I had six properties before the pandemic. I closed two as soon as it hit. I converted two into long term rentals around June. Not because I could not stomach the downturn but because I could not stomach airbnb as a partner. This was a business for me so the constant uncertainty was unacceptable. They kept extending EC two weeks at a time, keeping my calendar blocked but at the end of the day refunding everyone. I had all weekends booked this summer so I never could take a longer stay if this continued to be an STR. Then Airbnb started to randomly cancel one and two night reservations a couple of days before arrival siting a non existent ordinance. They kept allowing guests to book but then would suddenly cancel. The guests that came instead of cancellations were unreal. The handful that was not tying to throw a party had insane expectations. The conversion of those two to LTR left me with one house that I hosted as two areas- two bedroom and a three bedroom or an option to rent the whole house. That’s when Airbnb dropped another bomb. The only way to get Chicago city registration through the listing. I can not go down to city hall, there is no form to fill out. Apparently airbnb has not renewed my license since a October. The violation I received was something like $3000 per day of operating without a license. I tried to get Airbnb to help but needless to say could not get attention of anyone who is actually able to do so. I have just paid $5000 to an attorney to negotiate a settlement with the city of $2500. I have to take all thee listings down by July 31 from all sites. Even though Airbnb was the one to mess up, this applied to VRBO etc. I will be trying to get a different license from the city but I can only list the property as a five bedroom which will be really hard for many months as groups are not travelling right now. When I have set out to do short term rentals, I have thought through pretty much every scenario including loss of license so I cannot say I am shocked. I know I am an absolute nobody to this company and ten other hosts will replace me once things are better and they will be great hosts. It sucks to be a nobody though.
Quite the bummer @Inna22. Do remember when one door closes another one opens, especially for those that are independent types and do not want to ever punch a regular clock again.
P.S. I have converted my place to not only overnight guests, but now well positioned for 'day use' also; a total foreign concept just three months ago, now makes total sense.
@Inna22 Airbnb has management with a flawed moral compass. As a long time host, I've come to realize that they don't value their most unique and valuable asset: Namely hosts that truly care to create a wonderful experience for guests.
I've been a host for over four years. I don't actually though rely on Airbnb as my primary form of income. I own two successful art galleries for over 30 years. I started because my husband, a professional Thai chef, asked if he could quit his job at the restaurant where he worked. I said sure! As we really didn't need that money. Rather than give him an "allowance" which felt uncomfortable to him, we started Airbnb as he also has a degree in hotel management and worked at the Thailand, Samui Island Four Seasons resort where he really learn to create a world class guest experience. I spent a lot of money to create a Four Seasons experience for our guests. We liked to "wow" them.
All the proceeds then went into a separate account for him so he kept a sense of autonomy.
All was going along well until March 15 when all the previously booked guests had to cancel due to travel restriction. This opened our calendar and it quickly booked up with last minute reservations from local first time Airbnb users. Each guest since March 15 was worse than the previous one. Drug deals conducted on site, strippers, bar tenders, obnoxiously loud, smoking cannabis in and outside the house. Over 50 people when only 7 were booked. Disturbing the neighbors, leaving trash everywhere inside and out.
My extremely tolerant neighbors approached me because the situation has gotten out of hand. Even the police are utilizing a hands-off approach due to the race of the guests.
It finally culminated, for me, recently, when at 4am, my soft spoken Thailand native husband kindly asked them to please take the party inside the house. I had fallen asleep by then. The moment he did, the drunken drug fueled mob tried to find a way up to the balcony he was speaking from to physically assault him. Thankfully, he quickly came back inside and dialed 911.
To add insult to injury, this group left a bad review.
I contacted Airbnb however they did not a single thing. Nothing.
To me this is a tremendous slap in the face. Working to create spectacular experiences enhances their brand but their fear of repercussions for offending certain races takes precedence over any concern for even the safety of their hosts.
For this reason I'm leaving Airbnb.
Thankfully, I have the 911 call, video and audio evidence (thank you Nest. I have the home fully monitored outside where the attempted assault took place. Also, due to the close proximity of my neighbors, I have additional impartial third party witnesses as well as extensive documentation in the way of photographs.
Also, with all the decades in the art gallery business, I have many long term relationships with large law firms. Many law partners have become close friends over the years.
As I believe Airbnb has most likely covered their legal bases, I'm in the process of determining what legal recourse I have against the offending guest. Any actionable legal remedy will be pursued to stop this reckless and dangerous trend of host-abuse. Again, it's the guest I'm pursuing. The results, if successful, will be published locally to warn would-be hosts of the misleading posture Airbnb takes claiming they are a community built on "trust" etc, that in reality, Airbnb is nothing more than a leach that preys on unsuspecting people, encouraging them to host, yet in reality is a tool of special interest groups with the attitude 'fine, leave, there are plenty more where you came from.'
Lack of integrity always catches up. I'm a firm believer that the righteous will prevail in the end and Airbnb will be exposed as who they really are, not just to the abused hosts but the world at large.
@Paul1105 It's been clear for a long time that hosts have to monitor their properties and be proactive about preventing excess occupancy and parties before they escalate to this dangerous degree. I'm not convinced that Airbnb would have been any less lenient with your rule-breaking guests if they had been of a different race, because hosts all over the world are having the same problem with party people of every hue. (And besides, how would Airbnb even know what the racial background of the unregistered guests was in the first place? Did they ask you for ethnic descriptions of the guests before making their decision?)
I do fear you're right that hosts are going to get thrown under the bus a lot to clear the way for more bad behavior. Not because of political correctness but rather the grim economic reality of the moment: there's a severe shortage of guests for the volume of vacant listings in most major markets now, whereas the number of hosts can always go up as more homeowners find themselves out of work and in urgent need of income.
@Paul1105 So you are about the fourth long-standing, successful host to post in the last week or 10 days that you are leaving Airbnb, all for more or less the same reason- Airbnb doesn't care. At all. Which is particularly disgusting given all their feel-good, caring and sharing BS rhetoric. I do think that might have been Chesky's heartfelt vision in the beginning, but it quickly lost its way.
It's incredible that there are so many people out there who behave like animals. And they seem to gravitate as guests to Airbnb like flies to s**t. And Airbnb just enables them. Mustn't discriminate, heavens no. Who raises these sorry excuses for human beings?
@Inna22 The number of hosts and properties may very well not have gone down, because there are new hosts constantly signing up. The vile thing is that as long as that is happening, they consider hosts to be interchangeable and expendable and your history of listing with them matters not a whit.
Good companies consider every user to be valuable and work to keep their business. They also recognize that for every disgruntled customer, they lose far more business than just that one, as that customer tells their friends and families about their horrid experience, not to mention the power of social media. I read once that for every customer complaint a company receives, they calculate that that complaint represents another 100 dissatisfied customers, as the majority of customers don't even bother to formally complain, they simply take their business elsewhere and trash-talk the business.
If they lost half their hosts in a week, they might sit up and take notice.
Sad to see and hear @Inna22 and @Paul1105 , the STR playing field is in flux and it would seem that Airbnb's moral and ethical compass is also spinning like a fan. I think Im lucky to live and operate Bearpath Lodging in the boonies right now, this is not a place that most party goers feel like trying to risk testing the waters, (they would find them very cold and extremely nautical for sure).
For those that started out with Brian's Sharing Economy ideals in their eyes, better get some "Clear Eyes" (A Ben Stein capitalist venture). Brian is a millionaire plus now, his sharing days are gone, he's more like Ben now (in denial he is), just won't admit it yet. When you know and accept that, you also know that he and his bean counters are not going to keep you viable, only you can.
Best of luck all, these are tough times, stay well, JR
Fully supported this outcry and while Airbnb unilaterally refunded guests it let down hosts.
Despite its marketing campaign of supporting hosts, I have lost thousands to only receive 32$!
@Andrew0 Thank you for your reply. I too would naturally have those questions and observations that you made, however, there is a lot more to this narrative that I didn't fully flush out for the sake of brevity, however, I can assure you, Airbnb is and was fully aware of all of your concerns.
Also, some of these issues may not fully resonate with those outside of the U.S. as it would with those that live here. Just like every culture, there are certain aspects that would not easily be understood by those in other nations without a more elaborate explanation.
For example, "how would they know the race?" Here in the States, there is a small subset of certain [racial groups] that travel essentially in packs. By no means all! Not even most! But the US, with it's large and diverse population, allows essentially independent cultures to develop within the larger culture as a whole. All with their own value system and ethics.
I think sometimes this is hard to comprehend from the vantage point of a nation with a more homogeneous population, not large enough to not strongly encourage individuals to eventually integrate into the broader culture.
Contrary to popular belief, television shows like Friends, although absolutely representing the better part of the US where races integrate together, are by no means representative of the vast and diverse experience that is the United States. The same reason Universal Health care will not work here. For that to work, the nation must have a more homogeneous value system that that of the United States.
I could detail the issues raised in your post, but I'm just not. Not that I don't care about explaining, rather, those here in the US, in general, will intuitively know without me having to fill in all the blanks.
Regarding your sentiment that these are financially driven decisions, that is patently obvious and a large part of why I'm leaving. I don't make decisions based upon what's the most financially advantageous, rather, what harmonizes with my values.
Money never was my motivator. Raised one of Jehovah's Witnesses, I took to heart the scriptural admonition to 'store my treasures in heaven, rather than on earth, where rust and moths consume' [I paraphrase] A side effect of this mindset is success in business. My lifes goal was and is to live a life of integrity. Years later, I realized that a side effect of that is material wealth as who doesn't want to do business with a man of integrity? Never the goal, just the result of doing the right thing, all the time, fully, to the extent humanly possible.
That now gives me the ability to leave Airbnb as I realize our values are not the same. This was never a primary source if income for me. Rather an endeavor to afford my spouse autonomy as all of that profit went into a separate account over which I do not even look at.
There is a website called AirDna , it analyses the data from Airbnb and gives more insight into the data. They will accumulate the data and list the highest rated Airbnb's, in order, in any given city or region. I don't know where we stood before I quit, but before they started charging for content, (the last time I looked) our listing was tied for first place as the highest rated Airbnb in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area. I'm confident this was partly because since I wasn't doing this for the money, guests recieved a lot more than they would normally expect. Also, Having free time on my hands, I would enjoy going the extra mile to please guests. It was just fun. Also, owning an art galleries for over 30 years I'm used to dealing with the most entitled guests. The "one percent". That, in combination with the fact that my husband has a degree in hotel management and worked both at the Four Seasons resort on Samui Island, Thailand, where he catered to Russian oligarchs and their mistresses that enjoyed daily baths in Evian water, (yes, poured from hundreds of bottles) made for a winning combination.
We were fully booked at a rate triple the price recommended by Airbnb.
There is an expression, likely in Germany too, or some variant of it: "Don't chop of your nose to spite your face". That's is what I believe Airbnb is doing. "Zwei Gesichter haben"
@Paul1105 You didn't have to explain the US to me - I am an American citizen and emigrated to Germany well into adulthood. And one need not be a "pack" animal to know what a dog-whistle sounds like.
We could go into all kinds of tangents here about the net results of ethnocultural heterogeneity, but it wasn't my intention to derail this thread into another big discussion on race and racism. Rather than going down that road, I'd just suggest that you peruse other threads from the last months about parties. You'll find that the results you got were typical, and not representative of some imagined racial favoritism.
Anyway, it sounds like you and your husband's experience and skills serve you well as hospitality providers. But whether you stick with Airbnb or migrate to a platform aimed at a less diverse clientele, I think you'll find that security/prevention tactics are also crucial to the hosting skill set. Sometimes you've just gotta go from Martha Stewart to Vin Diesel in five seconds, no way around it.
Oh, if you ever find yourself grasping for that phrase in German, just conjugate sich ins eigene Fleisch schneiden.