Airbnb: “Airbnb is for little people”

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I have the nicest man for a guest at my Airbnb right now. He exudes genuine positive energy. It radiates. I imagine his wife must be equally cool . They have three daughters. He misses them and he has only been gone for a day.

He is staying for just a couple of nights. He came down from Washington State to work. He is an American professional football player. He is tall and a solid 315 pounds. When he arrived, he was wearing a boot around one of his feet. He has a torn Achilles Heal and I wondered immediately how he would do with the stairs.

It never occurred to me there might be a weight limit on the bed frame in the room.

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The bedrooms make up the entire second floor of the house. The rest is downstairs, including the bathroom. You know he will have to go up and down the stairs a few times everyday to shower and stuff.

I won’t enforce the shoes off policy with him since a persons health is more important than my preference. He should continue to wear that boot. My only request is to be careful with the bathroom rugs and the squishy ones in the kitchen.

Shoes off policy is not just about keeping the floors clean, or keeping all the things you have tracked in out of the kitchen where food is being made, it is mainly about Feet, Shoes, and Feng Shui.

He checked into the house around 9:30p.m. which is close to my bed time. There was another guest arriving at 10:00pm – I wanted to wait up for this guest since it would be his 1st time to use Airbnb. Stays just go better if I can meet and greet, give a tour and let them settle in.

Once everyone was settled, I got undressed to crawl into bed naked to sleep. Sleeping naked is the best and I highly recommend it. Benefits of Sleeping Naked according to Science. Not even 10 minutes later, I heard a loud noise that could be someone falling down the stairs. I got up, opened the door and shouted out ” Everything Okay?”

It took a second to get a response. The response came from the bedroom of the football player. He sat at the edge of the bed and the frame broke. Oh no! He was okay. He felt bad. I felt bad. It required attention and a makeshift solution. This is going to be challenging since I am a minimalist. Not much lying around.

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I went down to the basement and came up with two paint cans. Crossing my fingers they would be the right height. They worked :). As we were putting the cans under the bed for support, he was able to lift the entire bed up with one arm while laying on the floor. This is when he dropped the comment that Airbnb was for little people. I laughed and realized how small everyday things must be for him. He did use a beach towel for a shower towel. I noticed it when he was walking down the stairs because I have the same towel. I made sure to check in with him in the morning to make sure those paint cans were holding up. He slept fine. He was also able to relax and hang out on the bed.

As a Superhost, I feel like I should be able to provide comfortable accommodations to any guest that shows up. Although I do not have the funds right this minute to get another bed frame. It will be the next big purchase I buy for the Airbnb.

Airbnb: I don’t recommend hosting anyone other than the person in the profile.

It is becoming more common that I get requests to host a relative/ friend of the Airbnb member ( the person in the profile). Even though I have been doing it, I have remained hesitant the entire time. There are guaranteed challenges that come along with it.

  • Communication– it automatically becomes third-party communication because it forces the communication to be outside of the Airbnb platform which is not recommend. This opens up the host to some liability. I personally like to screen shot outside communication and then put those pictures into the Airbnb messaging system. 20180405_162305.jpg

Bad Communication

Don’t communicate outside of Airbnb

  • Details included in the listing– hosts take the time to provide a wealth of information in the listing. Not having access to this information takes away the guests ability to be self-reliant. Guests are going to have more questions and are more likely to step over boundaries they aren’t aware of. Time is valuable and I don’t like wasting mine by explaining information that has already been provided. When asking for already provided information expect to be pointed in that direction.
  • House Rules- just like the details not being read, guests tend not to remember all the rules. How are they supposed to remind themselves if they don’t have access to the details of the listing. I provide a laminated welcome sheet that has the rules posted on it. If only guests would take the time to read it. My feathers get ruffled easily when guests don’t follow the rules they have agreed to. My House Rules- do you think they are reasonable?
  • The Review- The guests that are hosted are the ones that should leave the review. If they relay their experience to the profile person and then the profile person leaves the review it feels like we are playing the old school telephone game. I don’t think it’s fair nor as accurate as it could be. Airbnb: Location the category that isn’t fair to hosts for guests to grade.

20180522_082856.jpgI recently hosted someone’s parents.

Overall it went as well as any other guests stay. Their visit included the aforementioned issues which reinforces the reason not to host people who don’t have their own profile.

In addition to the recent experience, I learned something today that will result in me declining requests to host people who don’t have their own profiles. Straight from the Airbnb website……

Can I book on behalf of a friend or family member?

Transparency and trust are vital to the Airbnb experience. People rely on information in Airbnb profiles, reviews, and other verifications when deciding whether to host or stay with someone.

We require Airbnb reservations booked for personal travel to be booked by the person who’s going to stay at the listing.

Instead of making a reservation for someone else, consider referring them to Airbnb.

The longer I host, the more I learn about the law.

I find value in knowing the way short-term rentals work, informing guests of how things work, and without hesitation enforcing the rules. I’ve noticed people don’t like being held accountable and if you stay with me….plan to be.

Knowledge = Power

Ultimately- Everyone is responsible for themselves.

Airbnb: The Bright Side

Fun can happen any minute of any day – if your open to it.

Have you ever seen the Jim Carrey movie where he has to say yes to everything?

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Well that was my life on Tuesday.

What started as a regular day for me, turned out to include spontaneity, cocktails, and new music.  I got up, ate breakfast, prepared food for work and left on my bicycle for the day. There was one guest scheduled to self check in around 3:00p.m and the other room was free.  Of course, I was hoping someone was going to stay…. I just had no idea how awesome she would be and the adventure that awaited me.

 My day changed at 10:21a.m.

This fun girl sent me this message :7685ae60-b366-402c-bd07-03a6a79abb53 “Hola, Julie! Wanna go to Washed Out tonight? I was a bit bummed I missed him in Seattle last night, but there’s no point wallowing in regret when you can move your butt and run down your dreams. My dream is to dance to Eyes Be Closed. With a new bud. Tonight. If it seems suspicious that I’m a new Airbnb member, yes I did make that account 10 minutes ago. But there’s no time like the present. So if you’re down, I will hop on the 2:20 Amtrak and see you a little after 6. PS, long time bicyclist here too, is it worth the extra $10 to throw my roadie on the train to get to your neighborhood (don’t have much of a grasp on Portland’s scale) or better to walk from the train station? Anywho, hope to meet you soon. And not kidding, will totally take you to this show if you got the inclination. “

How perfect is this message? How could I possibly refuse?  I said yes before I knew anything about it!

Then I began to research.

Turns out Washed Out was playing at The Wonder Ballroom , one of my favorite venues, which is 2 blocks from the house. No need to worry about parking or anything since we can walk.

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The set was exactly one hour long.  They were entertaining, they did a great job with their visuals ( I was impressed). I danced almost the entire time.  I didn’t realize they did the Theme Song for Portlandia!!!!! After eight seasons the show is ending and let me just tell you that the people in Portland are okay with that. portlandia_dvd_release

The band has a new fan.  I have a new friend. Goodbye Portlandia.  My new friend and I have an annual date together to see Washed Out when he comes to Portland and those times she can stay with me for free ❤

Gotta love Airbnb.

Airbnb Observation: I’ve decided if you do not like these signs then you do not like communication.

I have noticed that people either love or hate the signs around the house.

There have been many negative references to them in the reviews guests leave after they stay. There have also been some positive ones.

I think the people who have strong negative reactions to them are the people who are challenged to act accordingly.

The people who have said something positive about them have said they found them helpful. They found it easier to navigate an unfamiliar space.

These signs are up for good communication purposes. They have developed over time. Some are meant to be helpful, some are informative and some are in response to people not doing the things they agree to do by staying in one of my Airbnb rooms (House Rules reminders). Airbnb: These are my House Rules. Do you think they are reasonable?

I think they allow guests to be independent. No Micro Managing necessary.

I also receive the unintended benefit of seeing what kind of people I am dealing with in my home. Their response to the signs shows me who they are. Most people have proven respectful.

During the week it can be challenging to greet guests. Things go better when I can greet, give a tour of the house and point out specific areas missed from guests not reading the listing 5 Top Things Airbnb Guests Should Do

When I am not able to be there, I tell them to keep a look out for all the signs 🙂

How do you feel about things being labeled? Did you have a positive or negative reaction to reading the signs? Can you appreciate the hosts perspective?

Airbnb Lesson for the week: When asking for already provided information – expect to be pointed in that direction.

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Time is money.

There is only so much time in a day.

and yet, if we want to get philosophical then time doesn’t even exist since the time is always now.

Repeating myself is not an efficient use of my time.

I have taken the time to provide a lot of information in my listings.

Provided Information includes; Check In time, Check Out time, Amenities provided, Spaces Guests are allowed to access, House Rules, Self Check In instructions including photos, How many guests the space can hold, Bed Type, If the bathroom is shared, Host interaction with guests, Other things to note, Description of the space, Directions from the airport using public transportation, Parking information, Cancellation policy, pictures of the entire space including room, Internet Network name and Internet password.

I am perplexed with the notion that guests do not prioritize knowing the details of someone’s home you are about to enter. I understand traveling can be stressful.  There are a lot of moving parts which means there is a lot of information to keep up with.  It doesn’t change the fact that the experience you signed up for is different than checking into a hotel.  More is required from you. If you would like to ensure a positive experience for yourself, then familiarize yourself with the rules of the game. 5 Top Things Airbnb Guests Should Do

Please and Thank you.

 

Airbnb Lesson for the week: Never communicate outside of Airbnb

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People have different ways they prefer to communicate and I can appreciate that.

Personally my preferred mode changes with how well we know each other: If we do know each other then I like to Skype or talk on the phone, next would be texting and then emailing. If we don’t know each other then it I prefer email or text.

Maybe it’s just me but I have found it can be challenging to relay emotion through the written word whether you know the person you are communicating with or not. Especially if  you don’t want to add a superfluous amount of emojis.

When you are using the services provided by Airbnb whether it be as a host or a guest, it is recommended by Airbnb to never communicate outside of their program. It states it right on their website.  I’ve included a snap shot of it for the picture in this post 🙂

As a host, documenting all the communication that happens between you and the guest is imperative.  If you find yourself in the position of needing support from Airbnb, it only helps your cause to have followed their guidelines.

Conversations that happen between two people are considered hearsay by law. If you can’t prove it then you don’t have a leg to stand on.

Yes, of course there is going to be interactions between you and your guests that don’t get documented because they happen in person.  You can’t record every word ever said.  You just have to hope that nothing goes awry or it will be hard to have that verbal communication included.

Frequently guests include their emails and phone numbers during their initial communications as a way to get ahold of them “if I have any questions”.  They also  include the emails and phone numbers of their guests.

I always respond with ” I prefer to speak through Airbnb since it is a liability issue for me”

Most people are understanding! As you can imagine not everyone gets it.

Listen up world.  Listen up future Airbnb guests. Once the texting lines of communication happen, people tend to stay in that lane. Regardless, I won’t be calling you, texting you, emailing you or communicating with you in any other way besides through Airbnb. Not with the person who made the reservation and not with the other guests.  It makes no difference to me if they are your partner, spouse, best friend or a family member.


I recently had a guest who cancelled last-minute because I refused to let him text me the day of his arrival time.

After we said our hello’s, I asked for his check in time and confirmation the house rules have been read. He replied with a time frame and confirmation of the rules.  Then he said that he would be driving down and could give me an ETA while on the road.  He provided a phone number (which was blocked by Airbnb). There is usually a number attached to the profile anyways.  If that isn’t the correct one then people need to be responsible and update their profile.

As you know by now,  I replied with my ” I prefer to speak through Airbnb since it is a liability issue for me” to which he responded Okay but I won’t be able to contact you through Airbnb please expect a phone call. I asked what the reason was he couldn’t use Airbnb to which he replied he would be driving and only had his cell phone. What’s the problem with calling you?  ( He DOESN’T get it)

My message: “Like I said before speaking outside of Airbnb creates a liability issue for me. I prefer to only use Airbnb. You can download the app for your phone and we can continue to speak through Airbnb. Thank you for understanding. ” I also included the photo that is in this blog to show the exact language on the Airbnb website.

His Message: “The host is unwilling to allow me to contact her by phone to arrange entry on the date of my reservation, and I will not have internet access. This is ridiculous and I expect a full refund.” Full refund for cancelling the day before because you don’t want to follow the rules?! I don’t think so.

He did cancel his reservation and proceeded to keep sending me vent session messages.

The first one: “Nope, you fail as a host, please cancel my reservation. I have no time to deal with someone who is unable or unwilling to use a simple telephone. I run three rental properties myself, I know all about customer service and this is ridiculous. I need to be able to contact you to arrange entry into the house. Cancel my reservation.” Hosts are penalized for canceling reservations. There are fees for cancelling that can range from $50-$100 so nope I won’t be the one to cancel a reservation. If a guest wants to cancel – they can initiate it. What does running 3 properties have to do with the rules for hosts set by Airbnb??

The second one: “I have used Airbnb many times and this have never been an issue. There is absolutely no reason why I should not be able to contact you via phone on the day of my arrival. This is completely unprofessional, please refund my entire amount. I was simply trying to arrange contact with you so that I can be sure to find and get into the room that I had reserved. I can’t believe this would be an issue, it is ridiculous.”  It makes no difference to me if he has spoken with other hosts over the phone and it hasn’t been a problem for him in the past.
Every place works different. Every host has a right to set up their situation that works for them. Just because other people have chosen to disregard the language on the Airbnb site doesn’t mean I have to.

He made a request for the full refund.  I declined.


The next day I received a message from an Airbnb case manager. I have a strict cancellation policy.  You get 50% back.  The guest wanted back part of that 50% and she was hoping I would reconsider. She claimed the guest said he was uncomfortable with my language so she was going to mediate this!

I am so happy that all our communication was documented!!! I explained my position which included my response to his second message along with this –

He mentioned he would only have his cell phone and wouldn’t be able to contact me any other way. Does his cell phone have the Navigation feature on it, like 99% of people do? Then he has access to the internet. He can download the app or access the internet and go the long way to get to the Airbnb website.

I have Self Check In. We could have made arrangements for him to utilize this option. This way he has access to the space when arriving with no need to communicate via cell phone, unless he is going to say he wouldn’t be able to access this information from his phone. Then I would counter with that he could prepare himself with the available information while he had access to Airbnb.

I plan to be home to greet guests when I can. I work during the week which makes it challenging however he was arriving on Saturday- the weekend, which meant I could plan for his arrival time. I told him in one of those earlier messages his time frame would be fine.

It is frustrating for guests not to take responsibility for themselves when they have been given the information necessary to be self sufficient or to be flexible and respectful of the hosts preferred communication method (which has been set by Airbnb).

I do my best to be flexible with guests. The one area I will not be flexible with is the area that can create a liability issue for me.


I won. He did not get a refund and he was reminded of the communication rules set forth by Airbnb.

Thank you Airbnb.

3 Top Things Airbnb Hosts Should Do

 

  1. Offer Self Check In: Having a lockbox will make your hosting life easier as well as set your guests up for success. It can help alleviate the frustration that comes along with the lack of communication from guests.  People are not always the best at communicating their plans or when their plans change.  Often people who say they will be checking in at 5:00p.m come over at 5:15p.m./ 5:30p.m. or later. Having a lockbox gives you the freedom to carry on with your life and not get held up by guests.  This will also ensure guests have a smooth check in process since they can be  self-sufficient.
  2. Personalize Something: Each guest should have something with their name on it while they stay.  Making dedicated bathroom space or writing a welcoming note are two examples that are easy to do.  I write their name on a chalkboard sign that hangs on their door as well as in the bathroom with the dedicated shelf idea. It makes them feel welcome in your space which means their comfort level increases.  I think it helps guests have a nice experience by making them feel comfortable to be there from the start.
  3. Be Proactive in Communication: Certain aspects of hosting affect you more than others. It is important to take action to get the needed information from people.  Asking about their check in time and check out time will help facilitate the process. Utilize the lockbox.  I like to get confirmation the house rules have been read since they are important to me.  Realize this all could change. Guests don’t typically  update plans ( some do ). I would say at least 65% of my guests have not been familiar with either the check in time or the check out time.   Plan your day with the check out time and if it happens earlier then bonus time for you 🙂