We just purchased our dream vacation home near Disney. It's a 5br house and we have now had three different guests stay there.
As of right now, I am in shock at the amount of things that are being broken. AND... I'm terrified to charge them for what they break and to write a real review in fear of getting a low rating and getting my listing shut down.
First guests checked in the day after the house became ours. The maids came in after the guests left and said a queen blanket was MISSING and two wine glasses were missing and two other glasses were missing. There was a TON of trash left by the guests, despite being told to take excess trash with them. Our community requires all trash to be in bags and they didn't even do that properly. I asked the guest about all this and they denied all of it, but I have photos to prove it. BUT... in fear of a bad review, I told her not to worry about it this time. (so we had to buy a new blanket and 4 new glasses).
The second guest left and the maid sent photos of 3 broken glasses!
The third guest send a photo of our laundry room door frame BROKEN and said she didn't do it. I knew it was not broken before she arrived. She asked how much I would have to charge her for the damage and I told her I would buy the materials to fix it myself and for her not to worry about it (Because I was afraid if I charged her I would get a low review and it would impact my ability to earn money from airbnb). When she left the maid sent photos of pee on two beds and stained pillow cases, a broken grill left by our pool (the guest apparently bought a grill and then broke it and left it), balloons on the ceiling of our house, trash in a closet, and they didn't leave on time and made our maids wait outside for half an hour (after specifically asking if they could check out late and I told them no because the maids were on a tight schedule). The pee on the beds looks like dog pee. The girl had asked if her "cousin" could bring a service dog. I told her service animals are of course allowed, but that the dog has to be with her at all times and if they go to Disney, the dog has to go to Disney and if they go to the water park, the dog has to go to the water park. They said they would not bring the dog, but it looks like dog pee in the beds! And... I know she had an extra guest beyond her 12 because our guard at the front gate sent me a message letting me know another person registered for a parking pass for our house. 12 is the max our house holds. We specificially said no parties.
SO... three guests so far (each with 10-12 people). 7 broken glasses, one missing queen blanket, one broken door frame, lots of trash left around, stained sheets, stained pillow cases.... and with all of it, I'm afraid to charge anyone or leave a real review because of all I have read about how people leave bad reviews for hosts and the hosts get screwed and lose income.
Any advice? This is really stressful! I am such a rules follower and yet all of my guests are being trashy and breaking my brand new home. What can hosts actually do about these things and not be punished by bad reviews??? My husband said it's not worth it to charge them for what they break and risk getting a bad review and losing our ability to get renters at our house. Is this just how it goes??
@Pete69 Thanks for the advice about oxyclean and bleach. Unfortunately, we can't shoot video because we live in Atlanta and our vacation house is 7 hours away in Orlando. Our maids take photos for us after each guest leaves. So at least we know what it looked like before and after each guest.
I like the photo/video idea. Pay the cleaners a little extra to video on arrival and say the name of who just left. Then before they leave, video again and say the name of the next guest. Raise the price of the cleaning fee accordingly. A bit more hassle for the cleaners, but hopefully the video evidence will help if needed.
@Bella624 "But still worried if I say things on their review that they can give us a false bad review."
Guests do not see your review of them before the reviews are published, and vice versa. Reviews are purposely blind so that no one can do what you fear.
All reviews are published, regardless of whether both parties leave reviews or not. If both parties submit reviews, they will be published as soon as they are both submitted. Otherwise, the review will appear 14 days after check out. Guests cannot read your review of them until it is published, at which point the review period is over.
The strategy of waiting until the last minute to leave a review is only applicable if you have a bad guest who you haven't received the notice yet that they have left a review. If they weren't going to bother to leave a review, getting the notification that you have will usually lead them to. "Uh oh, he left a review. We better, too." When guests know they behaved poorly and left a mess and damages, they anticipate getting a bad review, so they then rush to leave one themselves.
You really must leave honest reviews to warn other hosts. How would you like it if you accepted a guest who, unbeknowst to you, trashed other people's homes? That the past hosts either shied away from leaving a review, or left a dishonest one, misleading you? Just as posting here on the forum and getting support and advice from other hosts is hosts taking care of their fellow hosts, leaving honest reviews is, too.
Hosts who deal with guests from the place of being terrified of a bad review end up feeling and being treated like doormats with guests being allowed to carry on all manner of bad behavior and disrespect you and your home.
Airbnb wants hosts to be terrified of a bad review, so they will pander to guests. You don't have to buy into that manipulation.
@Bella624 Get your maids to shoot video after its cleaned, it only takes 5 minutes. Write somewhere in the listing that for guests peace of mind, and to document and ensure cleanliness and amenities are as advertised, that you take video of the unit prior to each guest.
Do you have cameras? If not, add them and make it very clear on the listing that external cameras are there for safety of guests.
You should also consider raising your base price or adding a per guest charge for guests over 6? maybe.
The more desperate you are to make money, the more the worst guests will smell it and hone in on your listing.
1. Cameras on the exterior. We use both Blink cameras (up high) and a Ring doorbell. Blink is better because they are often bundled in multi-packs and the batteries last at least a year. And no subscriptions. Other hosts will have equally good recommendations. But you definitely need cameras on the outside if you don't live near the property (we live around the block, our co-host lives on site and we still have cameras).
2. Counterintuitive. Raise your rates. We were scared to do that but we actually got better guests and made more income as well. To keep it affordable for our repeat guests (usually couples coming to visit grandchildren) we set our base rate for 2 people and charge $25/person/night for each additional person. You would be surprised how many people book Airbnb because they can bring all their friends and family, cram them in, then split the cost meaning everyone is paying the equivalent of a fast food meal for their share. Sigh.
3. Lower your max headcount (which will be compensated by the rate increase). Make sure children are counted in the head count. We are legally allowed 7 in Kansas City (2 per bedroom plus 1). We set our maximum at 5. Period. No exceptions. Less wear and tear and we are still attracting smaller groups and couples. They are happy to have the breathing space. We make it clear with families or friend groups with kids in tow that we count babies in the headcount even though Airbnb doesn't allow us to charge for them.
4. Change your house rules to explain damage must be reported and will billed at replacement cost. Then immediately bill them in the resolution center before the next guest checks in. Airbnb won't help if you try to do it after the next guest checks in EXCEPT if you bring the damage to the previous guest's attention first in the inbox. That date and time stamps your conversation to show it was brought to their attention earlier. You should still bill in the resolution center by uploading photos, receipts and invoices. Often guests won't pay but in three business days Airbnb will start investigating.
5. Be picky. Your intuition may say take all guests for the revenue they generate but you've learned it's a huge cost and a lot of wear and tear. Unfortunately a lot of guests are getting trained that Airbnb's are places where you can get away with things you can't do at a hotel. That's often because of absentee corporate investors with multiple properties and no ties to the community or inexperienced hosts who jumped in thinking this is easy (and find out otherwise) let guests get away with it. Those guests then move on to the next group of hosts. Be cautious on local guests. Turn down the guests who inquire at midnight for next day check-in. Set your minimum nights to 2 nights to lower the party risk.
Hosting can be joyful, but the process starts at booking. People who answer lots of questions and are conversational are often better than the ones that are not. Cameras help. Reminding guests that there is an additional charge for unregistered guests is another.
a. We ask for the reason for the visit. (no response results in a decline)
b. We ask for the full name of each adult staying on the property. (sometimes not done, but it does show we are monitoring).
We don't send check-in codes until a few days before arrival.
We don't take everyone who asks to book. I learned the hard way to trust my gut. The few times I didn't, I regretted it.
I rarely rent to locals without a lot of conversation and a way after booking to find their social media. I've asked Airbnb to change the policy and give us guest information at the time of inquiry since many people check in using Facebook and it's easier to determine if they're trying to use you for a party, etc.
Get neighbors on your side and give them your cell phone so they can call if there's a problem.
Sorry this happened to you. Most guests are so joyful but the few that are gross and offensive ruin it for everyone. Hang in there!
@Christine615 - WOW! Thank you for the info. Everything you said was super helpful!
We will definitely install a ring doorbell. Thanks!
I just added a per night fee for extra guests and lowered my headcount by 2 to see if it makes a difference.
Have you noticed that when you confront a guest about damage that they then give you a bad review? That's one of my biggest concerns here.
Our neighbors can't help since almost the entire resort are homes rented on Airbnb and Vrbo.
I just went online and pretended I wanted to book your place. I put in 12 people and was quoted a price of $231/night. That is INSANE!
You still aren't charging enough.
And STOP WORRYING about bad reviews. They can't see your review until after they post their own and vice versa.
If they leave a bad review after you charge them for damage ask Airbnb to remove because it is consider retaliation. A lot of bad guests know new hosts are scared of bad reviews and that's why they get away with it. It is your responsibility to let other hosts and Airbnb know what happened even if you put "unfortunately, did not follow house rules and I am unable to host them again." Or "better suited to a hotel."
Airbnb has people convinced that hosts are getting rich and that guests can do whatever they want. Make it clear this is YOUR home (even if it's an investment) and you expect it returned the way the guests found it.
Also, in addition to RIng doorbells, put a Blink camera (or other) up high where it can't be tampered with. I sold my old set to a colleague after I upgraded to one with two-way talk. He said it's been a game changer for his remote property at a resort because he can also see when the cleaners come and go, when people sneak in pets they aren't allowed to have, etc.
@Bella624 I would switch the order of your photos and start with those of the unit itself. Having so many generic 'resort' photos up front is probably adding to your problem by making it seem like a property management company condo, as opposed to someone's actual house. As others have said, lower the number of people you will accept. If you find that this reduces your bookings after a few weeks, you could increase the number+increase the fee. You might also offer, if you don't, a set of plastic pool type glasses that might cut down breakage. I would set the base price for 8, and then after that add an extra guest fee. your price still seems too low for a house in a resort community.