Just a few days ago I let my timeshare listing go online again. I got over 30 requests within the last 3 days - and unfortunately, as most of them asked for dates or rooms which were not available anymore, I had to decline the inquiries or requests. Even the inquiries or requests with ongoing communications I had to decline, as the Airbnb policies ask us to pre-approve within 24 hours. And this is definitely not always possible. Especially when you are communicating with somebody in another time zone. So, I had to decline the inquiries.
You can ask people to cancel their inquiry, but not everybody does this after you tell them that you don't have something available. So, you are on your own as host and have no other way than declining, as otherwise you will have a bad response rate.
Today I received an e-mail, that, when I go on declining, my listings might be deleted. I WAS SHOCKED!
I called the customer service. They told me
- that declining inquiries or requests has a negative influence on our approval rate (I can't find this rate by the way) and therefore
- I should block the days (which in a lot of cases doesn't make sense, as there might not be a 2 BR available, but a studio or 1 BR...) and
- change the description and ask people to just contact us via the CONTACT HOST link (which I did, but unfortunately people don't seem to follow this, or it still seems to be an inquiry - which I should not decline, right?).
As my timeshare is flexible in dates, number of rooms and even category of rooms, I am not able to keep the calendar of this listing up-to-date (there is a huge and complex portal behind where I can check all kinds of constellations depending on the guests wishes!). Therefore blocking my dates really doesn't always make sense.
Does anybody here have the same problem? How do you guys handle this?
I think there should not be a so-called 'approval rate' - we should be able to decline as many times as we want. It's our listing. And as long as we don't discriminate somebody, it should be possible to decline without consequences.
I think this kind of procedure (sending an e-mail with a threat to delete listings), is not a nice way to superhosts. It really makes me sad and I don't know what to do now. I just try to help people to find a nice vacation place!
What is your opinion on this?
Thank you in advance for your feedback! 😘
@SandraandGary0 First of all, you don't need to either decline or pre-approve inquiries- messaging back is all that's required, although Airbnb reps won't tell you this. You'll get messages urging you to pre-approve, but you can ignore those, as long as you have responded to the guests within 24 hurs. If it's a Booking Request, you do need to either accept or decline within 24 hours.
Secondly, you don't know how to set up your listings properly. You need to make a separate listing for each configuration of bookings- one for 2 bedrooms, one for 1 bedroom, one for studio, etc. Each listing has it's own calendar, so all dates which show as available actually are available. Then link the calendars so if one becomes unavailable due to another being booked, the dates will be blocked automatically.
There are many things about Airbnb that are irritating and angering, but the problems you are having are due to you not understanding how this all works, not because of anything unfair that Airbnb is doing.
@Sarah977 , thank you for taking the time to answer in such details and giving me advice. I really appreciate that. And you seem to be very knowledgeable.
This morning when I talked to customer service, I was told about this approval rate. I was also surprised and wondering, as I wasn’t aware of it and also didn’t find it somewhere. But I trusted them. Sorry for being so stupid :-), but I usually don’t have these issues with my other listings, that’s why I was just overwhelmed and shocked in the first place. I just tried to be a good and rules following host. I‘m not a person who tries to find ways around to trick the system. But as far as I understand your answer, this might be the only solution.
I was also confused about the responding time. Do they only count the first inquiry message or do you have to respond to each message from the same person within 24 hours?
Yes, I could put more listings online, but that would have to be more than you proposed - as they also differentiate between Mountain View and Ocean View. But linking the calendars wouldn’t make sense at all. They are not related to each other. And it actually doesn’t solve the problem, as a timeshare is a totally different thing than „normal“ listings. Availabilities can change each day - who has the time to check availabilities for 1 year for 6 listings in a different portal and then transfer to the Airbnb calendar? I don’t.
Also, Sarah, I’m not blaming on Airbnb being unfair, I’m showing by this post that there is a problem for which they should find a solution. Sending in automated e-mail because of too many declines might not be the right way. And their way of trying to push hosts to pre-approve or decline within 24 hours might not be the right way neither when they later try to tell you you shouldn’t decline so much. I feel something is wrong in their rules and in the process. And before I send them a feedback about it, I want to here which experience other hosts have. Because, when I don’t understand “how this all works..”, others might not neither. And then it’s maybe worth going forward with this issue.
Your situation is unique because you're trying to do something this platform (and all the policies) were never designed for.
Most hosts are listing places with all the specifics up front: X Bedrooms, X Baths, with the views as seen in photos and availability as determined by the calendar. I spend a lot of time figuring the details out before listing. If guests aren't instant booking, they're typically making a request that takes <5 minutes to accept/decline.
In their research, Air found guests don't like waiting for their plans to be confirmed. Which is why they have the 24 hour deadline and push InstaBook. Your fellow hosts with SH badges on their profiles have no problem hitting that 24 hour deadline. (I have a 100% response rate and 98% acceptance rate)
It sounds like your listing isn't a physical address, so much as a way for guests to initiate contact with you, at which point you're searching the timeshare site for options. It's understandable this work takes you time; you're trying to squish into 24 hours the work that other hosts do before listing. But Airbnb isn't going to let you operate at a lower standard than the rest of us just because you're trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. If you can't get it done reliably in 24 hours, you'll need to consider other booking options.
Availabilities can change each day - who has the time to check availabilities for 1 year for 6 listings in a different portal and then transfer to the Airbnb calendar? I don’t.
The solution to this is data integration between the timeshare and Airbnb, which will generate the listings, pricing and availability for all dates, every minute. You're essentially acting like a travel agent right now, like people used back in the old days before the internet. You don't have time to check availability for 1 year for 6 listings, but a computer sure can.
If you are the owner of the properties, that may not displace you, but if your business relies on you being the intermediary, those integrations will hit hard.
@SandraandGary0 I'm not all that knowledgable 🙂 For instance, I don't know the ins and outs of listing timeshares, so hopefully some other hosts who do know will chime in and give you advice on how to list them and manage the calendars. You might start a new topic post asking that specifically, so you get more on-point answers from those hosts who know about it.
As far as "tricking the system", it's not a trick just to answer an Inquiry if you don't want to add another decline to your account. It's perfectly legitimate, but in fact, many CS reps are ill-informed or may not tell you this unless you specifically ask. And you just have to answer the Inquiry once, even if they follow up with more messages. If that Inquiry expires, and they send another, that would be treated as a new Inquiry, with a new 24 hour clock ticking, so you'd have to answer that one as well.
Honestly, much of what I've learned about the ins and outs of the platform I have learned from other hosts on this forum. It's really helpful to peruse these forums often. There are often Airbnb system-wide glitches or country-specific ones that Airbnb doesn't inform us about, and we only find out about from other hosts here.
And yes, Airbnb's scolding language towards hosts is quite irritating and disrespectful. I have no idea who comes up with the wording for these computer-generated messages, but it certainly isn't someone who understands human psychology or how to say something in a non-offensive way. They sound like the way some neighbor who dislikes children might reprimand your 5 year old for walking across their lawn.
@SandraandGary0 . I have no idea how the timeshare concept works but it sounds as if the properties are available on a different website as well as on Airbnb. If you had separate listings for each property and linked the Airbnb calendar to the timeshare system calendar (and vice versa) perhaps that would solve the issue
@SandraandGary0 I also dont know how timeshares work but your situation sounds very complicated. Like any large company, Airbnb has its terms and conditions, and we agree to those when we sign up. One of the reasons for its success is that it takes declines and cancellations very seriously and strongly discourages (and even penalises) hosts for doing this. This is to ensure a smooth guest booking experience, which is most likely one of the reasons for Airbnb's success.
So, if your listing is too complicated to create separate listings (for the different sleeping arrangements) and synch the calendar with your timeshare listing (which may still be possible), then maybe you need to ask yourself whether your timeshare is suitable for Airbnb at all.
I would advise NEVER pre-approve an inquiry on Airbnb, because the reason there is an inquiry is because the guest does not agree with all your booking requirements whether it is fee, cleaning fee, availability, pets, deposit, etc.... and accepting the pre-approval sets you in a new habit that will come back to haunt you. I declined all inquiries that ask for cleaning fee eliminations or pets and when I do I immediately call Airbnb to let them know about the decline and why I declined. They always seem greatfull for my call and explanation.
@David4245 That's not true at all. You are assuming that all hosts use Instant Book or that there aren't any guests who qualify who might have perfectly legitimate questions before they commit to a booking. I don't use Instant Book, and have received plenty of Inquiries from guests who wanted more specific information about something, or single women who had concerns about the safety of the area for walking alone, things like that. None asked for discounts, or indicated they wanted me to make some exception for them or had bad reviews, or anything like that. I pre-approved them and they all were lovely guests who I'd be happy to have back. I was happy that they sent Inquiries rather than booking requests, since I'd have to make a decision on a request within 24 hours, when with an Inquiry we can just message back and forth until we're both satisfied it's a good fit.
There's nothing wrong with pre-approving an Inquiry if the host is comfortable with it. It's declining one that's not necessary and just lowers one's acceptance rate for no good reason.
@Sarah977 @SandraandGary0 @David4245 yes I agree with Sarah. I often get inquiries about whether the listing is suitable for them. I would much rather that than people send a request asking if they can bring their dog or kids and then have to go through the whole drama of declining, etc. This is exactly what inquiries are for - yes, it's annoying when people send an inquiry asking about things that are already on the listing, but at least we don't have to decline. We just don't accept if they are not suitable (asking for discounts, pets, kids, etc.).
Also, in your case @SandraandGary0, it sounds like you are asking people to ONLY contact you through the 'contact host' link, which at the moment is how you want people to book, so David's suggestion is complete irrelevant to your situation anyway. I think what you have stated on your listing is very clear, and if it is too complicated to work out otherwise, you might have to stick to this system.