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Diary of a Burned Out Airbnb Host


#1

Here’s an article I wrote about my experience hosting for three years on airbnb as a highly rated Superhost:

http://bedmaybebreakfast.com/xfa-blogs/sandy.38/


#2

Good job. I think this is so well-written you could sell it to a major newspaper! Once again, I sympathize. I don’t have antiques and fine linens for guests to destroy or damage like you do but must add that having them destroy your peace of mind even once is just as bad. I guess after my Jennifer nightmare, I really look at this whole business with a much more jaded eye. Never saw that coming…she had one good review. But as you say, and I agree, reviews cannot really tell you the whole guest story and therefore don’t mean much.
Also, in their initial inquiries they are all always peaches and sunshine…but.not always the case when they get here…and when they leave… and for whatever reason my reasonably priced place is not what they expected.

I guess being around since 2010 with Air, I have seen a lot of guests. Most are fine, but then again, as we have discussed, they are never inside my personal home with access to valuables and invading my space and comfort zone. I just couldn’t do that and take my hat off to all of you that do.

I think you do a good job of expressing how it feels to sell your soul to AirBnB guests.

I bill myself as budget accommodations by the beach so I condition them from the get-go not to expect much in the way of fancy. If they want that, there are places up the coast that will serve those desires.


#3

Thanks so much KC. I appreciate the kind remarks. The best I can do is tell our experience as it is. And this is really stripped down to the bare bones. Some experiences were truly dreadful and upsetting, and I feel the story from this perspective is under told, and lost in all the marketing jizz from airbnb. Writers claim they’re not hired by airbnb, or don’t work for them, but their stories are just far too squeaky clean and lacking the reality that we know goes along with the difficulties of trying to live with all different kinds of human beings in your home - strangers from the internet that we are unable to know who they are until AFTER accepting a booking, and strangers that we all know from our earlier room mate days, that living with other people is never easy. How much harder with roommates that expect a hotel like experience but for cheaper? Oh, there’s going to be issues alright. Whether they’re right in your house or an apartment. Demanding guests, or those that damage your property are inevitable, and very difficult to avoid on airbnb, using a system where the reviews are proven not to work. From my background, I know how promoters and marketing teams will ask journalists to write these pieces, and how they offer perks. I would imagine with airbnb it would likely be free getaways. I believe a more balanced view needs to put out, so that hosts and guests that have had a less than stellar time don’t feel so alone.


#4

YES… you are so correct. I work in advertising, PR and marketing and do know from working with clients that one way they do promotion nowadays is to invade the forums and blogs with what seems like “real” comments and posts but their actualy source is questionable. We don’t know exactly who is paying them.

I think Air may reach its heyday and begin to fall from grace eventually. Pretty soon it may just get plain banned in many places.

I must say, sometimes I like using Wimdu better because it’s much more old fashioned and the guests haven’t become as spoiled and entitled. I like the guests I’ve had through them, and they allow the host to keep the entire reservation amount.

I am not quite as burned out as you are, but I am pretty burned out nonetheless!


#5

This is interesting and makes me glad I am not chasing Super Host status. I have also been doing Airbnb for 3 years. While I do find that some guest expect a hotel experience it hasn’t been that bad. My price is set low enough IMO that you get more than you pay for but way less than a hotel. And folks seem to get that and appreciate what I do. I work and am not home that much so guest also don’t see me enough to complain a whole lot. I stress that you will be treated like friends and family. Hoping folks understand that means things won’t be perfect.

It is true the money is addictive. I do find myself getting burnt out too. Simply because I am getting tired of having people in my home. Sometimes I just want to stay up late and make noise.


#6

I like your perspective Amenadenine. Saying those kinds of things are a fantastic idea! Sometimes I feel like all the excessively praising reviews we have set guests up for,expecting some kind of experience out of I don’t know what.

Boy do I hear you about the wanting to just stay up and make noise, and not have to worry about other people being here! We love it when we don’t have guests. We can turn our movie up, not worry about the floor boards creaking or flushing the toilet :smile:


#7

Although I have only been doing Air BnB for 2 years, I love it. I work in hospitality as my profession though so it probably comes a little easier to me than some. It has also made my rent considerably cheaper. It has gotten a little tougher recently with more people choosing to host which has pushed the price down but I believe the cream usually rises to the top (and I’m not a Superhost).

With the exception of a very small bunch, I’ve found the majority of guests to be a joy to host and most I have barely seen through their stay as they have been so busy with tourist activities. Some have been homebodies who I haven’t shared a lot of interest with. That just gave me the opportunity to read a book in my room which I don’t do often enough anymore.

Sandy, I have only been on this forum for a couple of months and I have mostly observed without posting, you have been the most vocal and seemingly mostly vocal against AirBnB. Why are you still hosting? Based on the posts that you have written, you don’t seem to even remotely enjoy it anymore?


#8

JackyPat, I’m always glad to hear that others are fairing better. Just because you are however, it doesn’t mean others aren’t struggling with a myriad of issues that are pretty much bound to occur due to a number of very real flaws in the system.

I am surprised you need to ask that, as I say exactly where I am at with hosting right there in the story. Furthermore, I answer that very question (thankfully put far less accusatorialy) just beneath my story. Are you sure you bothered to read it?

I have to ask JackyPat, why do people have such a problem with someone having a different experience? What if the issues I’m highlighting could eventually help improve the experience for hosts and guests? Why are you trying to shame me for speaking my truth?

There are real studies to back up my concerns, such as with the review system - it is shown to be ineffective with airbnb, and there are many other people with stories to tell that are similar to mine. You only need to go to the independent review sites of airbnb to turn up hundreds of experiences that show I am not alone.

What are you saying exactly? Either like it or lump it? Put up with the crap and shut up or get out and leave everyone else to pretend that nothing bad happens? Surely that isn’t how you think things get better?


#9

Jackpat – you’re been doing Airbnb for 2 years but I read in another post that you have only had around 40 guests so you’re not doing particularly high volume. (I’ll hit 40 guests in my first 7 months) The lower volume probably helps lessen the propensity for burnout. I’m considering renting out the unit less once the Summer ends, I’m getting tired of the never-ending cycles of additional laundry and quick turnovers – I don’t remember each guest anymore which also makes things feel more alienating. (I just opened up an email and thought, review Dan? Who the hell is Dan? Uhm, that was the nice guy with his family that just left yesterday…)

I think the vast majority of people who host on Airbnb do it for the money. That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? We’d all be on couchsurfer if it was just about building community, helping out people while traveling, and forming alternative social networks.


#10

I think Sandy’s original post, her well-written diary, says it all, and more than explains the answer to your questioning of her and more.


#11

Chicago, AGREE we ARE doing it for the money!!! Sometimes it’s enjoyable, just like sometimes a job is enjoyable. But mostly it is work. Plain old-fashioned penny pounding.

Sometimes I sit there and transfer a Paypal from AirBnB to my bank account and think, damn this is easy money. Othertimes, I check them in and look forward to 11 AM on the day they leave… and it can’t come soon enough!

Heck yah it is for the money. It’s only for the money!

Again I have to commend those hosts with guests staying INSIDE their homes, just couldn’t do that. Just too up close and personal with a stranger for my liking.


#12

Yes KC, it is hard with people right in your home. I see you still have to deal with some of the issues we do as well, and the same issues with airbnb affect you.

On that note, I am surprised, given that JackPat acknowledges that with the small amount of guests he’s had through he’s still have some bad ones, and his prices are being forced down - issues I bring up in my blog post, and believe should be openly discussed to help bring about solutions that improve things for hosts. The more hosts pressure other hosts to pretend we’re doing it for the joy of it, instead of leaving that to the airbnb marketing team, the more we hold our own community back from growing stronger and finding safer and better ways to make sure we can earn money hosting.


#13

I was enjoying the silence with zero bookings for like a month… have a FlipKey guest at the end of the month whose entire booking will make the mortgage payment for July…

Last night I lowered my rate to $79. (Our low seaon is summer and bookings grind to a halt.) Mind you this is a private studio by the beach in Hawaii with a full kitchen…private patio, BBQ, etc. But I couldn’t even give it away at 89. So lowered it by $10 and a last minute one came in. No profile pic, reviews, verification or anything. I jumped on it like a toad on a fly.

How else could I make $550 so fast during the summer doldrums? As I said before, I am a hack! I will check them in, wait for a Paypal notice to come in and count the days until they leave!


#16

Shame you?! Give it a rest.

I’ll be sure not to bother engaging with you again. Carry on with your Air BnB bashing.


#17

Why do you think you continue hosting if it doesn’t bring you joy anymore? You sound really upset and fed up with it, is the money worth it?


#18

Sandy, thanks for sharing your experience and for a very insightful and informative article. I completely agree that we, as hosts, are being demanded to do more and more. It doesn’t make sense that guests go to Airbnb for a cheaper alternative to a hotel yet expect the same, or better, service and experience than at a hotel. We have been extremely fortunate with all of our guests that have stayed with us and have even stayed friends with a few of them but I know it’s only a matter of time before we have one bad egg that might ruin it for us. I didn’t realize that Airbnb deleted bad reviews from hosts because I thought they tried to protect hosts more than guests since we provide the inventory and the means to make money for them.

I’m not sure if Airbnb is going to be a lasting thing but for now we’re going to try and ride the wave while we can. It is good to hear about other people’s experiences though, and you as said, being truthful about our experiences will provide more support for the hosting community.


#19

I agree… Sandy is articulate and she should be able to vent here safely. Let’s not judge each other. Everyone is different, everyone here has different reasons for hosting. Sandy’s concerns are valid and she should be allowed to say how she feels without judgment.

Air CAN be a burnout. I’ve been with them since nearly the beginning and you do get burned out, I can attest.

As for erasing bad reviews, I just checked and the most scathing one I ever left for a guest is still there … I would be glad to cut and paste it here, if anyone is interested! :slight_smile:


#20

I have only been doing this for a short time and yet I am already burning out because of unreasonable criticisms on the part of guests. As many people have noted, there are a lot of good, fun guests, but the bad ones sort of outweigh the good ones. I have had two bad ones in a row recently. One woman ruined my new, fluffy, white towels by apparently dyeing her hair while she was staying over night! (Seems as if she could have waited till she got home.) Another one was upset that she could smell cooking odors, and that her cell phone had to work off of WiFi (something I explained on my listing) rather than cell towers. Honestly I think that people have grown up in hotels and ordered room service all their lives or something.


#21

I think every host’s experience is different. There is a big difference between renting out a space that is separate from you or a space within your home. All that said, I do agree that this forum should be to support one another and give suggestions to each other to avoid repeat problems. For instance, in Sandy’s case, I would stop allowing pets as they are unpredictable outside of their own homes. She should be able to vent here and many of her points are valid. Her point in posting, I believe was to find support, helpful feedback and let airbnb know that they need to spend more effort rewarding good hosts as they are now making billions of dollars. Let’s keep it positive.


#22

Same here. Miami is empty for 4 months. July is dead. I lowered my price half of what it was in winter but still, not much luck


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