I would appreciate your advice and comments on my situation.....thanks in advance for taking the time!
A couple of weekends ago we had a booking at our property - our property is a guest house which includes 4 suites and communal areas such as kitchen, dining area, pool, outside seating etc etc.
The guest booked the complete guest house for 8 people (max person allowance) a few weeks in advance and asked for a late checkout (6pm) to which I agreed despite meaning we were unable to welcome new guests on their day of checkout.
Anyway, in the days leading up to the booking the guests sent a few messages asking questions about the property - does it have a kitchen? does it have a seating area? does it have a BBQ? amongst other things.... all of which made me think, she has not read my listing or the welcome message/house rules sent at the time of booking.
I also felt additionally concerned as other things she said made a feel like having a party was her intention, so, despite our refund/cancellation policy (we were 36 hours from the start of the booking) I offered her the opportunity to cancel the booking and receive a full refund as I knew if I cancelled the booking I would have been hit with lots of negative marks!
It turns out my suspicions we correct! When the guest arrived they were VERY shocked to find out that my wife and I lived on site despite the fact it is mentioned in the listing no less than 5 times.
Fast-forward to the night of the incident - lets skip the numerous house rules breaks up to this point, including entering my personal area and using and breaking my personal belongings.
Short version, they had a party which went on until 5am, we received complaints from the neighbours and had to ask them to keep the noise down multiple times - the problem was I kept worrying that if I upset them, they will leave me a bad review.....
The next morning, I was able to review the carnage in the light of day! I was also able to clearly see the RV camping on my drive way with the additional guests they had invited to their party. There was food up the walls, glass bottles in the pool, BBQ grease all over the floor, spilt drinks over cushions furniture...the list goes on!
It was at this stage I decided to call Airbnb and explain the problem to ask for advice and assistance in dealing with the matter. I was told a member of a designated team would call me back and I needed to wait for them but keep them informed if anything else happened.
Over the course of the day, I expected them to begin cleaning up from the night before...but no, the party started up again when they woke up and additional people arrived.
5 calls later to Airbnb telling them what was happening and explaining that I was worried if I intervened I would upset them a risk a negative review - I was assured they were in breach of not only my rules but Airbnb's policy around parties and event and that I had nothing to worry about, they even confirmed they supported my decision to force them to leave.
Now comes the forcing them to leave bit....this turned nasty pretty quick, they refused to leave, demanded a refund as the were leaving before the late checkout time and even went as far as to shout racially offensive comments to my 7 month pregnant wife - we had to threaten to call the police to make them actually leave.
Evidence of the party and the events that occurred went submitted to Airbnb and the investigation completed - I thought it was over....
However the guests have left us a 1 star review - I have contacted Airbnb about this explained the issue again and request they remove the review, guess what, they have said no!
The Party and Events policy says all parties are banned, however how can I enforce a policy Airbnb set if they will not support me when I enforce it. The terms even state that hosts who violate this rule and allow guests to throw parties may be subject to account consequences - I am in a no win situation and feel totally alone without any support from Airbnb at this stage.
There are clear contractions between what I have been told by your Airbnb, the terms and rules they have set for both hosts and guests and the outcome/effect of these events of my account.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
@James1813 Reality check: in practice, most of the terms of Airbnb's Party and Events Policy actually punish hosts for failing to prevent parties, rather than penalizing guests for breaking the rules. Their agenda here is not to protect your home (that's considered the host's job) but rather to stave off the bad PR they get every time a community is terrorized by another Airbnb house party - several of which have ended in mass shootings.
If you suffered expensive damage, I truly hope you're able to get compensation. But the bitter truth here is that every bit of it could have been completely prevented, had you asserted control over the property and taken action when you had the chance.
Not to give you a harder time than you're already having here, but I've seen literally hundreds of stories like yours, and it's painful to see the common narrative weaving through all of them:
1) the host is so afraid of a bad review that they neglect to take action on a series of obvious red flags
2) the inevitable disaster occurs, and the host helplessly waits for Airbnb to pick up the phone, as though they could do anything about it
3) the situation spirals out of control, even to the point that public resources (e.g. law enforcement) have to be expended on it
4) the host's illusions about Airbnb being there to protect them are shattered, and they still get that bad review they were afraid of.
The moral of the story here is that you have to take decisive action to enforce your rules and defend your home first and foremost. Don't wait for one of Airbnb's useless support agents to give you permission or advice. Act with the assumption that, as the person responsible for the property, you are "totally alone," because in fact you are.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to me.
Unfortunately you have confirmed some of my suspicions regarding Airbnb and their reason for the public appearance of this policy.
Also interesting to hear that my situation is a normal occurrence - not just interesting, quite saddening actually when the realisation hits you that the hosts are second class to guests!
Thanks again, happy hosting!
@James1813 One major downside to hosting with Airbnb is that, in the last 2 years, the brand has become synonymous with Party House in vast swathes of popular culture. They have a bigger catchment than other listing platforms, but you can't let your guard down with the kind of guests they deliver.
For the most part, though, if you resume renting private rooms with a supervised common area, rather than supplying the whole guesthouse to one group, a situation like this one isn't likely to recur. You have a fantastic space, and all the guests who booked under the normal parameters seem to really appreciate it.
Thanks again Andrew!
My wife and I were talking about something very similar!
I think vastly increasing my vetting process on while house groups is step 1.
Thanks for your kind words too!!
@James1813 I suggest you message Airbnb customer support and in VERY simple terms state your issue and copy them their party review policy. Do keep it simple though
Guest arrived xx date
Guest had party
Airbnb informed of party xx time
Guest asked to leave
Guest left bad review
Policy says YY
Request Airbnb delete review per above policy
Thanks for the reply.
I have done this, however it was not simple - it was pretty descriptive.
I’ll await a reply and attempt this method!
Thank you again for your time!
Also going forward please learn from this
Don't offer the guest the chance to cancel . Tell Airbnb you need the booking cancelled penalty free because you are uncomfortable with the guests booking
if you know the guest is breaking the house rules don't just tell them to turn the music down. reinforce your house rules which I presume says only guests on the booking can be at your listing
if the music goes up a second time . All non paying guests have to leave and you need to go to the listing and inspect and record damage .
personally I would have kicked them all out after they turned the music up a second time rather let them stay and party again the next night
Thank you for your response,
I did not realise this was possible, I thought that if I cancelled a booking before the start I would face penalties from Airbnb and also be open to a review from the guest?
@James1813 Sure, you could receive penalties for cancelling a booking before the start, if you can't convince Airbnb that it is warranted. Sometimes it's just a matter of whether you get an understanding rep or not, luck of the draw. But as you've sadly found out, being afraid to incur Airbnb's penalties is not worth the possible aftermath of accepting someone you have a strong feeling has ill intent.
And there serms to be a way that some hosts get what they want from Airbnb and some don't. If you act like they're the boss and you're begging them to help you, that you are powerless, or conversely, get mad and demanding, neither of those approaches work.
Being firm about what you are asking for, unemotional, informed about policy, with the pertinent policies at hand you can quote to them if need be, patient and polite, but persistent, seems to be the approach with the best chance of eventual success.
As for a review, if a booking is cancelled within 24 hours before check- in, a review will be prompted. Anytime before that, no. If a host cancels a booking, and Airbnb insists that it is a penalty imposed host cancellation, then "Host cancelled this booking XX days before check-in" will appear on your review page, but that is generated by Airbnb, the guest doesn't leave that as a review.
Thank you for the help and information!
I will be sure to act as you describe with the reps!
If the rep I speak to says no to removing the review, do you recommend being persistent with them or simply starting again with a new rep? And then continuing until you get someone that helps and follows the procedure?
@James1813 So sorry you got lulled into a false sense of security by Airbnb. It’s true, their party and events policy exists solely to improve their public image, and is meaningless for hosts who are the boots on the ground. Shameful business, but it is what it is. NEVER trust in or rely on Airbnb for anything.
You’ve learned a lot through this fiasco, gotten some sound input from other hosts, and will be fine going forward. Do be persistent in getting that review removed. That’s what it will take…persistence. In the meantime, your response to the review clearly indicates exactly what went down. Well done. Best of luck!
Thank you for taking the time!
I really did, I expected Airbnb to not only uphold their policies but at least not directly lie to me!
I will keep asking for a review of the review - hopefully someone at Airbnb shows some kind of compassion and common sense!
@James1813 Sorry this happened to you. You had a bad feeling about this booking from the get-go, when it was obvious they hadn't bothered to read the listing info. In the future, always trust your intuition and pay heed to obvious red flags. Had you declined or cancelled this booking at the outset, all this could have been avoided.
There are the occasional guests with nefarious intent who manage to say all the right things to make it through a host's vetting procedures, but more often there are red flags, as there were with this one.
And never tiptoe around a guest's bad behavior in fear of a bad review. Bad guests almost always leave bad reviews, no matter how much you try to accommodate them, or hold your tongue in the face of their disrespect.
Thank you for your assistance!
We actually contemplated removing the full house listing altogether in order to stop the possibility of this issue but then we remembered the other guests we have had who simply arrived as a family and were the perfect guests!
So, my wife and I had decided to create a new and strict vetting process for all large group guests where we require information on the group, reason for the stay and where the guests are from - if I had done this with this group, it would have been obvious.
Thank you again for taking the time!