Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Providence, RI
Level 10
900 Views

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WARNING:  LONG POST  (what's new) Lol

 

As anyone who reads here knows, Instant Booking (IB) can be a problem when guests who have nefarious purposes in mind use IB.  Most of the time they have little or no profile, sometimes no photo, and usually no reviews or recommendations from other hosts.

 

I'm sure there are exceptions, but I don't wish to argue those exceptions.  This thread is about sharing ideas about how to protect ourselves as hosts from nefarious people using IB for their fraudulent purposes.

 

One of my goals in using AirBnB, and I mean “using” is to never have to contact AirBnB customer service: to have as little contact with the company as possible, to manage my listing so closely and professionally that I avoid the many problems we read about here on a daily basis. I will tell you that I will never file a claim with AirBnB, that I will handle all problems in-house, that I will take the hit financially for my mistakes, and I will delist if AirBnB screws me. Now back to Instant Booking.

 

Many hosts do not use IB and are adamant about its evils.

 

I chose to use it in order to get all the bookings I can while realizing I will have to closely manage IB in order to avoid the pitfalls it can present.

 

To that end I wrote what I refer to as My Boilerplate Acknowledgement Form – I keep tweaking it and revising it.

 

I send it to anyone who Instant Books.  It has already chased away two very suspicious IB’s that I was uncomfortable with from the start.

 

My goal is to not alienate any guest that is on the up and up but to gently make them understand the reason for my asking them to confirm the four items in the boilerplate.

 

I understand I may lose the occasional booking because it may sound a bit harsh and legalistic to some, but so far no legit guest has refused, whereas several suspicious guests have canceled upon receiving the boilerplate.  I say better safe than sorry.  I’d rather make less money than deal with the police, AirBnB, or the stress and unpleasantness that comes with bad guests.

 

Please feel free to use it if you wish, improve it if you wish, or criticize it if you wish --  it is a gift back to this community for all I have learned here.

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------  My BoilerPlate Acknowledgement Form  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Hi Gustavo DeGuest,

 

Thanks for using Instant Booking to book XYZ House, our AirBnB.

 

We look forward to hosting you.

 

But before we confirm your Instant Booking, please read the following and provide the four (4) necessary acknowledgements for confirmation.

 

AirBnB instituted a penalty free cancelation policy for Hosts who use Instant Booking (IB): IB is a real convenience for guests. That is probably why you used it. 

 

However, some people have begun using IB for nefarious purposes, creating fake profiles, misusing the platform to defraud, and even using accommodations for criminal enterprises.

 

Many of these types of people are new to AirBnB, have joined recently, have no profile picture, few if any recommendations from other hosts and communicate in a suspicious manner.

 

As a host I can cancel any reservation made with IB without question if I am uncomfortable with a guest, based on their profile, their communication or their behavior.

 

I want to be comfortable with you and your booking.

 

That is why, for me to confirm your Instant Booking, I ask you to please confirm the following four items for the protection of all parties.

 

  1. Please, briefly explain the purpose of your trip.
  2. Please provide the full names of the all people who will be checking in with you.
  3. Please, acknowledge you have read and will adhere to the House Rules.
  4. Please acknowledge you understand our pricing: Our base price is for one person with an additional charge of $40 per person per night up to a total of four guests. Please, acknowledge that only your named guests will be checking in and staying with you and that if you need to accommodate additional guests you will compensate us using AirBnB. Violating this policy will result in instant cancellation and you will need to vacate immediately and find new accommodations.

Please, respond to this email as soon as possible so your booking can be confirmed -- no later than 24 hours if booking in advance and before checking in if same-day. 

 

A non-response, a failure to respond, a refusal to respond or responding with incomplete information may cause your Instant Booking to be canceled for failure to comply with AirBnB policy.

 

Thank you.  We look forward to hearing from you and hosting you in our XYZ AirBnB.

 

Mr. ZYX

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

30 Replies

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
La Quinta, CA
Level 10

@John1574  If I instant booked with you and received your boiler plate acknowledgement I would probably cancel.  I would not do that because I am planning something malicious but the approach is off putting.  I do agree with your aim, but to repeatedly state that a host can cancel would make me uncertain that you would honor the booking.  As a guest, that is a real fear.

 

I agree your concern is an important one and in certain areas it is a bigger issue than in other areas.  Along with requiring a positive review in order for a guest to book with IB, I do not accept same day reservations which avoids many problematic guests.  I do ask some of the same questions and gently engage the guest so as to establish a rapport with me.  I think that carries a lot of weight when it comes to unwanted behavior or negative reviews.  

 

 

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Providence, RI
Level 10

@Linda108

 

I appreciate your comment and your concerns, and I did not make clear that I do first establish rapport with the guest in my initial email -  I then mention to them to look out for the "boilerplate" that I will be sending them for confirmation.

 

I would definately not let a potential guest see that boilerplate as my first contact, in that you are correct to assume it would be very off-putting.

 

My bad for not making that clear.  I guess it was a long process to put the thread together and I was not thorough in establishing the sequence in which I use the boilerplate.

 

So far this process has worked for me.

 

So to reiterate:

 

1. 

 

First establish rapport with guest in initial contact and mention that you will be sending them a boilerplate form to acknowledge.

 

2.  Then send the bolierplate with a little personable preamble.

 

I hope this helps clear up the misconception that I created.

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
La Quinta, CA
Level 10

Makes more sense now, @John1574 😄

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Scotland, United Kingdom
Level 2

Hi John,

 

I wonder if you can help me - I'm a new host and within a couple of days of listing my home (with IB turned on) have a concerning booking. The guest has one very damming review from a couple of weeks ago which sounds horrendous. His only two other reviews don't seem legit and are from a year ago when he joined. I would like to cancel his reservation and have read that I'm able to do this without getting penalised, but can't seem to find out how to do this without pressing the cancel button and incurring the fines etc. I would be grateful if you could point me in the right direction?

 

Thanks,

Jess

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Jess-and-Gordon0  Contact Airbnb, explain why you want to cancel the booking (they can see his horrendous review) and ask them to do it for you without penalties.

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Lahaina, HI
Level 9

You will get "slapped" for cancelling.. thats just how it is, better be safe than sorry.  Seriously cancel them, and take the consequences,  calling Airbnb won't help you one bit.  Airbnb will block the dates so no one else can book (so stupid) but it will be worth keeping your place in good shape from unwanted guests.  my advice TAKE THE HIT, cancel them. 

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
South Korea
Level 10

@John1574

If you get a lot of IB guests, a saved message like you have would be useful and necessary........but I think what you have right now is too long and unnecessarily goes into details that you (host) can cancel penalty free. I think after "We look forward to hosting you." you can jump straight to "For me to confirm your Instant Booking" and loose everything in between. Just my 2 cents~

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Providence, RI
Level 10

@Jessica-and-Henry0

 

So you mean to leave out the disclaimer about penalty free cancellation and the part about nefarious parties, and go right into the four acknowledgements?

 

Not a bad idea.

 

I think it is long, but so far each legit guest I've asked about it tells me that they understand completely and have no problem with the acknowledgements  or to what I refer to as my boilerplate. 

 

I make sure they know it's coming during my initial freindly email.  I don't hit them with that on first contact.

 

I meant this thread as a means to  present my idea as a concept: a concept that can be tweaked in multiple ways to suit any host using IB  and their particular market. I think the concept is sound so I will continue to use it and continue to fine tune it as I do my listing.

 

If I get bad feedback on it from guests I will post it here.  Like your listing, it should be a perpetual work in progess.

 

Of course each guest is a unique situation, and ther are some guests that IB, who have many positive reviews and recomendations and on those I feel no need to send the boilerplate.

 

You must go on feel.

 

I know there is a lot of angst around IB so I hope someone finds the concept usefull in protecting themselves against bad guests.

 

My very first guest used IB, booked for one person and brought three.  I took the loss on that one and developed this concept to weed out the bad eggs.

 

So far the two parties who cancelled had really made my spidey sense tingle, so I think I'm on the right track.  One booked from CA but left a very local phone number and had a series of red flags in their communication:  It think I called that one right.

 

I assume anyone legitamately ofended by my boilerplate would ask about the it and the reasons for it.

 

So far one person asked, and when I explained about the fake accounts, etc.  the prostitution, the drug use, etc. they were astounded that such things are going on within AirBnB.  They had no idea.

 

I guess it's not what it once was, unfortunately.

 

I'm committed to IB and equally committed to not being scammed.

 

 

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Providence, RI
Level 10

@Jessica-and-Henry0@Linda108

 

I just booked a great couple with IB with many reviews as both guests and hosts.  I did not feel the need to send them "My Boilerplate" because without a doubt they will be good guests.

 

Like I said, it a concept to use, to modify, as needed.  But feel is what must guide you in using it.

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Durham, NC
Level 4

@John1574 This seems overall like a good idea and might help out with the issue I'm seeing with the non-booking second guest. I made a discussion about it just a bit ago. I'll modify your boilerplate to help weed out problems, IB or not.

 

Although we have to think about how declining reservations that seem questionable will factor into the acceptance rate standard that ABB just added. I feel like hosts are being kind of "forced" into accepting less than desirable guests in order to maintain our listing on ABB. 

 

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Pamplemousses District, Mauritius
Level 10

@John1574 Airbnb has actually provided an option for hosts who have applied the IB system.You can now receive only bookings from guests whose ID have been verified by Airbnb and also from guests who have been previously recommended by other hosts.If you do not want to receive IB from unknown guests look for the settings and select the option that suits you.Good luck and happy hosting!!!

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Darwin, Australia
Level 10

Hi @John1574

Thanks for creating this thread...

 

I have to be one of the lucky ones, (touch wood) for so far, my IB bookings have been all okay.

- I have preset that I require a positive review from a previous host.

- They must fully answer my set questions

- They must have government verified ID.

 

I’ve had more queries or concerns from general bookings, enquirers or no profiles or facial images.

 

I like you, over time, have tightened how I generally handle things....

I’m quite thorough, specific and lengthy with my house rules. I can’t challenge an activity or behaviour, if it’s not in the listing rules. They are also in the guest folder as a hard copy.

 

My rules are there to protect me and my assets,  but the genuine Community guest knows, that from these rules, they will be well looked after in a safe environment .

 

I list no extra guests, anti social behaviour or illegal activity. That I will contact Airbnb and the necessary authorities and have them removed. 

In my house rules I state that I do not accept guests without a  facial profile image, and am very professional but firm when they try to flex my rules.  I let them know they must read them and understand they are not negotiable. Otherwise, I wish them well in finding a better match to their needs.

 

🙂

Cathie

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Pissouri, CY
Level 2

Hi Cathie,

 

Your post is very relevant to my current guest experience. I have been hosting since 2013 with no guest problems whatsoever. We had IB,  it only had a couple of guests use it. As several hosts have said on this thread,  most guests engage first and I have learned from the nature and tone of the enquiry whether or not they are serious and what we can expect of them when they arrive. On this basis I have confidently redirected some and happily received the majority.

 

My last guest IB’d with 24 hours notice, a cartoon profile and has been a nightmare from the minute they arrived. Airbnb had to intercede and they left the following day. Hence my looking to either turn off IB or find a better way to manage. I am interested in what your questions are, where you post them and how you cancel this who are unsatisfactory. I tried to ask questions in the IB welcome message by put the character limit makes it impossible.

 

Thank you for your insight and guidance.

Carol

Re: Instant Booking: How Do We Protect Ourselves from Nefarious Elements

in
Providence, RI
Level 10

@Cathie19@Oomesh-Kumarsingh0@Karen307@Jess-and-Gordon0@Sarah977

 

I put no restrictions on my IB such as requiring reviews or recommendations because I want every booking I can get.

 

So far I've used my boilerplate only three times and it has worked perfectly:  the two very suspicious guests canceled upon receiving my boilerplate and the third one had no problem complying.

 

For me, as such a new host, I feel that I don't have the burden of so many ingrained attitudes that I detect from long time hosts.  Al l know about AirBnB I learned on this forum/site from reading more experienced hosts and reading the policies then engaging my critical thinking skills to apply what I have learned to my specific situation.  I do realize that the biz has changed drastically and is changing evermore as we speak.

 

These changes make it even more important for hosts to adapt and to protect themselves while doing so.

 

I think you've made your own "good luck" Cathie by running a tight ship, covering all the bases, and looking out for number one, to mix just a few metaphors.

 

 

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