Big Bear Lake, CA Level 9
I recently hosted a guest who was over 1 1/2 hours late checking out. I have not left a review for her yet (still have a week to do that), so just thought I would seek the opinion of others before I did so.
Initial communication with the guest (before arrival) was a bit hit and miss as I asked for an approximate arrival time which she said she would provide the next day (but did not), but she then made up for that by providing good updates on arrival time on the day they arrived (including phoning me when she was 10 or 15 minutes away).
Checkout time is 11am and my rental property is about 1 1/2 hours drive from my home, so I left home around 10am to go to the property to prepare for the next guests. I arrived there a few minutes after 11:30 and the guests were obviously still there. I had heard a message come in on my phone around 10:45 but had not checked it (as I was driving), so I checked my phone before approaching the house and found a message timestamped at 10:45am from the guest requesting late check-out at 1pm (which obviously I had not replied to).
I went a knocked on the door but the guest did not immediately answer (despite one of the guests obviously seeing me approach through the window). The door was not locked so I opened it slightly to call out to them and tell them that a late check-out was not ok. They were most apologetic and stated that the request for late check-out had been sent about an hour before the time I received it, and said they had assumed that late check-out was ok because I had not responded. This raises the question as to how reliable the airbnb timestamps are? My thought is that if the message is timestamped at 10:45am then that is the time that it was sent, but has anybody got an experience where there was a delay by airbnb in sending a message?
Even if the message was sent an hour earlier I would not expect a guest to interpret a lack of response as approval - if they wanted a quick response they could have phoned me to be certain I got the message (they had previously phoned me - so obviously had my number - and I would have answered the phone on hands free while driving even though I don't check messages while driving).
I did receive the guest's approval to start stripping the beds whilst they were still there, but I could only do 1 out of the 4 bedrooms as there were still people in the other rooms, so I ended up waiting outside the house for about an hour before I could start cleaning and preparing for the next guests.
The house was left pretty clean and tidy, so I don't have any major problems there (would give 5 out of 5 for cleaning - there were a couple of bits of something stuck to the carpet which required spot cleaning, but I have come to accept that sort of thing from families with young children and don't mark them down if the place is generally clean and tidy). Other than the late check-out the only other issue was that they had obviously placed a pan of boiling water on the lawn (the pan was still there when I arrived but was not hot - a circle of dead grass is the reason I believe it was boiling when placed there).
My thought is to leave a 'reasonable' review. I would mention the late check-out problem in the review and would mark them down on communication and house rules (I would consider check-out time in the house rule category). I would probably have approved a late check-out if they had asked in a timely manner, but their actions wasted an hour of my time (and yes, I did definitely have better things I could have been doing).
Any suggestions on how to approach a review would be appreciated, as would any observations on the accuracy of timestamps on airbnb messages.
The guest currently has 6 airbnb reviews with an overall rating of 4.5 (and 4.5 in every category). Obviously at least one host has given less than 5 previously, but none of the review texts mention any issue (in fact they are all glowing recommendations).
Thanks to the people who joined this conversation. Some of your feedback did influence the way I wrote the review.
I think it is important to mention problems in the review for the sake of other hosts (I always read the text of at least up to half a dozen previous reviews of potential guests). It is not helpful that somebody else had marked her down but still left a glowing review text: If the previous problem was poor communication or late check-out then mentioning that in the review would have alerted me to the potential issue and I could have addressed it in my communication with the guest before it became a problem.
I wasn't as brutal as Richard531 suggested, but did mark the guest down in communication and rules. I believe a problem should be mentioned honestly in the review, but I took Gillian's advice and sandwiched the mention between 'nice' things.
@David7362 that pot in the yard?? I think that was with cold water for a dog ..and if u place anything on grass and in the sun...it will look dead in a short time due to the sun.
Very entitled guests for sure. I'd mark them down 3 or 2 * and make sure to write you would not host them again. That will be a good way to get there attention...but since you drive so far at check out....I'd confirm that the cleaner will arrive at 11-1130 and if no reply call them before making a trip and waiting....oh no. Good luck...be kind and professional it's a business and if the bad stuff gets ignored it will be repeated on the next host and the next.
@Gillian166 Good thoughts.
I must admit, I have a tendency to hope that telling someone how awful they are, will in some way, help them to ultimately understand how awful they are. It has to help somewhat. But probably less than I'm hoping. Awful people are going to be awful. However, if you get told how awful you are enough times, you're going to eventually think you're at least somewhat awful.
Rewind to the OP. . . As a guest, knowing your host is outside waiting for you after check out time, for an hour, is just about as awful as a person can be.
To your second point: If you're in a Small Pond, it's fully understandable (and a somewhat scary reality) that you want to be on the lookout for any longer term recourse beyond the platform. So it makes sense that you'd tone some of it down to protect yourself longer term. . .
@Richard531 i'm just at the tail end of raising teens, i'm not of the opinion that if you constantly tell someone how awful they are, they will change... they need to hear everything at least 1000 times before it sinks in. and my inexpert opinion, i feel that 20somethings (and some 30somethings) are not much better than teens even though they are supposedly adults. Actually plenty of adults can't handle criticism of any kind, or even being able to cope with different opinions!
I try to just plant a seed and hope it grows. Whilst i agree that making the host wait an hour is awful, it's 100% in the MO of how teenager-adults operate . Weren't half of them still in bed at 11am? you think they can move quickly and tidy up in under 1 hour? Again, it wasn't malice, it was incompetence. I would mention it in the review, for sure.
I've had a guest get super upset with me over a 4* review I left her that was very nicely worded but pointed out the 3 things that were careless (she also left late), she ripped into me in the message box and then said "i won't be having any further communication with you". And that sums them up: they are right, you are the terrible person who is wrong, cos they are right, always.
yikes, brutal @Richard531 😅 but you've been hosting longer and seen more, I understand your hard stance.
i'm still a Hanlon's Razor type. This guest is a careless idiot, and a harsh review isn't going to make her suddenly have self-awareness and think "gee I deserved that". I would never do this to a guest who also lives in my home town. I don't need someone badmouthing my business around the most parochial city in Australia, which is why I tend to take a less harsh approach. (85% of my guests are from Adelaide, and another 10% are visiting friends and rellies in Adelaide).
Each to their own, we all have different situations.
@David7362 I think this guest was extremely rude, extremely entitled, and any listing would be lucky to not host them. You need to be firm, honest, and protect the Sharing Economy. They are also sitting at 4.5 for a reason. They are bad guests.
1* House Rules
"We would not host XYZ again. Their communication was middle-of-the road. The major problem was that they completely ignored our clearly communicated check-out time. So much so that when we personally arrived to turn the home (30 mins after check out), we had to wait an additional full hour for them to vacate. XYZ left the home in a respectful manner.
I always try to be flexible as most of my guest are International tourist and have to fly here,
I do have it written in my rules it is "Subject to Availability" and also I have to work around my cleaner.
It seems to have gotten worse in the last few years, guest take it for granted.
@David7362 sounds like other hosts were in a similar mindset, she wasn't terrible, but she took liberties, so they gave her a mostly good review. I think it's important to mention this in the actual review. I have started mentioning when guests are persistent about early check-in (happening all too often later). This behaviour needs to be called out and the rating system doesn't really help us do that. It might be a one-off, or she might pull this stunt everywhere she goes, and if you mention it in the review she is less likely to keep trying it. In my example my guest is still a 5* guest in all the ratings, but his persistent nagging was rude and greedy (he initially asked for 11am check in!), so I will give him 5* but mention how insistent he was on getting early checkin. Keep the review brief, and sandwich it: nice sentence, mention the late checkout thing, nice sentence.