and has a lovely garden area & place for parking if needed although I walked from the train/bus station. The bed was very comfortable, the bathroom could have been cleaner but [HOST] was a friendly & welcoming host and I would happily stay there again if I came back to [DESTINATION]. [HOST] also gave me tons of recommendations for places to eat in [DESTINATION], and in [DESTINATION], which was my next stop.

Hopefully, once you’ve left your review, your host will also have left a positive review for you, which will make booking your next Airbnb property easier.  Airbnb isn’t a complex system, and once you know how Airbnb works you can discover a whole range of unique and beautiful properties.

And there you have it!  That was my awesome Airbnb guide to help you figure out how to use Airbnb!  Have I covered everything?  Do you have any more questions about getting started with Airbnb?  Please leave your comments and questions below and I’ll update the article if I have missed anything!

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Airbnb has taken the world by storm.  In many cases, it is cheaper and more convenient than booking a hotel room, but if it is your first time using Airbnb you may be wondering how to use Airbnb properly and be looking for some tips for getting started with Airbnb.  Look no further!  I’ve designed this Airbnb guide to share all my Airbnb tips and tricks, including how to set up an Airbnb account, explaining how the Airbnb booking process works, and some suggestions for Airbnb guest etiquette so you and your Airbnb host both get the best Airbnb experience possible. #Airbnb #Hotels #Travel #Booking #AirbnbDiscount #AirbnbGuide #AirbnbVoucher    Airbnb has taken the world by storm.  In many cases, it is cheaper and more convenient than booking a hotel room, but if it is your first time using Airbnb you may be wondering how to use Airbnb properly and be looking for some tips for getting started with Airbnb.  Look no further!  I’ve designed this Airbnb guide to share all my Airbnb tips and tricks, including how to set up an Airbnb account, explaining how the Airbnb booking process works, and some suggestions for Airbnb guest etiquette so you and your Airbnb host both get the best Airbnb experience possible. #Airbnb #Hotels #Travel #Booking #AirbnbDiscount #AirbnbGuide #AirbnbVoucher #TravelTips

Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you!

Tales of a Backpacker is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.

Last updated: January 1, 2019
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7 thoughts on “Airbnb Guide: How to Use Airbnb for the First Time

  1. Nice to know the other side of AirBnB. There is a fair bit to be done. And some of your tips are invaluable – like the discount code for your registration, the bit about the extra costs. Thanks for sharing it all

  2. We’ve been using Airbnb since 2009! We love how it’s essentially made it easier (and cheaper) for families to travel. I think for first time Airbnb users, I would really stress reading the reviews of the listings in order to make your decisions.

  3. I have stayed in Airbnb that others have booked and never looked into it. Great tips on completing the profile and reviews. I didn’t realize the host also reviews the guest, makes sense

  4. We love Airbnb and use it all the time to find local families to stay with on our food quest. It always surprises me how many people have never used Airbnb. This is a great detailed guide for beginners.

  5. Great post to explain the Airbnb set up process. I’ve used Airbnb on a number of occasions and have always found it to be a great alternative to the traditional hotels and booking sites.

  6. Wow what a smashing guide Claire! Every single Airbnb we rented has been fabulous. All top shelf experiences with kind, warm folks. When we are not house sitting, we always Airbnb for the week or month.

    1. Wow that’s alot of info to digest. We’ve used Air BNB several times now and it’s a great way to find alternative accommodations . Last summer we found a great Yurt on air BnB!

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