Left Out in the Cold After Instant Booking Fails

In 2017, I was touring Europe with my bicycle. I camped most of the time, but it was quite cold and rainy during a week in September. I decided to stay with Airbnb. The first night went quite well, so I made another booking the next morning. It was 60 km away, in a small village in Germany. Instant Book was enabled, so I immediately got a confirmation.

I set off and reached the address around 5:00 PM. When I rang the bell, there was no response. I messaged the host. After approximately an hour, the booking was canceled, without any explanation. It was cold and getting dark fast, so I headed to the nearest hotel. It was only five kilometers, but with the rain and the mud, it took me another hour to get there. At 75 euro, it was much more expensive than some of the other hotels I could have stayed with. Later Airbnb messaged me, saying the host enabled Instant Book without realizing the implications. They kind of blamed me for choosing a host with little experience and did not offer to pay part of the hotel bill. They have much more data on the host than me. They should not allow inexperienced hosts to enable instant booking.

Forcing Airbnb Hosts to Turn On Instant Booking

In early January 2016, I received an email from Airbnb that explained that since most guests preferred Instant Booking over talking to a prospective host, Airbnb would not list my home under guest searches. This is despite me usually getting great ratings from my Airbnb guests. Can you see how this could be seen as an aggressive attempt to make people offer Instant Booking when that feature does not work for their situation? Now, if Airbnb had sent me an email suggesting that I take more photos, I would do that. However, if I turn on Instant Booking, and/or offer a price considered below average for my area, I’ll lose money. My rate is already below average for my area. What will help me immensely is when Airbnb stops omitting my home from suggested places to stay. I had one guest in December 2016 and no guests in January 2017.

I have been very loyal to Airbnb and have advocated for their business in writing. I wrote a letter to the NYC Public Advocate in response to her scathing opinion of Airbnb. How do you think NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams would react to NYC homeowners being forced to offer Instant Booking? Please share your thoughts.