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.