Now that UK calendars have been unblocked and the Government is easing lockdown restrictions, I have started receiving enquiries again from potential guests, but no instant bookings or requests to book so far, probably because every single one is asking me to give them an additional discount/special offer, often with phrasing such as, "given the current circumstances"...
Normally, I never agree to these kinds of requests because I host long-term guests and have always had weekly and monthly discounts built in. Besides that, the rooms are priced very low for what they are even before the discounts. However, given that they have been empty for months and I've lost I don't know how many £thousands in income from cancellations, I have been offering to reduce the already discounted price by a further 10%, which means the guest is getting more than 25% off. I can't go any lower than that because the rooms are already at the minimum nightly price for the foreseeable future (they would be a lot higher in July/August/September under normal circumstances).
Still, this doesn't seem to be good enough for the guests. They appear to want Airbnb rooms for the price of a long-term rental, but a long-term rental normally requires a year's contract, sizeable deposit, paying your own bills/Council Tax and doing your own cleaning! I imagine they would still expect the same standards, service and facilities from the Airbnb as a guest paying full price. Besides, these days there is a lot of extra cleaning involved.
The way I am starting to think about this is, while it is natural that people will bargain hunt knowing the market is at a low point, shouldn't they be supporting small businesses right now instead of taking advantage of those who are struggling? If, unlike me, you are lucky enough to still have your job (most of the enquiries are from guests coming to London for work) or can afford to holiday for weeks at a time, is it fair to expect hosts who have lost huge amounts of income to subsidise your vacation/lifestyle? It's not very ethical nor morally sound. I know the guests are not seeing it from this perspective, but that's what it boils down to!
What's your opinion? Would you offer higher discounts because it's better to have some income than none, or would you stand your ground?
One guest said she was happy with the extra 10% discount then didn't book because, although I said I would waive the fee for a second person when her boyfriend stayed over from time to time, she expected him to be able to come and go as he pleased. Is that reasonable? She is getting more than 25% off a room that is already priced very low AND expecting to pay for one person when it's actually two.
Sorry to hear you are having to put up with all these discount seekers. If anything they should be paying more because of the additional Covid cleaning hosts need to put in place.
The guest wanting to have her boyfriend stay over whenever she liked, without paying for him to be there on a vastly discounted rate, would have got short shrift from me. Not something I would have considered.
Particularly as you have long term lodgers as well as Airbnb guests, it's really important to know who's in the house. A strange man coming in and out could make others uncomfortable.
Here in Bristol I have had three bookings since we opened and no-one has asked for a discount. I am just charging out at my normal summer rates.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive but have you tried not offering additional discounts ? It may be, the too low pricing for the quality of your lovely home is attracting the discount seekers.
Good luck and I hope things pick up for you soon.
I wrongly assumed that everyone was having to discount their rates further. Believe me, I won't be offering any additional discounts in the future.
I do wonder though why I keep being asked for them and others are not experiencing the same. Perhaps it is because the listings are priced too low.
At the moment, I do not have any long-term lodgers and haven't for a while. However, I ALWAYS inform the other Airbnb guests if one of them is having someone stay over, or just visit. I think it's courteous and, as you say, they should not be bumping into some random guy in his towel in the bathroom. No one has ever had a problem with this before and felt it was a completely reasonable request, but then again, they also had to pay for that additional person to stay.
I tried to explain to this guest, but she said, surely after the first time another guest meets her boyfriend, there would be no problem if they bumped into him again... Erm. That was a no from me. Like you, there was no way I was going to agree to this set up. She sounded like a whole lot of trouble. What other rules would she protest to/refuse to abide by because she didn't believe in them?
I think it may well be that your pricing model is attracting them. Have you looked at what others with comparable properties in your part of London are charging?
Also consider increasing your cleaning fee.
I appreciate London is an over-saturated market, but so is Bristol and I live in an inner city area. What I have noticed is that the bookings are a lot more last minute.
For me as it's not my main source of income I will only take a booking if it's worth it for me.
I am taking a minimum two night booking and have changed my policy to flexible, as I know under Covid if they need to cancel, they will be able to do so penalty free anyway.
Hope things pick up for you soon.
Thanks @Helen3 .
I don't actually have a cleaning fee and never had. I believe the guest should get as transparent an idea about the price straight up - well as far as possible, as Airbnb doesn't make that easy. I know that's what I would want as a guest when searching listings.
RE the pricing, what I did was to let Smart Pricing do it's thing for the next few months. Normally, I would never do that. I had previously set my prices higher for the peak Summer months. Guessing that that could now be totally unrealistic, I turned Smart Pricing back on and it put all nights for all rooms at the minimum price.
I will definitely check out what others are charging, which is something I usually do from time to time, but haven't recently as there didn't seem any point when everyone's calendars were blocked.
I just checked a coulple of listings at a nearby house that has a very similar offering to mine. It has always been priced much higher than mine, but it's been useful in the past to get a general idea as most of the listings in my area are much more 'basic'.
The calendar is completely blocked until October. Maybe that is from bookings, but as it's every single night and completely open from October, I am assuming the hosts have decided not to accommodate any guests until then.
Guess what? The price has gone up! It was previously £80 a night and is now £90. Perhaps they have just incorporated a cleaning fee into the nightly price though... In any case, they have certainly not put the price down!
I have raised my booking fees and am also being selective with who comes here. Travel is a luxury and I have no problems getting in the right guests since the pendulum is swung in my favor in my area, which is abundant with Sydneysiders who want to escape to the Blue Mountains. I will in no way, shape or form be giving out discounts when extra precautions due to covid need to be met. I will not take less as this means I would feel like my place is not worth it. If they complain, then they can spend a fortune on a property and start their own accommodation while accepting needy guests who want to put less in their pockets.
@Helen3 , I have raised mine nearly 20% to cover cleaning and 24 hour in between and have been booking pretty well as of late. Longer term though (2 weeks to a month) I would be willing to take a bit of a cut, thats not happening during summer though cause there isnt really those kind of openings (Luckily)
I have been getting that too, unless I price at way below my normal rates, then I have had people snap it up without asking. For rates almost 50% my normal going rate.
I used to get mad about this as well, if they asked I would feel like I had to give something!
Nowadays, I see it as a benefit - It allows me to screen guests all the while having instant book on.
My priority is good, problem free guests. When I get a discount request, I go right on google chrome add on and look at their profile.
I tell them that I'm not so much worried about the price, but I want to make sure they are a good fit for my property, and I ask them to tell me about themselves. Ask for info and make them work for it.
If they are cordial, respond to my messages, have a good profile, and are potential repeat guests, then I gladly try to make an effort! Chalking it all up to a 2020 loss that will hopefully pay off.
If they don't even bother to answer, they get no discount! If they don't fit my criteria for the problem-free guest, neither.
You can tell a lot in a few exchanges with a guest, and a discount request puts the ball on your side for once, at least in terms of getting them to answer and present themselves.
@Huma0 We've been standing our ground, but not even getting inquiries, maybe that will pick up a little in Aug when NYC gets to the next step in re opening.
As far as your guest, it would depend on what kind of lifestyle you thought she'd be having, e.g. is she going to be at home with the BF every night cooking for 2 and hanging in the common space, in which case, she's paying for 1 getting service for 2; or would it have really been as she said, more of a she and BF go out and he comes home with her at night a couple nights week, no cooking, no hanging, in that case, given the circumstances it might have been okay...but hard to know that from a few conversations w/someone.
Yes, the enquiries only started coming in after the Government announced it was letting B&Bs etc. reopen. Perhaps the same will happen in NYC?
The guest and I did discuss this in some detail and the situation you describe of boyfriend sleeping over a couple of nights a week was fine by me and I said I would waive the extra person fee.
However, that is not at all what she had in mind and would not agree to limit his visits. She said he would not be 'living' here, but she should not have to tell me how often he would stay. I told her I would need to know so I could inform the other guests (at the moment I do have another girl booked to stay at that time) and this is something previous guests have always been happy with. This guest, on the other hand, said it made her feel 'extremely uncomfortable' and that the other guests would just get used to him being around.
It just sounded like trouble to me. I was willing to let him stay over a couple of nights a week for free, but for him to have free reign of the house? No, sorry.
In addition, the guest wanted to speak to me on the phone rather than communicate via Airbnb. Then she wanted to come and see the property during full lockdown. She also wanted to book for six weeks with the possibility of staying permanently. She was definitely trying to get a 'deal' off site.
@Huma0 I'd say you dodged a bullet, if the guest is already using words like 'extremely uncomfortable' before she even books!!...it would seem that a complaint/bad review/major drama is only a matter of time.
Yes, to be honest, I was kind of relieved that she didn't book. Normally, I would totally avoid this kind of guest, but I guess desperate times and all...
So, when she said she wasn't going to book because it made her "extremely uncomfortable" that I wanted to know how often her boyfriend would be staying, I thought, "thank goodness for that!"
She sounds like a load of trouble. I only allow guests whom I personally check in allowed on my property. If a guest has a problem with my rules, they will likely not be respectful people and I wouldn't trust them in my home. The boyfriend excuse could be an excuse for prostitution. Either way it is too unorthodox and I would refuse the booking.