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I have never gotten a five star review from "young at heart". The ones I get are very critical, stuck in their ways and think anything and everything is my fault. Unfortunately, as I get more good reviews, they are more and more likely to book with me and expect I do not know what. Typical guest from yesterday: inspected everything in my 1890s build home- every outlet- and sent me a long list of issues. This listing actually has all five star reviews. So clearly everyone else felt this was a fully functioning accommodation. Everything was dramatic. She found a cap stuck deep down a sink pipe and now there will be a flood, she just knows it. The older guests are never happy with my pillows, furniture set up, comfort of couch etc because it is not their home. Unlike younger guests, they are spending a lot of time at the house so more likely to notice every tiny fault. I have come to straighten a dishwasher rack for my older guests. Brought a light bulb and was scolded for it taking me four hours. Younger crowd would have probably not even noticed it in the first place and if they did, would not have wanted to be bothered by me coming in to change. Also, most end up demanding a discount for their struggles. I tremble when I see a reservation from a "mature" group. What are your tips for preparing for older guests and best style of communication?
@Inna22 I understand your dilemma. Our place attracts a fair number of retirees. One recent guest contacted us at least 8 times each day of the stay with various questions like why a switch didn't turn anything on...they had counted light switches and this one didn't do anything ..the sink made a gurgling noise...they couldn't find extra batteries so if the remote died they were worried they would not be able to use it....the list just went on and on. There are mosquitos outside in the high summer (I had an emergency treatment done for them as we treat regularly and give guests repellent and citronella candles but I paid for another out if cycle spray. ) The lightbulb in a decorative lamp burned out. It just was never ending.
We patiently answered every inquiry and I finally said we would be over in the morning to do a house tour and address some of these questions. The guest did not want this so the questions stopped for a day or two. My biggest concern with these types of guests is that the details they are worried about prevent them from having a pleasant stay. So we finally said just that "we are concerned that you are not enjoying your stay much as you might. How can we help?" The guest protested that they were so we concluded that there are just some folks who want a lot of interaction and think they are being helpful with all of the questions and observations. I have started thanking guests for their attention to detail and gently urging them to relax and enjoy our 1850s home. If they don't seem to be able to do that, we offer our help or to address issues in person. That's about all you can do. We also limit stays to 5 nights because at least it's over soon!
@Inna22 yes. I said that communication was always pleasant but that we worried the guests might not have enjoyed their stay as much as they would have liked because they raised a lot of concerns about house quirks. Something to that effect. That we liked talking to them about the many projects we have for our cottage and it would have been better if we had been on site to address their questions. So it took the onus off of them but it also let the hosts that come after me know that these guests like a lot of communication.
Re: the mozzie problem . I have 3 ponds. To control mosquitoes I have gold fish & frogs also with warmer weather they breed too much so I squirt vegetable oil on the ponds which creates a non toxic oily film that sticks to their wings & they cannot escape. Works a treat !
@Inna22 I have seen no difference in behavior between age groups, both can be fantastic guests and both can be petty and nit picky. In my experience it's personality and character that divides them not age. I always send a message: "Airbnb is not a hotel chain it is a unique experience in a private home. All Airbnb listings are different. Please read the full description, amenities, limitations and rules so you know what to expect and please ask any questions". I added 'limitations' recently, it seems to work (not foolproof but an improvement) in encouraging realistic expectations and the understanding that Airbnb is not a cheaper-but-get-more-for-your-money hotel.
@Inna22 @Laura2592 I would suggest that you mention in your description the age of your home and the conditions that people living in modern buildings might consider inadequate, like small closets, limited electrical outlets, creaking floors, no air conditioning, etc. You can preempt their complaints with these disclosures. For 2 years my listing had major construction going on in one or both adjacent buildings, but letting guests know about this in advance of their bookings made all the difference and I continued to receive 5 star reviews throughout the entire time. You would think that any adult could figure this out on their own, but some can't.
I too have found little difference between guests of different ages. Everyone wants a clean, functioning space, and an host who is responsive to their needs. Leaving extra light bulbs, toilet paper, and batteries, in an easily identifiable location, if you are not on site, should be easy enough. Older guests seem to like more interaction than younger guests, but even that is inconsistent. I like Laura's approach, kill them with kindness!
@Donna240 I am not sure how I would do this without scaring people away. It does have central air conditioning, giant closet, fully remodeled kitchen. SOME floor boards have SOME scratches and central air is noisier than in new homes. But it has been just fine for everyone but older folk and I am afraid putting something in will make people think that will be renting a creepy old house
Not all historic homes are unrenovated and have no modem amenities. I see that mistaken idea bandied about on these boards a lot. As someone who does work with historic preservation and careful renovations of old homes I can attest that our cottage has alll the mod cons including AC and closets. We describe where things like batteries are in our guest book and leave extra lightbulbs. This is not the issue. Sometimes I think older guests might be worried they may get charged for something being wrong in the house so they communicate every little thing.
It may scare away the people who are likely to complain about that. Win-win! In my 25 years of hosting guests, I've found that setting expectations is the key to a happy interaction.
Give it a try! It's so easy to change it back or try yet another approach.
@Inna22 Your post made me laugh because it reminds me of EVERY older guest we've ever had!
We had an older couple last week, and they messaged me AFTER their stay commenting "I understand why you set the TV very low so it does not disrupt your family upstairs... but we had a hard time listening to our shows." ... I kindly responded "Hi ****, there is a volume bottom on the side of the remote 🙂 Sorry if you missed it!" .... LOL...
Yep. When I learn a group of retired ladies has booked I brace myself. The only guests we have outright asked not to return. And I’m not so far from the demographic myself.
I think this is a loaded topic and oneh that needs to be handled carefully. Of course we welcome guests of any age and have had lovely people from every demographic. Our place is sometimes used as an event space and we started that ong before we tried Airbnb. These are some observations from interaction with older guests both when we host events and host guests who stay for vacations.
1. If you look 'young", there can be a level of distrust that you are not qualified to help them. I have found this to be true with certain older men in particular. You have to work extra hard to convince them that you are professional. With household issues sometimes I gave felt as though they wanted me to acknowledge that they were more of an expert on my home and yard than I was. And comparisons to their children can be difficult to hear.
2. There's a fundamental misunderstanding about what an Airbnb is/offers. As one might complain about a hotel room in order to be switched, so might an older guest be used to complaining for fee credits, extra consideration, etc not realizing that's not the norm. It's a new form of hospitality and they just might not be as savvy.
3. Ratings are seen as a "grade" and typically pretty low. The "no one gets 100%" mentality is very common among my older guests.
4. Value is very subjective. We are underpriced for our market but I have had older guests complain about our nightly charge even when we were at $50 a night starting out (entire house with lots of goodies for guest.) No one under a certain age has complained. When we do events we have very reasonably priced packages. It's only ever a parent of a bride or groom who balks and says "HOW much are you spending??" even when they are not paying our fees.
We always try to put out as much kindness as we can and talk about our love for our cottage. Because we do love it. Bringing that back into the conversation reminds our guests we are not just out to scam or take their money. We stay at our space as often as we can and know it quite well. We respond quickly and thank them for their info. We couch things with "that's really interesting! We hadn't heard that before. Is it bothering you? Tell me more about it." Sometimes it's hard to basically be told you can't possibly know what's going on because you haven't been on Earth long enough (FWIW we are in our late 30s so not babies) but you just grin and change the topic.
I have become a people's expert!
I notice that I do have annoying very old people who where 21 years old.....
and I had very happy young people that where the age of 71.
I'm not always sure when people act their own age so I changed my perspective.
By the way I used to be very old but now that I got younger I can say that I can speak with experience.