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When it comes to travel and hospitality, the world is increasingly global. Last year the U.S. saw record numbers of international guests – 77.5 million to be exact. For homeowners with vacation rental properties, this is the time to make new friends and enjoy the benefits of our international neighbors as an Airbnb host. With over 60 million guests booking through Airbnb, and millions of others booking short term rentals, you can average $27,360 in annual revenue by hosting guests. But how can you ensure you’re providing your world travelers with the best international hospitality experience without an accidental faux pas? Learn how you can make it easier for your global guests with these tips.

Language and Etiquette

Although many countries embrace English as a second language, not all international speakers are fluent. Skift reports that of the record-breaking number of international guests hosted by the U.S. in 2015, 3.7 million were from Japan, 2.5 million from China, and 2.2 million traveled here from Germany. If you see that an international traveler has booked a stay with you, they’ll appreciate the hospitality that comes from a little research on your part.

For language barriers, using an app such as Google Translate can be very helpful. It’s free and available for iOS and Android. Another thoughtful option is to provide a print copy of a language pocket guide. Many of these not only offer useful translations, but also describe etiquette and mannerisms of native speakers.

For etiquette practices, remember that all cultures have both similar and unique practices. Knowing the differences can bring guests back time and again. In China, handshaking is a form of greeting and a silent language. When Chinese guests arrive at your home, offer your hand to express welcome. When they depart, however, allow them to offer their hand first as this signifies their gratitude for your hospitality.


Airbnb recommends that you provide your guests with amenities. Pillow can make this easy for you with our cleaning and toiletry service. In addition to amenities such as sheets, towels, toilet paper and soaps, you can make your international guests feel at home with a few well-researched items.

For example, Japanese cultures do not wear the same shoes indoors and outdoors. Providing a dedicated area to remove their outdoor shoes and offering them slippers to wear inside shows that you have done your research and that you care. Another thoughtful amenity is the wet towel provided at the dining table. It is customary in Japanese culture to clean the hands at the table with the wet towel immediately before eating.


If you’re sharing your home with visitors, it’s important to be aware that not all cultures view pets the same. Germans love dogs and often travel with them; however, some Muslims view dogs as unclean. In Egypt, birds are common pets, while cats and dogs are less common. Other guests may not oppose pets inside the house but suffer from allergies, so always be thoughtful about your guests’ comfort when it comes to pets. Make sure to include in your listing whether pets live on the property and always be sure to get rid of pet evidence, including odors and hair. Pillow makes sure there’s no trace of your previous guests, even the furry ones.

Emergency Resources

One of the most important responsibilities you have as a host is providing your guests with emergency numbers and directions. If you know there may be a language or cultural barrier, make sure to provide easy-to-understand emergency numbers for your guests. Using universal symbols for fire, police and medical services can save time and lives when it comes to emergency situations.

No matter what country or culture your visitors come from, Pillow wants to help you make their stay safe and comfortable. We’d love to chat with you about our security, cleaning, and guest support services. We can even help with marketing and booking. Schedule a demo to see what we’re about!

For more unique insights about the short-term rental industry take a look at the following posts:

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