I have been hosting for over six years; I've had literally hundreds of guests from all over the world, staying in my own home and in several other properties that I've managed. Almost all guests communicate through the Airbnb smartphone app while they're travelling so that we can send and receive messages, for example to tell me if if they are delayed on their journey, and this works well 99% of the time but recently I've had a very small number of guests tell me that they can't use the app while they're in transit because they don't have access to WiFi. They usually tell me this to explain why they've only turned up to check-in several hours later than the agreed time and not responded to any of my messages asking for an update.
I don't really believe this excuse! For one thing, I use the app while I'm out and about all the time using a normal mobile phone signal and it works fine. I have also used the app while I have been travelling myself in several European countries - it has always worked fine, even on mobile phone networks that are not my usual one at home. Failing that, there are places everywhere these days (cafes, libraries, trains, every single branch of McDonald's for instance) where a traveller could access WiFi for free if they need to check details or send a message and really couldn't get online any other way.
I am just wondering whether this is something other hosts are hearing from guests and whether there is any truth in it?
When guests try to send me text messages or WhatsApp me, I politely remind them to please keep all communication in their Airbnb thread where we can both see the whole conversation (and it's on record in case of problems) and I can keep track of which guests have asked about what. Again today, I was told by a guest that she couldn't contact me through Airbnb because she didn't have WiFi. This particular guest had already tried to push my boundaries before she had even arrived - booking for three people including a child younger than I usually accept but only wanting to pay for the two adults, wanting an earlier check-in than listed etc. Is my instinct correct and she is just telling me this nonsense about the app because I asked her not to use WhatsApp - or is there something about the Airbnb app that I need to know and take into account, that prevents some guests being able to use it when out of a WiFi zone?
No Helen, they are being 'cheapskates' , they are probably on a minimal plan, maybe 1Gb of data a month and when out and about they have their 'enable data' setting turned off so they can use others peoples allowance rather than their own. They will receive sms but not be able to run apps without using WiFi.
Next time it happens tell them, to turn the data on and the app will work fine!
I haven't had this particular problem, but I have hosted a guest that was hiking around Europe, and did not have a smart phone, which is a position that I am in myself. I have an old school Nokia mobile, for calling and texting only. I use the app on my tablet, but don't have a sim card for it, so I'm reliant on WiFi. However, I also live in a country that has free WiFi absolutely everywhere, but this isn't the case for most European countries, where you must pay for WiFi. I've even been refused service in Costa Coffee in the UK, where we'd paid for WiFi,but couldn't use the voucher, because they could only be linked to a UK phone number, which I don't have. It was a stupid and frustrating situation, in which Costa was the only place available, and yet I still couldn't get on the net.
I mention this, because it's easy to forget that WiFi isn't always as readily available as you might think. I've also been frustrated about a guest's lack of communication, until a kindly host in the Host Circle reminded me that people that are travelling may not have a charged phone, or be able to work out how to access data services in a foreign language and system, or whatever. I do understand your frustration, but it's not always that simple.
However, it seems like this guest has raised some flags for other purposes, and this could be one more way to push boundaries. I guess you'll have to fall back on your instincts in this case.
I often have the same problem with my guests. Asian guests often switch off their phones, they say they don't have roarming. How can someone travel accross the world nowadays without roarming or few GB on their smartphones???
I noticed if I am not in a wifi zone then I have trouble to access internet on my iphone until I go to settings and turn off WIFi. After that it works fine.
@Helen0@Branka-and-Silvia0 I travel the world without haveing any roaming capability. I therefore have no phone or my own data. But I am organised and would let a host know in advance so they would know I am unlikley to be contactable. It is not mandatory and sometimes it is good to get off all of this technology. We are way too reliant on being able to contact people immediately and need to cater for all levels of guest.
The bottom line is the guest is responsible to make sure they can be in commuication with the host. Here in the US, it should never be a problem. As for how to handle it when they shirk this responsibility, I have no idea.
For international guests travelling in US, they do have some issues if their phone plans do not have roaming turned on or they have not subscribed a roaming data plans.
I have a very different viewpoint. I do not expect international travelers to have a local SIM card. I am pleasantly surprised when they do.
I generally have their flight no, or know which train they will be traveling on, so I can "track" their progress. In some cases, it doesn't all workout, but rarely.
@Helen0 I also don't use a smart phone, therefore no apps. If I were a guest, I would need to have all the info about the address, check-in time arranged, etc. well ahead of time. If something happened where I got delayed and needed to let you know, I would text or phone you. I understand the importance of keeping anything contentious and general communication on the Airbnb messaging, but a simple call or text to let someone know you're going to be late, or to verify check-in time doesn't seem risky to me.
And I've had guests who set up their phones with their providers to use while here in Mexico, and it ends up not working at all, whether they have a Wifi signal or not.
I think if people are traveling long flights they may run out of battery or they may not have data roaming so that limits communication.
As alluded to by Susan, its always best to know their flight numbers or travel details in advance so that you can estimate their time of arrival.
the App does not work if you do not have wifi or you have switched off mobile data on your phone
Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply, it has definitely shed some light on why this might be happening from time to time.
Of course most guests do confirm their arrangements with me in advance, and tell me if they are unavoidably delayed - but it's funny how it's always the ones who decided to change their plans on the day, or under-estimated the driving time from London, and didn't bother to let me know, who then tell me that there was absolutely no way to contact me because their app doesn't work without WiFi 🙂
because their app doesn't work without WiFi 🙂
A more accurate statement would be "their app doesn't work without internet access."
If this is a consistent issue and most of your guests will be following the same route from London to your home, have you considered sending a list of free wifi hotspots along the way? Every McDonalds has free wifi. I bet a few pubs do as well. Perhaps a town hall along the way?
This could solve the problem if you send this list along with directions to your home sometime during the week before their arrival and ask them to pause at one of these locations if they are running more than 30 minutes behind schedule?
I recently had the same trouble. I was on the train, thinking that the wifi would work and it al of a sudden cut out. Furthermore, yesterday, I was driving around and for 40 minutes I tried to use google maps and it suddenly stopped working. I asked for a map at a drug store and at a gas station and they said they no longer sell maps.
I don't know why my phone stopped working on the train the other day but I was a bit surprised. Then, when we finally arrived, we just wanted to get there as soon as possible, not fiddle around with apps and wifi to send messages.
Most of the airbnb hosts I've had leave a key for me so they do not have to wait around and greet me. All pertinent information such as internet password and access code are send by airbnb text message. The heat and gas is already turned on when I arrive. I prefer traveling this way so I can arrive whenever I wish instead of at an appointed time.
As a host and an Airbnb user I can’t get my messages unless I’m on WiFi. Even though I have a huge data plan.
Just a heads up;)
Guess I’ll contact Airbnb directly to get the issue resolved.
Have a beautiful weekend