How to help prevent hosting challenges

Superhost Diana shares her tips for addressing challenging moments as a Host.
By Airbnb on Dec 11, 2019
3 min video
Updated Aug 25, 2022


  • Have the contact info of a plumber, electrician, and a Co-Host readily available to make problem solving easier

  • Routine maintenance helps keep your space in great shape

  • Open communication and empathy can help you prevent and manage challenges

Despite your best efforts, problems just happen sometimes. Maybe a guest can’t find the key you left for them, or the plumbing gets backed up. Although it’s rare to encounter a major issue, successful Hosts plan for the unexpected.

Here’s how Diana, a Superhost from Oakland, California, recommends handling challenging hosting moments.

1. Gather a support team

Hosting is about community, and that community includes the people who help your hosting business run smoothly.

“We have the names and numbers of a plumber, an electrician, and a house cleaner at the ready,” Diana says. And when she’s out of town herself, Diana has her sister, who is her backup Host, on call. “We’re never left stranded if an issue arises.”

We have the names and numbers of a plumber, an electrician, and a house cleaner at the ready.
Oakland, California

2. Perform routine maintenance

What’s better than being prepared to quickly address a leaky pipe or broken heater? Preventing the issue from happening in the first place.

“I have a maintenance checklist that I review every year,” Diana says. “Some of these tasks I do myself, others I hire professionals for. Every space is different, but it’s important to pinpoint what it takes to keep yours in great shape for guests.”

Diana’s annual maintenance checklist includes:

  • Clearing the gutters of leaves and other debris
  • Checking that all heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units are functioning
  • Washing hard-to-reach skylights to keep her space well lit

3. Make communication a priority

Effective communication with guests is about being honest and realistic.

“I think it’s so important not to overpromise, but instead to always overcommunicate,” Diana says. “Even if I don’t have a solution figured out, I let the guest know what I’m working on.”

So when a pipe burst right before a guest arrived, Diana instantly picked up the phone.

“I called the guest and let them know that we were dealing with the situation and asked if we could push their check-in time,” Diana says. “I also offered a later checkout, which they loved, and left a bottle of wine and a thank you note. For many guests, open communication and small tokens of appreciation—whether it’s wine or a gift card to a local coffee shop—go a long way.”

I think it’s so important not to overpromise, but instead to always overcommunicate.
Oakland, California

4. Listen and show empathy

“We have really tricky doors that guests often don’t know how to open, even though I’ve included instructions in our house manual and check-in instructions,” Diana says. “When this happens, I always listen to their frustrations and then patiently talk them through it over the phone or in person.”

A few things Diana has learned from listening to her guests over the years:

  • Provide keyless entry to make check-in easier
  • Provide ample outdoor lighting to help guests arrive safely in the dark
  • Ask for travel info upfront and reiterate check-in and checkout times
I can’t stress enough how important it is to listen, be understanding, and just be human.
Oakland, California

5. Anticipate common pain points

Early guest arrivals, late checkouts, and cleaning issues can all cause challenges. Here are some ideas for mitigating potential issues:

  • Provide clear check-in and checkout times and your reasoning behind them (“Please check in no earlier than 3:00 p.m. to allow time for the cleaners to prepare your room”)
  • Set your reservation preferences to leave more time for cleaning 
  • Consider offering to store guests’ luggage if you know they will be arriving early
  • Include key details—how to get into your space, what your space looks like, etc.—in your listing description and check-in instructions to help set expectations
  • Provide a house manual that contains instructions for accessing the wifi and using tricky appliances

By anticipating challenges before they arise, you’re one step closer to creating a great guest experience.

And if you still have questions or run into any issues, you can contact us for help.

Diana is not an Airbnb employee nor does she work under the direction of Airbnb. As a Host Creator, she partnered with Airbnb to put her thoughts on paper and create this video. Any opinions, anecdotal information or testimonial statements made are truthful, her own, and are not official statements of Airbnb.

Dec 11, 2019
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