Big Bear Lake, CA Level 9
Husband and I became a host earlier this month for the first time. Unfortunately, our first guest arrived today and hours later, requested a full refund with Airbnb. Without sharing her concerns with us, she complained about our stairs not being polished (Airbnb refuted this claim because the listing has a picture of the stairs showing a natural wood color), about the air refreshers, and about us having magazine subscriptions on the table (for guest consumption)...
Prior to her arrival, I’ve politely asked if she needs special accommodations, given clear instructions on how to access the property, and put out a little gift basket of snacks.
When I reached out to her to ask if I can address any issues, she snapped and started complaining about more things, which are not truthful: the place is not clean, the exterior needs a new coat of paint...
Baffling and disappointing.
So sorry to hear that your first guest experience was a challenging one.
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I am, so sorry this has happened to you but please don't take this experience as typical of what you can expect from Airbnb guests. I have had almost 600 stays here in our cottage and I can truthfully say there is only 4 I would not welcome back here again......almost all my experiences have been positive.
If there is one piece of advice I can give you, do not get involved with discounts! Not any discounts
Guests who chase discounts do not turn out to be reasonable guests, they will never be satisfied with what you offer......if you gifted your listing to them free of charge there would still be some issue!
I know it's hard to accept that this has happened to you so early in your hosting career but in all probability you will be a great host and like many of the rest of us host hundreds of lovely guests.
Put this experience behind you, in the review process just say......"I wish xxxxxx all the best for the future but would decline the opportunity to host them again"
That tells the rest of the hosting community that you have bagged a piranha!
@Robin4 , thank you so much for your encouragement! I believe this happened for a good reason that will be revealed in time. We will continue to have hope and keep working hard at this new venture regardless of this setback.
I have also taken down the discount (suggested by Airbnb) option. You’re certainly right about the reliability of those looking for a huge deal.
Thank you again!
I thought the listing looked fine. There really isn't much info here for us to go by. The flooring looks all new and a huge plus. Some of the laminated flooring is not high gloss and can't be "polished".. I had one renter who wanted to polish the floors so that's the sign of a kook who isn't happy with new flooring that everyone else will love.
In general its a good idea to have everything super clean and well maintained, including the entrance and outside walkways, porch, decks, etc. Not saying yours isn't just saying.
Did this guest want a full refund and stay or did they immediately leave and want a want a refund?
If they expected to stay after requesting a refund its a scam. I think the place looks great, but can't really judge how clean it is. You did reach out to them so if it needed more cleaning that is something the host can address.
I've also had a few recent guest complain about things like the location where I think they were trying to get some kind of discount, as I include a map with exact distance to everything, and sent one guest the guest guide that also states exact distance to everything. Sometimes just dealing with wacky people.
Thank you, Sir! We are a small business in a small town. We’d deeply cleaned the house, aired it out for hours, and stocked all the bathrooms/kitchen beforehand. Perhaps we will need better pictures that reflect the realities more accurately. Thanks again for your encouragement!
@Wenyuan1 You are quite welcome! I was just thinking that @Kia272 may be on to something with how many guest you are allowing. Maybe some of them decided not to travel and bailed out at the last minute and the guest that booked didn't need a space that big? I only have a one bedroom listing so haven't hadn't considered this issue. From your description and if it was deep cleaned sounds like the guest was just trying to back out last minute. May want to consider fewer guest and more of a one family set up, that may translate into fewer cancelations. Although would need to see if allowing more guest means keeping it booked or not. I started off with allowing 4 guest max to only allowing 2 guest max and still keep it booked, although would allow 4 if I wasn't booking up.
I thought the listing and place looked great. I find that guest love structure and more details and even specific rules to follow as it also translates into the host not being a scammer.
I'm betting the next guest will love the place. Mine is also non cluttered and almost sterile. Much easier to keep clean. If its 100% super clean you can expect great reviews and happy guest!
That’s good advice. I’ve added new rules to our listing as well. I really appreciate your taking time to comment on my post with thoughtfulness. Since our place is quite big, it can look empty in some spots and in certain pictures. I will try to take better pictures.
Sorry just seeing this now that they canceled. My policy before listing would be to just issue refund if guest showed up and didn't like it, but the listing itself and what you have mentioned aren't grounds for a refund. Especially that its new flooring. It could be that the guest found a last minute discounted rate on a similar listing and booked that one. I've found that more guest bargain hunt at last minute when there isn't as much demand which may be the case now with high inflation. Its really hard to say for us as we may not have all the info, but this doesn't happen often, and just bad timing on your first guest. So just do what you can if there are any issues you can address. Its part of hosting is that we don't have complete control over other people such as our guest, so can only do what we can to improve the listing to better set expectations.
I agree with @Kia272 that the picture with the car parked on the grass by the front door shows dead grass where as the cover photo of the house has perfect green lush lawn.
Thank you! Yes, we are very inexperienced first timer. 🙂 I’ve taken down @Kia272 ‘s kind suggestions and updated the listing accordingly. Once we get a chance, we will take more pictures with descriptions.
Fingers crossed that our next few bookings in November won’t give us trouble like this one!
@Wenyuan1 There's lots of room for improvement in your listing.
Use the caption feature for your photos. Take out many of the photos of the "little touches" and include more photos of the rooms. Caption those photos.
If you don't want guests driving all over your lawn, remove the photos of the car on the lawn. Is that an official parking spot? It doesn't seem like it.
Guests will tear your place up unless you impose some house rules. I didn't see any??
Your check-in and check-out times seem really off, unless your settings don't allow same-day turnovers. How can you turn over that house in two hours??
Your price seems really low for the number of guests. Up to 7 guests with no additional fees? I saw a dining table that seats 4. How are 10 guests going to eat? There didn't appear to be living room seating for 10?
I'm sorry your first guest turned out to be a real piece of work. In my experience, the more information you provide in your description, the better you can manage expectations. Looking at your listing as it is now, I had a hard time figuring out the flow of the house.
The place seems really sterile in many spots. Maybe some area rugs or more art on the walls? The room with the sliding glass doors? What is that?
I'm not trying to be harsh, but guests are going to have lots of room for complaints and refunds the way you have it now. Simple things like not having enough seating for the number of guests could cost you refunds. I would re-approach your guest count and furnishings. Modify one or the other, so they are compatible with what you are advertising. Perhaps start a different post asking for a critique, so you get some other opinions besides my own. Many hosts are happy to help.
Thank you, @Kia272 ! These are all very good suggestions and I have implemented some already. We will work on addressing the following.
Indeed we have another dining table with benches. The glass door leads to the backyard. I’ve added descriptions to our pictures and will do more.
I appreciate your constructive feedback!
Oh dear. I am so sorry this happened to you on your first hosting experience. You do indeed have a photo that shows the 'unfinished', natural appearance of the stairs, but I have learnt that guests often do not pay attention to stuff on the listing, so this one could have easily missed that. Still, it's a pretty stupid complaint, in my opinion, and I am glad that Airbnb dismissed it.
I don't know what solution to offer in your situation, but what I would say is that it's a good idea in future to vet your guests and have a reasonable amount of correspondence with them to ensure that the listing is a good fit for them and also that they are not the kind of people to drive you insane/complain for no reason/leave bad reviews.
One way to do this is to not only check the reviews a guest has received, but also those they have left for previous hosts. This can sometimes be a good way to spot a guest who is a serial complainer.
Also, as your listing in brand new, if this guest does leave a bad review, I would suggest you delete the listing and start a new one.
Thank you so much for your kind and helpful comment! I have turned off instant booking for those without recommendations from other hosts.
This particular guest has no review, booked our listing at a severely discounted price (Airbnb suggested new listing discount plus the lower end of varied pricing) and should have been vetted by me more throughly. Well, we learn something new everyday.
Thank God, our next month is pretty booked and I pray for no more picky guest!
Please remove the new guest discount and make sure your pricing is in line with your competition- not what Airbnb suggests through Smart Pricing. @Wenyuan1