I first used Airbnb as a guest, that was back in 2014. I was vaguely aware of the name but had no idea what it meant. We wanted somewhere on the northern beaches of Sydney in New South Wales to stay for 2 weeks and my youngest daughter said…..’No worries Dad, I will get you an Airbnb’!
That Airbnb turned out to be a great experience and it got me to thinking, we had this structure in the back yard of our house block, the roof had fallen in, and vermin were treating it like Buckingham Palace, but in the back of my mind I thought……. I would love to do something like that, make a bit of money and meet people.
A year later I was ready to take on the crème of the worlds guests……or so I thought!
I hosted international education department homestay students for our neighbourhood high school for a year…..but in the back of my mind was this Airbnb thing!
I joined Airbnb and hit the ‘List your Property’ tab, reckoned I was ‘smarter than the average bear’ and put my listing online.
Geez, did I make some mistakes, how I never got any 1-2 star reviews I will never know……but I learned, and I learned, and, well here I am 417 reviews later and close to 500 stays to my credit.
What I will describe here is what I wish I had been told along the way. Like that only child, as hosts you don’t get to feed off an elder sibling to teach you the ropes, you just have to learn the hard way by your mistakes.
Here is what I have learned, it’s what I wish I had known then, but I am glad it’s what I now know……
Work out who you are going to appeal to. You cannot be all things to all people! Remember the review system is very important to your hosting career. Try initially to appeal to people who are likely to be more tolerant and give you a good review.
Younger travelling guests are easier to please than the more elderly, but do tend to present the host with more work with regard to check-in/check-out and possible language difficulties.
The more properties there are to choose from in a specific location the harder the guest will be to please. The nice aspects observed in one listing start to become an annoyance if they are not available in another!
Decide on your market and structure your listing description to appeal to that market.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and Airbnb give you the right to have as few or as many as you like. There is a balance, and I have found that balance to be 30-35 pictures, definitely no more than 50. Remember guests get bored quickly and the greatest turnoff you can have is a portfolio of 90 + pictures…..they won’t bother, they will get sick of all the duplication (there are only so many ways you can peel an orange) and simply move on to something else.
I do not suggest the use of professional photography. Professional photo shoots tend to make something out of the property that it isn’t. Wide angle lenses, prop furniture, lots of light and a bit of artwork that disappears once the photoshoot finishes give guests an unrealistic expectation of what to expect. Many complaints come down to misrepresentation…..the property wasn’t the way it was shown in the photos.
In this screenshot the top is the Airbnb photo.......the bottom is the photo the guest took to submit to Airbnb with his claim for a refund!
Most phone cameras take good quality photos these days, more than adequate, but make sure images are sharp and clear…..blurred photos make you look sloppy and give the impression you are hap-hazzard and do not attend well to details.
Clear that clutter off the countertops, put the pin board, the notes on the fridge door away, the dishes in the sink, anything that reminds the guest of those things they are escaping for a day or two! Make the bed an inviting space to spend the night in, not something that looks like a mortuary slab with a green chenille bedspread and one miniscule pillow!! Put some effort into the bed, it is the single most important item in the listing. If a guest gets a good nights sleep, they will leave a good review, they will tolerate other shortcomings. But if they roll around on an uncomfortable piece of rubbish all night, there is no way they will give you a good review.
Make the pictures look honest! I had a guest who complained there wasn’t a vase of flowers on the benchtop like one of the picture showed. The quilt cover was different from the one shown in the pictures. If it’s there in the photo, guests will expect to see it!
Your pictures need to tell a story, as though you are a real estate agent showing a prospective buyer through the property. Start with a front external photo, but not one that will identify your property! Do not show a numbered letterbox or street sign, anything that makes your property easy to identify. By doing that you are encouraging prospective guests to contact you off platform to do some sort of deal….and that is hosting suicide! Internally starting at the front door go from room to room, don’t backtrack and three photos per room is ample. Don’t go showing the bed from 4 different angles. If the guest is not going to have the use of something in or on the property, don’t show it in the photos…..if it’s there, guests will assume it’s for their use! Don’t show a laundry photo if you do not permit guests to use your laundry. Don’t leave out on the kitchen bench appliances you don’t want guests to use. Once you have shown the rooms in the property show a few rear garden shots and finish with maybe 4-6 of your area, your local attractions.
Let your photos tell a cohesive story!
You may be tempted to not show photos of a less desirable feature of your property….. don’t! If there is a flight of stairs involved…. show it. If your property has cameras…..show them. Even down to, if the shower cubicle has clear glass ….show it! Some guests are zealous about their personal appearance and don’t like the thought of being caught. If there is anything a potential guest could say…”I wish I had known that before now”…..show it in your photos.
Most guests are going to skim through your listing description so don’t get overly descriptive with it. I did and I found out all it did was lead to questions. If I could offer one cardinal piece of advice……write your description with the help of an acquaintance, someone who you know but, doesn’t live on the property or with you. Things that are ‘bleedin’ obvious to you because it’s your turf, are going to be seen totally differently by a stranger.
Write and introductory paragraph about the space precisely saying what you are offering and if there are specific items you want the guest to take notice of put into bullet points in this section rather than buried down in the ‘Other Things to Note’ section. Most guests won’t read that far. And the longer you make your introduction the less likely the guest will read down to the point where you don’t allow parties, you don’t allow pets. You need to make these things prominent early in your description.
We are so pleased to be able to share our property with you, and we hope you have a wonderful time while here. Here are a few features we hope you will enjoy…………….
We ask you to respect the property and treat it as you would your own, and just have a few points we would like you to observe!
”Guests will have the use of the entire property…. but unfortunately the Jacuzzi, is private and out of bounds”
By wording your description like this you are telling the guest, this is what I offer, and this is what I don’t. You are removing a lot of the haggle room before they book…..more about haggling later!
Try to put yourself in the shoes of the guest, forget that it’s your property for a minute. How would you like things to be laid out if you were a guest in that space. Make it homely, remember people who are coming to you are escaping from the hotel environment. I include a photo of my mum! She thought she was unattractive and destroyed every adult photo she found of herself. Her sister who kept this one hidden provided me with it after mum died. It’s a strange thing to put in a rental space but, it is like inviting people into a part of your personal life……It brings a personal element to hosting that the hotel industry cannot possibly offer, and guests do love it!
Try to offer a specialty for each guest. Something that will set your listing apart from the rest. Mine is my cheese plate, every guest gets one, even overnighters . Offer something a little bit extra that will make the guest say….” Oh, that’s nice, lets book that” !
Look after the security of your listing!
Remember anything that is not nailed down will be subject to damage, so make sure ornaments are placed at the back of display areas, in the centre of tables, somewhere where the chance they can be knocked over or damaged, is minimal. List the areas that are out of bounds to the guest like a linen press or a restock cupboard, but remember the guest has paid good money to come and stay in your property and the last thing they want to see is a heap of ‘post-it’ notes stuck everywhere telling them what they can and can’t do. Countertop protectors are a good idea, A 4 metre x 600 mm roll of countertop protector costs about $55 and lasts for a long time. A much cheaper investment than having to replace your $3,200 countertop that guest that has cut into with a sharp knife of placed a boiling saucepan on!
Assume the guest is going to be an idiot and do something stupid. Make allowances for it and it will probably never happen…..if you don’t the first guest that comes along will damage something. A countertop protector has a great psychological effect. The guest sees it, realises what it is and takes a little bit more care. If it is not there they just don’t think, they do something stupid!
There are two ways a guest can book….they can send a reservation request or they can Instant Book.
I would suggest that new hosts do not use Instant Book (IB)! To start with it is preferable to feel your way into accepting a reservation than suddenly having a confirmed booking appear in your inbox and on your calendar. Decide what sort of bookings you are going to allow, what will be your minimum number of nights and what will be your maximum. Bookings are split into two categories….short term and long term! A long term guest is a risky proposition and one I will not entertain. I will not rent to a guest for any more than 27 nights....period!
There are three main reasons for this....
1/......More than 3/4 of the people you actually know in your life you would not choose to have a long term relationship with! They are simply passing acquaintances, you would have differences of opinion, and different ways of dealing with situations....personality clashes would ensue...People are fine but, in small doses!
Don't hook yourself to a long term agreement with someone you don't know, there is at least a 75% chance it will go off the rails!
2/.....Once a tenant is in your property for more than 28 days their legal rights alter considerably. STR and LTR rights are different, and an STR tenant can be extremely hard to shift after a month. Some hosts specialise in long term guests, understand the risks and set themselves up to handle issue that may arise but you need to be a very competent host to entertain a long term guest.
3/.....Airbnb will not guarantee that you will be paid beyond the first month, and when a guest asks to extend a booking beyond that, be aware that you are possibly on your own as far as future payment is concerned. The guest may not make a subsequent payment to Airbnb and it may be well into the next month before you find out!
Now putting those three points together, long term renting presents an unacceptable risk to me...and I am an experienced host with over 400 stays to draw on behind me! If someone wants to stay beyond 27 nights, tell them the property is not available!
Next thing is to set yourself a cancellation policy! Although there are 5 categories basically you will initially have a choice of 3 to select from…… Flexible….Moderate….. or Strict. Flexible means the guest can cancel the reservation anytime up until 24 hours before the start of the stay and get a full refund. A Moderate Cancellation policy means the guest has to cancel up to 5 days before the stay to get a full refund and a Strict policy means the guest must cancel at least 14 days before the stay to be refunded. Unless the listing is in a very seasonal location….(A ski village during winter/ ocean front during summer)to start off I recommend new hosts avoid a strict cancellation policy and adopt a flexible one. Airbnb attends to the cancellation and refund, you may lose a few dollars in lost rent but it is basically hassle free and you do not get into a protracted debate with a grumpy guest!
Pricing is a major problem because you are on your own here! You will get no help whatsoever from Airbnb. As far as Airbnb is concerned your property will never be cheap enough. They are not the slightest bit interested in whether you make money or lose it, their entire interest is in securing bookings for which they will get a commission! Airbnb will offer you numerous traps to influence you to lower your price…..ignore them!
1/…..Firstly do yourself a profit and loss sheet like this one which will tell you what you need to charge to actually hit the break-even point.
The amount of money you need will depend on your situation……is the property freehold or under a finance agreement. Obviously if your property is financed or under a lease agreement you need to cover not just the cost of running a short term rental situation but the cost of the property loan/rent as well. Many hosts set a listing amount by what others are charging for similar properties in their area. This is fatal, many of those properties will be freehold and don’t need the return that a mortgaged property will require. The only way to establish what you will charge is to comprehensively fill out that profit and loss sheet. Then (and only then) you can establish if Airbnb is going to be viable for you!
2/……Once you have done that set your nightly base price. At this point you will be bombarded with things like ‘Smart Pricing’ and ‘Pricing Tips’ and special introductory discount prices …..ignore those, stick to the ‘base’ price you have set that you know will actually make you something!
3/……Next you will asked to set length of stay discounts….don’t! Some guests abuse this feature, book and pay at a discounted rate, get half way through the stay and cancel, they get back the unused portion of the stay and the host has had to accept a short duration stay at a discount rate which can be up to 10%-20% off the amount they were entitled to for the actual length of the stay! And on top of that they are left with a calendar they might not be able to fill.
If you wish to offer a stay discount, do it at the end of the stay in the form of a refund when you can assess if the guest has actually been worth that discount!
4/……Next you will be asked to set an ‘Early Bird’ discount! Once again don’t, it will commit you to something long term that you may not wish to honour.
5/…..Next will come the extra charges section where you will first set a cleaning fee which is not a nightly fee it is a once only fee and will be charged to the guest whether they stay one night or 20! Don’t be greedy and use the cleaning fee as a way to compensate for an artificially low nightly listing charge. It will backfire on you if you do, because the guest will think they are getting a good deal, and when they proceed to pay they will be faced with an outrageous cleaning fee and will dump the booking and look somewhere else!
6/……Then comes the security deposit. My feeling is this is not worth setting, if you try to access it, it will probably be declined and simply lead to a bad revenge guest review. Build into your nightly listing amount a dollar or two to serve as a ‘damage’ fund, and if something gets broken, just put it right and get on with the business of hosting…..believe me, It’s a lot less stressful.
7/……Next will be an amount you charge for extra guests. Your base price should allow for a certain number of guests (let’s say 2 in one bed) and any guests above that base number will be charged an additional amount up to the maximum number of guests you will allow in the listing.
8/…….Next set up a method for receiving payouts from these guests that are going to come. Nominate a bank account you would like your payouts to be paid into. Keep in mind that Airbnb takes the payment from the guest when they book but releases it to the host 24 hours after the guest arrives. The main reason they do this is to make a bit more money in interest but, they also do it to keep the host honest and make sure that the reservation is honoured and the guest actually gets to stay!
When you nominate a bank account Airbnb will deposit a small amount of money in that account to make sure the money trail works. Once you receive that token payout you will be ready to receive guest payouts!
Okay, you have decided what sort of guests you wish to attract, you have set up a great listing description with the right number of good quality photos in a sensible order, and you have set the property up to be guest friendly to read and host friendly in its instructions. You have set your cancellation policy, and how you want to be paid…….now is the time to put it on-line!
Before you do anything you need to know how to handle issues if they arise! You need to know who to contact and how to contact them.
From this list of numbers select the one applicable to your country, print it out and paste it next to your computer or save it to your phone contacts.
For another easy way to contact Airbnb regarding any issues I may be having is by using Twitter. Airbnb appear to have dedicated staff who monitor their Twitter feeds, I haven't used them personally but I am lead to believe a respondent will usually hear back from them within 5-10 minutes of posting an issue.
Step 1: Log into Twitter
Step 2: Search for @Airbnbhelp and choose "Follow" them
Step 3: Send a Direct Message (DM) explaining your issue and wait for their response. They may ask for information such as your listing but always provide it over DM so it is not public.
I also suggest forming a friendship with another Airbnb host or two in your area. It is handy to have someone else to talk to and possibly help out when you need it. I once had a situation where I had two confirmed Airbnb reservations on my property for the same evening! Having another host to help out and take over one of those reservations was a Godsend because Airbnb support were of no help….the mouths moved but nothing coherent came out of them!! On another occasion I was able to help out a fellow host who was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to relocate her guest during her treatment.
Make sure you have a support network!
Once you post your listing it will be anything up to 72 hours before it will appear in an internet search of your area. It will first be scrutinised by Airbnb Trust and Safety to make sure the content conforms to Airbnb’s guidelines, there are no cryptic instructions about personal information and no un-authorised links.
Once it appears live Airbnb will feature your listing prominently in search rankings to help get you off to a good start. But after a month or so you are going to have get out of the ‘Kiddy pool’ and swim in the adults pond like the rest of us! Initially it pays to keep changing and updating your listing description. The algorithm that governs your search placement responds to ‘activity’! The more activity you have on your site the better. Change a photo or two around….put the price up a dollar one day and down a dollar the next….change the text a bit, keep that algorithm ticking over!
Bingo, you hook one, a reservation request comes in. Now is the time to be firm .......yes firm, set your boundaries and stick to them, stay the master/mistress of your situation don't let someone else control it.
Don’t just hit the accept button, I know, it’s exciting you have a booking…..oh boy, Fort Knox here we come! look at it, study every word! Guests fall into two categories.
Passive/complimentary: They like what they see, just want to stay!
Aggressive/demanding: They just want to jerk you around!
Read the wording of all communication very carefully and get to understand what the words mean and maybe you can stop a disaster situation from happening. Let’s look at the subtle ways some guests will try to manipulate the host!
Scenario A........"Hi Rob we have seen your lovely listing looking forward to the 27th and can't wait to stay with you and Ade"......Brilliant, they have a profile photo, like what they see, just want pull out the credit card and book.....bring em on, I don't want to do any more digging around, I know they will be great guests....... another 5 star review coming on.
Scenario B........"Hello Rob, we are coming to Mt Barker for a wedding, can we check-in early to give us plenty of time to change, I might want to prepare a few pre weddings nibbles in the kitchen if that is ok, is there somewhere we can leave the car off the street" .....Nah, hang on, I don't know you from Adam and you have already hit me up for three requests and by God, you can bet your 'uncles balls' it won't end there, it will be just one thing after another.... DON'T GET INVOLVED WITH A HAGGLER!!
People go through life shifting the goalposts to suit their kicks! They are not like that great bottle of wine, they don't improve. Haggling is a way of life for them, it gets them what they want, and every question or requirement of theirs strengthens their ground and it weakens yours. It gets to the point where you will do anything, give in to any of their demands just to get them out of your life.
Someone either likes what they see, understands the scope of the stay and just want to get on with it……or they want to put you through the Spanish Inquisition.
Do not offer discounts, do not give in to prospective guests questions….stay in control!
Scenario C......."Hi, Rob, Angus, I, and Jake our toddler are looking forward to our stay with you, we hope the weather will be kind to us so we can sit in your garden"
My response...."It will be our pleasure to have you, Angus and Jake here to stay in our cottage with us and I hope we can make your stay a lovely one for you. I have a Fisher Price porta cot and a large box of toys, would you like me to have these out for you when you arrive, it might save you bringing yours"?
Scenario D......."Hi Rob, I notice you say in your listing description children are allowed. What sort of equipment do you provide to cater for children?"
My response......"My Studio is basically set up to cater for couples. Although I have no issues with you bringing your children, you will have to be responsible for their requirements"!
There you go, I haven't argued with them, I have told them they are welcome with their kids, what I have done is set the ground rules for the stay, not them!
I will make a guest offers......I will not be asked by a guest for an offer...simple as that!
There is so much more, I could go into many pages of the subtleties attached to hosting but in the final analysis we all get caught once, and once we have, we develop our strategies to not let it happen again. We can all say, if only, if this, if that.....'if your Aunty had balls she would be your Uncle', if, if, if.... we are always wiser in hindsight.
Once you become more experienced you can access Instant Book. I don't like 'reservation requests', I wish I didn't have to deal with them. I love 'Instant Books'! IB,s are money in the bank….Reservation requests come with questions which in most instances are designed to advantage the guest, not the host!
There you go, you have accepted your first reservation: Next thing is to have the stay go smoothly. Keep all correspondence with the guest in the Airbnb message stream, just in case there might be an issue in the future there is a record of all conversations to fall back on. Airbnb will help you if your communications are in platform messaging, if you decide to have private conversations with the guest you might be on your own!
I mention that because the only time I use private messaging is when the guest is about to arrive and I need to know an arrival time. Many guests do not travel with the Airbnb phone app or their computer and I find sending a message via the message stream unreliable. I may hear in a minute, an hour....or not at all. By sending a message straight to their mobile I get an immediate response!
Reviews cannot be taken frivolously because they are the centrepiece of the ABB platform. But on the other hand we are reminded at every opportunity that anything less than that 5 stars is not good enough...and for that reason we 'pussyfoot' around issues for fear what we say may come back to bite us in the bum!
And if we start rating our guests as per our experience.......ABB will find a way to remove it!
From seeing thousands of these posts I think I have come up with a protocol for reviewing.
There will be some hosts and guests that will fall outside of the common boundaries of accepted behaviour! There are times when police will need to be involved and even more times when help from Airbnb is required and these incidents will require immediate action, but this will only ever be the case for a handful of bookings over your hosting experience, particularly as you become more experienced in spotting problem guests before accepting! So what I am saying will not be relevant to those situations. What I am talking about are those hostings where rules were broken, personality clashes existed, and there may have been a different perspective between host and guest. If you are concerned about what to write, try the following! And if the reviews do differ wildly keep these points in mind for your review response:
1/. Never write a review until you have had two nights sleep after the departure of the guest! There are many little things that will annoy you enough to make a comment when they are a fresh experience, but which, with time, will mellow and can be appraised in a more objective way.
2/. Always write a review as though you have been asked to do it for someone else. 'YOU' will see things as being 'bleedin obvious' because it's your 'turf'! Another set of eyes will see a legitimate reason why the guest did (or felt) what they did!
3/. As I have said before, make yourself a nice drink, leave your emotion out in the garage, or out in the barn before you sit down at that keyboard. What you write at this point will stay with you long after you have forgotten about that belligerent 'turkey'! It will stay with you as long as you host and....it cannot be removed! We have all said things we wish we could take back! When it's in a review it is 'set in stone'....there is no going back! The review will say as much about you as it does about the guest.
4/. Tell the community what you feel about this guest, but don't give the guest a reason to resent you. As I said in a comment in another thread, you can make them feel guilty by carefully selecting your words but still finish by wishing them well in future. This way the balance of nature is restored....you made your point, but you have also said 'no hard feelings'!
And if their review is a stinker:
5/. Never get into a 'he said/she said' slogging match with a guest. You will always loose, and you will make yourself look petty and a difficult person, in yourself, to deal with. Remain aloof and always assure the guest you value their contribution because after all, the only way you can become a better host is to take notice of what others say. Don't apologise, but tell the guest some things are beyond your control.....like, how much cloud cover may have been present on the day! But tell them that their comments will be taken on board and acted on.
Many guests will form an opinion of you by how you carry yourself in the review process....you can be seen as a diplomatic person with great hosting skills........or you can be seen as a 'tough nut to crack'!
It is a long held belief that Airbnb is guest centric, and there is no doubt some truth in that. Guests make Airbnb money, Hosts cost Airbnb money…..there are never enough guests but, there are way too many hosts. Airbnb are not an insurance company, they don’t charge a premium to put things right, and it may be that any claim put to Airbnb might end up being less than satisfactory, or even successful.
The job of support is difficult, guests want their unfair claim resolved and so do hosts. I had to deal with an issue where a host claimed $2,500 for an external lounge suite that had been damaged by cigarette burns to the cushions. The photos provided were genuine as was the quote for the replacement of the lounge suite. What the host did not disclose is, he bought that lounge suite from a local charity shop for $350, and he now wants $2,500 compensation for that $350 purchase……is that fair?
The quality of support staff has been slipping as more and more of the companies operation is outsourced to private enterprise where the founders ideals are now totally lost. But having said that daily, support are trying to be fair, but in many instances with their lack of training and direct company tools……it’s a big ask!
If you need to deal with the resolution centre, ask for their help not demand it. These people go from one hiding to the next and the fastest way to get your ticket closed is to bounce a support person.
Phew, I am done. I really hope this can help someone, it is getting increasingly hard to keep our heads above water as hosts. As much as Airbnb say they are working with us, each month I see evidence to the contrary.
I wish every one of us a prosperous year ahead, I know it is difficult for some but the lovely part about this Community Centre is, no matter how bad things might get there is always someone who wants to help.
I raise my glass to a great community!
You've announced Your tutorial on friday and You delivered on saturday - that was fast.
Compare that to airbnb: They've announced to tackle the "one outlier review" issue 2 years ago,
and still no delivery truck in sight.
This was an excellent, detailed treatise with great advice for hosts. Thank you!
@Robin4, I am curious about your comments about the one-off outlier reviews. Don't these reviews essentially drop off the radar after several good reviews replace them? Or, am I missing something? Thanks.
Lisa what I was saying, Airbnb's perception of the guest review is that provided it doesn't overstep content guidelines it's allowable, no matter how damaging it is to the host, it is after all being useful to the community.....their thoughts not mine Lisa!!!
But if the guest takes exception to a hosts review, Airbnb will in most cases not even get the hosts side of the argument.....they will just simply remove it.
It's lopsided, but you and I know Lisa, that is what we have come to expect. And that is why we have to be as diplomatic as possible with the review! If it is going to be useful it has to stick. A great honest review is worth nothing if nobody can see it, you just shoot yourself in the foot by writing it!
Just a look at some of the posts here at the moment will confirm that Airbnb considers a one star review acceptable,
Just look at this review @Yulia107 (hope you don't mind me tagging you in here Yulia) recently copped.
Yulia received this review because she refused to allow a guest into her accommodation who wanted to break Airbnb's rules and bring more guests into her property than were booked...and didn't want to pay the extra....once again breaking Airbnb's guidelines.
A complete and total moron would see this as...... a revenge review.....just look at the review itself....'b' ....but to Airbnb this review has not contravened content policy so, it's allowable.
Guests and hosts are on a different playing field when it comes to reviews and Lisa we have to work with whatever tools we can to offset Airbnb's bias towards the guest.
Okay, that outlier review will slip down the review list into obscurity in time Lisa, I copped one 3 star in February, I have had over 50 five stars since then so, someone is battling to even find it now. And one outlier review in amongst a series of good reviews can have a positive effect, it says more about the guest than it does about the host......"Oh who do we believe here, those 72 or this 1" !!! Sort of a no brainer really isn't it! And it works against the guest who wrote it because future hosts reading that will want to do a bit more digging and will mark this guest as prickly and an unacceptable to hosting risk.
Good point though Lisa, thanks for bringing it up.
Stay safe possum, hope you staying clear of those fires. You cannot believe how much it is frustrating Australians that we can't come and help you like you did for us last year! It's not fair!
I have never met an Aussie I didn't like! I also wish your firefighters were here in my home state of California, helping us fight these fires!
Thank you for the explanation. I have been painfully aware for some time that airbnb is guest centric. It appears to be a stated and known part of the company policy, nothing occasional or accidental about it. What I did NOT know is that they REMOVE host reviews about guests. I went back and looked at the couple of guests I remember leaving bad reviews for. Sure enough, the reviews were gone! I don't leave many bad reviews and hosts deserved to know about these guests, but the reviews were gone! That is absolutely wrong.
I have had good experiences with VRBO, and if anyone knows of other good booking sites, I hope they share them on this forum.
@Robin4 Thank you Robin.
Feeling as if we are getting a lot of self entitled guests at the moment, demanding an early check in etc. After stewing over what and how the guest has asked, I give in and know shouldn’t.
Will try to use your tactic of keeping in control of the conversion and my rules.
Hi @Robin4 thanks for this great guide!
Honestly I don't agree on not using professional photography. The case you posted was quite extreme (the table was different, microwave missing, flash light that looked like a balcony but was a storage room/laundry instead...) and I think the guest was right to claim for a refund; but if the furniture and the objects were the same, the space tidy and clean, and the light natural, I don't think it could be considered as misrepresented.
A professional photographer will know how to represent your house in the best way, or at least in a realistic way. He will also know how to make it look "different" but if this is not what you want, you just have to ask him.
Wide angle lenses are a must to get a good photo (not for details of course), it dosn't have to be too wide though, otherwise you get distortion, which is not too bad, but it is not nice to see, let's say it is not as our eye sees. One of the most important things, is to keep lines (expecially verticals) straight.
Honestly I don't think that with an average mobile you can take a really good photo.
Showing what's out of the windows, for example, which is a challenge when taking a picture, doesn't mean you are cheating; quite the opposite, our eye sees that, the camera doesn't, or at least you have to take 3 pictures and put them together with a software. This is something that anyone can do, but if you don't know how to make it, it takes a lot of time and the result may be unsatisfactory.
At the end you pay a photographer for the experience he gained in years, not for just one hour work...
I don't know if you can agree...
I changed my mind when I saw the difference between good (realistic) photos and home-made ones.
Airbnb itself acknowledges the importance of professional photography, offering this service to the hosts, even if not for free.
Alex, I have worked in Airbnb support and have had to deal with many complaints from guests who feel the property they arrived at was not the one depicted in the listing description.
Professional photographers have many thousands of dollars worth of equipment to show the subject off to it's best advantage.
Here is a photo of my listing taken less than one hour ago on my mobile phone.....
The listing description doesn't need some smart arsed super high-definition, fish-eye shot to get the point across........it's a studio apartment in a rear garden.....simple as that!
Most of the people I know who travel as guests will not book an Airbnb listing because they feel they will not be taken seriously,