Hello, I just started hosting last December and for the first time (via Airbnb platform) I have mid term guests. These guests (husband, wife, 3 kids, and dog) have been at my house around 55ish days now. They are paid up until Sept 30th. Here's what has happened so far from initial communications in June:
They asked if I could be flexible with them and let them only pay until end of September, but they may stay until February - they were not sure of an exact end date, but they needed my calendar blocked without payment
• I gave them the Airbnb at half price
• I blocked my whole calendar for months for free with no payment
They asked if they could arrive a week early "since no one will be there" kind of acting like I would allow them for free since no one else was booked.
• I allowed unplanned early arrival by one week and added half price discount
(I had to take 2 vacation days at this point to clean because I didn't have enough time in between people with busy work schedule, etc)
They asked if they could arrive another day early for free
• Allowed another unplanned early arrival by a day and gave for free
• Also gave additional $100 discount because of road construction that had just started near the home.
They asked to use the house for the school registration and if they could get their mail forwarded to Airbnb
• Allowed forwarded mail and address to be used for school registration
They had a package delivered early to home before check-in date and then arrived with an unplanned dog
Asked if they could be added to the ring cameras and other cameras (not typical)
• Allowed Ring cameras, said dog was okay, took pic of the package and let them know it arrived
When they arrived, they asked how to close the electric gate. I responded "with the remote that is on the snack basket labeled 'electric gate remote'" There were tons of little communications like this, but I'll leave those out.
They asked if they could have an extra remote to the electric gate
• I gave them number to the gate company and direct number to Jean who works there, found PDF for manual and forwarded it, all just in case. I called gate company and they said they don’t set up remotes.
• I ordered a remote from Amazon and had to learn how to set up extra electric gate remote myself (which wasn’t hard), ordered Liftmaster box keys, etc. I did not charge them an additional charge to for this extra remote.
After a few days, they messaged about downstairs half bath fan being stuck on like it was an emergency, although it was not on when I arrived the next morning.
• I came over the next morning and fixed it. Also, I tried a different electric remote I bought for gate, since the one I ordered from Amazon didn’t come in yet, but didn’t work.
They messaged about miscellaneous mail that is coming in and what to do with it
• I told them about how you can return mail to sender
They messaged me about ants and what to do (I have organic and non organic pesticide in the house) - said they didn’t have ants in Seattle
• I came over the next day, wiped up the ants, caulked the baseboards, sprayed with organic spray, left them more spray and supplies, put Terro baits down inside and outside, and plugged in some electric pest repellers, also called 4 exterminators and had one come out the following business day
They messaged me about 2 lizards in the bathroom “just wanted me to be aware”
• Explained it’s just Texas and the geckos are everywhere, usually outside, but may have come in because of the spraying
I messaged them that hail was coming their way during a thunderstorm and that Oncor had texted me saying their power was out.
• I offered to come over with coolers and ice for food, they declined.
• I gave them the link to get electric updates to their phone.
• I sent screenshots from NextDoor about other neighbors conversations about power being out
• I stayed up all night monitoring the situation and emailing updates from Oncor - Oncor kept pushing back the power on time.
• By morning the husband seemed very upset the power wasn’t back on, so I gave him $50 for the inconvenience. He happily accepted it. Power came on at that time. (out from ~7PM to 6AM)
They messaged me about how they can keep their small dog from fitting through a gap in the fence caused by the moving electric gate.
• Advice about using boards in the shed (for really small dogs) is in the Airbnb manual. I also spoke to the wife about using boards in the shed when we were outside and the pest control guy showed up.
• When the husband contacted me about what possibly to do, I figured they just didn’t want to use the boards, so I mentioned several other things I could come over and do to fill the gap. He ended up fixing the gap himself with the boards in the shed which amazed me he could fix anything!
(Their dog is small like a cat)
And they are leaving their dog outside and in the garage which is stated in the Airbnb house manual as a "no no.” The dog is constantly scratching the storm door to get in. I am wondering how many doors are scratched right now.
I contacted the couple about me coming over to change the Air filter. The husband told me about his girls ripping curtain hardware from wall and asked if I had wall anchors. (they have 3 children)
• I came over the very next day and changed the Air filter in the attic, fixed the curtains, and did other maintenance like changing out the ring camera batteries. No charge for anything.
They messaged me about puddles and sent me pictures.
• Explained again that it’s Texas and it thunderstorms here and puddles happen. He said they don’t get puddles in Seattle since it just mists.
At this point I feel they are trying to get more discounts.
They called several times Sunday night (Sept 6th) from 8:20 to 8:40PM hanging up and leaving no message. I called back after finding out it wasn’t some spam caller (I had originally blocked the number after 20 minutes of them calling and hanging up). The Husband told me they had to use the override switch on the electric gate and push it open. The gate was heavy he said. I, as a 5'3" female, can push the gate open and closed all by myself, btw.
• Not sure what he wanted me to do at 9PM at night, but I came over and looked at it. I informed The Husband that the over communication had to stop. I couldn’t handle it anymore.
• Gate override information is listed in Airbnb manual
• Gate override switch is labeled with large index card and big writing with marker
• Gate company information, along with manual, was given when they first moved in.
• I read the manual late that night after getting back from looking at the gate and saw that the gate has batteries, even though it plugs in, and that those batteries needed to be replaced every 3 years.
• The very next morning, Sept 7th, I went to Academy Sports and bought two 7AH batteries, went to the house and replaced them in the Liftmaster gate box/motor. It looked like someone had been inside the box messing with the wires.
• Also, I saw that the $260 (before tax) cat house was broken when I got to the Airbnb to replace the batteries. This was upsetting because with all the over communication, and messaging me about puddles and “lizards” he couldn’t message me about the broken cat house.
• I called The Husband several times about 1) someone pulling out wires from inside the Liftmaster motor (he denied messing with wires), 2) The broken cat house (he admitted his kids broke), 3) how I didn’t know if I wanted them to stay past the end of September, etc. The Husband said that he still wanted to stay at my house and he wouldn’t contact me anymore for all the little things. On the phone, he said he just messaged me about puddles and lizards because he thought we were friends.
I tell the husband that things have not been going smoothly for me, how I just lost my job, my car just broke down, and I can’t handle the stress of feeling like I’m constantly waiting on him and his family. At this point, him and I had messaged over 160 times through personal email within a 4 or 5 week period. He said he would stop the over communication and fix the small things himself. I told him that worried me, and what if he then becomes passive-aggressive. He said I had nothing to worry about. The husband said they would like to pay outside of Airbnb “To save me money”. I told him that it’s the guests that get charged fees. Going outside of Airbnb would only save him money.
I signed up with Cozy on Sept 10th and sent a request for payments to be set via up early on Sept 10th.
• No response from them the rest of the day Sept 10th.
• No response Sept 11th.
I was getting the feeling that since I set my boundaries and asked The Husband to not over communicate, he is now not communicating at all.
• Sept 12th, I message The Wife’s account via Airbnb:
Hi The Wife, I hope everything is going well. I just wanted to send a friendly reminder that your last paid day is coming up in a little over a couple of weeks. I have continued to keep my entire calendar blocked off since June, but unfortunately I can not financially keep it blocked very much longer. Are you and The Husband wanting to book past September 30th? If not, no worries! Your checkout date will be September 30th and I will open the calendar back up for bookings in October. If you would like to stay past the 30th, please let me know. I messaged The Husband a couple times and have not had any response. The latest I can keep the calendar blocked is September 18th. Hopefully that gives you some time to decide. Have a great day, Billie
She messages: Hey Billie! I’m pretty sure we plan to stay. He is out of town for a funeral right now so the last week has been a little hectic. But we love it here and the kids do too so I’m pretty sure we’ll be staying. Thanks!!
I message back: Ok, great! Thanks for letting me know! Sorry for your (and/or The Husband's) loss. I'm really glad you all are enjoying it there. Please let me know if something changes!
• Sept 13th, I see The Husband is at the house on the outside cameras. No response all day.
• Sept 14th, I close down the Cozy request since really it’s only doing them a favor, not me.
And nothing from them Sept 15th.
So, today (the 16th) I message again with a “friendly reminder” for payment if they wanted to stay and that I would be opening my calendar to the public on the 18th. I state that I am no longer communicating off the platform and thus it’s best they never responded to set up their Cozy payment, because communicating off platform is not the right thing to do. Boy did I learn that the hard way! I state that it seems to me that once I set my boundaries, the husband quit communicating. I can post what our conversation went like today, but it was a ton more back and forth with them calling, texting, and emailing. I had to keep saying “I can only communicate on Airbnb”. And the husband asked for just one call off the platform. I said no. I opened my calendar and only gave them a 10% discount instead of 50%. He was not happy. After that he kept pushing again to speak outside of Airbnb and saying "he just wanted to save me money." I told him AGAIN, going outside the platform saves him money, not me.
Then, I assume it was the husband, started trying to guilt trip me with the price saying he could not afford it and "I am sad for my kids and the impact you are having on them". That was my last straw. At that point I said it’s best for them to go at the end of the month and not book further. They said they would leave.
This all seems so crazy to me! Is this typical of mid term Airbnb guests? How often do you get contacted by your guests that are staying over 30 days?
If you look at many conversations on the topic of discounts, you will find that the majority of hosts will advise not to provide anything that's not already posted in the listing (e.g., weekly and monthly discounts, extra days, etc.). You've learned some good lessons from this reservation. I am going to tag some other hosts who have shared a great deal about their hosting experiences.
@Debra300 We have followed the @ute42 No tutorial 3 times IN THE LAST WEEK! Twice for people wanting to bring a dog and once for someone who didn't have a car even though we are at least 2 miles from the nearest shop.
The question is is it costing us money or saving us money? - I hope it's the latter
@Billie37 Get these people out ASAP. You don't want a weird helpless family who is upset about puddles and breaks things and doesn't say anything one minute more than is necessary. In the future, you should set firmer boundaries around communication and not coddle your guests to this degree. I imagine you are going to find a lot more breakage inside the house when these guests leave.
@Billie37 People can take advantage of you if you allow them to. You have been allowing these guests to treat you like their personal servant. You can't host and act like a doormat- that will not work out for you at all. There is a big difference between being a nice, professional host, who tries to accommodate some needs of nice appreciative guests, and running around trying to please people who have an endless litany of complaints and demands, disrespect your house rules, or expect constant hand-holding.
As others have said, I would get these guests out ASAP. Don't offer discounts, ever, aside from a monthly discount if you feel that will attract the kinds of bookings you want, and never offer discounts to the point that means you are hosting for almost no profit. And any guests who ask for discounts, or "I'll pay later" right off the bat are huge red flag guests who you really shouldn't accept, as they pretty much always turn out to be problematic.
Thanks for tagging me here.
Oh dear. I am very sorry to say it, but this is absolutely NOT the way to go about hosting. I know you are trying to be a good host and accommodating to your guests, but there is just so much wrong about this scenario, I don't even know where to begin...
I switched to hosting long-term guests some time ago and have to say I have rarely experienced these kinds of issues and certainly not so many with one booking. There are so many points at which you went wrong (not judging you, but maybe consider this for the future):
1. Absolutely don't ever block your calendar for dates that a guest has not booked. Why would you do this?! Take their booking and payment for the dates they want to commit to and, if they indicate they may want to extend, then fine, but make it clear that you will keep your calendar open and that someone else might book in the meantime. Any reasonable person would understand this. You are running a business, not a charity.
2. Why would you give these people your listing at half price? What are you prices based on? I assume that you have done some market research/know what prices you need to achieve to make hosting worth it, so why would half price even be acceptable?
3. Why on earth are you giving extra days away for free? Why? Seriously.
4. NEVER allow guests to use your address in any way to indicate that it is their permanent residence for more reasons that I can possibly explain here. It's opening up a massive can of worms and exposing you to all sorts of scams.
- Unplanned dog? Are you kidding me? Do you allow pets in your listing? Do you have an extra pet fee? These guests are already getting beyond disrespectful by not informing you of this, especially given the amount of correspondence that has already taken place by this point.
- You then go on to detail numerous random complaints/requests from the guests, which you bend over backwards to resolve/accommodate and there are too many to respond to here, until you finally have enough with the over communication.
I could go on and on, but I won't. Being a good host does not mean accepting whatever a guest decides to throw at you and, even if some money rather than no money might seem tempting, don't go down that route. You will always end up feeling ripped off and attract less than desirable guests. Offer good value and only accept guests who understand that what you are offering IS good value. Refuse requests for extra discounts and politely end conversations with those that try to haggle for free nights etc.
- As you have said, no to guests trying to pay off platform. Saving you money? Yeah, right.
I have no idea if you want my advice, but if you do, I would suggest:
- Make absolutely clear in your listing and house rules what is/isn't on offer and what is/isn't acceptable behaviour. Insist on each guest confirming they have read and agreed to these prior to their arrival.
- Price your listings competitively based on research into comparable Airbnbs in your area and then say no to extra discounts (a standard long-term discount can easily be built in automatically, which I always remind guests of if they ask me for extra discounts), free nights etc.
- Set your boundaries! I find it immensely useful to be able to say to guests, "Yes, that is the case. It is clearly mentioned on the listing/in the house rules which you agreed to."
As for your current situation, no do not let these guests extend under any circumstances. Be rid of them as soon as you can. You may get a bad review because of it, but I would say that the hassle of dealing with these people any longer is far worse than even a 1 star review.
it is very very very importat for You to read my "NO" tutorial I have posted last month. Pls click onto the link below and do a lot of practising.
Concerning Your post, what can I say? You made about 37 mistakes and it all started when You blocked Your calendar for them without payment. From then on it all went downhill.
But I like You, I think You're a real nice person.
I've just bookmarked You post in my „airbnb-comedy“ folder. I've named the post „no puddles in Seattle“ bc I will never forget that expression.
Update: Billie and everybody else out there. I profoundly apologise, but I can't stop laughing about this. This is the funniest story I have ever read on this forum. I just had a bottle of wine and I think I'm gonna open another one. Cheers to the world, even cheers to Robin in Australia.
Update ubdate: The cekond buttle of whine just open!
„We don't get puddles in Seattle“ - LOL