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Airbnb promotes lower rated rentals - Really!


#1

Greetings All:
I recently received an email from Airbnb - The Best of Airbnb This Week. So having many discussions in this forum about the inequities of the Airbnb rating system and how impossible it is to get them to change anything or to simply respect hosts, I was incensed that 2 of the 5 homes listed has less than 5 stars AND most had from 2 to a maximum of 7 reviews - REALLY! How can the company that makes such a big deal about ratings and has it broken down in so many ways promote less than 5 star rentals.
My frustration level is going up with Airbnb BUT my husband and I shall keep hosting (and using other on-line booking systems) while we have two sons in graduate school since the extra income helps. This constant raising of expectations for our guests by Airbnb I think is unrealistic and an additional burden on hosts that ARE providing an exceptional experience now but, of course, can ALWAYS do more!
No long ago in this blog I read the quintessential commentary from a “burned out Airbnb host” and actually felt her pain as she described the rudeness and lack of consideration from guests in her home and how she had received no support from Airbnb. Though I have only had a few experiences in the past year and a half of hosting that I would call “unpleasant” and one recently where guests left after two nights of a six night stay which was very devastating to me and my husband. Fortunately they have not left a review for which I am grateful and basically I do not think they read the property description and their expectations were not met.
Having said this I very much appreciate this blog since I get real feed back and not the party line from the designated blog hosts from the Airbnb forums.
Cheers!


#2

Idk the answer to your experience Helen. I’m starting to glean that those for whom this is a “business” are getting the worst of the burn out situation. But perhaps even there’s a regional aspect too. I’ve only been doing this since last January and haven’t had any real nightmare experiences as of yet. I don’t count on the income from this, however. So that may be the difference. I treat each guest as a social opportunity, and I’m having a great time. I am starting to feel uncomfortable with the number of horror stories about the lack of support from the company. As this is a new concept I will be watching for competition in the near future. Competition that takes care of it’s hosts.


#3

I understand Helen. I’m the burned out host. Well, all I can say is it hasn’t improved for me. I do think in part it may be where I am located and my customer base which has created some of my more demanding situations. Also I blame my personality, I’m extremely sensitive, and not used to dealing with the public at large in a service capacity, and am often quite shocked by what many people consider normal or polite behavior while visiting in someone’s home. I am a perfectionist and work very hard to provide a beautiful (I think) experience for people - and it IS hard work (as you know) - that I get particularly emotional and worn down when I have to deal with people that just don’t seem to ‘get it’. I imagine how it must have felt to have your guests just walk out. I’m sorry you had that happen.

Many others’ experiences aren’t as bad as mine - thankfully some aren’t in the same home with their guests so they aren’t having to deal with them one on one so much, or hear and see what the home is being treated like. For me, I don’t feel like it’s a whole lot to expect of guests just to behave respectfully in my home, but apparently I am expecting too much, because I am often dismayed by guests behavior.

As far as what airbnb is thinking, I just don’t know. I got a nice message from an airbnb trip team customer service agent this morning:

J, Sep 7, 08:08:
Hi Sandy,

We can make a final decision on a case pre our terms. Ideally, we want our hosts and guests to work together if there is an issue. We want to get you back to hosting and focused on your guests. :slight_smile: Sorry to hear you had another case and you have to contact Airbnb so often.

While I cannot overturn a previous decision, I hope this provides more clarity.

Kind regards,

J

www.airbnb.com/help

Firstly, I hadn’t contacted her, she contacted me, to tell me a guest had cancelled a booking, so the snide remark about ‘having to contact so often’ is pretty patronizing, especially as I avoid contacting them unless essential - it’s not a fun process. Also, everyone knows it’s ideal to work things out with guests, but what is she in that job for if that always works so well - I’m sure it’s not just me keeping her and the hundreds of other so called customer service agents employed.

Secondly, the issue I brought up (at her prompting to ask me to share any feedback), I was not asking anyone to overturn anything - it was a question regarding ratings and a review. I was happy with the decision. But it’s totally normal for CSA’s to not bother reading messages and totally miss the point altogether. What is most unfair however, is her saying ‘we want to get you back to hosting…’ For goodness sake, I’ve had 6 guests staying for the last three days in my home with me. How could I not be ‘hosting and focused on my guests’? I think it’s very condescending. And if she’d read my messages that have already come through thanking me for a perfect getaway etc, she’d have known that.


#4

Thanks Stephanie for your reply. There was a question posted not long ago on the Airbnb New Hosts blog asking whether you think of hosting as a business or a fun way to meet and entertain guests. Almost everyone responded that it is a business but one in which we take pleasure in hosting guests in our home for the most part. We have met some of the most wonderful people from all over the world and since our property is a separate apartment in our home which has it’s own entrance, parking, patio and dock access, we sometimes don’t even see our guests or know when they are arriving or leaving. I am really sharing that my husband and I spend a lot of time and effort making everything as I would like it when I am traveling and in some cases Airbnb is building expectations that we as hosts shall not achieve or should really. Spotless apartment, nicely and thoughtfully decorated with almost everything provided and even with that there are still hard to please people. Well, enough said, and I am sorry to belabor the point, I just wish hosts were treated better by Airbnb, they need us but sometimes do not seem to be aware of that fact.


#5

Thanks so much for sharing Sandy and I do see what you mean in terms of not reading what you write and then these rude and inaccurate remarks from Airbnb makes it very discouraging. I am highly sensitive as well but of course these guests are sharing our home so it is hard not to take it personally when they behave poorly and make ridiculous demands and then downgrade us in their reviews. I am grateful for Airbnb and other on-line booking services which allow me to run a business in a fairly easy fashion and still do many other things. Thanks again for your comments and they really helped me sort out a lot of what I was observing and experiencing with Airbnb and their approach to serving hosts and guests. Best,


#6

Yes. I was wondering about these ‘promoted’ airbnb’s. I am surprised they are promoting ones that are low rated, but they DO always push airbnb’s that leave themselves totally unprotected from guests above other airbnb’s. For instance, having ‘instant book’ instantly gets you in the higher ratings, as does not having a deposit. As does never declining any guests (no matter how appalling the request or what kind of person they are already showing themselves to be), and anything else a host can do to protect themselves from bad experiences. Basically they are trying to force hosts to take risks so they can get more bookings (more money) in. They know that deposits etc can cause some people not to book, and they also want us all using Instant Book, essentially having NO control over who comes. Then they penalize you for declining all the silly requests we get by knocking you back in the listings. Another thing that knocks you back in the listings is having a strict policy rather than flexible. Every time I added a new protective feature, our listing has sunk back further and further. Most in our town use instant book, no deposits, flexible policies. Therefore our highly reviewed place (more positive reviews than anyone except a few, one being my good friends who don’t protect themselves as much), so despite all of this, we are not on the first page - other listings with no reviews are, and others that have just a couple. Some of our rooms are way behind towns that are 20+ miles away, so you’d never find it if looking in our town.

Luckily we don’t care to be so busy that it hurts us. But I still think it’s a disgusting way to run the system.


#7

I don’t think their silly promotions do much. People look through all the listings in your area, based on the things they want and then choose… I have had quite a few tell me they chose me because of all the great reviews. Can’t complain…


#8

FFS! I hate customer service people that use template emails!


#9

Lol imo,

And wouldn’t you think, that it would have decent grammar it ’ we want to get you back to hosting and focusing* on your guests’ (not focused). Also not sure about what clarity she thinks she has enlightened me with perhaps the ‘we can make a final decision pre (sic) our terms’? - which essentially means we can take anything within our loose policy structure and say whatever the hell we want and that’s the end of it. The fact is, when two people rule differently on the exact same thing (which I have had more than once including on the case above), clearly something is not working :confused:


#10

And all the CANNED responses you get from Air get predictable after a while!


#11

I think the promoted listings in the AirBnB emails are more about how nice the listings look in the pictures and their facilities, or quirkiness, then the actual ratings!
It’s probably a publicity thing - AirBnB stands to gain more (especially to the general public) by showing glamorous properties available, then the actual ratings, especially when we’re talking between 4 to 5 stars).

My listings have been up not very long. Ive realised i go way up, when I have a period of many inquiries, and very quick responses (regardless of whether they eventually book, or I decline).
So I think response time has something to do with it. Ratings too! The fact that I’ve greatly under priced the competition probably has something to do with it as well.
So far, not making any money at all, but just want to build up some good ratings so that potential guests know they can expect a good experience, then will quickly bring the price more in line with listings of my type.

Competition where I am is high, and for new entrants with a new product, it is very difficult to get any new guests without a number of reviews, regardless of how good your product is!


#12

We’ve spent a ton of time trying to figure out how to get placed higher and after all of that, there are no hard and fast rules.

Air clearly reward ‘good’ behaviour - replying quickly, good reviews etc., but they also want to encourage new hosts to use the platform. So your listing can really fluctuate in visibility even if you are doing everything right. It clearly makes sense if they want to grow the number of hosts, that you don’t make it a closed shop for the old timers. They may even be clever / sneaky enough to promote rentals they think are in danger of slipping away. I know as a host a bad review can be so dispiriting so having a stream of enquiries after can bring you back in if you are thinking of drifting away.


#13

Helen, thanks for pointing this disparity in Airbnb’s party line versus their actual behavior. I think Stephanie makes a good point that a lot of those annoyances or grievances are lessened if you are doing Airbnb for the social aspect as well as the money. I’m a very picky and neat person and seeing how other people treat your things (i.e. not putting things back, breaking things, not wiping down surfaces, slamming doors etc) makes me want to tear my hair out sometimes but overall we’ve enjoyed the experience of hosting because our guests have mostly been really wonderful.

Sandy - where are you located and what kind of guests do you find yourself hosting? We’ve been pretty lucky and our guests have pretty much been all wonderful so I’m curious if there’s a certain kind of guest or area that results in bad experiences.


#14

Thanks Cyn and we really love the social aspect of our Airbnb experience but found that we are much more attentive to serving our guests needs when we understand that it is a business. Since I do not actually share my living space with guests but provide a separate apartment that is the first level of our home, my experience is different and therefore less intimate and more removed.
Cheers,
Helen


#15

I can say the same. I am not hosting for a long time, only 7 months and we started at the end of busy season, but still I had already more than 40 guests.
Out of all of them only 2 are not welcomed anymore. And one f them I think was partially my fault for lack of experience.
I don’t know about social aspect of hosting, because I really don’t see that much any of my guests. I have a guy staying with us for a week, for 5 days I saw him for 5 minutes the first day. With spring breakers it’s not even that: my husband at times doesn’t see them at all, and only wondering if we have guests so he can walk around decent:).
But when I get a chance to talk to them it’s always nice, everyone tells their story.
Of course I had my share of broken glasses, one stained towel, one burned pot. I look at it as business expence. I don’t give my guests luxury linens or fluffy towels. My furniture is simple and cheap from Overstock.com, no antiques, nothing to stain.
Overall my experience with Airbnb is great. And opened new horizons for me as income


#16

Sounds exactly like us!


#17

I am lucky in that my airbnb rental is a detached guest home so once I do the initial walk thru I normally dont see them but I do text. I could NEVER share my home;OMG that is just too stressful . I have a hard enough time living with a husband!


#18

Diamond, feel the same! Could never share and don’t know how people do it!


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