I have been out of business most of 2020 (March - Aug) and recently had the guts to put my shared-home back up on Airbnb, with some post-covid changes. With new cleaning procedures, limited shared spaces, and requiring long short-term stays. I don't do instabook and part of my process is messaging with the guest before accepting a booking (to ensure they understand the shared living arrangements in a pandemic, as well as, obtaining more info about their understanding of the local COVID restrictions/guidelines). At first, I just ignored any non-response and the request either expired or became "not possible" -- this caused me to lose my superhost status as my response rate dropped (from my understanding based on accepting or declining and not just sending a message in 24 hours). To up my response rate, I started to decline any non-response from potential guests - with the message "The space is still OPEN, however, I am declining the current request as I did not hear back from you. Please let me know if you are still looking” today I logged into my account to see ALL of my listings are suspended!!?
I called Airbnb support and they cannot tell me what is going on and the response is – “there is a specialized team for that and they will get back to you”. As a live-in host and one that cares about the wellbeing and safety of myself, my home, and all my guests; I think it is important to ensure there is a fit between the guest and the listing; otherwise, there will be more issues down the line.
Has anyone had this experience? Any advice?
@Sarah1556 Some hosts with suspended listings have reported a wait time of up to 2 weeks before their listings were live again. Often, they're told their account was under investigation but they never get a straight answer about what triggered the suspension.
In your case, I think the Response Rate issue was the likeliest thing to flag your listing. Here's the thing: if you receive an inquiry, a written response is the only action you need to take. But as you've already discovered, if it's a request, you are required to either accept or decline it within the 24-hour period. There's no specific penalty for declining, but if the algorithm detects other points against your listing such as <90% response rate or host cancellations, these could tip it over the edge.
Another thing that can trigger a suspension is if someone raises a safety or discrimination complaint - which is one possible downside of the verbal screening. I think it's useful to make sure guests are aware of the shared-home situation and the rules and safety practices you're enforcing in the house. But in practice, no matter how a guest answers your queries about local guidelines, there's still a significant chance that they (or you) will be unknowingly exposed to the virus before or during the stay. Once you raise reasonable concerns about your own risk, the delicate fiction about shared households being "safe" with the right Protocol is compromised.
I don't know if Airbnb actually has any standard about this - they're just in it for the money - but my question would be: is your home set up in such a way that you could safely host someone who is a contagious carrier of Covid-19? If it is, some of the screening questions may be unnecessary - but if it's not, they may be seen as essentially exposing the presence of transmission risk in both directions.
@Andrew0 thank you so much for the post and your insight. Hosting a shared home has been an interesting one, and keeping the "delicate fiction about shared households being "safe" with the right Protocol" is not my intention. The non-standard pandemic line of questioning is more to get guests thinking about living in a shared home during a pandemic and, as you rightly point out how it can affect the ENTIRE house (in both ways). While we do have a separate space that someone can self-quarantine (tiny.barn.home or RV), by that time it would probably be too late for anyone else who is sharing the home and all of my guests (lol - all 3, post-COVID) acknowledge this. Unfortunately, it is not the time to be in transition, however, there is still a need for longer short-term stays (moving jobs, schools, traveling nurses & military) and we do our best to provide a comfortable and "safe-ish" home. Being dinged superhost and suspension of all of my listing for trying to host responsibly, topped off by the "non-response" from email@example.com, makes this loyal 8-year host start to reconsider her choice of partner.
As Andrew says, don't waste declines on Inquiries, as all you need to do is to message back within 24 hours. If it's a booking request instead, you do have to accept or decline within 24 hours, but you can also ask the guest to please withdraw the request if it doesn't conform to your requirements. If the guest withdraws it within the 24 hours, then you won't have to either accept it or decline it and your stats won't be affected.
@Sarah977 I will be doing this going forward. I am now most concerned about how I get "un-SUSPENDED". With support not being able to provide any reason behind the suspension or a timeframe as to when they will have an answer.
OK I forgot that the first time I submit a comment, it gets deleted, so I will keep this short. 🙂
I just booked several trips and found I was not getting emails from hosts in my Gmail. But they were appearing in my Airbnb inbox.I wonder if the travelers were not seeing your replies and therefore not responding. It is worth bringing this up to Support as I almost cancelled some stays thinking the hosts were not responsive.
You have to ask them, Sarah. If you don't get a response within a few hours, message again, asking if they got it, and if so, you need them to reply by XX time, or you'll have to decline.
You can also tell them in the first message that the system is sometimes glitchy, so to please respond ASAP so you know they received it.
Also, some guests neglect to turn on their notifications, so you can ask them to make sure to have them turned on when you send the first message.
And while we tend to assume guests are just ignoring our messages, sometimes they simply are somewhere they have no internet or cell signal for awhile. Or they live in a different time zone and are asleep.
The thing about Inquiries, is that even when you message back someone who sent one, you may never hear back from them again. Some guests send out feelers to several places at once. Or change their plans. Would be nice if they had the manners to at least thank you for replying, but often they don't. So it's good that inquiries only have to be messaged back, not declined.