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.
Yes, her response confirmed two things:
1. A sense of entitlement. I don't think it occured to her that the host can also choose their guests, not just the other way around. I guess that's not that uncommon. Quite often guests write in their request, "We will be staying at your home for two nights. We will be doing this or that...", not "We would like to stay in your home.."
I did not hit decline as it was an enquiry, not a booking, I just told her that I didn't think my home was suitable for her and why. So, she could easily have responded in a different way/tone that would make me reconsider, but she chose to chastise me instead.
2. A detachment from reality/lack of self awareness. In her response, she said that there was only one review (the one in Capri) that involved stairs, noise and location and that "Obviously, loud noise is expected in large cities, not on 'private' secluded romantic beaches."
Not true. She mentions stairs in three out of the five reviews, complains about noise/busy location in three (including the city locations), mentions location in some way in all of them, but only positively in two, and that's only when she was a few minutes walk from the centre.
Either she is lying and assumed I had not read the other reviews she wrote, or she herself doesn't even realise how NEGATIVE she is all of the time! Even with the two places she said she loved, she found ways to insert little criticisms into her reviews.
@Huma, she might not even be aware of how negative she is, but it's better to keep that energy out altogether if possible, imo!
And, ha on the "We will be..." comment. She most likely is very self-absorbed and would have found fault in your place and with the stay. I think this is a great example of how we can all step up and avoid many potential problems, although not all, simply by being thorough in our vetting process.
No, luckily she didn't! Thank goodness she didn't instant book, actually. She sent an enquiry because she wanted to make sure I had a Christmas tree. She was very, very angry when I wrote back saying, based on the reviews she had written for other places, I didn't think the place was suitable for her!
Lol. @Branka & Silvia1 yes I do. I couldn't wait untl 1st December, so put it up on 30th November. I think my tree is rather lovely (I spend a lot of time decorating it) but I didn't tell the lady that because I didn't want to encourage her to book!
Update on this. The lady in question wanted to book one of the two rooms I still had available at Christmas. Each got booked by young women from Hong Kong/China on those dates. The first one was delightful and has left me a lovely review with five stars in every category. The other was very friendly, self sufficient and undemandng. She hasn't left a review yet, but thanked me several times and left a very nice note in my guest book.
That's not to say I have had perfect guests over the whole Christmas period, but the two girls mentioned above were the better ones. Sometimes it's just worth trusting your gut and I would have been happy for the rooms to be empty on those days rather than host the complaining and critical Christmas tree lady.