This is really just a conversation starter, as I've already made my decision on how to handle the below situation (due to the fact that our next guest arrives today), but it was a first time experience for me. I've been hosting almost 6 months, two properties, and for the most part have been extremely blessed with good guests. We've had three prior 'issues' - but all were resolved without much fanfare. The worst of them was the time a guest invited other guests (against house rules) and then left without communicating to them OR me...leaving the cleaner to have to bang on the door an hour after checkout time!!
In summary, the situation I have currently is that I discovered a laundry list of small transgressions after checkout, that individually could have been excusable. But in my follow up message to the guest, I chose only to call out the very obvious stain on a rug that I was unable to get clean. I was more concerned about the review at that point and hopeful that we might succeed in getting paid for the additional cleaning time. And I was downright thankful that a fire didn't start from the waffle iron they left plugged in and turned on.
Our cleaning fee is very reasonable and it's based on the time it typically takes to clean our rather small house. So I don't feel that it's unreasonable to request an extra cleaning fee - but on the receiving end of that request they probably don't realize all the things I'm NOT asking for. I figured the cleaning is the only thing I can substantiate, whereas missing and damaged items could easily be pinned on us for not noticing sooner (although that's not the case here because I'm the one that cleaned before and after this guest - no other cleaning person to wonder about). *So far no response to the request sent 12 hours ago.*
This guest seems to be perfectly reasonable and respectful in our communications but the fact remains that 95% of our departure checklist was ignored AND a few house rules were disregarded. I really believe it's more immaturity than disrespect at play, but think it's also important that future hosts know they are not 5 star guests. So my public review will likely say that it took longer than usual to clean the house, and I'll mark the house rules and cleanliness at 3 stars most likely. How badly does that compromise this guests' future chance of renting? I don't want to damage their profile, I just want to be honest. And what to say privately? I know it's this guests' first stay on AirBNB so perhaps it's appropriate to give candid feedback, but I wonder if that has had negative consequences for some hosts.
Interested in what some long-time hosts think about the stars and the reviews when considering someone as a guest.
Also interested in how other hosts call out the very important departure tasks to guests without overwhelming them. I was trying to avoid posting signs around the house, but sometimes I find the binder that contains the checklist and other house rules just stuffed in a corner.
@Nicole2223 Only hosts using Instant Book can see the star ratings, so they're of no use to ones who are proactively screening guests. The text review is what counts the most, and it should be honest and relevant. I would be more far more concerned about the House Rules being ignored than the cleanliness. Stains and spills I can handle, but if I'm handing over the keys to my house, trust is everything.
Will an honest review compromise the guest's ability to book another Airbnb? Yes, and well it should! This is simply not a desirable guest. But anyway, that's hardly a burden, as it won't affect his ability to rent on another platform or start over with a different account. Why should you care more about damaging his profile than he cared about damaging your home?
The "private feedback" feature tends to work better in the other direction. Constructive feedback is invaluable to hosts, but people don't tend to appreciate so much when a service provider tells them how to be a better customer.
As for the departure checklist: I suggest sending all checkout instructions in a message to the guest the day before and requesting confirmation that they've been received. Your House Rules do mention that completing the checklist is required, but it should at least mention how much time they should plan to spend on it. Guests don't like being surprised with extensive task lists, and those who prefer the luxury of a quick and easy departure are better off booking elsewhere.
@Andrew0 - thank you. Your response was extremely helpful. I've taken a few steps towards changing the process, including posting the departure checklist in a visible location in the home (vs. expecting them to look in the binder that I spent so many hours creating...pointless!). Starting with new reservations, I'm going to implement a 'welcome' phone call a day or two before arrival. In this call, I will make clear the things that are most important to us, which are also listed in the house rules that the guest agrees to upon booking, so we are covering all bases. Someone (I think in this thread) suggested using email as well. So I'm going to think about what a good sequence is for all of these communications.
As for the guest in question....I've not yet reviewed him as I had to request additional money for cleaning. They've not completed their review and they've not responded to my request yet. Nor has the prior guest responded to a request for additional cleaning funds. Each of these reservations came via inquiry for folks with no prior reviews and I agreed to host against my instincts. Live and learn (or Host and Learn, as it were)!
@Nicole2223 A new to Airbnb guest could be forgiven maybe for thinking they could just leave the place a mess, like they might do in a hotel room, if the host hasn't made it clear what pre-check-out cleanup us expected, but ignoring house rules, causing damage or disappearing things has nothing to do with being a new to Airbnb user, it's just disrespect and entitlement.
Review dispassionately but honestly, and I wouldn't concern myself one iota if it makes it difficult for the guest to book again. They should have thought about that during their stay when they treated the place poorly.
The only time I might just leave private feedback is if a guest simply seemed inattentive to something, but my experience of them was that they'd be open to learning. Like mentioning that I appreciated that they washed their dishes, but that they should pay more attention to that next time, as the dishes still had bits of food and grease all over them.
And like Andrew, the star ratings hosts leave do me no good at all, as I am a non-IB host so can't see them. I rely on the written reviews.
Just a quick thought, this sounds like a private message would have been an opportunity to coach a guest about hosting and host/guest expectations. Ultimately, you can't change the past but you can impact the future and guide them to being a better guest. Just my opinion.
Hi @Nicole2223 To answer a question in your original post, 3 stars won't have much of an impact on this guest's ability to book in future. It might put any InstantBooking on pause but not on indefinite hold. So if you haven't already, go for the 3 stars or below.
A call could work or could backfire - if your guests are vacationers, would they want a call like that? However, you can create Scheduled Messages - one to go a day or two before check-in, summarizing the key points, and another to go out the night before check-out, reiterating departure notes. Experienced guests look for this information so they won't be put off, and new guests need to be reminded, judging by your recent experience! Gah. 🙂
Thank you Ann. Good to know about the stars.
I don't know if the calls would be welcome or not. I learned from another airbnb host that they're finding them to be very helpful. But it's a VERY different setting that they are hosting in. I imagine I'd get voice mail most of the time. So perhaps an email is the better way to go for sharing the critical bits and just keep the phone call short and friendly - a la 'we're here if you need us, don't hesitate to call'.
I'm already using automated messages. My concern is that there's too much information and when multiple messages are sent at regular intervals (automatically or otherwise) without a reply, it causes me to question whether they're being read at all. I did recently take a new look at the information that we're sending to see where I could pare back. And I started making use of the automation feature to space things out. Granted, we're only a few weeks into this, and have only had these guests that were clearly immature...so I'll need more time to assess whether it's successful.
But - going slightly off topic here - I've been considering taking a different approach to sharing information about the area (activities, food, etc) vs. the house information that is critical for them to know. In other words, rather than sending ALL of the above via messaging, which can be quite overwhelming to view from the app on a smartphone...I would send just a link to a website that has all our recommendations. In addition I'd create guidebooks and point guests to those. Then we can focus on the household rules and information, including checkin and check out procedures, in the app.
Another concern I've had is whether people actually have cell service at our property and/or if they don't allow AirBNB to use cellular data, they could be missing out on what I think are perfectly timed messages. We don't offer WiFi at this time. In the message I send one day before check in, I remind them that they might lose service so they should be sure to check messages about an hour before arrival.
Yes, good points @Nicole2223. I think your idea about breaking info up like that is great. The guidebook you can create is super helpful and becomes a simple link. Almost all my guests use it. Cell service in our area wasn't great so I used to print the guidebook out (before they changed the format so you can't print it out), but service has improved and guests seem to have no problem opening it on their phones now. Also, I put my rules, like the check-out procedure, in my house manual. I figure guests are as self-interested as anybody else and they'll read the house manual to find out where the coffee is and how to work the TV before they'll read the house rules. 🙂