Dear Airbnb, 


Regarding the overhaul of the Airbnb site into categories and removing control from hosts; I understand what you were going for but this should have been tested for usability by both hosts and travelers in the form of a ride-along widget to the existing legacy functionality of the site before a system-wide change.  Hopefully, you are reading these forums, hopefully, your CEO is reading these forums because Airbnb just f----- royally with the core of your product: your hosts.  My bookings since this change was implemented have ceased, visibility non-existent and from what I am reading this is affecting thousands if not millions of other hosts.

 

Brian Chesky, my name is Kim Grijalva and I am the face of Airbnb along with millions of other hosts. I hope you take the time to read and hear from us.  

 

When Covid hit, so many people stepped up and offered their places for workers and did their part to give back. In the midst of what was happening around the world, Airbnb rose to meteoric success with a product in the right place at the right time, but they didn't do it alone; it was on the backs of hard-working hosts like myself. But we loved Airbnb, great tools, great interface, insights... we made money, Airbnb made money and travelers had options — from a treehouse in Peru to a staycation weekend an hour from home and everything in between. It was a Win-Win-Win. 

My business pre covid was running a design and marketing firm, and my primary clientele were 5-star resorts: Four Seasons, Hyatt, St Regis, etc. As you know, the travel industry was decimated, all the mentioned hotel companies shuttered, and even Marriott, the biggest of the "Big" had massive layoffs. But people picked up and did what they had to to survive. For us, that was sinking everything we had to create a special place on an old farm and run it like I'd seen for 25 years among my core clientele in the travel industry. Airbnb was different; they gave "Small" a chance to compete with "Big." We hosts were doing what we loved, we had hit our stride, and we were not just surviving but thriving, enjoying what we were doing and meeting wonderful guests along the way. Connecting with people and creating the face of Airbnb.

 

We are stylists, photographers, marketers, and creative experience curators. But then Airbnb gets "Big," really big, and so it decides to feed that big ego, and like the hotel valet that parks the most expensive and sexiest sports car in the front of the hotel, Airbnb parked the best, sexiest of all listings front and center and we "Small" independent, hard-working hosts now relegated to the mire of stuff that was deemed not so special were floating around somewhere else, considered too dumb to be able to properly tag our listings with accurate locations or descriptions, our places went from wow to where? Our hearts were broken because we foolishly thought Airbnb was different from Amazon, Facebook, and Google. We thought Airbnb saw us as people that couldn't be replaced by Ai and that they knew that without us, they'd be nothing; that they'd created nothing tangible, nothing crafted, curated; not a single calloused hand. 0 product, 0 experiences, 0 heart, 0 loyalty. 

34 Replies

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
Jersey City, NJ
Level 10

@Huma0   Yeah, our views are down now to 3-5 a day, although that did not kick in until maybe a week or so after the new roll-out.  I don't do a ton of analytics but roughly we need to see around 20-30 views a day in order to be fully booked.  For now, it's fine since we have already made our minimum expectation $$ for the year.  We still have almost all of December open, and we have gotten zero inquiries about open dates in the fall, but that's okay for now.

 

Going forward though, we can't keep the entire 1st floor vacant for Airbnb if we're getting only 3 views a day.  And that means, that even if my partner doesn't really want to rent the first floor to a long term tenant, we won't have a choice unless they fix the algo.

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Mark116 

 

Because I host long term stays, I don't need that many reservations to be fully booked, but I still need people to be able to see my listings! One of them is down to an average of 0.6 views a day for the past month. That's dire.

 

In recent months, my bookings finally went back to pre-COVID levels, i.e. the calendar was fully booked except for dates that were blocked. Right before the release, it was especially busy, with enquiries every day and I also had to turn people away. For example, a visiting nurse who stayed with me has tried several times to book with me again but the rooms were always already booked and it's not like she was contacting me last minute, but a couple of months in advance.

 

I noticed immediately after the release that my most popular room had somehow been buried in the searches and non one was getting in touch about it.  However, the other two were showing, provided I really focused in on my area, put specific dates and did not use the category searches at all. I was also getting some enquiries the first few days, so I was not overly worried.

 

However, the views for all listings have dived dramatically and I realise that most of the enquiries I got since the launch were in those first few days. In the past three weeks or so, I've only had two enquiries. This is not normal at all for this time of year when I usually get contacted by loads of students wanting to book stays starting in September when the universities reopen.

 

Luckily, I already had bookings to take me to end of August/early September. After that, there's literally nothing. Nada. 

 

A current guest wants to rebook her room from September for at least two semesters, most probably the whole academic year, so I might be sorted for one room. I have another guest who comes to stay for a few weeks several times a year. Then there is the student nurse who keeps trying and failing, to book with me. I don't know when her course ends though. Perhaps between them, they will keep me afloat for a few months more, but I can't know that for sure at this point. 

 

I don't want to rent to long term tenants (unless it's someone I already know, e.g. a former airbnb guest) either. I decided to do airbnb for exactly that reason! However, I don't know how long I can hold out before I will need to take that decision. At the moment, the calendar is completely empty from 10th September onwards. If I get an occasional booking here and there with huge gaps in between, then I won't have the option to rent out the rooms in the traditional way and I'll be stuffed! 

 

As it's an entire floor, are you able to rent your listing on other platforms?

 

 

 

 

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 2

I absolutely agree. My views for my holiday cabin here on the Isle of Wight (UK) have sunk like a stone since the new highly publicised changes were made to the Airbnb platform… and along with that my bookings have stopped. I changed my category from cabin to chalet to conform with the new changes but when I try to find my listing by searching “Isle of Wight” as location and “Chalet” as Category, I get chalets all over the world!!!!!!  I rely on summer bookings (May to September) as we are a holiday island. I HAVE NO BOOKINGS AT ALL. The crazy random week given by the platform was November!!!  Completely outside of our summer holiday season. These changes have lost my income for this summer. 

I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHY OUR PROBLEMS AS HOSTS HAVE NOT REACHED THE MEDIA. THESE CHANGES WERE TRUMPETED TO ALL OUTLETS BY AIRBNB. IT’S OUR TURN NOW TO LET THE PUBLIC KNOW THAT THIS SITE IS NOW BROKEN. 

 

I am going to have to wade my way through another platform’s software, such as VRBO to get listed there as I will have no income from Airbnb by September 30th if I don’t. 

 

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
North Stonington, CT
Level 10

This is very disheartening. I have spoken to Airbnb since posting this letter. They reached out to say the host team is working with the development team to look for remedies. I was pleased they connected with me directly and that they are diligently looking for fixes for many of these problems. It's so unfortunate and shortsighted in how this rolled out. While Airbnb was once a Win-Win-Win it now weights more heavily on benefitting Airbnb primarily, travelers are OK to some degree with this change but hosts clearly are not doing well. My views are actually up but we are in an area that is highly searched for this time of year, but my conversion rates and Wishlists are way down and I have almost 0 fall bookings which typically would be filling up this time of year. I believe that is due to a confusing for traveler search platform that is serving up too much but not the right stuff. i.e., A search for Mystic, CT then click on the farm stays and it zooms out to include farm stays hundreds of miles away from the area of interest. This zoom in zoom out is exhausting for travelers so while they see my place they aren't booking.   I have had to switch my website away from Airbnb to CloudBeds and started running advertising. Airbnb didn't see this through as to how it would affect business. I believe they were focused on the ego of the brand and being a game-changer in the industry insofar as changing the way travelers search for vacations. I like categories but they shouldn't have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. So sorry to see how this has affected your business but I do recommend you diversify your listings to at least 5 top listing sites and work with a site like CloudBeds that congregates all of your listings to a dashboard that you manage. It doesn't mean you don't use Airbnb it just means you don't rely on it as your primary booking engine as many of us have. 

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
North Stonington, CT
Level 10

Stephanie,

 

You reached out to me when I first got on the platform to see if I wanted to do a host profile and that made an impact, I have since sung the praises for this company.

 

But what has occurred to me over the past two weeks is that Airbnb thought it was simply a really great tech company that books out travel/vacation product better than any other platform in its class, and certainly gave Marriott a run for its money. 

 

What Airbnb neglected to realize is that it's a People and a Service Company. Unlike Facebook, Google, and Amazon, Airbnb's success derives from the human connection between host and traveler. 95% of my reviews mention me and my husband as part of what made the guest's experience at our place so lovely, memorable, above and beyond. It's called hosting. I collect emails from all of my guests and ask them if I can reach out and send them updates, I also have them follow me on Facebook and my website which by the way, until last week listed Airbnb as my preferred booking engine. I know many hosts and they too build their direct database. Imagine if just 1 million of your hosts decide to direct book with 50 of their top customers? What does that look like for Airbnb's bottom line? Customer retention takes 10 times fewer marketing dollars than getting new business. Early reports from my past guests is that Airbnb just took something simple and easy and overcomplicated it. 

 

You, the support team, and your CEO need to stop looking at this as a "recent update". This was a complete dismantling of what existed prior and a new Airbnb that decided to go it solo; to position product over people because it thought its tech guys were smarter than its hosts, that algorithms and Ai could streamline and serve up a better more accurate experience. I have spent my career in the travel industry: know your product and your customer and balance both equally and with the same level of service. Loss of revenue for hosts means loss in product, people and profits for Airbnb. 

 

I read an interview with Brian Chesky in CNBC Make It which was published on May 16, in the article she writes about the secret to landing a coveted spot in the company. That the CEO more than anything values curiosity in employees and his aim is to build the culture of Airbnb around that principle, and Human Connection. I had to laugh when I read this. It seems he overlooked the millions of partners that already made up the culture of Airbnb. And I think we all would have appreciated him being a tad more curious about how this "update" would affect so many of us. 

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
Keswick, United Kingdom
Level 2

My property is in the heart of The Lake District National Park. My entire town is showing zero properties if you select "National Parks" as a category. That's not helping guests or hosts, it's showing incompetence and lack of understanding of the locations. About half of the LDNP has been excluded from the NP category, so visitors new to the area won't know that they're not being shown the properties near lakes, towns and mountains north of Ambleside. Keswick's the biggest town in the Park, but not included in the category.

I've reported it through the app, sent in screenshots of the LDNP map/boundaries from the givernment website, screenshots of no properties in half of the park. Let's see how long it takes to fix.

Surely allowing hosts to select categories and requesting back-up info (such as a postcode for location or a screenshot of a map for distance to woods/lakes/beaches or a photograph) would work better than whatever has been done here.

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
Richmond, CA
Level 2

Thank you for reading and following this concern. I am experiencing a dramatic drop in bookings since the launch of the nee platform as well. Please please please fix this! Or you will loose all your super hosts. 

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

Level 10

@Stephanie 

 

Nice words, when will any of us get a real answer outside of we're passing it on.. Has Airbnb considered how many of their hosts they may lose jn the interim???  Pennies add up.

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
North Stonington, CT
Level 10

Given that they made this massive overhaul and community admins still refer to it as an update, my guess would be Airbnb is getting it anytime soon.

 

The problem is that Airbnb thought they were a tech tool serving up product, they didn't realize they were in the people business, and apparently they need to brush up on their skills. 

 

90% of my guest reviews mention me as contributing to their overall positive experience. Airbnb thinks it's all about the spaces, places, and details which it is but the human connection is what connects the guest to Airbnb and creates an overall positive experience that keeps people coming back. The fallout of this decision may take longer to affect their bottom line but the profound loss will be spread far and wide. I have already moved my listing to three other sites and will go back to all of my past guests and ask that they book direct instead of through Airbnb. I have already had past guests contact me via email and said they couldn't find my listing and got so frustrated bouncing from weeks to flexible, zooming in and out on the map that they gave up and called 

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Kimberly718 wrote:

 

 

90% of my guest reviews mention me as contributing to their overall positive experience. Airbnb thinks it's all about the spaces, places, and details which it is but the human connection is what connects the guest to Airbnb and creates an overall positive experience that keeps people coming back. 


Yes, exactly. Same here and many of my guests want to return. I soon have a couple who stayed in 2017, are getting married and coming back for part of their honeymoon. Think of that. They chose to spend some of their honeymoon in my little old homeshare that they stayed in years ago, not one of the fancy Plus properties that Airbnb is pushing so hard with this new release.

 

Today I had a guest tell me she loved me (in a platonic and very sweet way) and I have even had guests cry because they were leaving. Let's see the Airbnb algorithm assess that. 

 

Of course, there are some guests who just want a cheap place to stay where they can behave like they are in a hotel without paying hotel prices. However, my experience is that there are plenty of others who choose the personal touch/an interactive and friendly, helpful host, and that is why they come to Airbnb instead of booking a hotel. That is surely the premise that Airbnb built its business on and still tries to push in its messaging today.

 

Yet, at the same time, Airbnb is trying to take the host completely out of the equation. Maybe we are just too stroppy for them. And where does our Head of Hosting, @Catherine-Powell fit into these latest decisions? Surely she was consulted? Catherine, I would love to know what you think about all of this...

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
New London, WI
Level 2

I also started posting my Airbnb listing on  " Wisconsin Resorts, Cottages, and Cabins Rentals" 

 

Guests can post what their are looking for.  Hosts can post what they have.  If I see a guest looking for a place, and what I have might be what their looking for as far as amenities, size, amount of people I post my Airbnb link. 

 

There has been much talk about Airbnb on there.  Some are guests  not liking Airbnb, some hosts are not liking it and think of going to VIRBO or other sites or on their own.

 

Just putting it out there.  Has Airbnb asked everyone of their hosts ideas or just the bigger  hosts.  I would think they would put it out there, or should and put ideas or similar ones in categories and then decide before they just toss it out there.  It was a good idea on categories but how they did it screwed the littler guys along with how they are just tossing dates in there making it look like that was the only date left  on that persons business.  Just leave it a "check availability" not here is the date "reserve" 

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 2

@Stephanie 

Agree that Airbnb have totally lost their way and have for some years. 

It is next to impossible for a host to get any assistance from Airbnb. 

Have a current problem with a guest trying the trumped up complaints/blackmail scam. 

First attempt to get help by online chat resulted in Airbnb dismissing it as a previous issue. Rather strange seeing the guest only arrived yesterday. Second attempt by phone resulted in me talking to someone in the Phillippines who had worked for Airbnb for 2 months, had a dog howling and barking in close proximity, and  appeared unable to understand the situation. 

Where are the people we can contact and rely on to help us?

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
Ontario, Canada
Level 1

I haven't had a booking and don't come up in categories although they are waterfront

 

They show up in location but when waterfront filter is used properties hundreds of miles away show up.

I also miss the unique names.

Wish they'd unroll this update 🙁

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
North Stonington, CT
Level 10

Hopefully, the community forum is being read by people who can actually implement a fix for this. They keep referring to it as an update. It was not an update it was a complete overhaul and it's killing our business. 

Re: Airbnb You Broke Our Heart and Our Business ...

in
Martin, SD
Level 3

None of this comes as a surprise anymore. Airbnb, with its pretentious leader Brian Chesky, continues to thumb his nose at the hosts who are the backbone of Airbnb. Airbnb has lost its compass and no longer cares for its hosts. I have been dealing with their poor quality customer service on numerous ocassions and who could forget what happened to hosts with their so called "extenuating circumstances" policy which robbed hosts of millions of dollars for disregard of host cancelation policies? I have already minimized the number of months lead time for Airbnb guest to book my condos from 6 to 3 months and I am considering leaving the platform if Brian does not want to listen to the hosts. The hosts are what makes this platform viable. Without us, they have no platform. I am opening my condos on other platforms with longer booking lead times since Brian refuses to respect input from hosts. I have spoken to many condo owners in Maui and they tell me the best thing they ever did was to leave Airbnb's platform. 

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