Why on earth is Airbnb asking guests to rate us on how flexible we are about check in?

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

Why on earth is Airbnb asking guests to rate us on how flexible we are about check in?

I am sure there are many other hosts like me who have experienced issues with getting guests to agree to an arrival time within the check in window. I have lost count of how many times guests have asked me to check in much earlier, and some times much later, even though my window is 3pm-9pm, so pretty standard for an Airbnb. I've had to make a real point of it in my house rules.

 

So, it really infuriates me that Airbnb is now asking guests if the host was flexible about check in as part of the review process. This is going to give guests the impression that the host SHOULD have been more flexible or offered to let them check in at any time (regardless of whether the previous guests had checked out or not or the time it takes to clean and turnover the listing - a lot of guests simply never consider these points) and may well impact the star rating they leave not only for check in, but overall. It might also encourage them to harass the next host about check in time because they will now think it's something they are entitled to.

 

Airbnb needs to remove this from the review process ASAP.

77 Replies 77
Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Debra300 

 

Yes, I have seen many other hosts mention this strategy and I have used it myself. If the guest thinks that it's going to be a potential hassle to them to not let you know the check in time, they are more likely to provide it!

 

I have, in the past, messaged them something similar, ie. "Do please let me know what time you plan to arrive so that I can make sure I am here to let you in."

Laura2714
Level 7
Cottonwood, AZ

Good Reasons to never do self- Checkin. (ie to be inflexible about Checkin)

 

#1) Safety - I am a single women who shares my two-bedroom apartment with my guest. I want a quick meeting with that person to make sure I feel safe with them having a key to my apartment. I know I could get rated badly for being inflexible but ‘safety 1st.’

#2) Check for extra guests and pets - want to check that if there reservation is for ONE guest that they don’t Checkin with Two or Three guests and a dog. If they are paying for ONE guest, I want to make sure they only have ONE guest. Again, I know I will be rated badly for being inflexible. I don’t leave a key to self Checkin.

#3) Other bad behaviours- I don’t have issues with my guests have poor guest behaviours - because I have personally met them and explained who I am and my expectations upon meeting them. Hosts who personally Checkin guests do Not have the problems that hosts with self-Checkin have, it’s called ‘command presence.’ If people know you are there and aware they will not miss behave. Sure, it’s inflexible but it also stops bad behaviour before it happens. 
#4) Rating- If you meet a guest personally and ask them to tell you if there are problems and to give you a good rating - THEY WILL 😀

Its difficult for a guest to give you a bad rating if they have actually met you snd you are nice. It’s just how human beings work. I’m in flexible about Checkin time but I have a 5 star rating.

 

In asking the flexible Checkin question the Corporation office is negating everything they claim to care about …..

 

My mentor told me this the 1st week I was an Airbnb host. It was good advice.

 

I do have a combination key box for emergencies where I can’t personally check my guest in- but strive to never use it.

 

As Matt the CEO of Airbnb says in his last communication to the hosts, 

“It’s about the human connection….”

 

 

 

Laura2714
Level 7
Cottonwood, AZ

It’s an issue of computers VS people and corporate needs VS front-line needs.

 

It’s easier for Corporate if you are flexible about Checkin.

 

For example you can leave a key box with the keys in it for your guests to check themselves in….that’s what corporate wants.

 

But, on the front lines of human beings, it is not the best approach. 

When, I first started hosting I talked face-to-face with several experienced hosts and she said,

“Never ever let guests check themselves in. Always personally check in your guest.”

 

and then she explained why-

 

the people at corporate- don’t understand why I personally check in every guest. 

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

I get it all the time. Precious few want to check in at check in time.

The later the better IMO. Too early is too early. Too late is too late. But as long as they tell me, I'm ok with it.

We do have a self check in procedure for those arriving at ridiculous times. Not going there at 02:00. Sorry. Here's how you can get in. Have a nice evening.

@Huma0

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

For those hosts that are happy to allow self check in, it kind of makes sense to allow later check ins. However, there is always the risk that the guest will be a bit clueless, unable to follow directions and either disturb the host at 2am or whatever, or be unable to reach them and freak out.

At the moment, I have a guest who has been here for two weeks and has been constantly struggling with the front door lock. While I was away, she messaged the other guests at 2.30am when she couldn't get in and, the following day, even ended up waiting at my neighbour's house. So, I kind of don't trust all guests in that respect. So many of mine also go to the wrong house when they arrive, despite crystal clear instructions. Others leave the front door open at night. It's happened numerous times.

As a homeshare host, I don't want to do self-check in. I want to meet the person who will be staying in my house with me and other guests and, as guests don't always read/digest the written info, I find that the house tour is really essential for me. I certainly don't want a stranger letting themselves into my house in the middle of the night while everyone else is asleep.

I do allow later check ins (for a fee) but midnight is my cut off time, knowing that could easily end up as 1am or later as guests can be delayed or simply underestimate their journey time.

@Elaine701

Laura2714
Level 7
Cottonwood, AZ

I also could get a negative review for assuring that my guest is properly and happily checked in to the correct house. Because on a very dark street in a confusing subdivision. I often help guests in the home strength to find my apartment.

I think your doing the correct thing making sure that your guests get to your listing safely and are properly welcomed.

 

but, the guys at corporate feel you at ‘inflexible’

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Huma0 

 

Yes, it's perfectly understandable that as a homeshare host, self-checkin would be out of the question. 

 

However, I can't simply tell a guest whose flight is arriving at midnight that they can't check in until the next day. So we have a procedure for that. 

 

I always prefer face to face meet and greet. It establishes a personal relationship, and generally speaking, lends itself to a bit more sense of responsibility on the part of the guest. Not truly measurable, but I have to believe it helps. 

 

I'm also pretty (diplomatically) hawkish about vetting guests, so I generally don't have to worry to much about some guest who's arriving at 02:00 unsupervised. If for some reason I had doubts, I'd either scare them away before booking, or (reluctantly) meet them in the wee hours. 

 

For my situation, it's all just part of the job. Others' results may vary... 🧐

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Elaine701 

 

I agree that vetting guests in advance is the best method for ensuring a hassle free stay. However, even good guests can get confused about stuff like directions, parking and checking in. The one time I had to self check in to an Airbnb, I really struggled with the key pad, but luckily figured it out and didn't contact the host (I needed to start wearing glasses but was still in denial!)

 

There was a thread a few months back (I think it was started by Inna after her guests who were arriving in the early hours couldn't follow the parking instructions) where a bunch of hosts posted anecdotes about guests not being able to follow simple and clear check in instructions.

 

On the other hand, I know a lot of hosts use self check in without issues and much prefer it to meeting and greeting. Each to their own. I guess if someone is going to have self check in, they just have to make sure it's idiot proof. 

 

And of course, it does allow more flexibility for the guest. The last time I had a guest flying in close to midnight, which mean she would have got here after 1am, I told her it wasn't possible and she did book a hotel for the first night, but in other locations I suppose that wouldn't have been so easy.

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Huma0 

 

Yes, all true, and it's very important to make sure your self check in procedure is as "idiot proof" as possible. We test it before every guest, even if they're not requesting it (because you never know what happens). 

 

We also establish an alternative reliable and real-time means of communication with the guest prior to arrival via WhatsApp (against Airbnb policy), so we aren't dependent on the (rather iffy, slow and cumbersome) Airbnb message system, which can take hours to successfully send/receive messages.

 

This ensures that the guest has instant contact if something goes wrong, such as unable to find the place.. Even at 02:00. And so far, all guests have been delighted/relieved to have that contact. 

 

We also send a Google Maps link just prior to the guest's flight arrival. Just click and go! (The Airbnb generated link is incorrect, because they attempt to create a street address from the GPS coordinates, which unfortunately sends them 2km down the road). 

 

So far, we've had no problems at all. But it does require a little work.

 

We see it as a basic part of hosting, but some hosts just aren't inclined to go that far. 

 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Elaine701 

 

I agree. I would never rely on the Airbnb system for guest check ins. A few days before arrival, I send the guest the full address, my phone number and some directions to help them find the house (it's super easy from the tube station, but people can still get lost) and parking instructions if they are coming by taxi. 

 

If the guest doesn't acknowledge receipt of those details, I'll follow up to make sure they've seen them and, on the day, I'll keep a close eye on my phone, especially leading up to their arrival.

 

Yes, it's more work, but I've learnt from experience that it's well worth it.

 

Still, it's not idiot proof. I had one pair of guests arrive hours after the agreed time and I was unable to contact them as they had switched off their phones. I found them stopping random strangers in the street outside my house (which is very distinctive, has the house number displayed and which they had photos of).

 

They then accused me of only having sent the directions AFTER they arrived, when in fact they had responded to the message containing the directions (after I chased a couple of days prior to their arrival), confirmed they had received it AND were even holding a print out of it in their hands when I found them. I am afraid you can't fix stupid.

Ruth413
Level 10
Moreton, United Kingdom

I know it is totally crazy. Like you I have had just had a request to book and all it said was

"Will be travelling from Exeter and expect to be with you at 9pm"

That is 1 hour past the end of my check-in window. It wasn't even a request for a late check-in, I was just told they were going to be late !

Because of the new flexibility terms for the review with check-in. It took me 1/2 hr to find the right wording and replied mentioning my check-in times, but said that we always try and help whenever possible, so it would be o.k. if he can update me on the day. Friday evening is notorious for traffic !

I asked him to let me know if he was o.k. with that and if so, I will accept his booking. He hasn't responded, so I will wait and see if he does.

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom


Exactly. I think that I have a reasonable check in window from 3-9pm. If I can check a guest in earlier, e.g. if no one else needs to check out so I have ample time to turnover the room and I don't have conflicting work commitments, then I will offer it, but it's not something I would offer as standard as that would make hosting untenable for me.

Also, I found in the past that the more flexible I was about check in times, the more guests took the "Michael", i.e. messed me around (sometimes a lot). So, my hosting experience has taught me to be crystal clear about it in the first place and then be flexible when I can, not the other way around.

Now, I feel that if we do not "display" some form of extra flexibility, we may be rated down. It's wholly unfair. Airbnb surely know that this is deeply problematic for many hosts, but I guess they don't care. I am yet to see any kind of response from the moderators/Airbnb about this.

@Ruth413

Ruth413
Level 10
Moreton, United Kingdom

Sadly I think the Mods have a hell of a time keeping up with all the updates and don't always have the answers because they don't actually know them. Any questions I have specifically asked lately have been ignored which is sad, a sorry we don't know that would be better than silence in my opinion.

My check-in times were set because I use to have to get up at 4am to get to work, the pandemic took that work away but I am still an early night and early morning person. I also figure that we have a lot of guests travelling from London at weekends and the traffic is notorious on a Friday evening so have found guests normally arrive later anyway but if my check in was any later, they would aim for that and then be even later. Saying that my check in starts reasonably early so if people want to make the most of their stay they can spend the best part of an afternoon here.

The worse one I had was a late arrival request of 10pm. We agreed to it thinking o.k., it could possibly be 11pm. They arrived at 2am in the morning ! It wasn't until later I found out that one of the guests had been working the children in need hotline that night. There was absolutely no way they would get here at 10pm, so felt rather put out by that one.

Well I will have my first review to do after the updates next week, so will be able to find out somethings myself and will keep you updated if anything new pops up, the guests have already changed their eta twice going from arriving at a later time, to an early arrival but that I can cope with and hopefully I will smash the flexibility question !

@Huma0

Ruth413
Level 10
Moreton, United Kingdom

@Huma0   Well I got a 5* overall but wait for it !  A 4* for check in.  Which I must admit has never happened before !  They did mention in their review that they had no phone signal, so found it difficult to find.  They didn't mention though that I sent them detailed directions and instructions on how to find us a week beforehand, which they had forgotten about or lost and no mention about how flexible I had been after they changed there check-in time 3x. 

They did give me an extra tick for being peaceful and beautiful surroundings 🙂

 

I also found it surprising when I did my review of them, that there were no extra questions regarding the guests.  It was just the same old review system.  Somewhere I am sure I read that there was going to be a more detailed review system for the hosts to rate the guests ?   

 

On to next guests now and after -8C last night, the water pipes have frozen underground.  Oh joy !  

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Ruth413 Oh no! Sorry to hear about the pipes. Here it is supposed to be -4 tonight, which is bad enough!

 

Well, what can you do if guests rate you down for their own problems. The sensible thing is to save or have a hard copy of anything important, like directions, in case of no signal/WiFi. I have been guilty myself of relying too much on my phone when travelling, and then not being able to access details when I needed them, but I wouldn't put the blame on someone else for that.

 

I also feel that guests who change their check in multiple times are rarely appreciative of the flexibility. In fact, they are more likely to rate you down than guests who don't. It's certainly happened to me a few times. I think it's because those people expect to check in whenever and find it annoying that they need to let you know or that there is a check in window.

 

Yes, there are supposed to be extra questions when you review guests, but I wonder if these are only prompted by leaving lower stars, e.g. if you rate down on house rules, then it asks you which rules the guest broke. What ratings did you leave the guests?

Ruth413
Level 10
Moreton, United Kingdom

@Huma0 Water all back on as we are now up to 5C.  Luckily these guests are lovely and excited about the cold snap.  They have taken a walk to the country pub.

 

I rated the last guests as 5* in all categories, because they were.  They were lovely and friendly and never mentioned having difficulty finding us when they checked in and they didn't arrive late, so I was just a little surprised.   But I have had a lot worse so I am use to it.  Maybe then, we only get the extra questions when we rate down guests in any category ?

 

 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Ruth413 

 

Yes, I'm guessing that must be it. I just had a guest check out so will be reviewing him soon. I plan to give him great ratings, so I wonder if one is only presented with the questions once we commit to a low rating, or if it's possible to click the lower score to see them, and then change it back to 5*. I don't want to risk giving the guest low scores by mistake.

 

Why can't Airbnb just TELL us how things now work, instead of us having to second guess everything? 

Bhumika
Community Manager
Community Manager
Toronto, Canada

Hello @Ruth413 ,

I went through your comment and felt sorry that you're not satisfied with the answers we are giving. From our side , we make sure to hear the feedback plus issues faced by the members . But it can also take some time to get the right information from product owners/program managers and to make sure it is appropriate and factually correct to post on the forum. 

 

We're happy to announce the Month of Celebration!

Can’t find what you’re searching for? start a conversation

 
 
 
Ruth413
Level 10
Moreton, United Kingdom

@Bhumika   Thanks for your reply, but I think you might have misunderstood what I was saying.   

 

I was actually saying that you won't always have the answers, as you don't always know them.  Not that I was dissatisfied by the answers !

 

All I was saying would be any reply (not answer), would be better than ignoring the questions.  It doesn't matter if a mod says we will look into it, or even that we can't answer that because (a reason why).  Silence isn't always golden.  

 

Hope that explains things a bit better.  

Bhumika
Community Manager
Community Manager
Toronto, Canada

Hello @Ruth413 ,

 

Thank you for elaborating on your thoughts. I do agree silence is not always golden. We as moderators make sure that we respond to given suggestions/issues (by even acknowledging that we do not know a certain thing, and we would get back to them). The crux would be that we pay attention to our members and what they have to say.😆 Thanks again for your feedback on our functioning, and we will make sure to improve further. 

 

We're happy to announce the Month of Celebration!

Can’t find what you’re searching for? start a conversation

 

 

 

 

 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

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