This is my second time booking through Airbnb; the first time was fine. I sent a request for one apartment for two days and the next day the host declined it, saying that “it conflicts with another booking.” Now, my first thought was: what? What other booking? Shouldn’t my selected dates become unavailable for other people to book? Or does Airbnb allow everyone to send requests for the same dates, so that the host can then dig through them and pick her favorite one? On top of that, after I had been declined, that property was still available to be requested for the selected dates. I messaged the host, asking her to explain, and she said she is “waiting for confirmation for a couple that are looking to book for more days.”
Apparently, it’s true that Airbnb allows unlimited requests to stack up for the same dates. That’s a terribly immoral business model they’ve created, creating competition between guests for the host’s favor. Now, it’s understandable that hosts would prefer longer bookings over shorter ones. However, if their system allows requests for same dates to stack up, allowing the host to pick and choose, then people who need a short stay basically have no chance against longer-stay guests. It’s basically an auction system, where guests bid on who will rent a longer stay. Imagine if hotels started to operate on the same principle: there will be public outrage. Or, imagine if hotels would accept “bids” for a maximum price the guests are willing to pay per night. Then rich people would take all the rooms, leaving everyone else with nowhere to stay. It’s the same here, except with lengths of stay.
I’ve researched this a bit and apparently hosts can choose whether they want the requested dates to become unavailable for others, or not. Why is there even such an option? It puts all the power into the host’s hands. I don’t want to use Airbnb if the hosts will treat me as some undesirable scum just because I only want to book two nights. It creates inequality. Guests and hosts are supposed to be on equal terms.
So, in conclusion, to remove this horrible inequality, Airbnb should:
- Only allow booking requests for the same dates one at a time.
- Penalize hosts who decline booking requests for no good reason (as it’s still a major inconvenience to wait a day just to receive a decline, then wait another day for another one)
- State that a short stay is not a good reason to decline a request (because there is already a minimum stay rule that can be added to the listing)