This is the Problem Airbnb Hosts have with Guests

I’m putting this in guest stories so that guests actually read it. I have been a guest many places, and I’ve been a host for almost two years. I have been reading a lot of the guest “horror stories” and with very few exceptions, I think it all boils down to one thing that is not being understood. Airbnbs and short term rentals are not hotels. Say it with me now. It seems like most of the problems stem from guests expecting their stays to be just like a hotel stay without understanding why the two are so different.

Hotels have staff and employees. They have maintenance crews. A lightbulb goes out and they have a closet full of spare ones. Sheets and towels get stained… no problem, that is built into the nightly rate and we just replace them. All rooms are relatively the same, and if anything in those rooms ends up being a problem, is inefficient to clean or to use, they are replaced in every room. The cleaning strategy has a chance to be developed to where not a speck of dirt is seen, every time. Your basement at home is probably actually “cleaner” (I used to clean hotel rooms – who here likes their glasses washed out with windex because that’s how it’s done).

Anyway, I digress. Your Airbnb host is probably making a tiny profit if any at all, has a life and obligations outside of running the place you’re staying, wants guests to be happy with their stay and wants good reviews, has to deal with enormous amounts of BS to serve you, and probably is already killing themselves trying to make the place as nice as they can for you within reason.

An Airbnb stay should be like staying at a friend or relative’s house. Would you notice one speck of dirt in the corner or a stain on a mattress under the mattress pad and declare her house to be “unfit?” Would you go to your grandma’s and storm off in the middle of the night because there were a couple of ants in the kitchen or a cobweb in the corner? We simply can’t keep normal, functional homes the same way a hotel can keep their properties. You need to be a little bit flexible and a lot less OCD. I think the majority of people who complain are just people who are not comfortable staying in another person’s home. Which is fine – just don’t use Airbnb.

If I think back to all the places I’ve stayed, I can probably pick out something majorly wrong with each ones of them: crumbling tubs in New Orleans and questionable bedding, leaky faucets, an overly friendly raccoon on a private property in Miami, cockroaches in our gorgeous eco-villa in Tulum, hairs in drains, water that was too hot or too cold, hard beds… it goes on and on. Did any of this stuff actually bother us or make us have a bad time? Hell no! You notice it, accept it, then move on. You are on vacation, and you chose an Airbnb. Suck it up. Focus on the good stuff.

If you want to be super picky and miserable please stay at a hotel, hopefully one with a 24-hour concierge you can ask all your high-maintenance questions about how to use a remote for the ceiling fan at 2:00 AM (true story – I was like “um, press the buttons?”). Otherwise you are ruining this whole thing for everyone. Seriously, please stop it.

Your reviews aren’t helpful; they’re not innocent little tips for future guests. They actually make our scores go down and make Airbnb threaten to remove our listings over very minor things. They start promoting our listings less often, and therefore we end up losing business and therefore losing money and actually decreasing our chances of being able to afford to be up to your hotel standards. Please just tell us directly if there is a problem or if you have a suggestion. Thank you.

Impossible to Speak to an Airbnb Decision-maker

Airbnb has insufficient customer service: everything is automated, and the staff has changed from the US to an overseas call centre where nobody has any authority to handle anything but straightforward cases. There is no email address, no complaints department, and no phone numbers a robot company with incompetent employees. There are two issues with this system:

1) My previous guest did not check out, left half of his stuff in the room, and took the house key to my home where I live with my family. This is a major security issue because a stranger is somewhere out there with the key to my home in his pocket and nothing has been done from the Airbnb side. I spent the whole evening on this speaking to four people. Now it is 10:00 PM; I started to ring them at 6:00 PM. To change a door lock in Australia costs $350. That’s not enough cover for damage done by guests.

2) Photographers. After I moved houses, it took nine months to finally get someone to take an accurate photo of my single room. Because I have no fish eye lens I was not able to take a decent photo of the room from an angle where everything is visible. After the photographer finally arrived (three hours late) he took photos and downloaded them to the wrong listing. This was four weeks ago. In the meantime I got bad reviews of guests who thought rightly, that the advertised photo (room in the old house) is inaccurate, even though the same furniture is in the room. I called Airbnb four times where I was left waiting for hours. Despite this, nothing has happened. Airbnb threatened to cancel my listing because I do not have five-star reviews due to the inaccuracy issue.

In addition, the expectations that hosts have to provide five-star accommodation and service is unrealistic. A hotel room in my area starts from $180 per night and I charge $26. I provide low cost accommodation in an almost brand new, meticulously clean home in a beautiful area. 98% of all my guests were very happy with my service and facility. Surely one cannot expect butler service and five-star accommodation for $26 per room per night in an expensive tourist area in a western country like Australia.