I've been an Airbnb host since 2012 and a Superhost ever since the Superhost program started, mostly as a home sharer who rents out the guest room in my L.A. house. It pains me to say that Airbnb is devolving now that its corporate status has raised - showing more and more disregard for hosts who share their home, and favoring instead real estate investors who lists houses/apartments they don’t live in, and rent out like hotels (because of course, the latter is what brings Airbnb the most $$$.) This is obvious from the way Airbnb’s algorithm works: 1) It greatly reduces the visibility of listings from hosts who refuse to do “Instant Book”. And agreeing to instant book is easy for someone who is renting a space they don't live in, but much more problematic for hosts sharing their own house with their guests. 2) Homes with pets (almost always home shares) are automatically disqualified from Airbnb Business and Airbnb Plus. 3) Hosts who deny requests get punished for doing so by having their listing’s visibility reduced, and pushed down the list.
It is unfortunate (and infuriating), because true home sharers are the type of hosts that Airbnb prides itself for in all its PR campaigns, and whenever it comes to fighting in favor of short term rental legislation: the retired couple opening their homes to friendly strangers from around the world, the person who lost their job and for whom Airbnb becomes a way to help pay the house mortgage etc… And, on the other end of the spectrum, their biggest PR nightmares often come from hosts who list homes they never live in - often the type of hosts who have less reasons to be selective with their guests, or considerate when it comes to their “neighbors”, or the community the home is in.
Airbnb needs to decide: is it a vacation rental platform for passive real estate investors, or the home sharing platform it advertises itself to be? Because, for hosts who are opening their own homes to strangers, using Airbnb only feels safe if they are allowed to deny some reservations and not be “punished” for doing so. They could be denying reservation to prevent sharing their homes with guests who they feel might be inconsiderate to their neighbors and their community, guests who they feel wouldn’t like the space, or even guests they just wouldn’t get along with. In my case, I get a lot of requests for month-long rentals, so most of my denying requests simply come from the fact I need a bit more than 24 hours and a single communication to decide to rent to someone who will be my housemate for a month. As a reminder: not accepting or denying a request within 24 hours makes you lose your Superhost status, and denying a request greatly reduces the visibility of your listing, and eventually disqualifies it from Aibnb Plus.
For me, the solution is simple: eliminate the automatic selection of “instant book only” (travelers should be able to select that option if they want, but it should never be automatically selected, which is often is - without the knowledge of guests or hosts), and stop "hiding" listings of hosts who have denied some reservations (as long as the host responds to inquiries quickly.) I’ve tried to talk to Airbnb multiple times about this but, unlike a few years when Airbnb actually listened to their hosts, I did not get a response. A few years ago, I even spoke on behalf of Airbnb in favor of short-term rental – at local community events and even L.A. city hall (when they were debating short term rental legislation.) I will not speak in favor of Airbnb again until it starts showing appreciation for the hosts who are actually saving their reputation, and until it modifies their algorithm so that it doesn’t favor greedy real estate investors over true home sharers. I encourage all other home sharers (or anyone who agrees) to do the same.
Thanks for reading my long rant... Please note that I originally posted this on the "host" section of the community center, but I was encouraged to post on "Host Voice" to try to get Airbnb to actually listen to these complaints and suggestions.