Every now and then, you get a guest who seems impossible to please and you wished you had never accepted the booking. Most often these guests have really not read the listing properly and come with some very random expectations which have nothing to do with how you have described it. How do you avoid these guests as they often come with a polite and friendly introduction and a bunch of great reviews?
Having been stung by a particularly rude, unpleasant and incredibly demanding couple a few months back, I'm trying to spot the red flags whenever I can and put more time into doing the research, especially reading the reviews the guest has left for others.
Yesterday I got a polite enquiry from a lady with four very positive reviews. However, the fifth one said, "She respected my house rules, was easy to communicate with, but she was not so friendly and a bit intolerant." So, of course I looked for the review she had left for this host, only to find an essay of complaints. She even got cut off mid sentence because she had gone over the word count!
To summarise only a few of the points made:
Next, I checked out the host, who is a superhost with lots of excellent reviews, and a very clear listing that describes a small villa. Plus, I think it's probably obvious that if you book somewhere in one of the most expensive parts of Italy in high season, it's going to be "pricey" and busy. I have visited this area and you have to climb steep steps wherever you stay. That's just the geography of the place. The only mistake the host made in terms of accuracy was including a bottle of wine in the photos!
The next reviews were a bit more positive but also very detailed and even when she liked a place, she seemed to need to find fault:
- There’s no lift to the apartment, but three flights of stairs, bathroom is small, shower in the bath but no separate shower, it was busy/noisy, but okay, that’s Naples.
- There is a elevator but the location is still noisy. Couldn't use the fireplace so it was a bit chilly (really, you need heating in Southern Italy in the Summer?), there was a very small problem with the hot tub (she declined the host’s offer to fix it the same day), and on and on until she gets cut off by the word count again!
I even went as far as to look at the listings on the guest's London Wishlist. They were all fancy, in very central, expensive areas of London. I knew that this guest was not going to like my 'small' bedroom, up three flights of stairs, facing a busy road, in a well connected, but less central and not posh part of the city. So, I sent her a polite response explaining that I didn't think my listing was a good fit for her based on the above.
Today she responded with a long lecture and told me "I'm not sure its appropriate to assume someone is not suitable based on one review." She went into further complaints about the listing in Capri, saying they had booked a private beach and got a public one. Well, the listing doesn't say anything about a private beach. It says the villa has private access from the beach (which is clearly shown as busy in the photos). She had obviously seen the words "private" and "beach" in the same sentence and jumped to her own conclusions.
Now this seems like a lot of research for me to go through for one enquiry, but I feel so grateful that I did. I feel like I have dodged a bullet with this one!
It would be interesting to hear from others as to what level of research you go into before accepting a guest.
@Huma Good for you....I think you were very smart to research this lady cause you most likely dodged a big bullet. I too will spend time if I get a gut feeling or read something I also do extra digging as I don't do IB and so I want to know who will be coming to stay in the cottage. There have been just a couple of folks that weren't so very friendly - and that's fine- but never had a bad review - but have had 1 bad adorable couple, seriously I liked them so much and they partied, drugged and left the bedding to be ONLY disposed of - the fluids had collected for 4 days and the duvet, comforter, sheets all had to be trashed. That was a surprise cause they were so cute and sweet and I liked them. But they helped me keep all younger guests in line by telling them that I had a bad experience and so they spoiled it for those under 25 and they all promise to be fabulous guests, with great respect for my place AND they all have been since then.
You did the right thing by this woman and glad you shared your story. People will surprise us won't they?
best regards Huma, Clara
Thank you. Yes, I feel relieved that this lady won't be staying with me!
Like you, I don't expect all my guests to be super friendly - many prefer to do their own thing - but the combination of "not so friendly and a bit intolerant" were what set off the alarm bells for me and made me want to know more. It sounded to me like the host was being very diplomatic!
It is tricky when you have guests like you mentioned though who are really lovely but break rules, leave a mess and destroy stuff. Was there anything in their reviews/correspondence before the stay that could have been a red flag, or did it come as a total surprise?
@Huma that's what was such a shock............they had one 5 star praising review from our town so I trusted it.
After the fact and more research - turns out she is a young Porn Star and has several names. I did get some compensation (not from her) but never got any reaction or response from her after she left. I left a fair and honest review - without loads of details But I was kinda glad to go ahead and have a bad one to learn from and know what you do if such happens and how to deal with it. And I NOW have 2 mattress protectors for all the younger women that stay her, just to be safe. My mattress is super deluxe Tempurpedic and so glad it was spared during their visit - they spent most of their time on top of the duvet /comforter and I'm sure glad.
all part of hosting!
Good lord! Okay, well now I understand why some hosts go as far as checking out a guest's social media pages (although I assume you'd only be able to find these once you have a confirmed booking and full name).
A young lady who left yesterday unfortunately had an accident in the bed. Thank goodness for the mattress protector and 4 inch thick topper under it, because that's what saved the mattress. These things do happen and she was kind enough to tell me about it and offered money for the cleaning. However, if the guest hadn't said anything and then didn't respond to messages about it, I would be pretty unhappy.
Not sure how people aren't embarrassed to leave bedding in that state in a hotel, let alone an Airbnb, but I guess some people are shameless.
@Huma you are so correct - Shameless - they will strip the bed and fold it all up - hidden
I ask them to please DO NOT strip the bed and most are great about this.
Accidents are one thing and it is usually small and not everywhere - but, a full out party, for days with their periods and other fluids is just truly shameless.
I get it embarrassing but, to ignore it and continue and just leave like that is normal when everything is totally gross. Under garments inside the sheets, under the bed along with chocolates, popcorn, crazy stuff - AND they left obvious evidence of drug use - with short little straws!!!
Prettiest couple you would ever see in a magazine - and so sweet to talk with!!!
however, shameless............my little porn star - and yes, social media after booking is great for revealing people - just search the name and look at the pictures! wild stuff sometimes.
Nicely done @Huma !
I use the AirReview Chrome extension, which makes it so easy to see both sets of reviews in the same place without having to do any detective work- someone here on the CC posted about it.
I tend to do more in-depth research if a guest doesn't communicate too well, doesn't have a picture, or is a same-day booking to give myself a bit more peace of mind.
Thank you @Paul
Yes, I heard of that and think I will give it a go, because it can take ages to find those reviews, especially if the host is busy and/or has a lot of listings.
Like you, I tend to do the more in-depth research if the communication isn't great, they are lacking info on their profile and that sort of thing (I don't do same-day bookings), but after this experience, I think I need to do it regardless. You just never know what you might stumble across.
@Paul, thanks for the tip! I have downloaded the Airreview Chrome extension and it works great! So much easier than trawling through another host's reviews to try and find the one from potential guests.
Paul (sorry, I can't tag you), I just started using the extension, and it's really helpful.
I wish it was still able to pull reveiws if they left one for a host but the host didn't leave one back, because I see a lot of hosts who say that if the guest was bad, they don't say anything. It probably wouldn't be possible, though, unless Airbnb offered this feature rather than having to use a third party extension.
I don't normally use Chrome, but I've downloaded it and the AirReview extension. This is very useful and will hopefully make the whole process of screening guests so much faster.
It's not just helpful for spotting red flags/guests to avoid, but in general, e.g. I just noticed that my current guest who only has one review so far (positive), didn't leave a review for her host. Now I know to remind her to leave a review for me, providing she seems happy, when she checks out.
Huma, How do you handle request from guest with No reviews that just joined ? I am getting a lot of these being new to Airbnb. A few have worked out very well but one not sure about this one. Feeling a bit wierd with them and they booked again. They didnt even leave a review on there last stay so I have nothing to go on. (I am on auto accept). I think I will do my reasearch especially on the longer requested stays.
I do accept a lot of bookings from first time Airbnb users with no reviews. We all have to start somewhere, right? But in those cases, it's even more important how they come across in their correspondence. If they haven't already, I will ask them to tell me a bit about themselves, the purpose of their visit, who they are travelling with, that sort of thing.
I also ask them to confirm check in time and that they've read the full listing/house rules. I highlight certain points from these in the message. I'd rather a guest withdraws their request/cancels rather than find out after they arrive that they didn't read anything and are then going to complain about stuff in their review that was clearly spelt out to them in the listing!
This is true even with guests that have positive reviews as I think a lot of hosts are scared of/uncomfortable with leaving negative ones, so you might not be getting the whole picture.
RE your current situation, I'm not sure I understand. These guests stayed with you before and you weren't comfortable with them? Or you mean they have stayed somewhere else but didn't review that host?
I don’t do Instant book, i’d rather they write me a message and tell me why they wanted to stay in my home. Also if you’re not comfortable with somebody you don’t have to have them in your home. I had one gentleman show up on my doorstep, drunk, pull another beer can out of his pocket. Had his girlfriend not been with him I would’ve driven them to the Marriott paid for a hotel room and then taken it up with Airbnb. To me as a safety issue and I’d rather be safe than sorry