Etiquette is not Law
Unlike law, etiquette doesn’t apply to all cases of one’s conduct. It applies only in certain circumstances, where appropriate.
Etiquette is not Rule
Whereas a rule permits only certain kinds of behavior (e.g., speaking after being called upon) while forbidding other kinds (e.g., no running in the halls), etiquette makes no such commands and issues no directives. It’s of the form: ‘A well-mannered person would do or say something like X in circumstances such as Y…’ Or: ‘When P is the case, it would be a good thing to do Q….’
Etiquette is not a Set of Pet Peeves
Etiquette is broader, more general, and more reasonable than any set of pet peeves. Someone may have a pet peeve that all guests fold the bathroom towel this way, then that, and then hang the towel just so. This kind of thing would not make sense in a book of etiquette.
A Definition of Airbnb Etiquette
Airbnb Etiquette is a general yet not universal, reasonable (non-arbitrary) set of guidelines that draw the perceptive guest’s attention to the salient features of a given situation, where some action would be appropriate to perform.
1. A gift may be offered in the beginning or in the end of the stay, but in either case it would be best if it were well-suited for the person, showing him that you ‘got’ him, showing her that you ‘got’ the space.
2. It’s a good idea to give advanced notice of when you’ll arrive. Perhaps twice: once when you’re leaving and a second time when you’re an hour or so (i.e., an appropriate proximate distance) away.
3. It’s highly salutary for a host to greet her guests either upon arrival or early the following day in order to make the guest(s) feel welcome.
4. A small touch of grace goes a long way: not cookies left on the counter but honey held in hand; not a text message with smiley icons but a friendly phone call; not a phone call but a gentle smile appearing after a gentle knock on the door.
5. Any effortless way of making something more beautiful or significant needn’t be overlooked. A goodbye note may be a decorous, not-overdone collage made from feathers, snail shells, and pine cones.
6. It’s lovely, when appropriate, to offer to help the host. It’s also lovely for the host to decline with ease.
7. Staying in another’s house is not an excuse for taking what isn’t yours or for ‘trading up,’ swapping your shampoo for theirs.
8. It’s appropriate to leave a space as well off, if not slightly better than, you found it. (Leaving a space dirty and unclean is no good, but so is leaving it overly clean and tidy, as this may be taken as some implicit criticism of the host.)
9. It’s good neither to understay one’s welcome (thereby making the host think that you’re fleeing) nor to overstay it (thereby becoming a burden). Saying goodbye at the right time may feel as if it were one moment too early: the host would have liked it if you could have stayed a bit longer and wishes for you to return anytime you like while the guest holds no grudges or ill will toward the host. Everyone parts on friendly terms.