I am sorry this is a long post, but it is all relevant and seems to be in step with what a lot of other hosts posts here are saying!
The object of a company like Airbnb should be to put A (the guest) in touch with B (the host) and at that point let nature take it's course. Nothing is going to run smoothly every time, but I am becoming frustrated with the complicating hurdles that Airbnb are putting in our way.
My guest for last week was slightly unusual in that he booked for the working week but only wanted to spend between 9.00am and 4.00 pm here each day!
The reason for this, he lives in a suburb 70 Kms away and has a daughter starting her schooling in a local school....one of two in this state that use the Rudolph Steiner Education system. He didn't want to make two trips a day in order to drop his daughter off and pick her up, and was prepared to work his daytime job from our cottage.
I felt a bit guilty taking the money as I am geared up for night time stays but he said to me, and it made sense...."Most of your guests are here during the night, but out all day, it's still the same for me, I am still using the place, just not at your normal hours!" He was happy with the arrangement, and so was I.
Mid week he said he had forgotten to book the next week but would like to book if the cottage was available. I said I did have it blocked for the next week because, batching at the moment I wanted to catch up with friends during the evenings and didn't want to be tied to hosting, but due to his circumstance I was prepared to open the week up to him.
Well, did Airbnb put some obstacles in the way!
I wanted to send him a special offer for the next week, but in order to do so l knew this would required him to submit a new enquiry with his dates.
The system would not let him do that, it kept directing him back into the current message stream we had with each other. I tried everything I could think of to get around this problem but no matter what I did.....the system would not even let him book, and have me part refund him, let alone me send him a special offer for the dates he wanted.
The last thing I want to do is go behind Airbnb's back but I was running out of options, I had opened up the next week on my calendar for him and I was scared another booking would slide in for possibly a night or two and ruin things for this good guest , so I jumped onto support........
Not even support could get this simple request sorted out. I was feeling him for options which he just didn't seem to have. God in my time in support with the tools we had at our disposal I could have fixed this in a flash. Not only could support not help fix the issue, he took off for a few days and is unavailable to further assist.
This is just simply not good enough! If you are going to run a support arm Airbnb, at least make the program and the personnel part way competent!
The situation has resolved itself.
Current guest for last night wants to extend to tonight as well, and wants to leave early tomorrow (Monday) morning giving me an hour or so to get ready for George's arrival at 9.00 am.....but guess what, they could not extend their reservation to tonight either!!!!! I know the calendar is reasonably tight but please, let us use our options......if it is possible to host, let us do it!
The only option open to me to accommodate these two guests is to once again block my calendar and do a private deal.....I don't want to do this, I am an Airbnb host, and that is all I want to be but, the level of support that I can get in order to be that host has deteriorated to the point where, I feel Airbnb are costing me business, not making it for me!
@Robin4 What an aggravating mess. I have no qualms at all about bypassing Airbnb to make life easier for me and my guests.
Last year about this time I had a guest who had booked for 5 days, but decided to leave after 3. It had nothing to do with my listing, she was was quite pleased with it, but she simply had no idea how hot it was here at that time of year and also wasn't really into this touristy, beach town. She had come because a co-worker had told her she just had to go to Sayulita, it was so great. But my guest was more into doing tings like visiting museums and already had a booking for mexico City after here, so decided to go to the city sooner.
It really didn't matter to me- it was low season when I seldom get even 1 booking anyway, it wasn't like her booking blocked my calendar when I would have gotten another booking to fill it. She was a great guest and person, too, and she's a host in Toronto, also with a home-share listing. So rather than us having to spend time going onto the site and altering her booking, and her waiting for a refund, I simply told her I'd transfer the 3 days I'd been paid that she wasn't going to use from my Canadian bank account to hers, which took all of 2 minutes.
And I wouldn't have any qualms about taking cash if an already in residence guest wanted to extend their stay. The way Airbnb operates these days (or better said, doesn't operate) certainly doesn't inspire loyalty to the platform or doing everything the way they'd like us to.
The reason we use Airbnb support is to sort out issues we do not have the tools to fix ourselves. You and I Sarah, and almost all other hosts here know exactly how the platform runs, and if we get onto support we want a bit more than a verbal version of the 'community self help guide'......we want someone to initiate actions that solve our problems. Every one of these programs can be over ridden. We are not trying to be difficult or stupid. We want support.....like we used to have a few years ago.
I strikes me that we are of more help to each other here on the CC than 'Support Ambassadors' are to us.
The only difference is, they get paid, we don't!
@Robin4 I've read so many posts from hosts who got confusing answers to their questions from CS and come here, or to other hosting forums, to see if anyone can explain, and other hosts are able to explain it to them in a straightforward and clear way. The OP then says, "Well, that was easy, thank you. Now why couldn't the CS rep have explained it to me like that? "
Airbnb CS is so often masters at obfuscation. They make simple things absurdly complicated. And the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. How can it possibly be cost-effective for Airbnb to pay CS staff for countless back and forths with users for something that could have been handled efficiently in one exchange?
I have always played by the rules. Guests have often asked to book direct with me, pay me cash for something or the other, but I always said no. However, Airbnb has treated hosts so badly this year, that I don't feel the same sense of loyalty anymore and there is only so much time one can waste trying to get CS to sort out glitches like these.
One guest sent an enquiry for a long term stay (a few weeks), but when she went to book, Airbnb had blocked the calendar due to the UK Government restrictions. Fair enough, one might say, but according to the Government's website, this guest's circumstances meant she clearly fell within the exemptions where it was allowed.
So, I contacted CS and spoke to a very logical rep. She agreed with me, but tried and failed to open the calendar for that booking. Computer said no. The lady who wanted to book desperately needed somewhere to stay and quite urgently. What would you do? Take the booking off site or turn her away?
@Robin4 "The only option open to me to accommodate these two guests is to once again block my calendar and do a private deal."
And this is precisely the case because Airbnb won't get it's S H I T together, so why bother caring?
George should have instant booked the second week as a separate reservation for your advertised rate. You then could have sent George an alteration request and changed the rate to account for your 'special offer.' Geroge would approve the alteration and you would be good to go. Just another example of how involving customer support is a waste of time!
@Emilia42 Okay, so:
George IBs the second week.
Robin changes the rate and and sends George an alteration request.
George then approves the alteration.
Between the 2 of them, 10 minutes has now been spent. Whereas it would take 30 seconds for George to hand Robin the cash for the second week when he arrives the first week.
@Sarah977 That would be the easiest route, yes, but I thought that was what @Robin4 was trying to avoid -- skirting around Airbnb. I've never had this experience. Guests have been able to book multiple stays and I've sent them a special offer after the fact. Just had one of these last month. But maybe Airbnb has changed something and guests can no longer book more than one stay at a time? Seems like a bad business move.
Tried that Emilia, did not work!
Because George was a current reservation in my property he was precluded from doing anything other than being directed back to the current message stream! When I contacted support they should have treated me as a greenhorn and possibly suggested your option Emilia.....but, despite the fact that we had been down that path there were no options offered. It was as though the consultant had no tools available to him whatsoever and was simply reading from the self help guide.
Emilia, I know precisely how this platform runs, and for most erroneous programming situations I do have a work around, I have discovered over the years that you need to cover your bases.........but, this time I was stumped, I was fresh out of ideas. Here was a man who was willing to book, but was not allowed to!
George could not IB, he could not send a reservation request.....he could do nothing other than chat with me through our existing message stream!
Never mind, we have sorted the whole thing out, both my current guests are happy, I am happy, the only one that has missed out is Airbnb
@Robin4 I posted this on the Airbnb updates thread about CS a few days ago, but as it's buried on page 5 of 7 there, and relates directly to your topic, I'm reposting it here.
Here is a strong suggestion as to how to revamp CS so it is efficient and much more appropriately responsive to issues. I think all hosts, as well as guests, would be onboard with this.
Have a central switchboard which immediately directs the call or message to the appropriate team. If it's a phone call- "Press 1 for reviews, press 2 for refunds, press 3 for cancellations" etc. If it's a message there could be appropriate check boxes that match those call options.
CS reps would be divided into teams which were thoroughly trained in only that one aspect of the platform. Fully cognizant of all the policies regarding that issue and how to deal with same. So when a user pressed 1, they would get a rep who knew everything there was to know about reviews, instead of the current system where a rep often doesn't know anything about how to deal with a particular issue, does things which contravene policy, or isn't even aware of all the policies surrounding it. Or they make a decision which is later overruled by another rep or a supervisor.
It's a lot to ask that every rep is fully informed and experienced about everything. So why do it that way? The newer reps, under the system I suggest, would be working on a specific team where they were learning from those who have been at it longer, and could be given the straightforward, uncomplicated cases, while they learned little by little how to deal with more involved issues.
I know you do have teams like tech, and trust and safety, but it needs to be broken down into finer categories. If each rep only had to learn about one type of issue, they would each be more efficient, users wouldn't end up frustrated and angry because the rep was clueless and knew less about Airbnb policy than the host, and it would require less training of staff for Airbnb, instead of expecting reps to deal with so many types of issues.
Also, the common practice of CS of simply sending a link to the Help pages without actually reading and comprehending what the user has submitted needs to stop. It's like they just skim the communication, pick out some key word, like "Reviews", then send a link that is useless, because it has nothing to do with the issue at hand.
I was having an issue that I messaged about and the reply made it quite clear that the rep hadn't read my message at all (this is more than common). She sent a link to the Help pages which not only didn't relate to what I had written, but was information for guests, when she could clearly see, if she had bothered to look, that I am a Superhost, not a guest, and my issue was a hosting issue. And most hosts would look at the Help section anyway, before bothering to spend time contacting CS, so sending links like that is rather insulting.
This sort of nonsense means Airbnb is paying staff for totally wasted time. Efficiency isn't dashing off a useless reply, meaning the rep has then another user message to deal with saying 'that doesn't help me at all', efficiency is taking the time to read the message in the first place and respond appropriately.
I really hope you will seriously take these suggestions on board, and since you say Airbnb is currently hiring and training more staff, it wouldn't be at all difficult to implement such changes in the way CS works.
It's just common sense that if all you have to learn to do is change your spark plugs, you're going to quickly become fast and competent at it, rather than having to learn how to fix anything that could possibly go wrong with your vehicle.
Up until a few months ago I, as an Aussie superhost, had instant communication with CX.
When I called using my Airbnb registered phone, the system compared the incoming number with my Airbnb registered number on file and if they matched the call was answered immediately with...."Welcome Superhost, someone will be with your shortly, if you are calling as a host, tap 1. If you are calling as a guest, tap 2! If you are calling about an existing reservation tap 1, if you are calling about something else tap 2......." and within 15 seconds I was talking to someone somewhere in the world. When my call was answered my information would be on a consultants monitor and they would answer the call with....."Good afternoon Robin, how can I help you today!" The level of communication was that good.
Sarah, that has gone, those days are in the past. Your suggestion for channeling calls to a relevant department used to be taken care of very well.....now it is non existent. When I call now, I go into the general phone pool and I get to speak to the first "dufuss" who eventually becomes available.......they have no idea who I am and require me to go through a verification procedure to establish that I am first and foremost, not a robot and that I have exhausted all other avenues of getting help with my issue!
Sarah......we don't get any help any more!!!!!!!!!
Excellent suggestions of course, but realistically, for that to happen, Airbnb would need to recruit and properly train their own support staff in-house, rather than once again outsourcing the customer support operations to the same sh*t-show crew (Telus, formerly Voxpro) that has been making such an unholy mess of it for the past number of years.
There was some hope that Airbnb might finally seek out a more reputable and efficient firm to handle its support services, now that former VP of Community Support Aisling Hassell has recently departed Airbnb and her dear old pal, founder and CEO of Voxpro Slimy Dan Kiely, has walked away with a reported cool $150+ million in his back pocket after his outfit was bought out in full by Telus (Telus had previously acquired a 55% stake in Voxpro in 2017)
However, despite "Voxpro powered by Telus International" brutal track record in providing adequate support for both hosts and guests - and this being a golden opportunity for Airbnb to implement newer, more efficient support solutions - it appears that they've nonetheless decided to stick with the historically underperforming devil they know. Go figure.
Telus has been actively advertising for "Airbnb Project" call-centre staff in Cork and Romania over the last several weeks - so we can expect the incoming wave of newbie support staff to be just as abysmally trained, poorly paid and shoddily treated as their unfortunate predecessors always have been (see Glassdoor Voxpro/Telus Airbnb employee reviews to get some idea of what goes on behind the scenes there)
Directly has also been canvassing for hosts to act as "Community Experts" - and we all know from past encounters that the majority of those "experts" are sorely lacking in expertise, and are simply answering through the very limited and narrow prism of their own personal experiences, and/or working from the same bunch of often outdated and inaccurate scripts as the beleaguered call-centre staff.
So while the Support response times may improve slightly in the coming weeks/months, the chances of actually reaching a competent, knowledgeable, adequately-trained agent amongst the new recruits to assist with one's queries and complaints, will almost certainly remain slim to none.