Newport, RI Level 4
Like the heading says:
A first time guest was able to instant book my listing - where I have "Good Track Record" turned on.
As the description of "Good Track Record" reads "Only allow guests who have stayed on Airbnb without incidents or negative reviews", and this guest apparently has never stayed on Airbnb, this booking should not have been possible, right? The guest does not have a good track record, he has no track record.
Several things also concern me about this booking - and if it was only 1-2 of these things, I wouldn't be too worried, but all of them put together, including the no track record matter, makes me a bit uncomfortable:
- The guest joined Airbnb in 2018, but has not stayed with Airbnb yet
- He is a local, living in Stockholm
- The booking is for just 1 night, a Monday
- The booking is for 2 people, and my house rules state that full names of all guests should be included in the booking - there is no name for the second guest, so the booking guest has either not read my house rules (another requirement), or ignored them
- The guest sent no introductory message, saying a few words about who is coming and why, how they look forward to coming etc. I have never, in over 50 bookings, experienced this.
- Instead, he simply wrote "just wanted to inform you we'll be checking in early in the morning, like 8-9 a.m. And check out will be at 5 p.m"
I contacted CS within 3 minutes of receiving the booking, and chatted with a chatbot first. The chatbot concluded "This reservation is eligible for penalty-free cancellation. If you cancel, we will notify your guest and assist them with next steps.". But I checked "No, contact me with a person", and added that I did not want to use one of my 3 penalty free cancellations for this booking that should not have been accepted by Airbnb in the first place. I kindly asked CS to cancel the booking for me. I then sent a polite message to the guest, explaining that an error had occurred on Airbnb's side, that I would sadly not be able to accept the booking, and that I had sent the matter to CS. But that it might take some time for them to come back, so if he wanted to get on with looking for another place to stay, he could go ahead and cancel himself (I have flexible cancellation policy).
This was 26 hours ago, haven't heard from CS yet, the booking is still there in my calendar, and I pushed 12 hours ago.
I find this unacceptable. I just know that if I go ahead and cancel, and then ask CS to make sure this does not count as one of my 3 penalty free cancellations, they will for sure tell me they are "unable to do that afterwards".
I turned on IB for the first time a few weeks ago (before the Winter release).
Thus far it has not created that many more views to my ad. But it has given me 2 bookings;
Nr 1 was from a guest who had one positive (well, it was rather short and neutral, really) review as a guest - but two horrible ones as a host. One of which started with "Avoid at any cost, cleanliness totally unfit for a stay"...
Nr 2 is this one - a guest that should not have been able to IB.
So far I am very unimpressed with IB, I must say.
And one thing is for sure: Unless I wake up tomorrow morning and CS have handled this matter in a satisfactory way, I am turning IB off again. For good.
So I could not help myself, and went and checked if this guest (who was able to IB my listing, with "no trips yet"), does now have any reviews.
And he does. Apparently he has had 3 stays, all in guest houses/suites, all in December.
2 out of 3 stays in the same listing. His average ratings:
2 of the written reviews look OK, nothing alarming - although very short.
The 3rd review has no text.
1 host gives him 2 "what went well"s: Neat & Tidy, and Took Care Of Garbage.
1 hosts gives only 1: Always Responded - but she also gave him a "what went wrong": Ruined Bedlinens.
1 hosts wrote a nice enough comment, but no "what went well/wrong"s.
And based on the above average ratings, I think he must have been marked down by at least 2 hosts on both Cleanliness and House Rules? Unless Airbnb would round down from 3,67 to 3,5.
Since I have a tendency to "stalk" 😉 I also went and checked what kind of reviews he leaves.
For his first stay, he simply left this:
For the 2nd one (with the same host, and where he ruined bedlinens), he left no comment.
But for the 3rd and last one, he wrote one sentence (steep learning curve here...), saying they had a good time and hoped to return sometime.
I'm thinking 3 things:
1) I'm glad I was able to dodge this one...
2) Here's a guest who went from "no track record" (and being able to IB) to what I would say is a "bad track record" - at the expense of one host (ruined bed linen)
3) I really hope he is no longer able to IB. Or could he be, since he still has no negative (written) reviews? Surely the Ruined Bed Linen should count as an "incident"?
Yes, it definitely sounds like you dodged a bullet here.
The thing is, I am yet to see any real clarification on this issue. On another thread, one of the moderators confirmed that 'good track record' meant the guest must indeed have at least one review and that guests with no reviews would not be able to IB when this filter was turned on.
When I asked if they were sure, because you and other hosts, have had guests with no reviews booked, I was told someone would double check and get back to me, but that was weeks ago.
Also, still no explanation of what good track record actually means for guests with reviews. It doesn't say that it's related to the star rating, and I bet you Airbnb would count a guest with 4* overall as good. It implies that the guest must not have broken house rules recently.
I am guessing it's something linked with the new 'ground rules' for guests policy, which states:
"If a guest breaks ground rules, they get a warning the first time. If the issues persist, they'll be suspended and, if necessary, permanently removed from Airbnb."
So, if the guest has one or more of these warnings, they will not have a good track record (albeit for a limited time as the violation needs to be 'recent', whatever that means). But how, exactly does this work?
According to the article about this, it's linked to the new review process, so, either it's when the host reports the issue or it's when it's recorded in the review:
"For example, if a guest leaves your carpets dirty and you report the issue, either by giving a low cleanliness rating in the new reviews process or contacting Community Support, we'll hold the guest accountable."
This does not apply to ALL house rules, but the article here listings where it is suppose to apply: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/resources/hosting-homes/a/ground-rules-for-guests-554?
Of course, I am just deducing this from what I have read so far and, because Airbnb has split this information over various resources, it does make it confusing, and I am yet to find an article or policy document that outlines exactly what 'good track record' really means.
As you have realised, the recent changes that Airbnb have made to IB are not very helpful to hosts.
1. The good track record thing sounds fairly meaningless to me. All it might possibly do is filter out some guest who has 'recently' had some sort of major issue on Airbnb. Not the wording. It does not say that guests who do not have any reviews will be excluded. It does not say that at all.
2. You might never have received a booking before with no nice, introductory message, but I've had lots of guests contact me in that way. However, when using IB, you used to be able to select that the guest had to respond to a 'pre-booking message'. It was not pre-booking at all, as they only do this AFTER instant booking, but at least it was something. Mine asked them to inform me of their reason for booking and who they were travelling with, as well as check in time (reminder of the 3-9pm window) and to confirm they had read the full house rules. With it's recent update, Airbnb also removed that.
So, what I am saying is, when you say this guest should not have been able to instant book, that is not true. There is no longer any requirement for the guest to have recommendations from other hosts nor for them to send you a message. The only reason for you to cancel penalty free is because the guest said they would check out at 5pm, when your check out time is 1pm. Your check in just says 'flexible', so it's quite likely they just read that and thought they could come and go at any time.
I turned off IB a few months ago (also didn't notice any detrimental effect to my views/bookings) but, if I had not done so then, I would be dong it now. These updates (which Airbnb kept nice and quiet, while shouting about how much 'safer' they were making it for new hosts, until people started flagging them up here on the CC) mean there are almost no safeguards at all for hosts who use IB.
The way they have written the text regarding Good track record” can certainly be misleading, or is at least easily misinterpreted.
It read it as this:
A guest who has not stayed, will not be able to IB.
A guest who has stayed, but there was an incident or bad review, will also not be able to IB.
But you are right, it does not say that the guest needs to have a good review, or even have a review, only to have stayed without a bad one.
But if a guest has stayed with Airbnb without receiving a review, hosts would not know this, only Airbnb would know. Plus, staying and not receiving a review, would in my world be an indication that things did not go well.
In this case though, the information in the guest’s profile clearly said “No trips yet”. It was not just that he had no reviews, it was written out that he had not stayed.
Anyway, IB is turned off and will remain turned off.
And tomorrow I have a very nice guest checking in - one with 12 fantastic reviews, who communicates well, and booked well in advance. Now just hoping for a tiny bit of snow…
The way I am interpreting it, and I could be wrong, is that any guest can IB if they have not broken Airbnb policy or a host's house rules 'recently' (the inclusion of the word recently really bothers me as there is no explanation as to what 'recent' means).
I don't remember seeing anything that indicated that the guest must have completed a stay, received a review, not have a bad review, or anything else along those lines.
Also, how does the algorithm judge whether the guest has broken policies/house rules? I assume this means that they would have had to have been reported (I've reported a guest before on Airbnb's recommendation but they allowed the guest to remain on the platform and use a fake, yet 'verified' profile, to book with other hosts who did not get to see the terrible review she had on her other profile). Or, a case had been opened in which CS decided in the host's favour?
Whatever it means, I think that Airbnb has kept the wording deliberately vague. I would be willing to bet that very few guests at all will be blocked by the 'good track record' filter. It seems almost useless to me.
Thanks for sharing @Trude0 This incident right here is one reason why I turned IB off. ABNB changed the rules and I don’t like it. I don’t want anyone reserving my rental without me knowing some basic info.
Also, you pointed out something I had not thought about. That “good track record” has a hidden meaning. If there’s NO track record, it’s neutral—neither good or bad—and that’s the loophole ABNB has created!
Also, I feel like this “good track record” can end up hurting hosts financially. Because if we cancel, we could end up being charged a cancellation fee.
Yep, IB is not for me.
Thank you both for your supportive words!
Here’s a follow-up:
When I woke up the second morning, CS had still not gotten involved, and the guest had neither cancelled nor replied to my message.
So I did as I said I would; cancelled the booking myself, and turned off IB.
Then, 48 hours after the booking, I received a message from a case manager at CS, saying:
- That I’d “definitely reached the right person”, and he’d be “more than glad to help me with my issue” (if only I had reached this person earlier, he might have actually been able to help…)
- That the “reservation had already been cancelled” (yes, I know, I’m the one cancelling it, as it took CS 48 hours to get back to me…)
- That they “really appreciate all the hard work I put into hosting” (the hardest part of it being when I need to involve CS…)
So, not much appears to have changed at CS, during my year-long break from Airbnb…
When I decided to turn on IB, I thought that since you are allowed 3 penalty free cancellations per year, and since there are some requirements to be met before a guest is able IB, it would be fine. But as they keep allowing guests who don’t meet the requirements, and there is no support when you need it, I’ve concluded that IB is not for me. I’m already at 2 penalty free cancellations, after less than 2 months…
Trude - I thought then and still do now your Radar was correct. You did sense 'something is not-right' and did well not to take any chances. 3 penalty - free cancellation seem v. few in a host's armoury and that can make many ppl jumpy and a bit fearful on how to handle situations like this, or even worse.
You know well than IB 'is not an easy thing to handle' and often can create some type of a mess, when the host has not much control. And di well to turn it off. However I have read plenty of people, s'wearing by it' and things going without problems for them. Seems is like some type of a Lotto, but in the end 'entire airbnb venturing by us' is like this, based on chance & trust.
Thank you also for the follow-up, is good to know how things went and not everyone comes back and 'closes the case for all of us to see it' G. luck
if only more people would write in such clear and detailed way as you; often one has to read 1-2 lines and they assume WE SHOULD KNOW what is going on. Trude, if you put a barrier on IB it should prevent NEW GUESTS but sometimes i read that it happens.
1. This can be anything more than your upset with instant booking, I can sense you are more concerned with 'strange guest/ guests.
2. Not to make you paranoid [but cant be dismissed] it might be even a test/ infiltration by 'a competitor in the area' trying to damage you - what form that might take we dont know /fake account -bad review etc. Now we see many ppl coming here BOOKIGS DOWN or stopped].
3. No reviews and no introductrory messages [?} he simply wrote "just wanted to inform you we'll be checking in early in the morning, like 8-9 a.m. And check out will be at 5 p.m" [you say] it can go both ways...(a) up to no good, as little info as possible and (b) still up to no good and just a harmless affair [1 of them can be well known, they dont trust hotels etc] since that Guest is from Stockholm - same city as you.
4. Whatever Airbnb does, turn of the IB - is not an easy thing to deal with. Try to ask some quick questions [name or 2nd guest, purpose of visit etc etc...say I need to check gov ID for both before I let you in] I have read, you can CANCEL an IB booking if Guests dont reply to basic Q's without penalty on your part. [thought some dont have the Airbnb up, notifications turn on etc etc, you know how it goes] But try it...