DEALING WITH BAD GUESTS – Don’t Hold Your Breath.
The Airbnb system does not filter guests perfectly and troubled people may fall through the cracks. When we open our home to strangers we are gaining new experience, making a little extra money; but exposing our family to danger as well. If the Airbnb team does not offer us timely and caring help, we will be under risks and sustain damages while defending ourselves right in our home territory. I am sharing a true story in hope to stimulate host exchanges for meaningful ideas that may help Airbnb make changes in the prompt resolution of unfortunate situations.
I have maintained my super host status since the beginning, took my job seriously, and cared about all my guests. I enjoyed many pleasant experiences but encountered two exceptions, so far. The first bad experience was a drug addict who smoked pots in my home, opened and searched all the drawers; but refused to leave when the contract was expired. In the second case, there was no indicator from the website enabling me to second guess a family from China. Within one week of serving them, we knew we were in deep water and the scary feeling may last a long time.
In conclusion, the two case managers were helpful and they were my heroes. But I cannot vouch for most of the staffs, the Trust and Safety team, and the overall tactics practiced by them. It seemed to me, even if guests break rules of the contract and present threats to hosts, the positions of Airbnb are: Have the hosts to tackle the problems first and at their own costs. If this is not working, then advice hosts to seek either Alteration (refunding via our account; but minimizing monetary impact on Airbnb) or Cancellation (hosts will be penalized). Airbnb is not willing to assign a case manger who works with a host from day one until the problem is solved. Only at the last moment, Airbnb may assign a responsible case manager who may step forward and settle the problem.
In my view, it is important that Airbnb works with the hosts as a well-coordinated TEAM. The right attitude is: Airbnb be the TEAM LEADER in proactively solving problems, particularly when bad people enter our home and our safety was jeopardized.
I think a lot of these issues arise from a misunderstanding of what ABB is, basically a booking service. Part of the problem is that they have over sold themselves, they have created their own issues.
They are essentially putting people in contact and processing the money. There is some rudimentary information to confirm who a guest is and is not, then there are reviews by previous hosts if they have stayed elsehwere but that is about it.
When it comes down to it, you are running the business, only so much a telephone operator can do, if somebody seriously oversteps the mark boot them out.
Thanks for sharing your comments.
There is a written contract "between the guests and ABB", not "between the guests and the host" because the guests pay ABB first using their computer system (The monetary transaction is between the guests and ABB and then ABB pays us).
I tried to boot them out; but it was not easy. My first priority was booting them out by calling police; but ABB did not express their support. We are running a business through ABB, the police may not even take action if ABB did not respond.
If I boot them out using "Cancelation", I would have gotten a monetary penalty with calendar blocked by ABB. This is not desirable for any hosts.
If I use "Alteration", then ABB must get involved to boot them out. But ABB would not assign a Case Manager promptly.
My point is ABB is having us boot the guests out "first", then ABB will not be contractually, monetary, and legally responsible for the case. Yes we are running the business; but booting is not easy if ABB is not involved. We may carry the monetary and legal complication by booting them out first.
ABB is a fair place for us to get into the hosting business; but I am concerned about their slow response when we are troubled by problematic guests. If someone has better idea of how to boot out a bad guest, let us know.
I am sorry. I still don't know how to boot the bad guests if they seriously overstep me. I believe ABB should help us “promptly”.
if you were booking to tourists via ....booking.com, you would know your only help is the police actually as booking.com stresses they are just mediating between hotels and tourists. But read on, I did get help from booking.com in a way i did not expect it, it was so pro-host that I could not believe it. I didn' thave to discuss it, i just said the guest to have soon (before the guests arrival) sounds rude and disrespectful in his messaging, booking.com immediately cancelled the booking for me:/
With airbnb.com I have to pay a penalty and black out my dates when I refuse hosting a weird-talking guest. They always blame the host for not being 'commited'.
Having said this, airbnb.com does a lot more checks on guests than booking.com.
And you could always set it so that only ppl with proven civic ID and confirmed positives reviews stay with you, minimizing the exposure to danger?
Was this family you mention coming to you with positive recommedations from prevoius hosts?
Airbnb do have some responsibility towards Hosts' wellbeing as they screen the guests and withhold the guest's IDs. Even if you deal withe your local Police, Airbnb will not give you the guest's IDs so therefore they are responsible for more than just the booking and money transfer. I'm glad to hear they did take responsiblity in the end. I do think Airbnb has oversold itself and is now so popular that there are not enough staff to handle all the issues, that is why sometimes you get good responses and sometimes not. A case manager is what all high level functioning businesses have to deal with complaints and Airbnb should appoint one at the beginning who follows your case to the resolution.
Yes, the bottom line solution is ABB proactively signs up ONE RESPONSIBLE Case Manager from DAY ONE and follow the case to the end ASAP. But so far this was not my experiece.
Each time you call them, they give you a different Case Manager. You may wind up with several Case Managers none of them is eager to help.
Great answer, Lisa! I agree completely. And, as John in Thousand Oaks, CA writes, the Case Manager should be assigned from day one and be RESPONSIBLE. Case Managers should know the law in the host's area and understand that Airbnb IS responsible for dealing with and removing "bad guests," because they have checked the people out ahead of time. They should know, for instance, if someone comes across as disrespectful, not to allow that person to use their services.
If ABB holds the contract and is not willing to step up, I am not sure police is able to evict problematic guests legally. Booking.com works differently when compared with ABB. The hosts of booking.com may be able to evict bad guests because they receives payments directly from the guests, not from booking.com.
I don’t believe ABB is anti-host at all. But I agree with you that ABB is all about making money for ABB. As a result, ABB tries to shift the burdens to the hosts, have them pay penalties (Guests make the Cancellation), and as a result ABB carries no responsibility and saves money.
Even with review checks, there may be loopholes. The reviews could be short and not fact revealing. Some hosts may not give bad reviews since the guests could return them with bad ratings.
If ABB shifts its tactics to pro-host (or helping host promptly) like booking.com, it will make a big improvement for ABB.
For the time being, I still do not have good method to get rid of bad guests. Anyone has good suggestion?
Ive been renting a room in my house for 4 years and I'm also a super host ( honestly I don't know what this does for me)
I am so so careful of who comes into my house. I have a long set of regulations and never instant book (If a potential guest doesn't have the time to communicate to a host who is opening up her home to them, they can go elsewhere. ). I pointeldly ask potential guests if they've read the entire listing and have any questions. I also reiterate that I have cats , and strict water conservation rules (California ) etc because it is amazing how many people don't read!
I again go over everything when the guest arrives and in addition print out information sheet that repeats the info, which I leave in the room. I pretty much can tell by how someone communicates whether or not we're on the same page but it is difficult with someone from a different culture.... one can't assume people understand or even know what is okay to do, so you really have to explain.
Anyway... its a learning process but I also agree that Airbnb is a victim ( dont know if thats exactly the right word) of it's own success. They should be assist immediately when a guest has an issue.
I agree with what you said totally. I also practice precaution similar to what you said in your letter: do not instant book, provide a set of regulations in a letter prior to their arrival, go over things aft their arrival, etc. I still have two bad experiences, so far. But I expect bad apples may fall through the cracks again, no matter how careful we are.
So, if unfortunate situation happens again, how do we seek ABB’s help if they choose to give us a run around, assign us multiple irresponsible Case Managers and refuse to send our complaints to their higher management? I do not have a good answer.
@John320, Thanks for sharing your experiences. Based on your experiences and other host accounts of problem guests, I am again reminded not to be overly accomodating to special requests (the kitchen setup, extra bedroom, etc.). Unfortunately, for some guests the more you give, the more they take.
If I were desperate to get rid of bad guests - fearing for my safety - and airbnb was not helpful I would lock them out. They would probably call airbnb and the case would become much more important.
I also use VRBO. There is no penalty for a host cancelling and I have a contract directly with the guests.
Thanks. Your answers are the best so far. Lock them out and the case should become more important. Get involved with VRBO.
I may make a modified suggestion. Let ABB know I'll lock them out if ABB does not pay attention and wants to give me a run around. Then follow up with action to lock them out. They will call ABB to enter and ABB must act.
I believe you gave two practical solutions so far. Locking them out and joining VRBO are good suggestions.
I’ll offer a modified suggestion. Contact ABB first alerting the urgency of the situation and let them know we are locking out the bad guests if ABB is still non-response. We then take action accordingly by locking them out. The guests will call ABB and this puts ABB back into a position to act. The key is have ABB take responsibility in settling the problem; but not to have us cancelling the contract, paying penalty and getting calendar blocked.
If anyone has better idea or see loophole in the above suggestion, please comment.
Thanks and best.
But wouldn’t Airbnb charge you a penalty? I just got rid of a bad (aka disgusting) guest and Airbnb is giving him most of his money back, plus giving me a time consuming run-around into the bargain.