In the last 4 years as a host, as likely for everyone, it has been quite a ride with AirBnB. Many, many issues deserve measured, rational discussion without BIAS or fear of retribution for telling the truth about what is REALLY GOING ON, and this is just one. It seems we and especially AirBnB have gone so far down the road to be "fair" and "accommodating" that we risk actually losing our grip on a vision of REALITY, if not our hold thereof itself.
This is a new phenomena, IMHO, and in a recent discussion with a WW II Vet, who was a real exceptional example of TRUE GRIT and brutal honesty, said something to me that struck a chord. I had asked him to comment on an idea that people have simply lost their way....That many are sitting around "taking it" and waiting for someone else get with it and or get things accomplished. His generation, I thought "got it." It is still my belief, and I told him, that our biggest obstacle begins with "there's NOTHING we can do about it."
He really did a double take on that one, and turned square to face me from behind his mask and said...
"Let me tell you something....you should talk to people who went through the war. NOBODY had to TELL US what to do!! Nobody had to look over our shoulder. Whatever it was, we just got it done! Whatever it took....those days were real because we didn't fool around; we didn't have a choice. Things have changed. It's been nice talking with you and I gotta go."
We could, arguably, learn much from those who are slipping quickly away. Their ideas, morals and gumption are something that I believe we all can learn from, and yet:
I think that the dedicated Host Community is one of the best examples of people who STILL actually feel, do, and somehow even REMEMBER the importance of "getting it done", without fanfare, without complaining, without looking for someone to pat them on the back. It's one of the reasons why I really don't like the super host status, even though I am one. We are, really, all in this together, right? It's probably one of the main reason's why I'm still here, even though I comment on this board rarely.
So...that was a long intro, and this is just one example of things we should talk about, I believe. Maybe more later...many are already out there being discussed now. Though I have a love/hate relationship with AirBnB, my hope is that they (and we) can not just survive, but thrive, and begin to realize that doing the right thing for us Hosts, and not just Guests isn't only and simply the "right" thing to do. It is a matter of SURVIVAL.
With that...here ya go:
This idea could be way off the mark, and if so, please don't hold back. This is only one issue that needs honest discussion and requires our dismissal of any fear that would lead to delusion, muddy thinking or simple stupidity.
In my opinion, complaints about "neighborhood" usually come down to two things:
1. Excuses made for some other reason completely unrelated to location and
In every single case where a guest tried to get a refund on a strict policy because of "neighborhood" in my experience, AirBnB backed me up and said the neighborhood is something that is the responsibility of the guest BEFORE booking, not when they arrive. In all those cases, AirBnB cancelled the guest's reservation and upheld the no refund policy for last minute cancellations, BECAUSE THAT IS THEIR POLICY. This has been confirmed to me (as policy) in every single case, and by multiple people just today. However, for the first time, It seems I'm having trouble with a reservation where AirBnB is trying to get me to refund the guest, and I wonder, Why?
I for one am more concerned about the facts of a matter than what someone at AirBnB thinks about "my feelings" or why we should waste time with consolations like "I understand how you would feel that way." To me these seem like oft-used sentiments designed or otherwise to distract from the point of fact-based-questions, and their (uncomfortable?) answers.
Is it part of the prevalent bent toward favoring the guest while throwing hosts under the bus? I am pretty sure that the most recent catastrophe of changing the contracts, yes CONTRACTS, that we have for the policies we choose without notice or justification was a big mistake for everyone, especially the Host and AirBnB itself. I sincerely hope that they are seeing that it's also in the long run not in the interest of the guest either, since there won't be any hosts and therefore guests left if everyone leaves the platform.
In any case, we all spend so much time dancing around issues to be "politically correct" so much of the time, it literally wears me out. If we can't finally recognize and talk about racism NOW, then when?
OK...that's it. Let me have it. 😎
@Mark396 Normally a post like yours doesn't go 7 hours here without comment; the fact it hasn't is perhaps because many may not understand it OR maybe people do not want to talk about it.
Is your point that guest opinion about location is oftentimes highly influenced by racism?
Whatever it is, I have noticed one thing: unfortunately subjects beyond just hosting (specially politics) on this board (and any other such dedicated boards) tend to draw divergent opinions that do not tend to stay for too long just in parallel to each other, but start pointing towards each other quickly which may not serve the comradeship of this board much purpose.
Btw I love your places, talking about instantly being able to feel comfortable, without the 'Better Homes & Garden' fanfare and stiffness.
@Mark396 This is a long-winded and pointless post.
Any one who is uncomfortable in their own skin is going to be uncomfortable with every stranger who does not look like them. Doesn't matter what term is used. AirBnb has its flaws and deterring racism on behalf of hosts/guests is a step in the right direction. They have made a commitment to eradicate injustice on every level. AirBnb is in BUSINESS and is NOT playing with you NOR will they play with their money.
Don't let the nuances of AirBnb slow your role. Let your words lead and move us all forward.
When you see racism, stand / speak up. When you experience it, stand / speak up. Quit asking for permission to discuss ---"unteach" it.
Yes, I do believe that complaints about location are often tied to racism (or classism, or both), but this is a complex issue because those complaints are seldom expressed that way. Like @Cheryl658 says, some people are going to be "uncomfortable with every stranger that does not look like them" and don't even acknowledge to themselves that they are possibly being racist. We see this all the time don't we, not just in terms of hosting, but everyday life?
I had a friend when I was younger who was from a very wealthy, very white island off the coast of the UK. He showed no obvious signs of racism towards me or any of the other non-white people that he worked with or was friends with, quite the contrary. However, I'll never forget that when I told him that my parents lived in a large, five bedroom house (that's BIG by London standards), he was truly surprised. He had assumed they lived above a corner shop. Why? Because I'm Pakistani and my parents owned a shop. He hadn't considered that they maybe owned two supermarkets, a deli and several residential rental properties.
My next door neighbours are currently trying to sell their rather valuable house. They had no problem with a black man coming to view and potentially buying it. Still, they 'joked' that he must be a drug dealer. I mean, how else could a single, black man afford that house?
Unfortunately, this brand of racism is all around us, including in those we like and think we know. How on earth can we avoid it in complete strangers from all walks of life and from all around the world, e.g. Airbnb guests? How do we deal with it when we find it?
@Mark396 The words and phrases Airbnb employs when trying to get a host give a full refund against their cancellation policy are manipulative and uncalled for. "I understand how you would feel that way" is designed to make you agree with them, as if a smart and savvy person were so desperate to have their feelings understood they would look the other way when a business contract is circumvented. I once got "We do understand that it is your right to uphold your strict cancellation policy but in the spirit of Airbnb, we would really appreciate if you take the time to reconsider your decision." In the spirit of Airbnb? Are you kidding me with this shi(r)t? That passive-aggressive manipulative phrase is designed to guilt you into caving.
Like you, I believe people should stand by their responsibilities. By booking with your policy, your guests entered into a contract. They're trying to break a contract (apparently because they're racists). You can't let them.
After more of this soppy, offensive language ("I am only asking this as an act of goodwill," etc.) I wrote that I'd already given my answer and wasn't interested in discussing the matter further. They closed the case and issued the payout.
Stand by your guns.
I thought the same thing and their letters are laden with sympathy and even guilt. I smooch them right back into sending the payment.
I think absolutely in some countries (for example the US) more than others @Mark396 , there are people who will choose not to stay in an area because they feel uncomfortable because it is highly multi-cultural/a poorer area. I have not heard of this happening to the same extent in other countries.
I do think as hosts we have some responsibility to describe the areas we live in, in terms of the local environment, to help manage guests expectations.
For example, I live in an inner city area which is undergoing regeneration, so I make it clear in my listing description that it can be scruffy in parts. I also point out this is more than made up by our vibrant multi-cultural community, amazing range of ethnic shops and restaurants, famous music scene, lovely open spaces, great transport links and easy access to the city centre.
To me living in a multi-cultural community brings so many benefits and this is what I highlight. I also include photos of my local area.
This helps ensure there is a good fit between my listings and my guests as I normally attract people who will appreciate my community.
I have looked at all the other listings in my area and I am the only one who mentions this reality about our area.
However I do note that many of them mention that our local high street was named by a national newspaper as one of the best in the UK and another magazine mentioned us as one of the top up and coming destinations.
By all means highlight key attractions and amenities that will make guests want to stay with you, but please also be honest about an areas limitations in terms of the physicality of the area. If it's noisy at night, parking is difficult, it's rather run down, it's better to use a cab when getting home at night, then let your guests know. And include photos of your area to give guests a visual reference point.
I stayed at a place in Brussels, that had been recently renovated and the apartment amenities were quite nice. You could walk five minute straight to the metro. What the host didn't mention, and I understand the reason, is that the immediate area had a lot of drug activity. On the night that we arrived, we had to take the exit at the other end of the station, because there were people on the stairs doing drugs. Also, as you arrived to the metro entrance that there were large a number of men just hanging around. They would be there in the morning when we left to go sightseeing, and still there when we returned in the evening. I am from an urban area, and know full-well that these guys were drug dealers. Another thing I noted when we arrived was that there weren't many street lights on the main road. None of the people accosted or propositioned us, but we definitely didn't feel comfortable venturing out in the neighborhood at night.