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

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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.

1 Best Answer
Debra300
Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

@Huma0,

 

In our guest communication we stressed that we do not have front desk staff and the guest must tell us an estimated time arrival to ensure that someone is available to check them in, and avoid delays for them accessing their rental after a long journey.  This last part seems to really resonate with guests, because it poses a potential inconvenience to them.  We tell guests that we have to wait until 24 hours before arrival to confirm if an early check-in request can be accommodated, but will allow luggage drop-off.  Under certain circumstances we do charge a fee for the extra time that's been added onto the stay.

 

To me, this is another step that Airbnb with little regard for home-shares, because it ignores  hosts who may have more than one guest at the same location.  Early check-ins and late checkouts can disturb and be disruptive to existing guests.

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77 Replies 77
Branka-and-Silvia0
Level 10
Zagreb, Croatia

@Huma0 

Good, I hope all my guests will mention how inflexible I am with check-ins and check-outs so my guests stop asking me about it.

 

I don't know what has changed but lately, every second guest wants to arrive or leave a few hours too late, for free of course. WTF?

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Branka-and-Silvia0 

 

I haven't noticed that personally, but then I host long term guests and don't have so many check ins...even less since the Summer release.

 

However, I have noticed quite a few hosts here mentioning the same thing as you. Does seem like there is something weird going on with settings where guest are being asked again to select a check in time outside of the host's window.

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

Here's an example of some guests' attitudes RE check in/out.

 

I was browsing an article on CN Traveller which listed lovely airbnbs around the word for around $100 a night. In that article was a really cute, beautifully decorated and nicely equipped  studio on a very desirable street in Notting Hill, so an absolute bargain at around $100. Although the listing had a decent rating, I was surprised it wasn't higher, so I checked out the reviews and found nonsense like this:

 

"The location Is absolutely incredible!! Honestly it is the most beautiful street in the heart of Notting Hill just 3 min from NH Gate station !
The one thing is that I probably would recommend the place for hot summer days (it was 25 degrees Celsius when we stayed and it was unbearably hot, we weren’t able to sleep properly for almost 3 days due to the crazy heat ! I don’t want to imagine how it would be on summer).
Also what I didn’t like Is that check in Is at 3pm & Check out at 10am ! Just don’t think it’s ok since you lose half a day & we had to spend the whole afternoon carrying out suitcases ).
Otherwise everything was fine & the neighborhood is absolutely gorgeous !"

 

Don't even get me started on the idiocy of saying that 25 degrees Celsius is "unbearably hot", "crazy heat" (this guest was not from Siberia but from Munich, which is usually warmer than London), but the whole nonsense about the check in/out times, which are pretty much in line with most UK hotels and bed and breakfasts, is truly annoying.

 

The guest assumes that if they book the listing, it means they have it for the full 24 hours on both check in and out days. So, when exactly were they thinking other guests would arrive and leave???

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

I get this a lot, clueless guests wanting to "maximise" their stay by checking in at 10am. have they honestly never travelled? I guess this is where a large hotel has the edge, because they can put these needy/greedy guests into a room ahead of standard check in time. that's fine, I don't want these types, they are dumb. What else are they going to not understand? (maybe flushing things down the loo they shouldn't, or lighting candles under curtains....)

 

 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Gillian166 

 

The host hadn't bothered responding to that review, and I get it. The review itself shows how stupid the guest is. However, unfortunately, I think a lot of guests feel this way. They think because it's an Airbnb rather than a hotel, the host should tailor everything around their needs. They don't stop to think that there might be a REASON for check in and out times and that they are not pulled out of thin air.

 

I do think it's a good idea to direct guests to inexpensive left luggage options though. You would think a traveller would be able to figure this out for themselves, i.e. do a google search, but I have found that is often not the case...

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Gillian166 I stay in a lot of hotels, many of them large and, believe me, early check ins and late check outs are not that common, particularly if they are quite full. 

 

It might be different outside of Europe, and I am talking about 4 and 5* hotels, but most of them will store your luggage for free, but charge for late check out. In the past, I have asked for a later check out, but you will get one hour if you ask super nicely and are lucky, before they start charging (and they have your card on file, so they will do this). Lately I find you can't even get that because they always tell you no, sorry, we are fully booked. I don't mind obviously. I see it as a favour and not my right.

 

I can only think of one time I got a free early check in and that was after a lot of faff. Initially, they told me I had to pay for an upgrade. I called the person who had booked the room (this was a business trip) and, it was only after they agreed to pay for the upgrade that the receptionist said, don't worry, we have another room for you that is almost ready if you don't mind waiting.

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

@Huma0 this past week has been astounding. I've had a guest ask me to reduce the price on Feb 14, so he can afford it....... I responded with "I'm sorry, I'm not quite ready to discount Valentine's Day just yet".  

a hotel might have many rooms so they offer deals, but we have ONE unique space. 

and today I had another person request late check out for 2pm. On Australia Day. she also wrote "looking for a relaxed, quiet family day by the pool". um, then come here on any day that isn't a public holiday.  

We operate in the same realm as hotels, but we are markedly different, and wonderfully unique (for people who want and value that). Frankly, i think ABB should lean in to that 120%, and really highlight the one-of-a-kind nature of our listings. 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

 


@Gillian166 wrote:

Frankly, i think ABB should lean in to that 120%, and really highlight the one-of-a-kind nature of our listings. 


@Gillian166 well, in theory, that's what they are doing/marketing with categories.

 

However, at the same time, there is a push towards the mega hosts and cookie cutter apartments, e.g. the Friendly Buildings scheme.

 

It is kind of astounding that guests would ask for discounts on Valentine's Day or late check outs on a big pubic holiday. Perhaps they are just clueless, but I wonder if they would ask that of a hotel? I think there is a perception out there that Airbnbs are not really businesses, and it's 'money for nothing' to the hosts, so there is more room for flexibility/bartering. 

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

@Huma0  yes to all those things. But thanks to the uniqueness of this portion of the business there are a lot of hosts who do behave more like this is a hobby, or something else, and so it's hard for guests. I'm aware of that too. They should also be aware that hosts tend to be more emotionally invested (in addition to all the other ways we are invested) and we are not transient employees behind a desk (or keyboard). There's a lot for guests to "consider" and i guess if they are on holiday they don't care to consider much beyond their own needs. 

 

It's the cluelessness of the request for a 10am checkout + 12pm checkout that concerns me. I'm not keen on having dumb people in my space. What else don't they understand? how taps work? how electricity works? how much weight a vintage coffee table can hold (ie, not an adult human)..... etc etc.  

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

** 10am checkin

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Gillian166 

 

Yes, these kinds of requests are often red flags. Sometimes people are just thinking of their own needs. Other times, it's because they are clueless, and it's just the start of the problems.

 

I remember one girl who was supposed to stay two months. There were no red flags until the check in day, when she announced (not requested) with 30 minutes notice that she would be arriving three hours before my check in time. That's when I realised there was trouble ahead, and I was right. This young woman was totally detached from reality and didn't understand a lot of things, like boundaries or what a cancellation policy is...

and guests who just do not communicate about arrival time, even when they rent an apartment for themselves. How do they believe the host will arrange their day plans? Do I wait 3 hours for a person to arrive? 

Debra300
Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

@Huma0,

 

Early check-ins and late checkouts are infrequently granted by hotels in the US also.  Our guests were frequently overstaying or requesting to arrive several hours early because of their flight/ferry arrival and departure times.  We included a 24-48 hour buffer between bookings since we don't want to feel rushed with completing turnovers.  As a result, we now offer guests the ability to check in at 2 p.m. and checkout by 2 p.m., and usually guests leave between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.  We've always offered luggage drop off, but that is seldom used.

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Debra300 

 

That's interesting. When I first started, I used to get a lot of requests for luggage drop offs, which I was happy to offer initially, but then I ran into soooo many problems with that. Guests would arrive to drop their bags and then insist on checking in then and there even though I was still cleaning or the previous guests hadn't left. Some were super aggressive about it. I had to learn to be tougher and simply say "Nope, not possible. Here are some links to inexpensive left luggage services."

 

These days, as I host long term stays, I usually do have a gap between stays. I find that guests don't often ask for an earlier check in anymore though because I've made it pretty clear on my listing that they need to respect the check in times. I do allow guests to check out later. In fact, the check out time is pretty meaningless now as it's very rare I have the next guest arriving the same day, so they can take as long as they need, but I don't tell them that in advance!!

 

So, it's really no skin of my nose, personally. The thing is, I really do not feel it is fair that Airbnb are asking guests to rate us on the 'flexibility' of check in. It seems totally bizarre to me and really disadvantages hosts that do have to manage same day turnarounds. Would Airbnb rather we lost income (and that means they lose income) because all of us have to block out a day between bookings? It doesn't make sense.

Debra300
Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

@Huma0,

 

I have always been pretty firm about the check in time, especially since I schedule most of my work meetings or run errands before check-in.  Since we changed our check-in/checkout times we don't get many requests for altered times because we are allowing earlier check-ins and later checkouts than standard hotel times, and it fits the schedules for most ferries and flights. 

 

Nowadays, early check-in requests usually come from guests who are already at another place in the south of the island and probably have to checkout at 10 or 11 a.m., but don't want to pay the taxi driver for an island tour on their way up north, or ask their current host/hotel to hold their luggage while they go for a meal before departing.  Instead, they want to come directly to their new place and start occupying the rental early.

 

As you've said, some people think that since they are staying in a house/guesthouse that they should be able to rock up at any time like they were crashing at a family or friend's place.  I've read your posts about guests with hard ears who insist upon arriving early even after you've told them no.

 

 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Debra300 

 

Yes, I do think a lot of it depends on how most people are getting to your place and the timings involved with that. More often than not, I have had guests arriving on early flights, probably because it's cheaper. Because my listings are quite 'budget' by London pricing standards, they are likely to attract people trying to get the cheapest flights. Also, most American guests come on overnight flights, land early and are tired and have insane amounts of luggage.

 

Still, at the end of the day, whatever circumstances/locations we are in can determine how flexible we can be about check in times. It's not fair that Airbnb is encouraging guests to rate on this. It's really not going to affect me too much in my current situation I don't think. I could simply message guests and let them know I can be more flexible when that is possible, without having to even change the wording on my listing. However, a lot of hosts simply won't be able to do it.

 

Airbnb should think twice before it does something as senseless as this. Don't tell hosts they can have rules, be that check in/out times or anything else, and then allow guests who supposedly agreed to those rules to them penalise the hosts for them in their reviews. It's a very flawed system.

Bhumika
Community Manager
Community Manager
Toronto, Canada

Hello @Huma0 ,

 

Thank you for sharing such honest feedback with us. I have made sure to share your feedback with the concerned team! Thanks again.

 

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@Huma0 

 

I don't think it's a big deal.

 

I always mention to my guests that if the unit is ready before check in time i don't mind them checking in earlier.

 

If they want a guarantee early check in they'll need to pay and it's stated in my description and booking confirmation template.

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Michael6934 

 

It's not about whether it's a big deal in your particular circumstances, but the fact that Airbnb is now asking guests to rate hosts on how 'flexible' they are with check in times.

 

Of course, if the circumstances allow for flexibility, then great. But, this new element will create an impression that hosts should be 'flexible' as standard, regardless of the circumstances.

 

In my experience, sadly a lot of guests do not understand that someone else might be staying before them and still need to check out, i.e. someone else has paid for the space for that time that the new guest wants to have it for without paying for it. How is that fair? And many of them certainly do not understand that there is also then a period needed to clean and turn over the listing.

 

Sure, we can all be 'flexible' when it is convenient for us (I certainly am if I don't have other guests checking out the same day/conflicting work commitments), but do you think all guests give a flying * about that? If you do not accommodate their needs, no matter how unreasonable, you can get rated down on not being flexible enough. So, yes, I believe it is a big deal.

Debra300
Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

@Huma0,

 

In our guest communication we stressed that we do not have front desk staff and the guest must tell us an estimated time arrival to ensure that someone is available to check them in, and avoid delays for them accessing their rental after a long journey.  This last part seems to really resonate with guests, because it poses a potential inconvenience to them.  We tell guests that we have to wait until 24 hours before arrival to confirm if an early check-in request can be accommodated, but will allow luggage drop-off.  Under certain circumstances we do charge a fee for the extra time that's been added onto the stay.

 

To me, this is another step that Airbnb with little regard for home-shares, because it ignores  hosts who may have more than one guest at the same location.  Early check-ins and late checkouts can disturb and be disruptive to existing guests.

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