Airbnb Business Model & Delinquent Guests

Here is my analysis of how Airbnb deals with delinquent guests, such as not checking out on time, smoking in non smoking accommodation, Pets in no pet accommodation, leaving unwashed dishes and trash in a whole hose rental, etc.

*Unlike a hotel Airbnb will not charge the guest credit card unless they agree to pay, even if they do not deny the item. The guest can get way with" I cannot afford to pay".

  • Where a guest refuses to pay for a valid extra charge any payment will come out of an Airbnb fund. But because Airbnb is paying the amount the host gets is usually frugal. The Airbnb procedures and rules seem designed to make it difficult to claim and encourage hosts to give up in frustration.

  • Unlike a hotel where they enforce specific charges for smoking in a non-smoking room. Where a host has similar charges on their house rules Airbnb will not honor those fees and collect off the guest even when there is proof that they smoked.

  • Airbnb places zero value on hosts own time. Airbnb insist on compensating hosts on extra costs only not on specified extra charges. They only recognise external invoices. If a host does their own extra cleaning and own repairs their time does not qualify.

I have been in the short term vacation accommodation business for over 45 years and pre-internet owner a large holiday rental agency. Currently we just manage our own family holiday house 4 hours from where we live. We accept bookings from a number of distribution channels including our own online booking website and Airbnb.
Our experience is that Airbnb guests are the most delinquent and the most difficult and time consuming to deal with. Airbnb itself is more difficult to deal with than and HomeAway.

I believe that key reasons why there are more problem Airbnb guests are

  1. The guest anonymity the Airbnb business model provides. In all other platforms the host knows the guest address, they know their true verified identity. On Airbnb delinquent guests can hide behind the Airbnb shield of their true identity.

  2. The word has got out that there is little consequences in breaking the rules at an Airbnb. There are frequent stories in the media of guests misbehaving at an Airbnb. No stories about guests regretting doing the wrong thing because it cost then a lot more money.

Our Holiday House is 4 hours drive from the nearest state capital so we are protected from social media parties fortunately. What are we doing to compensate for shortcomings in the Airbnb business model?

  1. Stopped all single night bookings

  2. Gone to occupancy pricing to discourage bigger groups.

  3. Implemented a security deposit, but only on Airbnb bookings.

  4. Built into our Airbnb pricing an extra $15 for the additional time we spend with Airbnb guests compared to other guests on average. Another extra $15 per booking to compensate for the more time it takes dealing with Airbnb than other marketing channels.

  5. Added an additional 10% to Airbnb prices compared to other marketing channels to cover the additional costs and disruption that delinquent Airbnb guests cause compared to other guests on average. We plan to progressively edge up this premium over time. Our analysis shows that Airbnb guests are less price sensitive.

Our strategy is to have less Airbnb guests but to make the same or more bottom line profit long term.


Not had to make a claim in five years of hosting and hundreds of guests or had issues that you describe with Airbnb guests.

Interesting that your business approach to running your STR business doesn’t include vetting your guests.

Nor does it include you ensuring you collect a copy of a guest’s ID with address (you state not having this is a key reason why Airbnb guests are problem guests).

If I consistently had the sort of problem you claim purely and only with Airbnb guests I would stop using the platform.



This helps discourage parties, but it’s not foolproof. I had a guest group that threw a party that left a huge mess and damage. They did it on the last night of a 3-night stay.

The major downside effect is that guests will try to sneak in extra guests, especially now that contactless check-in is strongly encouraged. If you have cameras, they’ll help uncover rule-breaking, but confronting guests about it almost ensures a bad review for you.

I don’t understand how this helps. You already know Airbnb’s policies on security deposits that it’s difficult to collect, so this isn’t going to help. If you’re going to try to collect a deposit off-platform, you’ll end up getting banned from Airbnb if they find out about it.

I agree with 4 and 5. If you have data that shows Airbnb guests cost you more, then you should charge them more.


Because most guests particularly the problem ones are travelling at least 4 hours to the accommodation I expect that they are unlikely to travel that distance and risk being turned back. More likely to search for the number of guest they need in this instance. So far this strategy seems to be working. Our accommodation is three and a half 3 bedroom. There are 5 and 6 bedroom accommodation on Airbnb in the area and they are all 4 star.The new pricing pushes our prices closer to the larger places and closer to two 3 bedroom houses cost. Our aim is to play with the pricing so eventually at maximum capacity our price is the same as the cheapest 5 bedroom. I prefer to use price as a filter. If we just reject requests for bigger groups then they are likely to lie about the number of guests and book for a lower number.

I am hoping that now we have recently implemented a deposit it will be on guests mind that they have a deposit at risk and make the majority think twice before doing things that may result in us claiming part of the deposit. We will see.

1 Like

If Airbnb guests cause you so much grief, in comparison to guests from other channels, why don’t you simply de-list? The dates that would have been filled by Airbnb guests will then be available for your other channels.

It’s interesting, as in our experience Airbnb guests are of a higher standard than those from our main OTA, BDC.

I’m not a fan of Airbnb, some of their decisions (that directly impact hosts) in recent years have shown them to be moving to a guest centric model. That said, some of our best guests have all been Airbnb, to the extent they now book direct and we consider them almost friends. Never had that with a BDC or VRBO guest.



Hmmmm… How many people do you allow in 3 bedrooms, what do you consider a “bigger group”, and why do you want to discourage them?

Here is what we say on both Airbnb and our website
“The accommodation will very comfortably accommodate eight persons for an extended booking, and can be appropriately comfortable for up to ten persons for a weekend or three night booking. The maximum accommodation capacity is twelve persons. However we advise against greater than ten guests for more than one night of your stay. With more than ten expect to need to be efficient in the use of bathroom facilities and kitchen facilities.”

bed tor guests 11 & 12 is the double fold out divan in the lounge. Historical from snow season bookings of 9 or more nights where we would have a core of 4 or 5 for the whole period and some friends come for shorter stays. Occasionally there would be an overlap where they wanted an extra person or couple above 10 for just one night. Originally we were the only accommodation in our snow town with 2 toilets and 2 showers that could accommodate more than 8 persons. Now there are some 5 & 6 bedroom houses and we get only occasional snow season requests for more than 10 guests. The last year or so we have been getting off season Airbnb guests who want 2 & 3 night bookings for 12 & 14 adults + 2 or 3 babies. They are just after the cheapest price because the 5 & 6 bedroom houses are 4+ stars and we are 3.5 stars. We are trying to eliminate the price incentive for the guests looking to the cheapest cost per person to request our house. We really do not want more than 8 guest bookings in the non snow season. In Australia ski lifts are open 8:30 to 5:00. Weekend guests arrive Friday night between 10 pm & midnight, leave to drive up the mountain between 7:30 & 8. Arrive back at the house between 5:30 & 6:30 pm, shower and head to the pub for Saturday dinner return and go to bed. Sunday they have checked out and gone skiing by 8 am. 10 guests have never been a problem in the snow season. Groups of 10 at the mountain bike races work fine also as they spend all day at the trail head. Whereas the Airbnb guests are predominately sightseers. spending more time at the house.

1 Like

I would not allow more than 6 people in a 3 bedroom house. Asking for trouble IMO



So it’s not “heads in beds,” it’s “only 2 heads per bed?” What if the 3 bedroom house had multiple beds per room? Do the number of bathrooms factor in?

1 Like

You’re attracting guests that are after the cheapest price simply by stating that your 3-bedroom/2-bathroom listing support 12 persons. Simply allowing 12 people says you don’t care if they’re crammed in and they think it’s OK to cram in even more. While I believe the Airbnb platform encourages more anonymity and less responsibility on the guest’s part, you are definitely setting yourself up to attract the type of guests that you don’t want.

Note that building standards generally assume 2 people per bedroom and 4 people per bathroom. You said your listing has 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms and that means it was built with a maximum occupancy of 6 in mind. It’s somewhat reasonable to allow 8 by giving up part of the common area for another 2 people (double fold-out divan in the lounge) , but anything more and you are compromising guest comfort and risking damages to your listing. Thinking you can mitigate that by expecting large groups to be gone all day and only come to your listing to shower and sleep is silly.

Your new pricing may discourage the larger groups, but why bother with it. Just reduce your maximum occupancy to 8 and enforce it.

On Airbnb? :astonished:


I tend to agree - maybe 8 if there is a sofa bed, but with only 2 bathrooms? I wouldn’t book that many people in a 2-bath.

This whole paragraph is really confusing to me and probably to guests too. I’m trying to figure out what you are trying to encourage or accomplish. Why not just keep it a little simpler?

Edit to add: Yeah, what @Brian_R170 said!

1 Like

It is not just 2 bathrooms. It is a full bathroom including a toilet + a separate toilet, + a separate shower room + at he laundry trough outside the separate toilet is set up for shaving, hair drying etc + every bedroom has a dressing table with a supplied hair dryer so guests can use the bedroom for grooming and not clog up the bathroom…

Our layout has been modeled on a ski lodge with some bunk beds because our weekend snow market just wants somewhere to sleep and shower. We have been running our model for over 46 years. Airbnb has changed both the booking and customer profile. We are feeling our way to change without throwing out the baby with the bath water. I am an economist so I believe in changing behavior by money. Incentives / discounts to encourage behavior that you wish and higher prices to discourage what you do not want.

1 Like

If so, slumlord comes to mind.


No independent star rating
On Airbnb Superhost 4.6
We are more comfortable than most of the 4 star rated properties in the area, with 4 aircon split systems, 4 Tv’s, 640 Lt hot water storage, german pocket spring mattress, double glazed picture windows. But we are only 3.5 stars because the house built pre war as workman accommodation so has a very utilitarian style even after all the renovations. For 4 * you need a modern luxury style not just high comfort and convenience. This has been our family holiday home for over 40 years we are happy with the style and do not want to spend another $50,00 to change for guests.

??? You can’t be Superhost on Airbnb with a 4.6. The minimum is 4.8.

1 Like

It’s funny how different areas work stronger with one OTA. We would love to have things spread out, but Air has dominated our market - at least this has been true prior to March. We want to drive a lot more through other channels and direct, and minimize reliance on Air with their capricious policies.

I can think of a few ways this could happen:

  1. The last assessment was an exception. All requirements were waived for existing Superhosts. I.e. if you had Superhost status from the April assessment, then you kept it for the July assessment, regardless of your stats.

  2. It possible to have Superhost status from the most recent assessment, but have rating dragged down due to more recent negative reviews.

  3. It’s possible to have an overall average rating that is less than 4.8 while still maintaining a 12-month average of at least 4.8. Only the 12-month average counts for Superhost.

1 Like

I also work hard to convert guests from being loyal to the channel to be loyal to us. We give discounts to book direct but it requires some effort on the part of the guest.

  1. Remember who you stayed with. (I can ring guests 15 minutes after they booked and they cannot remember the name, sometimes even the correct town name. Oh’ the Airbnb place.)
  2. They have to go to the website and enter their credit card details to pay the deposit so they can save 25%
    We get more conversion with HomeAway & than Airbnb to book direct for the return visit…
    I get the impression for our market Airbnb guests are lazier, less savvy and less price sensitive.

I don’t understand this. Our house is 120 years old and built as a boarding house for immigrant workers. Bare bones and it’s a mess. Sloping plaster, old nails sticking up in the floorboards, surface conduit, small rooms, too many doors, chipped enamel in the old tubs, crappy updated storm windows, etc, etc. However, we have a 5.0. Perhaps some better linens or wool rugs or art or a different tone in guest communication would help? I’m really at a loss here, it’s not anif this , then that situation.

Just not true.

1 Like

Welcome to the forum @ocker

Your initial posting left me wondering, what are you trying to accomplish?

Airbnb’s lack of concern for hosts is a common topic. Are you venting? Are you Just sharing Your opinions and what you’ve learned?

Each host is unique. Each property is unique. The lack of travel during the current pandemic is forcing us all to re-evaluate how we do business.

Please join in the discussions and when you have time, look at old threads. It will give you a better sense of this forum