Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

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At Airbnb, we started out with a close working relationship between our employees and hosts. Lots of our best ideas came directly from you, and we’re returning to that type of collaborative partnership that can help make each other better. 

 

Today, we’re excited to share a video featuring our new Global Head of Hosting Catherine Powell, who outlines her plan to rebuild our business around hosts like you. Her main focus: more transparency. 

 

 

Once you’ve watched the video, we’d really love to hear from you. Please let us know what you’d like us to cover in future Host Updates with Catherine. 

 

Thank you. 

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308 Replies

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Zagreb, Croatia
Level 10

I hope Catherine Powell has hosted herself, it freaks me out to have new manager who will impose new roles on us hosts, and doesn't have a clue on how it is actually is to host!

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Emigrant, MT
Level 2

Thank you for your outreach.  I feel working with hosts you need to meet their needs.  If the Host  places the Guest First, the Experiences of the Guest will automatically be there.  We have been in the Hospitality boutique (small and quaint at a number one location, Yellowstone National Park) for 28 years.  Because we are professional, it irritates me when we cannot through AIR BNB send out our automatic Welcome letter and Thank you note.  And share the details we give our Guests in Education, Service and Breakfast.  I trust your expertise will help us be a Team in Hospitality.  I travel International often and have stayed in some AIR BNB's and improvement is needed on both sides of Hospitality.  Looking forward to the Education and communication I hope Hosts will be able to share with Guests who come through you.   Warmly, Carol Reed

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Kendal, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Catherinepowell - Who doesn't even have a tag.

 

Mickey and Donald have big ears.

 

Mickey and Donald use them for listening. That's what they're for. 

 

Airbnb should grow a pair of ears and listen to everything that Hosts have already been saying, listened to everything hosts have said in 'Listening Sessions' and 'listened' to the complaints on this forum for at least the last 5 years.

 

What makes a single word of this introduction more believable than the first time it was regurgitated? 

 

Fabulous to hear that 'Online Experiences' - an offspring of 'Experiences' are doing so well... this announced immediately after Brian Chesky's claim that Airbnb were 'Going back to their roots'. Online Experiences are a new venture. It was these 'new ventures' in hotels and housing projects which cost all the money that hosts generated, held in trust at Airbnb, that was squandered. Which also lead to you providing an appalling customer service because you sacked customer service staff. You never had the money on hand which we as Hosts put there.

 

Yet still, now, Guests and Hosts are paying full fees for a Full, Professional Service, and you are providing a CR&p service. This is all your fault. Airbnb. @Airbnb Stop blaming Covid - that didn't spend 'our' - the Hosts' money. You did.

 

Airbnb couldn't cover the debts they built up, couldn't pay hosts their cancellation fees, and couldn't sustain their service because they, Airbnb squandered the cash they held in trust.

 

Trust. Is that what you are asking of us now? How can you ask for that when you command none?

 

Hopefully, your next video will be to announce the abolition of the Extenuating Circumstances policy, that policy which is now making hosts, who you rely on, destitute. Those same hosts on whom in this video you claim " It is the Hosts, their Homes, their Culture, their Passion, their Uniqueness that make all this possible".

 

To add to that; One of your sacked managers stated " It is the hosts who hold this thing together".

 

Just remember that.

 

You must have no conscience treating hosts in the way that you do.

 

Although now it's all going to be different?

 

As if.

 

Start to earn trust. Abolish the Extenuating Circumstances Policy and Hosts might be willing to consider offering their help.

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Pittsburgh, PA
Level 3

Amen.  My experience so far with AirBnB support is that the Host is always wrong and will be punished.  Guests are permitted to abuse the system and cancel bookings for the Host.  They can bypass cancellation policies whenever they want and when you take it to support, the Host is the bad guy.   I have a guest right now holding out on a 31 day booking refusing to follow the lease procedure that we put in front of him and guess what will happen?  He'll back out at the last minute, throw a fit and get AirBnB to force a refund and then I lose a whole month of income.  Awesome.

 

Here's my suggestion:  Treat Hosts like your customer because we are.  If you had no Hosts then you would have no guests and the way things are going, your hosts will leave you the minute some other platform comes around that treats them better.  I know I will.

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Montclair, NJ
Level 2

Great point.  I too worked in hotel/restaurant industry for many years before becoming an AirBnB host.  You make great points.

 

The most significant one you make to me is the fact that SuperHost status is truly questionable. I have stayed in a few myself and was frankly appalled.  I also had a friend choose to use AirBnB in Barcelona, SP and it was horrible.  She based her decision from staying in my AirBnB and thought all SuperHosts mean high quality.

 

I have asked innumerable times about the Plus and get nowhere.  I know it is hard for them to know and not sure why people rate something with 5s when I would give a 0-2.  I didn't even rate some SuperHosts (I know..likely should have) because I didn't have the heart to give an honest review.  I left them cleaner than when I checked-in.  

 

I am hopeful for a new culture--a tough thing to change--hopeful nonetheless.

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Luanda, Angola
Level 1

Good point, and i hope is not the case

M&M

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

Oh well, thats 7.50 minutes of my life wasted. If Catherine were serious she could easily have researched the top 5 issues brought up in this forum and actually addressed hosts concerns. Sadly not but at least my expectations are low and the only way is up!

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

My concern is how we are going to be measured, going forward.

 

If home hosts and experience hosts are being managed by one person,  with a background in theme park entertainment, I fear hosts' review criteria are going to drift more and more to "overall experience" which is inordinately subjective, at best. 

 

I heard a very strong drift toward "guest experience", and nothing about "host experience".  Which is unsurprising, given the trends of past years.   In other words, hosts are not supposed to enjoy hosting - hosts only exist to ensure guests enjoy being whatever they want to be in a host's home. 

 

Perhaps I should start thinking about digging out my Halloween costumes, so I can be the entertainment. 

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

Administrator in
Malibu, CA
Administrator

Hi @Michelle53,

 

Thank you for your comment. You are right that we need to focus on both the host and the guest experience. And my priority right now is to ensure we are providing hosts with the tools and support they need to succeed. We want to empower hosts to do what they love in the best possible way - and this will inevitably lead to a great guest experience. Which means our guests come back, and recommend airbnb. Which drives your business. But this flywheel of success only starts when the host experience is flourishing. And this is where I am focused.

 

Catherine

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Catherine-Powell 

 

Hi Catherine,

 

Thanks for the response, in what, I am sure, must be busy times. Responses to hosts are so important, and in somewhat short supply. 

 

I'm sure hosts all want to hear about tools and support. I'll post some of my thoughts on my top host issues, although I'm sure others will have more. 

 

1. Better ability to screen prospective guests, especially new guests with no prior reviews. 

 

Happy guests are guests that are a good fit for the listing (and, as home hosts, we are all different, and offer different amenities).    Guests need to have up-front access to house rules, not because we want to be proscriptive, but because expectations set up front prevent misunderstandings later.

 

2. Better ability for guests, particularly first-time guests, to understand how to book,  and communicate via Airbnb messaging.

 

This may seem simplistic, but, time after time, folks lob in a "request-to-book", and fail to realize they ought to be looking out for host messages via the messaging system. Possibly, they do not have app notifications turned on. 

 

Unconfirmed guests provide no/limited profile info, no photo, and no contact information.  We often have follow-up questions for a prospective guest, particularly in these times of Covid-19, that we need answers to, in order to decide whether or not a guest will be a good fit. 

"Instant Book" is not a good fit for every host, and we shouldn't be pushed into having it switched on. 

 

3. Revisit the programmatic AI responses.

 

Insistence on instant book, price discounting, increasing length of stay, reducing length of stay, chiding for declining poor-fit guests, or guests with prior bad reviews, and general manipulative behavior by AI, while dramatically slowing hosts' ability to speak to an actual person in support.  In many cases, a machine cannot substitute for a person. 

 

4. The review system in general

 

Much has been said about the review system, but little ever changes. Hosts are measured to a very high standard. Ok, that is fine by itself, but the fact that one single outlier bad review (often from a disgruntled guest) can totally sink one's overall rating, requiring many, many great reviews to overcome, is substantially unfair, and needs to be properly addressed, if one is going to measure host experience. 

 

I could, of course, go on for many pages, but if these items could be remedied, it would be a great start.  Of course, I also realize that wholesale hosts with many cookie-cutter hotel-type listings care more about standardization and throughput. It's essentially a quantity vs quality discussion. My belief is that smaller home hosts care about quality over quantity. 

 

Thank you

Michelle

 

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

Administrator in
Malibu, CA
Administrator

@Michelle53 

Hi Michelle

thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on the top issues. Some of these i am already looking at, but I will dig into all your points. Only thing i ask is that you give me some time! There are many urgent priorities for hosts that need addressing.

My last point - i couldn't agree with you more, that it is about quality over quantity!

Best

Catherine

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Erindale, Australia
Level 2

@Catherine Powell - not that you appear to have a tag!

Ok Catherine

So how about you provide me with the support that I need? 

My property in South Australia was trashed by a "guest" in March of this year with 000s of dollars of damage.

Despite Airbnb's claims that you're "here to help" , I've had no help. Not even a sensible reply from any one of the 10 or so people I've had correspondence from.

How else am I supposed to prove that I purchased replacement linen, other than provide a copy of the receipt?

How am I supposed to provide photographs of a fan and a vacuum cleaner that don't work?

How am I supposed to provide photographs of the smell of mould on linen left wet in a washing machine for weeks?

Clearly these sorts of questions are intended to make me go away; they're evidence that Airbnb staff have no idea of reality and absolutely no interest in helping.

Shame on you.

Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

Online Community Manager in
London, United Kingdom
Online Community Manager

Hi @Anne9458,

 

I'm really sorry to hear about the damage that your guests caused, and the difficulty you have had in claiming for it. I've just spoken to the Support team and have received an update from them, so I will send you a DM with more details.

 

Thanks,
Katie

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Re: Introducing Catherine Powell, our new Global Head of Hosting

in
Finniss, Australia
Level 1

Hi Catherine, I am not sure if you can help me, but I have tried every way I can think of to contact Airbnb.  I have listed an experience which was approved, then I was meant to have my first guest today and when I contacted them yesterday to say I was looking forward to meeting them, they told me that Airbnb had cancelled their booking.  I called Airbnb and Michael who I spoke to said he would need to look into it and get someone to call me back, I then received an email from him saying that my experience had been cancelled and it was their final decision.  The fact that I hadnt even hosted my first experience confused me.  I tried calling back again and was told that I would need to speak to Michael and they would send thru an urgent request for him to call me back.  I then tried calling again and was told that the girl would try to contact him and left me on hold for over an hour and a half.  I would really like to know why my experience was cancelled and cant seem to be able to get anyone to tell me.  

Regards Tracy

 

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