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6 Safety Tips For Your Next Airbnb Stay In Cancun

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The Best Ways To Avoid Any Short-Term Rental Problems With What Can Be An Amazing Tool

Airbnb’s popularity has soared in recent years. With more and more people seeking out unique stays at lower prices, the property rental app has expertly filled a space in the market.

airbnb app homepage

The Mexican Caribbean is no different, and properties are springing up all across Quintana Roo. Tulum, in particular, has had a boom in short-term rental properties, especially as it becomes more attractive to the digital nomad demographic.

At its best, Airbnb offers users unbelievable properties at far more affordable rates than most hotels and a sense of independence on a trip that many traditional properties cannot provide. Locations, amenities, and prices are all more flexible and have the potential to turn a good trip into an amazing one,

But for all its pros, the app has drawn controversy, not least because users are left to deal with hosts and not a professional accommodation outfit. Although most hosts are excellent and there to offer support for guests at any time, some seek to take advantage of the trust customers have in the app.

Here are six tips to help ensure your next Airbnb booking in Cancun or Tulum is the best it can be.

1. Review the Reviews

One of the best ways to guarantee your rental will be what it says on the tin is to check the reviews. Obviously, if a property has five stars and five hundred sparkling reviews, it’s looking good – it’s hard to fake that kind of success. As a rule of thumb, aim for properties with more reviews.

good reviews in airbnb
These are the kind of reviews to look out for. Detailed, with evidence of location and positive host interactions

But even everything is worth checking. Many of the positive reviews might have stayed for one night, be less picky, or could have been years ago. Look for the most recent stays and double-check their input. Maybe the cooker didn’t work, but they ate out, so it didn’t bother them, so they gave it five stars. That might change things for you, who is staying for three weeks and likes to cook.

If the listing is new, it might only have a few reviews. To ensure they’re not fake write-ups, click on the profile. Look for a clear photo, a real name, and other reviews. There will also be an “identity verified” label, meaning they’ve confirmed who they are with the company.  That way, you can tell if that person is an actual user and, in turn, get more confidence in the property.

If there are no reviews, but everything else looks good, check out the host’s profile. If he has other properties, which many do, you’ll be able to garner a sense of their reliability. It genuinely might just be a new listing. If they have none, steer clear.

2. Check out the host

In much the same way as you can check out other reviewers, it’s super important to do the same with your host. While most property owners are honest and want to provide a wonderful experience, scammers are finding their way onto the app.

A good sign of a trustworthy hose is a “super host” badge. This great profile provides lots of info, a verified identity, and lots of reviews.

The best and surefire way to find a suitable host is to stick to “super hosts.” These rental providers can only show this name if they’ve received excellent reviews over a certain period.

Avoid any user that doesn’t have a picture. Sure, they might just want privacy, but when a host is trying to foster an atmosphere of trust, it doesn’t bode well that they don’t complete their profile. Same with a profile that shows an ambiguous-looking name. Always look for the verified label, with multiple forms of proof, including email, phone number, and identification.

You can also see their average response times, spoken languages, house rules, and refund policies.

Check their reviews too. Even if the host is legitimate, they might have some unwanted characteristics that shine through in other bookings. One recent incident in Tulum saw an American woman in a scary situation at the airport after booking with Airbnb. She made some other mistakes which we will cover next, but he was an otherwise “great” host, according to Airbnb.

3. Location, Location, Location

Trying a different area might be the reason you’re using Airbnb. Maybe you’ve been hotel zoned out after a few years and would like to try a villa in Playa del Carmen. It could be a great choice. But make sure you understand where you’re staying.

listing page
Airbnb often offers a different experience from a hotel. This apartment has its own pool, security, and can host six people

Every listing has an approximate address(the full address is revealed after booking), so you can see where you’ll be staying. If you’re unfamiliar with the city or town, pull up google maps and work it out. How far are you from the beach? Are there stores nearby? Do you need a car to get everywhere? Is it a residential or tourist area? Is it a safe neighborhood?

These are all questions you should ask yourself. The listing is designed to make you want to rent the space. It might say “five minutes from the beach in a quiet neighborhood,” but that could be ten minutes by car in an old part of town with no tourists. It’s probably cheaper for a reason.

4. Keep ALL Communication inside the app

This is extremely important. Airbnb comes with an in-app messaging service where hosts and guests communicate about each stay. Guests can ask questions before booking, organize arrival times, and get help while on their trip. It’s massively helpful, especially if there are problems.

in app messages
In-app interactions mean all evidence can be shown in the event of a dispute. Note that permission to enter was given in this interaction

This is so crucial due to the protections that guests and hosts are guaranteed when they stay. When agreements are made, problems reported, or bookings canceled in-app, the company has full access to the messages and can protect either side in the event of an investigation. The second an agreement is made outside the Airbnb app, any guarantees are out the window.

In an attempt to save money, some hosts will sometimes ask if the guest would like to cancel, pay in cash for a discount, and help them avoid the taxes and fees Airbnb takes from any rental costs. It doesn’t necessarily mean the host is trying to scam the person; they may be genuinely trying to save for both parties. But at that point, the guest isn’t covered if anything goes wrong during the stay. They could be asked to leave, previously broken items may be blamed on the guest, and worse. The recent incident in Tulum saw a family held by police at the airport after a misunderstood WhatsApp conversation ended in the booking being canceled and the family fleeing the apartment.

Keep everything in the app. Report problems promptly. Take pictures. Even if a conversation happens in person, note anything significant in the messenger for both parties to see immediately after the interaction.

5. Inspect on arrival

The first thing you should do on arrival before you even unpack is inspect your rental. Your host might meet you and give you a tour, while others will leave instructions for entry. Whatever the process, check everything.

review page airbnb
No reviews doesn’t mean bad. This host has eleven reviews on other properties

Broken chairs, cracked windows, faulty AC, or stained bedsheets – take note of them all. Take a picture of any issues, and post it on Airbnb messenger. This way, the host knows of any problems and cannot blame you for them once your rental is up. 

You’d do it with a car rental. Why wouldn’t you do the same with a home rental?

6. Report accidents or issues immediately

Accidents happen. Your son might smash a plate, your daughter might spill some soda on the carpet, or maybe your husband or wife breaks a chair. Whatever the problem, big or small, let the host know.

Again, take pictures, post them on the app, and explain what happened to the host. Usually, they’ll understand and be glad that you let them know. If they’re the kind of host that will cause problems, it’s far better to deal with it on the app and early than get into what could be a lengthy fine attempt from their end after the stay. Airbnb will protect its hosts when the guests don’t provide enough info, so you’ll be fighting a losing battle.

airbnb app

If it’s the host’s fault, the same applies—pictures and clear messages immediately. 

Enjoy the stay

Airbnb can be a fantastic travel tool. Both for creating unique experiences and saving money. Ensure it stays that way by following all of our advice. 

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