Ask the Airbnb host

Old Dec 7, 16, 6:49 am
  #1  
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Ask the Airbnb host

Throwing this thread up as a place where people can ask questions of Airbnb hosts (I am one, and I hope the other FTers who host will also find their way here). Please understand that we are hosts--that is, individuals who use the Airbnb website to rent out their rooms or properties--not representatives of Airbnb itself. So there are some things we can explain, and some things we can't. We're also not here to be punching bags/apologists for experiences you've had staying at others' properties, so please, keep this to questions and not rants. I hope this thread will be helpful for people.

For my part, I rent out two spare bedrooms in my home, so the experience guests have is more like a traditional B&B. I hope that other FTers who rent entire properties on Airbnb will also join the discussion.
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Old Jan 1, 17, 2:16 pm
  #2  
 
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If you are AirBnB/VRBO/etc host and your guests do not read requirements..

I have a question to AirBnB/VRBO/etc hosts. Let's imagine that you clearly outlined set list of requirements for your property in the description, like:

- No smoking
- No pets
- Max number of people for the room
- No children
- No noise

And your guests break/ignore these rules. For example, you said 'no children, 2 people max' and they arrived with 10 month old and 3 years old. You said no pets and they come with a dog/cat. You said no smoking and you discovered that room stinks with cigarette smoke, you said no noise and they played games/music on their ipad/computer at 11PM and so on.

So question is - what do you do?

Do you refuse them to get in (if they arrived more than max number for the room/property or arrived with children/pet)? Do you ask them to leave property (smoke/music/etc)? Or something else? How do you handle very heated or even threatening conversations?

If you have practical examples - please share.
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Old Jan 4, 17, 5:07 pm
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I guess there are not many AirBnB/VRBO/HomeAway hosts in this forum...
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Old Jan 4, 17, 5:31 pm
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
I guess there are not many AirBnB/VRBO/HomeAway hosts in this forum...
I guess there are not so many hosts here. I am an AirBnB super host in the UK.

It's very important that your house rules and description have as much info as possible. I always print a copy of the house rules/manual as well and ensure it's pointed out to new guests. It's also good to include useful info, for example, I have a few instructions on how to operate the shower. We have had several guests from around the world, which have all been quite successful however there is always a bit of a concern that you are renting your space out to a complete stranger. I woundn't rent my whole space out, but others do with good success.

First things first, ensure you have insurance cover as I wouldn't rely on AirBnB's insurance scheme.

I would greet each issue you have in different ways:-

- No smoking: I would be asking the guest to leave as soon as possible, whilst remaining calm but firm that would they have done is a huge safety issue and is unacceptable. I would also request the security deposit applied to the booking for deep cleaning of the space.
- No pets: I would not allow them in. They booked a space not suitable for pets and it clearly states this on the description.
- Max number of people for the room: I may decide to be flexible here if one more person but only becuase I have a little more space available at the moment. Or if they booked per 1 but really meant 2 (I have a 5 extra charge after the first) I think if accepted there should be an extra fee, I would be changing the AirBnB reservation. Not sure how this would work if I tried to change the reservation to three when my listing is 2 persons max tho
- No children: I would not allow them to stay, provided it's been made clear in the listing. I may let them in to discuss the matter however if it got heated, again would be asking them to leave.
- No noise: One friendly request to keep it down. Second request more firm stating I will ask them to leave if the noise is not kept down. Third request would be to leave. Again, it's important to remain calm. I state quiet hours after 10pm in my listing/house manual.

If you do have an issue with a guest where you feel they need to leave because they have violated the house rules/other, there is a phone number at least to call AirBnB to have them contact the guest.
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Old Jan 4, 17, 5:54 pm
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Thanks for setting this up travelmad478 It's good to see other hosts on FT. Also, a member of BA golden distinction I see.
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Old Feb 18, 17, 11:18 pm
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seems a number of FTers do "let" on airbnb, one said they liked the guest information/reviews that is available to hosts when they get contacted etc
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Old Feb 18, 17, 11:57 pm
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I rent an entire property on AirBnB. It is our second home, a vacation home and I rent it out when we are not using it.

While I prefer VRBO because it tends to attract longer stays and repeat guests who return year after year, I listed on AirBnB just to fill small gaps in my calendar. I can't say I am a huge fan because I prefer more initial interaction with guests and AirBnB lends itself to the instant gratification, 140-character, anonymous, texting crowd but I haven't had any negative experiences yet.

It will never become my main source of rentals but it serves it's purpose in filling small openings.
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Old Feb 19, 17, 12:06 pm
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interesting, thanks Finkface
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Old Mar 1, 17, 6:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Finkface View Post
I can't say I am a huge fan because I prefer more initial interaction with guests and AirBnB lends itself to the instant gratification, 140-character, anonymous, texting crowd but I haven't had any negative experiences yet.
As an occasional renter on Airbnb, I am curious about your expectation here. Do you prefer more interaction with your guests during the booking process, or are you referring to during their stay?

If the former, do you list as instant book? Personally, my approach is usually to message the host first (instant book or not), giving a very brief introduction which usually includes the purpose of my trip (transiting through, hiking trip, beach stay, etc.), and confirming availability. After I get response, I complete the booking. This helps me feel more comfortable with the host, too, since I know that they respond (vs. an anonymous booking with automated confirmation).
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Old Mar 1, 17, 7:16 pm
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Originally Posted by wylek View Post
As an occasional renter on Airbnb, I am curious about your expectation here. Do you prefer more interaction with your guests during the booking process, or are you referring to during their stay?

If the former, do you list as instant book? Personally, my approach is usually to message the host first (instant book or not), giving a very brief introduction which usually includes the purpose of my trip (transiting through, hiking trip, beach stay, etc.), and confirming availability. After I get response, I complete the booking. This helps me feel more comfortable with the host, too, since I know that they respond (vs. an anonymous booking with automated confirmation).
Best approach.
I use it as well, Instant Book or not. Explaining to the host the make-up of your traveling party (eg- 4 adults, 2 boys 8 and 9 yo) and specifying the sort-of bottom line features required (one of three bedrooms must have two single beds, for example) makes the "mechanics" of short term rentals a lot easier and less susceptible to unpleasant surprises . Accurate property descriptions go a long way, but I've found it best to specifically inquire about any "absolute musts" I might have before booking. And the introductory emails give both host and guest an early opportunity to get a sense of one another. Even whole place rentals suffer if the parties are not sympatico. This is much more important than for a hotel stay. IMO, disregarding this might be the cause of many failed or disappointing rentals.
Over the last few years, I've been using short term rentals - Airbnb, Vrbo, local agencies - exclusively for any stay longer than 3 nights. Using this careful approach I've had 100% success.
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Old Mar 2, 17, 1:46 am
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Originally Posted by wylek View Post
As an occasional renter on Airbnb, I am curious about your expectation here. Do you prefer more interaction with your guests during the booking process, or are you referring to during their stay?
During the booking process. Not during the stay at all, although I do send an email once they've arrived asking if everyhing is ok and telling them to let me know if they need anything. I don't care if they don't respond to that. I want a bit of communication before I approve them to book.

If the former, do you list as instant book?
Definitely not. And never will. This is our home so there is no way I am going to let some random, anonymous person book without some prior communication.

Personally, my approach is usually to message the host first (instant book or not), giving a very brief introduction which usually includes the purpose of my trip (transiting through, hiking trip, beach stay, etc.), and confirming availability. After I get response, I complete the booking. This helps me feel more comfortable with the host, too, since I know that they respond (vs. an anonymous booking with automated confirmation).
This is exactly the type of communication I want as well. I just want to know a few basics, pretty much exactly the information you say you provide. I want to know that it is just 2 people, no kids (I have been lied to about this in the past), that they are not two 18 year old boys on spring break, etc. Then I google them if I want to know a bit more. I had one person whose profile showed only his first name, nothing else, which gave me nothing to go on. I found out that AirBnB won't give you any more info on someone (not even their last name if the person chooses not to list it in their profile) until after you have accepted their booking. The only thing you get is that AirBnB has 'confirmed' their identity and that it is up to them to tell you their last name or other info only if they choose to. In my case, the guest did tell me more but only after a lot of prompting on my part (he turned out to be a good guest).

But so many potential guests just start off with 'hey, I wanna stay at your place' and that's it. All I want is a basic "we're a couple in our thirties, heading to your area for our honeymoon' kind of communication.
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Old Mar 2, 17, 1:47 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by wylek View Post
Personally, my approach is usually to message the host first (instant book or not), giving a very brief introduction which usually includes the purpose of my trip (transiting through, hiking trip, beach stay, etc.), and confirming availability. After I get response, I complete the booking. This helps me feel more comfortable with the host, too, since I know that they respond (vs. an anonymous booking with automated confirmation).
When I use Airbnb as a guest, I do the same thing, since this is what I want as a host. You don't need to write a dissertation in your initial email, just who's coming, a sentence on the purpose of your visit, and a phrase/sentence on who you are. My standard reservation request is "Hi, I'm an Airbnb host from Delaware coming to your area for _________. Your place looks perfect for me! I'm looking forward to hearing from you." And if I have specific questions about the location or the property, I ask right then (for instance, one place I was recently contemplating had a description that said "Our house is near a rail line and major highways," which could have just meant that it was convenient to get to, but in fact (as I was wondering) was meant to convey that there were trains and cars passing by all night long!


Originally Posted by wylek View Post
do you list as instant book?
Never have and never will, no matter how much Airbnb pushes me to do it. This is my home, I will be here during the stay, and I don't want nasty surprises.

I just booked a place the other day as a guest, which I didn't realize was an instant-book listing. I wrote my standard intro message and did the reservation request--it was instantly accepted and the hosts have never even bothered to respond. I find that off-putting, actually.
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Old Mar 3, 17, 11:21 am
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Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
I just booked a place the other day as a guest, which I didn't realize was an instant-book listing. I wrote my standard intro message and did the reservation request--it was instantly accepted and the hosts have never even bothered to respond. I find that off-putting, actually.
I won't complete the booking without a response from the host. In the most basic sense, I need confirmation that my booking dates are actually available. Many, many properties are listed on multiple platforms and until I receive specific confirmation, I won't trust the availability calendar on any one site.
In fact this happened to me once. I found a lovely property listed on Airbnb and commenced the booking process. But the host didn't respond to my initial email. While waiting I searched for the property on other short-term rental sites. (By carefully reading the property description and collating the photos, you can pretty well pinpoint most properties. I highly recommend doing this). And I found the place listed on two other platforms...for almost twice the daily rate. And the availability calendars didn't match. My intuition was that even if my booking through Airbnb was accepted, if a booking for the same dates came through one of those sites, for double the rate, I'd get bumped. I backed away and never completed the rental. Interestingly, I emailed the host to inform him I had changed my plans and he responded, at which point I asked him directly about the multiple listings. Then he agreed that it was probably best that I didn't book.
Just an anecdote. As I said earlier, for many reasons good communication between host and guest is the best way to insure problem-free stays.
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Old Apr 14, 17, 6:28 pm
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As an Airbnb guest I agree that more communication is better

Have used Airbnb several times both in the US and abroad. We always send detailed information to a host and ask any questions that aren't clear. Sometimes or questions review by their responses that this is not a place for us. For example, we considered one rental that was a room in a home with two other rooms were also rented. Since our room would not have a lock on it, we would not have felt comfortable staying there.
I also give information that while not negative in nature might cause the host to decide not to rent to us. Example we are in late middle-age and sometimes younger hosts would prefer not to have a pair of old "fuddy-duddies" rent from them. That's fine with us, as we'd rather be in a place where it's comfortable all around.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 2:31 pm
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I have never used Airbnb although I'm considering it for an upcoming trip to Bulgaria. Why do so many hosts cancel a reservation 1-3 days before they are scheduled to arrive? This concerns me. Also, in Bulgaria, we have found some hosts that have properties for rent for a ridiculously low amount (lower than is even normal in Bulgaria), but they don't have any reviews after many months. Are these scams?
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