When someone says “I hate Airbnb”, it may seem like a simple statement of preference. However, as a short-term rental host, this objection can frustrate and even be detrimental to the host’s income potential.
I believe, saying “I hate Airbnb” is like cutting your nose to spite your face. It may seem like a way to avoid a perceived problem, but it ignores the consequences.
Show me anything that’s perfect.
If you go to war, know there will be blood. If you become a chef, accept the heat in the kitchen. It’s your choice. Your willingness.
All you can try to do is to reduce the risk. But can you avoid all the heat or blood? No.
With the reality of blood and heat, you say, sorry, but this is not what I signed up for. I’d rather run away. Is this not a case of saying,
I want the glory but not the pain?
Therefore, I hate Airbnb!
The second most important alternative to Airbnb in South Africa.
- We tried them and got less than 5% of all our reservations. We gave up. And we had to try again. Twice. Again, we could not mitigate the risk.
- If you want unverified guests, without positive track records like Airbnb, go for them.
- Why do people have to revert to Hello Peter to complain about Booking.com? You are welcome to read why.
- If you want a complicated payment system list with them.
I said, we listed with Booking.com twice. We got burnt twice. Guests did not respect our properties. And most expected hotel services – daily cleaning with all the Hotel bells and whistles (Booking.com are for hotels and self-catering functions later slapped on later).
Read more on Airbnb vs Booking.com as we experienced it.
Various other options exist. From Lekkerslaap to SafariNow. Or the international Tripadvisor. We did list with these. Again, you cannot verify the track record of a guest. Not only do they not compete with Airbnb, they use outdated tools.
Today, we get more reservations from returning guests and direct reservations than Booking.com and other platforms. Why bother? Why increase the risk with even more bad guests? No. We are in the war, but why temp our luck?
If you still feel you don’t want to use Airbnb, do you really hate Airbnb enough to choose unverified guests? And insignificant income? If you said yes to both these questions, then I am wasting your time.
Am I making some sense? Then please read on.
Yes, there are issues. We are now moving into the sweat and blood area!
Even though we use all possible vetting tools, Airbnb provides us with, but some good guests will and still surprise us.
Even verified guests with great reviews. Guests can turn. And the stay becomes a nightmare. Yes! It is wartime. Are you dressed up?
Again, we must limit the risk. But can we eliminate it?
If you believe there is no risk, then why did you become a chef?
Again, Airbnb has your back at most times. But there is no 100% guarantee. Things can go wrong and they do. But the incidents are low. That’s why we will take the risk.
Let’s consider your short-term insurance as an example. Do they always pay you out what you claimed? Does it look as though they are trying to pay you the minimum amount? And do they query everything? The same is true for Airbnb.
Get your ducks in a row. Or you will bleed more than you should.
If guests caused damages and losses 5% of the time, we would not be in business. We would be too busy with claims.
Very few damage/loss issues occur. But when they occur, it’s not pleasant. You may have valid cause to claim. But the bad guest may retaliate with a negative review. And Airbnb will not remove the review.
You may claim from Airbnb, but Airbnb does not pay for everything. Some claims they will reject. Why? Because hosts will try to crook them.
Airbnb does not refund blindly. They look at the (hard) evidence. They talk to the guests. It’s painful. And we need to do it with all supporting documents. Everything.
As the host, you have an obligation;
- you are the investigator;
- you collect hard evidence.
- You must limit gaps and holes within your evidence.
If you think Airbnb has a bad refund policy, I urge you to use Big Booking.com and wait for guests to misbehave. This article would get too long to discuss the refund policy difference between Airbnb and Booking.com.
There are a few issues we need to address.
In a war, you get privates (cannon fodder), and officers (privileges). Who is in the firing line? The privates, obviously.
Being an ordinary host means you are not really making the grade. That’s not a banner you want. This does not mean Superhosts have privileges. But being a Superhost means guests have a filter to separate the privates from the officers.
Guess what? The officers make twice as much as the privates. Cheap does not mean bad. But guests pay you more because of your earned status. See more.
Your job is to ensure guests respect your home, the guest has a 5-star experience, and they give you a 5-star rating. Nothing more.
If you buy goodwill with your social skills, it can compromise you with difficult guest situations. With some guests, it can work. Some not.
A good host must be like a sergeant major.
You have authority, but you are fair. If you introduce guests to your home, and your attitude is passively friendly, guests get the message. Polite guests are fine. Bad guests will exploit the barriers.
In no uncertain terms, you must share the rules. You are setting guest expectations. Discuss your set of do’s and don’ts.
Guests must see you as a no-nonsense person who will help them do what decent guests will do. But if they go beyond, there will be consequences.
We don’t buy goodwill with social bribes of any kind. The house and the experience are their interest. You are important, but not the centre stage.
Never underestimate this point. Airbnb will have your back. But bring the (real) evidence.
Let’s look at an example:
The guests stuffed up; broke something, smoked in the house, etc. And you confront him. The guest apologises and says he will pay the damages.
This is useless evidence. Zero value! You need to confirm this in writing to the guest immediately.
You’ll go on WhatsApp and confirm the issue, with photos if appropriate, and repeat what he said to you. Like,
As per our rules; we don’t allow smoking in the house. Here are the photos of cigarette ash. You agreed to compensate R1500. Please confirm.
The next step is to get his confirmation in writing. If you get it, great. If not, you must escalate the issue. And take the consequences. There is no easy way out.
Now you have evidence in case the guest turns around.
Again, evidence; photos, screenshots of communication, legal invoices, and authorities confirming issues.
If the guests smoked, one close-up photo is useless. This is a crime scene. Take wide, narrow and close-ups. Before and after. You want to show your room and your house in relation to the issue.
If you can smell the smoke, forget it. An authority must smell the smoke. The deep cleaning company can state on their invoice something like,
“By accepting our service, the client acknowledges that our team of professional cleaners has determined that smoking has occurred in the property and that our deep cleaning process has effectively eliminated any lingering smoke odour. Our assessment and cleaning are based on our expertise and industry standards.”
I am no legal expert. Use the above at your own discretion. And I have no insight to know if this will be effective. You just need to sound like you know what you are saying.
How Available Are You To Respond To Bad Airbnb Guest Behaviour?
When the big bad stuff hits the fan, do you send the corporal? No. You send the general. Who is the general? You. Do you wait a few days to see if the issue peters out? No. You take action immediately.
By now you get the idea. Insurance guys, like Airbnb insurance, protect their money. And they will pay but need the correct proof or….find the excuse not to pay.
This is the risk I mentioned a few times. And don’t depend on others to have your back if you have poor evidence.
You have two choices. Both are inconvenient. The one has high risk with little income. The other has a high income with risk if things go wrong. And things will go wrong if you don’t have (real) evidence.
The choice is yours. If you say, I hate Airbnb, there is no glory. If you want the glory (amongst the bullets), then I suggest Airbnb is the best choice today for South African Airbnb hosts. (Note: I am not affiliated with Airbnb. I just care about the Airbnb owners CapeHolidays serve).
The first domino will fall when guests don’t see you as an authority at arrival (or whenever you communicate). You must set guest expectations. Clearly.
The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. —Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983