Hi, first time poster long time lurker. I have been a host since 2014, and I rent out the basement of my house. I love airbnb and generally don't have any problems, but lately I've noticed a significant number of people who book my place that have issues with dogs. I have 3 dogs, and they live in my house with me (standard in the midwest). When its nice they go outside, and they aren't allowed downstairs. Because we share an entrance, my guests have to go thru my dogs to get to the basement. I have it mentioned in a few places that I have dogs, and every single guest that books gets asked if they are all ok with dogs. Everyone says yes, but about 1 in 3 groups are not actually ok with dogs. In fact they will have allergies, or are afraid. It's gotten so bad that I've asked multiple times, "Are you sure? My dogs live indoors and have the run of the house so you will meet them". Each time I am assured that everyone in their party is ok with dogs. My dogs are trained to quickly smell a guest and then run to the fridge for green beans (their treat of choice). They don't jump on guests, but since 2 are blind, they bark until they smell the guests. I don't like having people in my home that are afraid of dogs because it means the dogs have to be limited to either outside or locked in a room or garage. Its their home, the other people are visitors.
So my question is this, I am going to update a few things in my airbnb, and one of the things is to include a picture of the dogs inside the house, as well as include the dogs in our hosting picture. I am also going to include a code word (something like watermelon spritzer) that if a guest includes it in their first message it means they've read to the part where they are asked if they are ok with dogs, and they really are, and will receive a discount. What else do you suggest?
Tonights guests were asked twice if everyone in their party is ok with dogs, and the guy booking said yes both times. They are absolutely afraid of dogs, and the girl cries, the grandmother yells at them and runs downstairs, and it makes the dogs stressed. They are elderly and aren't fans of that behavior.
People with allergies will see the dogs, tell me I need to put them outside because they are allergic. I am pretty blunt and say "I did ask, and you said it was ok" and they will say something to the effect that they didn't understand the question.
In my reviews I mention that they will tell you they are ok with dogs but in fact are not, and I generally don't recommend them to hosts with indoor pets. I will say I am a little afraid of being pegged a racial profiler because the majority of the people who do this are from Asia or India.
So what should I do to make it obvious to even the non-readers that I have pets and love them more than a paying guest?
We're having the same issue with people booking our home despite the fact that we have stated clearly that we have pets. During, such visits, we have had to confine our dogs to our bedroom. :(
First contact message should contain:
"We have X large dogs Y,Z. We want to double-check that guests are aware of this and not at all uncomfortable or afraid around dogs."
Require positive acknowledgement, check again in a follow-up message that requires a positive acknowledgement if necessary. (After so many issues, I now require an explicit, positive acknowledgment of house rules even if I have to hound the guests).
Hi Kenneth, I do that as well. After a few years of this I've learned to be blunt. I will mention to people that of they are afraid of dogs we arent a good fit. The problem is they assure me they arent. Then they arrive and it starts. Maybe they think I mean if they are ok with those specific pictures of dogs and I should indicate that they are actual live animals? Objects in photo are larger than they appear!
So far everyone has been so pleasant and enjoyable, if it wasn't for the dog issue.
@Heidi And Savannah :
It sounds like an unfortunate bizarre disconnect between what people say and imagine, and reality. I have noticed of late that some people merely nod their head and say yes, no matter what they are asked ...
Perhaps ever more dog pictues? A large one jumping, with "woof woof woof" photoshoped over the picture? "We love dogs, you'd better too!" ??
That is, "even more blunt." Good luck!
I am going to give discounts to the people who really love dogs and we will see how that works. I'm hoping positive reinforements haha. In any event I'll be paid more for being irritated. Lots of people really love the dogs, and those are my favorite guests!
Arghh people are annoying- how dare they suggest you keep your dogs outside. I love dogs (seniors in particular, I take care of a 14 year old frenchie called Bella who is one of my first loves) and I always dream of asking them to sleep outside if it bothers them so, the dogs were here first... but then remember that I need to be diplomatic and opt to smile and get myself a cocktail instead.
Try also changing your profile to include yourselves and your dogs- I have seen many hosts with pets do this.
Good luck to you. :)
@Heidi And Savannah There is no way I'd offer a discount to a guest simply as a reward for actually reading through the listing and confirming that they aren't afraid or allergic. That sets a precedent where they'll demand a discount from any host in the future who has dogs.
Outside of first world countries, not just Asia, people have a very different relationship with dogs than we do. They aren't coddled, they don't sleep in bed, they are kicked around or thrown rocks at if they are being bad or hanging around where not wanted.
I would put, in capital letters (yes, shouting) somewhere prominent in your listing description "DO NOT BOOK HERE IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO OR AFRAID OF DOGS.
As it sounds as if your main problem is with Asians in this regard, and some told you they "didn't understand", perhaps if you are dealing with an Asian guest, you could ask them what their native language is and use an online translator or dictionary to make this clear in booking messages with the guests.
Yes, by all means show pictures of all 3 dogs inside your house. Show them splayed out.
Also light heartedly apologize upfront that your 3 dogs have "run of your house"
This will warn all guests that your listing is NOT a standard "Midwest ONE dog lives in the House" kind of place. But a dog-crazed home owner (no judgement, just a description) with 3 dogs that run the house.
I am a dog person, but I do not enjoy 3 yappers everytime I come home - yapping until they smell me.
You are a superhost so obviously you are doing things right. Just disclose your dog situation more than you are doing so guests will know what experience to expect.
I LOVE IT! That is definitely more blunt than I've been for sure. I like referring to them as co-hosts so I'm going to steal that. It gives the correct impression that you will be interacting with them.
I figure no matter what i do there are always those few who are going to be difficult, but I can handle 1 in 10 or 12, not every 3rd group. Ugh.
Hi Heidi, Savannah and everyone else,
I have lived in Asia for over 23 years and can maybe help explain why Asian guests might often be afraid of dogs.
The simple reason is that in many cases, they have never owned a dog or been around people who have. Unlike back home, where if you didn't own a dog, then you had a number of friends who did, it's just not that way here. We have a beautiful Chocolate Lab, the loveliest girl from what is just about the most easygoing dog breed name you can name, and people sometimes jump back when we're walking her like there is a tiger on the leash. When we lived in Seoul, South Korea (where it is even worse than here in Hong Kong, where we live now), I once saw a guy start climbing up a tree to get away from our dog when I rounded the corner with her--and she was on her leash!
Houses are often small in big Asian cities, and until recently, families used to be big--and most of the economies here have only started to grow within the last 20-40 years. So, the idea of people having a dog in the home is pretty new for most Asian families, and the majority simply don't understand our dog culture. Plus, they don't know which breeds are friendly and which have the potential to be vicious. You wouldn't believe how many times I've had people here ask me if our Lab was a Rottweiler or a Pit Bull.
So, I didn't take what you said to be racist; it was an observation. But now maybe you can understand the reasons behind it--and if your potential guests are Asians coming from Asian destinations, then you might need to emphasise in your replies to them, VERY STRONGLY, that you have dogs living with you in your home. We've already covered here the point that people often don't read the listings thoroughly, and so you can't assume that they will. Press the point on them firmly (and repeatedly if necessary), and you should reduce or eliminate the potential for misunderstandings.
Hi Rich! I've lived in S. Korea for 6 years. One of my dogs is actually a Korean rescue dog. I'm not worried about being racist, I'm worried about Airbnb flagging me as racist. They have been pushing equality, and I really support that. I don't want my account flagged in any way because people who book my place are afraid of dogs.
Here is an example. I had 3 groups in a row stay at the house, all three were difficult because of the dogs and their reviews reflected that. The next Asian group that booked on Instant Book required my approval. He should have passed thru no problem but the system asked me to manually accept him. This is done if you haven't updated your calendar or you've not been online in awhile. Neither of those applied to me.
On the flip side I don't remember airbnb asking me my race, and it's not on my drivers license, so I could just be paranoid. I need my foil hat!
Haha. Yeah, the foil hat might be a good idea, lol.
Anyway, I would just hit your guests over the hit with the fact that you have dogs. Drive the message home however you have to do so. The suggestions above about putting dog pics on your listing might help as well. If you have the five main photos like we do showing when they open the link, then at least one dog pic should be there, in case they don't go through the rest of your photos.
We're completely new to hosting, but I've been reading through community posts for months and have seen hosts repeatedly remarking about how the guests who had given them a bad review or written to Airbnb to complain had not read through their listing. So it seems to be a pretty persistent problem, and I'm guessing that has happened with you in at least a couple of cases. Don't forget as well the language barrier; they may open it up in English, not use the translation tool and just read the things they want to see, such as pricing and availability. So they may never actually read on enough to see your message about dogs.
@Heidi And Savannah My dog is actually a Korean Jindo. How she appeared at my place in the boonies of Mexico as a 5 month old puppy is a mystery.
Maybe instead of posting photos of the dogs looking happy and friendly, you should post photos of a snarling, teeth-bared one :-)