Real AIRBNB STORIES FROM HELL
First Airbnb Story From Hell
Airbnb “Marriage” Arranged In Hell:
Introducing Owner “Mr. Darkness” To Guest “Jenny Discount”
You are not going to believe this story is based on the truth. But I will let you decide.
If it can go wrong it will go wrong. Accepted. But can it really get this bad?
We went to see the owner. He wanted to rent his lovely large and interesting home with a pool to kind Airbnb guests. He wanted a marketing company. And he would liaise with guests, clean and manage.
In responsibility terms, this is a marriage of trust between owner-manager and the official Airbnb host. If we get a bad review due to an unhappy guest we would take the brunt publicly and even financially. And I am not even talking about the stress if it does not work out. And it’s not going to work this time.
Let me share some issues we exposed ourselves to when owners manage:
- Our social and public profile would show a negative review.
- We could not be Superhosts any more.
- We would pay the refund and hope the owner repays us.
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Y ou have read the previous Airbnb Host tutorial articles (here) in the series?
Future business depends on trust. And not qualifying the owner and the home correctly the consequences can be devastating.
Calamity of great proportions in the making…
Okay, let’s get back to Mr. Darkness and the innocent-looking start to a calamity of great proportions.
We inspected the home. It had issues, which were addressed by the owner and our team. But we missed a few. The front door could not lock. And the owner’s boisterous dog would eventually jump the fence causing havoc.
We suggested competitive rates, long stay discounts etc, to get bookings and reviews. We must get a foundation of trust. All according to an agreed plan. At least, that was the intention.
Quickly we got a reservation three months in advance. It’s still working to plan.
Then Jenny’s family, with small kids, booked for 25 days. More happiness.
Jenny-Discount then realised if she booked for 28 days instead of 25 she would get a substantial discount. She changed the dates. And got the long-stay discount. Oooh.
The rate per day was less than what we would have liked – in hindsight. Mr. Darkness, exposing a bit of shadow when we informed him. Hopefully lighting does not strike twice….
Odd. As soon as she moved in she wanted to change back to 25 days. But did not want to pay the higher daily rate. And arguments are not the way to start off with your first ever guest.
Too nice! We gave Jenny the benefit of a good relationship. Mistake. Obviously, we did not know if she did it on purpose or not (we later learned she left another Airbnb under odd circumstances). With limited info, we left it there. Owner Darkness was understandably becoming darker.
You Would Not Believe This:
Mr. Darkness and Jenny connected. Hugging each other.
They were besties. At least we thought so. A nightmare does not come with warning signals.
Airbnb Horror Prevention Fact!
Slow-To-Act is a MAJOR Cause for Tragedy. Guest Revenge is Imminent.
Mr. Darkness was not really interested in management, and liaising with the guest. He wanted controlbut not the criticism, the responsibility and the costs associated with the management of his property.
Jenny-Discount started having small issues that were not addressed. At least not quickly enough by Mr. Darkness.
Dogs and fleas go hand in hand. Then Jenny complained about bite marks on her feet. No one else. Odd. Was it beach fleas or dog fleas?
Horror Prevention Fact 2
The Guest Is Aways Right!
May be not ALWAYS.
And Mr. Darkness got even darker. Furious. Frustrated. The pot was boiling. Darkness and critical guests. It was a relationship waiting to explode.
We got involved. Exterminators. And the guest was happy as we offered a day discount. Was that her long term intention? It was not apparent yet.
The brewing continued, low level but smoking.
Then they hug. Then they hate and we get involved.
Keeping them apart. We offered to liaise. Both agreed. But then met each other kissed and made up. Now both are upset with us for trying to separate them. 25 days! Of this madness. A very long time.
Can This Airbnb Story From Hell Get Worse?
Yes! Much worse.
The boisterous young dog jumped the fence played with the baby and stole its hat. And on that day, Jenny decided to freak out. She was waiting.
Even though the dog is friendly it’s no excuse. And Jenny knew it.
If It Can Go Wrong It Will.
The issue is the dog jumping the fence but the real issue is how you address it as the manager. Mr. Dark wrote it off as a joke. Another bit of slow poison. We did not connect the dots Jenny was setting up.
Then the explosion…
Mr. Darkness had an off day. And his brewing, by the glass, was probably too strong. And too many. Criticising him for fleas, his dog, the front door. Darkness has his pride to protect. Remember.
It’s never a coincidence:
Hubby and Jenny arrived at the gate as Darkness was leaving the small holding. Dutch courage and Darkness accosted the family. Physically.
Now, post trauma, both wanted us involved. Whatsapps. Never-ending. Hell. Airbnb got involved. Discounts, refunds, bad reviews. How will this nightmare end? If ever.
In hindsight we should have involved a phycologists……
It’s 3 days before Christmas. Jenny bought a Christmas tree. And was committed to staying. Like a toddler hanging on to scissors at all costs. Screaming.
We offered an alternative home at a real discount. But Jenny had other plans. She will stay put. Strange.
The Fatal Negotiations…..
I suggested to Darkness that I negotiate with Jenny alone. Darkness said, “not a cent more than 10%”. In that case, I cannot negotiate as the guest wanted 50%. Darkness reluctantly agreed to max 30%.
At the somber meeting, Jenny stuck on 50%. I said, “you can move to the other house or ten percent and you can stay”. “No way! “, she said.
We eventually agreed on 25%. It was fair. Or was it?
We paid the guest back and the Darkness was asked to refund his portion to us. Long story short; Darkness indicated that we only agreed on 10%. Ouch.
Jenny and Darkness evaded each other for the last few days.
And we could breathe. Or so we thought. A day after departure Airbnb told us Jenny still wanted 50%. She was not happy with only 25%.
But as we involved Airbnb from day one they told Jenny she already got more than what’s fair
End of the horror story you would say?
Darkness never paid us a cent of the refund and….
Airbnb allows guests to ask for a refund until sixty days after departure. One day 59 we got a 4-page document from Jenny claiming her full 50%. Also threatening us with legal action.
We told Jenny Discount to find a cliff. And…
We parted ways with Darkness. And our second and final guest had an uneventful stay.
What did we learn from this Airbnb Story From Hell?
- We must set clear expectations with owners managing their own homes.
- Again, you cannot know the mindset of everyone. Karma anyone?
- Very few owner-managed-homes are successful.
- Anyone who cannot handle critical guest remarks should not get involved..
- If host/manager cannot address guests’ issues immediately and 24/7 then pass.
- Accept our own role in this cosmic soup and try to do it better.
- No stone must be left unturned. Being over-critical of a new home may be uncomfortable for the owner but guests will complain. They paid to stay. They have a right to expect the best. .
- The risk with owner-managed homes is too high. If we agree they are only paid one day after guest departure for the first two consecutive stays. They need to show commitment to 5 Star experiences.