Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

Administrator in
Malibu, CA
Administrator
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Hi everyone, 

 

In May, I had the chance to connect with some of you virtually during our Global Host Tour across the US, UK, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Germany, and Mexico. Thank you to all of our Hosts who attended. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear what’s on your mind, answer some of your top questions, and learn how we can better support you moving forward.

 

There were so many interesting questions that came up during these events, I want to make sure I share the highlights with you! It’s safe to say that what was on their mind is likely on your mind, too. 

 

Before I dive in, I encourage you to continue asking questions and sharing guidance with one another in the Community Center and your local Host Clubs. I love seeing you learn from one another and doing everything you can to make this community even stronger. 

 

Here are some of our Hosts’ top questions from the tour:

 

  • Could Airbnb offer trip insurance for guests? 

 

Yes, this is something we shared during the Global Host Tour. We're working towards providing travel insurance options for guests—first in the U.S., and then in other areas around the world. Guests will be able to purchase trip protection through a partnership with a leading global insurer.

 

In the meantime, we've launched a travel-insurance resource so that guests can compare quotes and purchase a travel-insurance plan that fits their needs in certain countries and regions.

 

  • With the recent product changes to Airbnb, it’s been difficult to navigate some of the new technology. How is Airbnb ensuring their tools help Hosts share their spaces easily? 

 

First of all, by listening closely to you. Thank you to everyone who already shared feedback on our recent updates. We’re actively using your input to improve the Airbnb experience for Hosts and guests, and it’s your insights that will drive the next round of changes. Secondly, we’ll be providing even more education on how you as a Host can make the best use of our new tools. In case you missed it, we launched a series of fun (and short!) tutorial videos to help you navigate the recent changes. These videos will guide you through our new time-saving inbox  and your new Today tab.

 

  • Can Hosts be given more input when it comes to troublesome guests and refunds/reviews? 

 

 

We know that untruthful, misleading, or irrelevant reviews are distressing, and potentially economically damaging for you. Addressing such reviews is complicated, just like the situations from which they arise, so we’ve introduced some changes that recognize that nuance: Using feedback from our Community Center, Host Leaders groups, and the Host Advisory Board, we introduced a new review policy that addresses party-ban violators. Today, Hosts can dispute a review left by a guest found to have committed a significant violation of our Party and Events policy during their stay. A Community Support ambassador may remove the content and star rating of that review from your profile, unless the review contains safety information, like a guest warning about discrimination or an unsafe feature in your listing that could cause an injury. 

 

There’s not one simple fix here, but we hope these initial changes help, and we’re actively working to improve the system even more. Stay tuned for details.

 

  • Why can guests who cancel last minute still leave a review even though they haven't completed their stay? 

 

Moments leading up to the check-in or immediately after check-in are often critical aspects of the guest journey. In rare cases, guests have been unable to check-in to their booked listings due to issues with address accuracy. In some cases, guests have faced last minute cancellations when they arrive at the property. In other cases, guests felt they had to leave upon check-in when aspects of the listing, such as cleanliness or accuracy, didn't match their expectations. We believe these experiences are integral to the overall trip experience and deserve a voice through our review system. 

 

Having said that, we do acknowledge the shortcomings of reviews written without check-in or for cancelled stays. And right now, we’re working on additional ways to improve this experience.

 

  • It’s been difficult to follow and manage reservations with the current tools. Can you ensure the guest's arrival and departure dates are clearly indicated in the reservation? 

 

Over the past year, we've heard lots of great feedback from Hosts about things we can do to make their day-to-day hosting routines easier. Many of you told us that it's hard to find the things you need, such as clear reservation details—and that the separate interfaces for web and mobile can be confusing.

 

As you’ve seen in Brian’s recent message, we introduced the new Today tab with your feedback top of mind. Within your Today Tab, guests’ arrival and departure dates are clearly displayed for your current and upcoming reservations, booking requests, and other day-to-day hosting tasks, all designed to make the hosting experience simpler and to save you time. We hope these changes will make it a more seamless experience for you and your guests. 

 

  • I’ve heard Brian say that Airbnb is returning to its roots. What do you mean by that? 

 

It means we’re reestablishing a closer relationship with you, our Host community.

 

“Airbnb is different; it’s changed since the early days.” That is one message I’ve heard repeatedly from Hosts in my time as Global Head of Hosting, and it was important for me to dig in here to understand the sentiment behind this statement. For our longtime Hosts, you watched us grow and expand our community quickly. We went from two Hosts (Brian and Joe!) in San Francisco to a global community of nearly 4 million Hosts. Some things changed for you along the way. 

 

After listening sessions with many of you—and talks with our founders and more tenured colleagues—I gathered a lot of details. You recall days when Hosts had a more collaborative relationship with our leadership. You would visit our offices in San Francisco and meet the team. You had a direct line to Community Support. And your ideas and feedback were always collected and often quickly incorporated into the product. 

 

You, our Hosts, were growing this company with us, and making us better along the way. 

 

This is what Brian means when he says we’re going back to our roots. 

 

We spent this year simplifying our areas of focus and how we work as an organization. I made a commitment to be more connected to you and more transparent with you. And we made sure that all of your ideas, feedback (and sometimes criticisms) are listened to and shared with the appropriate teams to help us better serve you and make us a stronger community. We also established a Host Advisory Board made up of 18 Hosts from 15 countries and six continents who work closely with us to develop tools and programs with your interests in mind. (Find out more about the Host Advisory Board’s work so far this year.)

 

  • What are the implications of pausing my listing if I need to take a break from hosting? 

 

There are a couple of options to pause or hide your listing from search results. 

  • Snooze: Snoozing your listings hides it from search results for a set period of time. You can snooze your listing for up to 6 months from the current date. When you do, your listing will automatically reactivate when the time frame you set is over. The day before your listing reactivates, you'll get a reminder email. 
  • Temporarily unlist your space: This option removes your space from search results indefinitely. You can reactivate your listing at any time from the Manage Listings page. 
  • Permanently deactivate your listing: You won't be able to permanently deactivate your listing if you have any upcoming reservations or reservation requests. Past reviews of your listing will remain on your public profile—they cannot be removed.

 

For both snooze and temporarily unlisting your space options, once you reactivate your listing, all of your stays and ratings will still count for assessing Superhost status. In other words, you don’t start over again. We continue to look back at a 365-day window to assess status, even if there was a period of snooze or temporary deactivation there. 

 

  • What actions will Airbnb take to improve customer service? 

 

As many of you have already seen in my May Host Update, we’re making substantial new improvements to our Community Support. My colleagues Tara Bunch, and our newly hired VP of Community Support Brent Potts (both former Apple executives), are making significant investments to better serve our Hosts. 

  • Hiring more Support Ambassadors: Since April of last year, we’ve been staffing up to meet the resurgence of demand. We’re now at our pre-pandemic staffing level, and we plan to increase our support team by another 50% to meet the peak travel season ahead. This increase in support will enable us to provide the quick and thorough help you rightly expect. Most importantly, it will be easier to reach a Support Ambassador in real-time for one-on-one support.
  • Greater empathy and a more tailored response: We’re increasing our emphasis on empathy and individual circumstances across our Help Center communications and in our Support Ambassador training. We’ll do more to listen carefully and take into account the relevant nuances and context of your specific situation.
  • Dedicated Superhost Support: We’re launching Dedicated Superhost Support, exclusive access to our most tenured Support Ambassadors who are best suited to handle a situation quickly, expertly, and without handoffs between teams. We’ll launch in North America on September 30, 2021 and will continue to roll out globally throughout the rest of 2021. 
  • Refreshed, simpler policies: We’ve heard your frustrations with some of our policies. We’re conducting a review of our community policies and consolidating them in an easier-to-understand format to help Hosts and guests. You should have a clear grasp of what is and is not allowed on our platform. The review is ongoing, and the full list of simplified, consolidated policies will be available in our Help Center in July. 
  • Personalized Smart Solutions: We’re simplifying the Help Center so it will be much easier to navigate and more contextual to your needs. Starting in July, when you have a question, you’ll find concise and relevant Smart Solutions—easily digestible bits of information that will let you self-resolve your issue in a matter of minutes.

 

I hope this recap answers some of your most pressing questions. Of course I’ll continue to share updates with you in future Host Updates

 

I’ll be in touch again soon, and as always, I look forward to hearing from you in the comments. 

 

All the best,

Catherine

Labels (2)
22 Replies

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Catherine-Powell While it is amusing that you appear to be being ghosted by the good folks of the community centre I feel bad that you may feel hurt by this so thought I would respond.

Perhaps the lack of communication is down to hosts feeling unloved as you (Airbnb) appear to have decided that there will be no formal method of approaching the HAB even though one was promised when they were created.

Perhaps it is down to the fact that people are sick of platitudes and actually want action. Reports on the forum even suggest that the ability to remove reviews from party holding guests doesn't actually work.

Ah well back to the ghosting - Sorry fellow CC members if I have broken ranks.....

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Darwin, Australia
Level 10

Thank you @Catherine-Powell , for taking the time to put this all down in this CC thread. It’s appreciated.  I attended/ participated in one of those sessions that you took part in (Australia and New Zealand) and it’s lovely to see that some of the concerns have been raised. Little steps are how big things grow. If they continue to grow in the right direction, we will stay, in this together. 🌻

 

@Mike-And-Jane0 , I’ve managed to put points of view across in threads right here in the CC as well as in Zoom meetings, of which HAB members have also attended. I feel they are hearing us and getting on with the tough gig. We all have a bit of the cynic in us, and I’m one of the first to admit it - but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Certainly when structure has to be changed from the original floor plans. As long as we all continue to raise concerns, as well as provide constructive options, I think we are all on the right path, assisting and improving the platform ….

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Jamestown, CA
Level 10

@Cathie19it’s great that you feel like your being heard. But if you look at the forum you’ll see very little of what we’re told is being implemented and supported by Airbnb. A host was recently shut down because off a revenge review. Another host had a 1 star revenge review removed but not the rating so she lost her Superhost status.  The platform updates make it easier for guests to book but with less security which becomes a safety issue. Guests don’t see the rules anymore they easily bypass everything and to top it off my listing no longer appears in my city even though the location is ideal for guests headed to Yosemite. All of these updates make it easier to Book but are making it our job to educate guests on how Airbnb works and not to mention I feel less safe and less supported. CS is often rude and uninformed. I get wrong information and bad advice and I have been yelled at on more than one occasion. My hope is that it improves but so far it’s just platitudes. 

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Zagreb, Croatia
Level 10

@Catherine-Powell 

I just want to say that I am hosting since 2016 and never, EVER, until this year, I had so much trouble wording my listings (too many text areas in frantic order, to many "show more" links and popup windows)

 

I also never had so much trouble getting my guests to find, expand and read the listing description

 

I also never had soooo much trouble getting my guests to FIND and then EXPAND AND READ OUR HOUSE RULES.

I mean... Airbnb hides it sooo well on the bottom of the page, behind a tiny "Show more" link so my guests and I have to exchange at least 4-6 or more messages until they find them. Do you know that even the links are different on mobile and desktop? On the desktop is "Show more" and on mobile is "Additional rules" which makes the whole search-and-find game more frustrating. 

I can't even send them a link bc it's a popup window.

I can't copy-paste them in a message bc I get a warning not to duplicate information!!!!

 

This is frustrating for guests and time-consuming for hosts. Why are you doing this to us??? Do you want to make the whole booking and check-in process quicker or more complicated?

 

Sure.... I can just let them book and arrive without forcing them to read anything (I've tried) and then I get surprised and frustrated guests who blame me for their failure to find and read important info hidden by Airbnb. Great.

 

 

 

 

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

For the life of me, I cannot understand why Airbnb insists on making the two most important parts of the listing ("House Rules" and "You must also acknowledge") so difficult to find and access. If guests were paired with the listing/host that best fit their needs from the get-go there would be far fewer problems and reasons to involved CS in the first place. Isn't that common sense?!

 

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Santa Paula, CA
Level 3

I’ve practically given up on communication with customer support. Just the other day, I had a guest who left crack cocaine at my place, at an out of the way, but fairly obvious place. My next group arrived with children. Fortunately I found it first. I called the police because this person was a 5th grade teacher, called airBnB customer support, explained all this, and the guest is still active on airBnB and her stay is still awaiting review. I’ve been passed down from one rep to the next, they were “escalating” my case and “will contact me”. That was a week ago now. When I call I get hung up on, “disconnected “ more times than I can count. I don’t get a call back. When there is written correspondence, often all I get as a follow up is “do you need more help?” and when I say yes I do!, I get a reply : “this case is now closed”. 
It is SO frustrating and so useless… and mostly unjust in disputes. I’ve learned to not involve them if I can, I pick my battles wisely. 

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Jamestown, CA
Level 10

@Szilvia3 I have had that happen. You have to start over and open a new  case. 

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

Level 2

wow i found so many weird reviews that made me wonder if i should start as a host on airbnb..

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Redmond, OR
Level 10

This comment/observation is just brilliant! It demonstrates that the horrible revenge  reviews which ABB posts are a negative incentive to book through the platform.!!!!!!!

    Know that the review system of VRBO is constructed to not allow negative libelous comments to appear. It is simply not possible for a guest to  cause harm to a Listing Host. 

   The number score the listing earns is posted and it speaks for itself. But no derogatory slanderous comments are posted.

   And VRBO platform never interferes with the relationship between client customer and host property provider. 

  ABB's core problems will not be resolved until it comes to a clear understanding of its proper role in the transaction as a service provider and marketing platform fee for service.

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Santa Paula, CA
Level 3

Yeah. I’ve done that so many times in the past. It’s very frustrating and time consuming. I’m also running into more and more agents who’s English isn’t proficient enough to grasp the situation. I literally can’t have a fluent conversation with them because they can’t follow. Hope someone who CAN actually read these posts and takes note…

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
KCMO, MO
Level 10

@Catherine-PowellThanks for the update. It's appreciated. Please know that long before I hosted on Airbnb I worked in a corporate environment so I know you have to word your responses carefully. I appreciate the feedback when it is offered.

Having said that:

Customer service isn't going to improve if it continues to be outsourced to third parties who hire  freelancers to answer the phone and perform under metrics that don't meet the needs of hosts. Everyone needs to have the same incentive to see the corporation succeed. I'm not sure that is happening just yet. Instead I feel like the CS staff are reading out of a manual of canned responses. My last contact with customer service was pretty dismal compared to the level of service received before the layoffs.

We are still not getting answers to the safety issues we've talked about for more than a year. The articles in the news give me pause (rape, dismembered body, million dollar payoffs, dedicated teams to deal with keeping it quiet). I don't want my family or colleagues to be the next set of "paid off by Airbnb" statistics. Fix the core problem. You made the discrimination worse (not better) by hiding identities and you've allowed a lot of fake hosts and guests to access the site. I have lived my entire life dealing with discrimination and that you partnered with some outside group to craft new rules not agreed to by hosts is pretty egregious. Their recommendations made it harder for those of us who are in marginalized communities and have no place in the equation.

Also - on bad guests and fake hosts - It's inconceivable that someone can create a fake site and Airbnb expects guests to verify it after the fact (note the article about Boy Scouts who showed up only to find an empty lot), or bad guests can just set up new accounts under a different name.  You don't even require the profile photo to be of the actual person. Hosts own and insure the inventory - send the leads and then get out of the way. If you have a host or guest that discriminates kick them off the platform (legitimate complaints - not the fake one from non-compliant users looking for cover because they refused to comply with house rules).

It may seem counterintuitive but Airbnb could actually make more money if it enhanced its brand by making it a bit harder to qualify, rather than take all warm bodies and hope for the best.

The review system needs a retrofit. A "3" is considered a failing grade but is worded "as expected." And Airbnb promised to once a year remove a review if it was out of step with other reviews.

What you have stated above is a step in the right direction. I've had 99% positive experiences and the few that weren't were not safety risks. But I'm concerned that Airbnb is playing a lottery with host safety and its unacceptable.

Fix the problem, win the game. It's not rocket science even with millions of users.

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Paso Robles, CA
Level 2

Christine - I absolutely agree with your comments.  Hosts are opening their homes to perfect strangers with the Airbnb model.  Hosts at the very least deserve a profile picture that allows for guest recognition upon check in.  I host anyone who has good reviews or is new to the Airbnb website.  I give guests with (1) negative review a chance to give their side of the story and have subsequently hosted almost every one of them.  I am not in the business to judge, discriminate, or "select " who stays in my properties - I want to host all people!  I agree requiring accurate profile photos is a must for safety reasons. 

 

Also agree, guests hand down Four Star Reviews with no real knowledge of the implications suffered by the host for anything less than Five Stars.  It is exceedingly discouraging to hosts with several hundred Five Star Reviews to receive low marks from an inexperienced guest who's only bases of comparison is hotels with a front desks and 24hr staff.  Not to mention the frustration exemplary hosts endure from guests who have damaged or caused problems during their stay.  After the superintending is over and property has been reconditioned, hosts then prepare for the final phase - the retaliatory review.  I have friends who sold their STR and are relieved to be done hosting after one such experience with an Airbnb guests last year.  

 

One thing not mentioned in the comments above is extending host travel credits.  I just booked a stay, chose the 50% payment option, then called CS to apply my credit.  CS tells me it's too late to apply the credit to the final amount owed.  Californians could not legally travel for most of the last year and a half; nor could we afford to travel because of the financial burden of Covid cancellations.  If Airbnb is going to extend the travel credits - then extend them! 

 

Many hosts are patiently waiting to see if Airbnb will return to the standards of years past.  Giving us our travel credits would be a small gesture.  Haven't hosts had enough hoops to jump through lately?  This is another examples of hosts not being told Airbnb's rules until it's after the fact.  Abiding by the "rules" is an arduous task for hosts as they are either hidden deep within the website, TOS, or simply communicated to us after the fact.   

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Orlando, FL
Level 1

Airbnb should definitely have a way for hosts to charge and request payments from damages BEFORE the guest is able to review the host. Its the only way to guarantee a " Fair" review from guests. 

 

 

Re: Answers to Hosts’ top questions from our Global Host Tour

in
Swansea, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Ariany4 Did you possibly mean that once reviews are exchanged and the Guest review has been left... Hosts can be free to make any damage claim?

Currently the Guest has to be put on notice of a pending claim... This in turn triggers a retaliatory review. Whereas if the reviews had been exchanged subsequent application by a Host for damage redress they may refer to in  review could be actioned? 

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