AirBnB “Hell?”

I have been an AirBnB host for two years now and have hosted close to 150 reservations. Usually it is 2 guests per reservation, so about 300 people have passed through my apartment in this time.

During this time, I had only two “eh” experiences. One was when two old ladies rented out my studio for a month, and it took me a whole day to clean all the food stains from the kitchen. They did a lot of cooking and didn’t really clean up. But, nothing damaged. Another bad instance was an “uppity” couple who had complained about my lacking wine glasses and a glass tea pot for the complimentary wine and tea I gifted them for their stay. They wrote me an email later stating that “even when we slept on the beach with crabs crawling into our tents, we had essentials such as wine glasses and a tea pot available”. Obviously, they just couldn’t use my other 20 glasses for their wine, nor my tea kettle+brewing set for their tea. So, snobs!

Aside from these two mildly grotesque experiences, I have had nothing but WONDERFUL guests over and over again. I feel that a lot of bad experiences from both guests and hosts come from a lack of interest on either part. A lack of interest or concern for the validity of a listing/host or a guest. A lack of interest for the diversity of the accommodation. Etc.

I feel that I have had such positive experience because I’ve been ACTIVE about HOW and WHO I host. When you are constantly taking the risk to invite strangers into your home, you have to use common sense and caution. It’s kind of like splurging on an expensive product – you do your research before purchasing, right? Or going to a restauraunt – you read reviews, browse menu, etc., right? OR, staying in a traditional hotel…you read reviews, you check amenities, etc.

If you’re a guest who has had a bad experience, it may be that you didn’t spend enough time validating the host’s listing. READ THE REVIEWS!!!! The reviews usually tell you everything you need to know about what a place is like. If the reviews, or the host’s profile don’t make you assured (for instance, it’s a new listing), CONTACT the host PRIOR to requesting or making a reservation. PRIOR! Find out all the information you want to know, PRIOR to booking. Ask questions! If the host responds poorly or seems unfriendly, it is a close approximation of how they will handle the reservation and conduct their hosting. An unfriendly, unresponsive host is usually a host who probably doesn’t provide the best accommodation.

This type of “research” also applies to hosts considering guests. Above all, I require guests to have validated identities on their profile (number, email, ID) and I engage them through messaging prior to booking, and also prior to their arrival. If you don’t care about what guests your booking, you will most definitely be hosting a couple of bad seeds here and there.

The reviews of both hosts and guests are SO important. They really say a lot. For me, I do AirBnB to pay off my student loans. I think it’s awesome and it’s something that truly has helped ease my financial burdens. I take the job of hosting seriously, not only because I have financial gain from it, but because I genuinely want to make guests feel welcome. I take negative experiences that I’ve had in hotels and consider them when I’m readying my studio for my guests. Do YOU like seeing hairs in the bathroom or on your sheets & towels in hotel rooms? Do YOU enjoy drinking from dirty cups or sleeping on musty pillows in hotel rooms? Probably not, unless you’re morbidly gross. As a host, you should treat your rental the same way as a hotel. Keep things clean, and your guests won’t say it’s dirty. DUH! Maintain your listing. Check plumbing, check amenities needing replacing, etc. People are PAYING you to stay at your house. If they wanted to stay in a dump, they can do so for free. If you won’t act like a professional host, and check the guests that you’re hosting, you’ll receive bad reviews or will have bad experiences. It’s as simple as that.

As a guest, it’s even more important to read reviews. Two years ago I signed up for AirBnB and had no reviews (obviously). I didn’t know what to expect, and probably neither did my first guests. But both of us had great experiences! When they were leaving they promised to leave a great first review, and they did. And so my little studio filled up over time, and each time positive (minus the two aforementioned dinguses). And honestly, I think the reason that all my guests have been wonderful is because I’m passionate about hosting and I take care of my flat and communicate with guests/making them feel welcome. I think in general, if you invite people to stay at your home and your home is clean and maintained, those people will be more inclined to leave it just the same.

So, yes, I understand that there can be many cases with bad hosts, bad guests, etc. But a lot of those bad experiences could be avoided if the host puts care into who the guest is, and puts care into the accommodation, and if the guest puts care into who the host is, and puts care into how they treat the accommodation. For guests, there’s a number of ways to see whether an accommodation is worth it or not. Do your research! And hosts, check the guests out and make sure they’re verified. If they’re not, ask them politely if they could complete their verification process. Some guests don’t feel comfortable uploading an ID, which is understandable. So talk to them! Ask them about themselves, etc. Be friendly! If they respond in a similar matter, it is a good sign (from my experience).

So while, yes, there is the possibility of AirBnB “hell”, there is also the possibility of AirBnB success. And trust me, the success stories definitely stack higher than the defeats. A service shouldn’t be “booed” because of the bad experiences. I’ve stayed at hotels who had 2-3 star ratings only because the majority of the reviewers complained about the goddamn “complimentary breakfast” or the “pool being too small”. That’s so unfair to the hotel, who otherwise provides exceptional accommodations. If you want a five-course breakfast and a lap pool, pay the $200-300 extra and stay in a 5-star.

The same applies to AirBnB. If you’re a guest who complains about there not being coffee for the coffeemaker…you should have stayed in a hotel. Or at least communicated with the host if they provide coffee. So to guests…if you want a good experience, communicate with hosts about your needs and wants PRIOR to making a reservation. Ask about the water pressure & temperature. Ask about heating and cooling and etc.

The key to a good AirBnB is communication. If a host or guest can’t communicate, they won’t have a satisfactory experience.

As for the AirBnB service itself, I can’t speak on the matter as I (thankfully) haven’t ever had any serious issues. I had maybe 3 instances where I had a question, and every instance the AirBnB team emailed me back within the day with a response. No problem there. But I see how they could be slow and questionable when processing claims. It would be very easy to blame natural wear and tear damage as damage done by guests. I could have said that my lamp broke not because I’m a clumsy idiot, but because my last guest knocked it over. Of course claims take long!

And obviously, guests or host, never do transactions outside of the website. I’m not sure why in this age of advanced knowledge, people still do dumb things like that. AirBnB tells you it’s against their policy. If you accept to receive payment outside of the AirBnB site and are scammed, it’s your own fault. Why would you even complain? You shouldn’t just be banned from AirBnB, you should be banned from the internet, for you own good.

I just hosted a family who earlier in the week had booked an apartment close to my own. They got there and discovered it wasn’t maintained and that it was dirty. They called AirBnB and the site set them up in a hotel instantly. While there, they found my listing and booked. And voila, a good stay. They told me the initial “dirty” place had no reviews yet. Mine had 113 reviews. And while, yes, I too was once a new listing with no reviews, I never lacked in communication with guests. My guests said that the host of the poor BnB wasn’t friendly in replies, and that it should have tipped them off.

Communication and care from both host and guest, is key to avoiding being stuck in AirBnB purgatory. Do your research, ask questions, and you’ll have a good experience.

Posted in Airbnb Host Stories and tagged , , .

6 Comments

  1. “Read reviews.” And you should read all the stories about reviews being removed or giving neutral reviews out of concern of retribution.

    That uppity couple story is great though. I didn’t realize bare essentials extended to wine glasses.

  2. This was a brilliant article. You eloquently described my experience with airbnb the first five months. Then ironically it took the twist of them not communicating with me and acting quite literally like the bad hosts you described. Them being the hosts of the airbnb service and me being the customer.

  3. Fully agree with Tizzy. After raising a claim in 10 days there was no communication from them. I needed permission to fix the damages caused by negligent guest, flooding and drain blocking in the believe that someone would look at my claim. Claim was rejected and I had to stay with the whole house messed up until the claim was rejected. So 2 things bad about them:
    1 they don’t care to help you if you in distress due to their type of business
    2 their million dollar host guarantee is absolutely crap, you are by your self

  4. I will agree with Tizzy,
    I do investigate reviews before guests coming, I get positive reviews myself, but the problem is Airbnb itself. I recently got robbed by guests or by someone else who came in because guests left the door open, I tried to contact Airbnb 4 times and didn’t get any response. They just don’t care about their customers at all.

  5. Hello Clara,
    I think there’s a bit of a difference between the hell you mention and what this site is about – AirBnB hell isn’t so much about terrible hosts, but about the company itself being horrible. Their customer service is pathetic and they treat their customers like crap, often being condescending or downright refusing to give them any help. The hosts there, at least to my experience so far, are great – it’s the company itself that sucks badly enough for me to wish they would go out of business. I’m sure you’re a great host, and I have found several amazing people there, but AirBnB isn’t a good company if you have any kind of issues, for they will NOT help you, at all. That’s why they are a hell.

  6. WOW!! The absolutely best posting I’ve ever read about Airbnb. Please spend so much energy blaming others for issues they either created themselves or could have avoided altogether by not being dense. Cheers Clara!

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