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Email from Airbnb removed from my personal email inbox hours later


#1

Yesterday I was in discussions with a guest about a room they had requested to book, when I suggested another room with ensuite might suit them better for their stay. They agreed they would like to book it when they got home from work. At 5:50pm, I got this rather threatening email from airbnb, which I thought odd, especially because I had a 100% response rate, and because it claims I need to accept or deny a booking within 24hrs, when it is perfectly legitimate to reply as well:

I had to go and double check the rules after that, and I was still doing it correctly, so why the odd email? I immediately tried to respond to the message by using the last email address I had received from customer service at airbnb, but it went nowhere as the email addresses disappear after a case closes. I decided I would have to call when I had a chance to discuss why this I received this punitive sounding message that didn’t even reflect airbnb’s own hosts standards for dealing with booking requests.

Well, things got even stranger when at 8:35pm the guest in question booked the room we had been discussing, and this email suddenly disappeared from my inbox! Yes, you heard me. Within minutes of the booking coming through by the guest in question, the odd, rude message disappeared from my inbox as if it had never happened.

I called airbnb in quite a bit of shock, and even thought I didn’t have a copy of it, seeing as it just disappeared like that, but while I was talking to the completely disbelieving rep, I remembered I had tried to email, and had it bounced back to my outbox, so I still possessed the copy. He was denying the email had been sent, and that there was no record of it! He asks me to send a copy asap.

After hanging up, I received another email asking for me to send a copy of the email. Which I did. I received this back:

Why would an automated email be sending a message saying something that doesn’t even align with the booking requirements of a host, which are to reply, accept or deny a booking request within 24hrs, not just accept or deny as it states? It was very clear from the numerous back and forths that myself and the guest were engaged in discussing the booking (and in fact very close to it).

I’m concerned not so much about the email, but mostly about how it was able to disappear from my inbox. If I hadn’t had it sitting in my outbox because of that one attempt, there wouldn’t be a trace of it. Is there anyone out there that knows about any kind of technology that big companies can use to fish emails back out of inboxes?

For anyone that thinks I am stupid, I did not delete it (I never delete emails) or put it anywhere else. It simply evaporated out of the timeline. Only I use my email account.


#2

its not clear for me: the mail vanished from your airbnb inbox, or from your personal mail adress?


#3

My email zsuzssanna.


#4

I found that large companies use email retrieval systems regularly. Here’s an example of one, but I’m sure airbnb’s programmers have made their own system for airbnb.

https://www.virtru.com/blog/3-ways-recall-email-youve-already-sent/

The strangest thing is that I have a 100% response rate to guests and am extremely diligent in getting back to people.

Anyone else had this supposedly automated message?


#6

As usual Billy Bob, your information is totally off the mark - not to mention you miss the point of my post.

But to educate you on the business you claim to successfully run (but have no idea about the policies of), there are always three choices whatever the type of communication from a guest, be it an inquiry or booking. Hosts are simply required to respond within 24 hours.

From airbnb’s own policy pages on their website:

We consider a response to be one of these things:

Accepting or declining a reservation request
Sending a message back to a guest who has submitted a reservation request
Pre-approving or declining a trip described in a booking inquiry
Sending a message back to a guest who has sent a booking inquiry
What’s most important in any of these instances, is responding to a guest within 24 hours. If you respond within 24 hours, it will improve your response rate and response time.

If you do not respond within 24 hours—no matter how long it takes—we measure it as a late response, which will decrease your response rate and increase your response time. However, it’s still important to respond after 24 hours, because there’s a chance that the guest will still be interested in booking a reservation.
https://www.airbnb.com/support/article/430

And elsewhere on their website:

Your response rate can be negatively impacted whenever it takes you more than 24 hours to do one of the the following:

Send a message back to a guest who has submitted a reservation request
Accept or decline a reservation request
Send a message back to a guest who has sent a booking inquiry
Pre-approve or decline a trip described in a booking inquiry
Was this helpful? Yes No

Furthermore, there is no time limit on how long it may take to accept or decline a booking. Negotiations or discussions with a prospective guest may take a week or more while different details are discussed, especially when it involves larger parties of guests, on high end properties. So long as a host has responded in a timely manner, the actual acceptance or denial is not important,mexcept inasmuch that a good host tries to get the details sorted out as quickly as possible.

I personally make sure I have had at least a couple of back and forth messages with a guest before accepting them, because I need to make sure I am comfortable with their willingness to share about themselves and be open and communicative before they set foot in my home. Experience has taught me that it is vital to feel people out first. My experience is improving all the time, the more I slow things down and only accept those that are happy to answer questions and seem friendly and excited. This can take less than an hour, or a couple of days, depending on the persons work schedule and ability to get back to me (although the longer wait on the replies usually means they are sourcing many properties and is not a great sign for having chosen my property based on its merits).

As I mentioned I have a 100% response rate, and was in discussions with this guest, so the email I received makes no sense, even with airbnb’s own policies. It also sounds unnecessarily punitive in its wording to a superhost with a perfect response rate.

My post is really about the technology airbnb is using that can snatch emails back out of your inbox that were sent any time ago. This caused me to go and look at another case I had where I had been blackmailed by a guest. Sure enough, any emails mentioning blackmail are gone (from the original agent), and my airbnb messages are missing the most sbusive ones. I still have proof it happened however.

.


#8

Dearest BillyBob,
You say you can explain the email I got, which you have neither achieved in your first post, nor the follow up. If the email was just letting me know the ‘ball was no longer in my court’, it wouldn’t have chastened me for not responding within 24hrs and threatened me with repercussions even as far as having my listing turned off. It also would not have disappeared from my emai inboxl, nor would I have received a sincere apology that it was sent in obvious mistake.

As far as what you mean by

[quote=“Billy_Bob_Merkowitz, post:7, topic:980”]
the absolute certainty that you have a reservation simply by pressing the “Accept Reservation” button is no longer there.
[/quote

Is anyone’s guess. I think you are mightily confused. Obviously I didn’t think I had a reservation by hitting accept reservation. I had suggested a different room for the guest that she subsequently booked. It appears that you neither understand airbnb policy, nor bothered to read what I wrote about this situation before leaping to your beloved airbnb’s defense.


#9

(post withdrawn by author, will be automatically deleted in 24 hours unless flagged)


#10

Hi Sandy,

I think I can clear things up for you. First of all Airbnb needs to remove the part about sending a message back to a guest who has submitted a reservation request, counts as a response. It does not. I got dinged last year for this. I received the reservation request and was corresponding back and forth with guest. Then Airbnb changed their format and I couldn’t find where to accept/decline. I didn’t think anything of it. Well my response score went down and I called. They explained that the only reply that counts as a response to “reservation requests” is an accept or decline. Here it is from their website. Notice is says clicking to discuss is not a sufficient response.

You have 24 hours to Accept or Decline a reservation request before it expires. Clicking the Discuss button to send a message is not a sufficient response.

When you receive a reservation request, you’ll get an email notification and a Dashboard alert. These notifications will come with a countdown clock so you know how much time you have before the request expires. To get alerts on your mobile phone, sign up for text message notifications or download our mobile app. The dates included in a pending reservation request will be automatically blocked on your calendar, so other guests won’t be able to request them.

You can decide which reservation requests to accept or decline. If you decline many or most of the requests you get, your listing’s placement in search results may be negatively impacted.

— So Airbnb has conflicting information on their site. Has your response time gone down any?


#11

Hi Cabinhost,

Thanks so much for your reply. I would love have the link to the info you just posted because I cannot find it, but a couple of thoughts.

It doesn’t say anywhere there that there would be any kind of penalty for not accepting or declining, it simply says that the reservation request would expire, and discussing is not a sufficient response. This language is deliberately unclear. If airbnb is punishing hosts for taking more than 24 hrs to accept or deny a reservation request, there are major ethical issues at play.

Taking the time to communicate with possible future guests is of extreme importance especially as new guests flood in not only for safety reasons, but also to make sure as much as is possible the hosting experience will be a good one. Letting complete strangers into our homes, where we have ourselves, all our valuables, and possibly even our children is not something that should be rushed by anyone. It is of utmost importance that some dialog take place between the host and guest to establish a rapport that feels comfortable before a booking is taken. I have discovered the importance of this more and more after numerous horrifying experiences, and take more time now than ever to accept bookings. My experiences with guests the past couple of months (except for one) have been amazing because of this reason alone. Of course it is not infallible as some guests know how to say whatever you want to hear to get what they want, but with the right questions and ability to read things correctly, you can get a feel for people through a few messages. Now if being forced to accept a booking within 24hrs, this testing the waters process becomes impossible, and airbnb’s rush puts our happiness and safety at risk.

I get most requests late at night, some after I have turned off my device for sleep. That means by the time I awake and respond in the morning, there is one day to find out everything I need to know about the guest, (as we all know many are new guests these days without profiles, so an email asking about guests is a requirement almost, and I do this anyway as even reviews are not trustworthy I have found). Many times a guest may not be able to reply until they have returned home from work, and again it is late in the evening and close to 24 hours later, and I have only had a preliminary introduction. I may have a couple more questions waiting for the next morning before being ready to commit to booking to a guest, particularly if it is for my entire property which is a high end property and requires a lot of screening of potential guests due to all the valuables and antiques.

If it is true we are penalized for not accepting a booking within 24hrs, then in my case I will simply be forced to decline any I haven’t had a chance to communicate with properly yet, which is not exactly a win win for airbnb. I expect the idea is that we are forced to accept bookings sooner - but experience tells me this is disastrous. However, it benefits airbnb greatly. As soon as things start going badly even before a guest arrives, and if a cancellation needs to be made, guess who gets to keep their fees?

I still have a 100% response rate, so I don’t know what to think. Many of my bookings start as straight up booking requests, and have done from the beginning. Some are inquiries, but they are the lesser ones, and somewhat annoying because they tend to ‘blanket search’ for properties and inquire to everyone. I prefer to deal with the booking requests, but, I do take time.

I need to see the rest of the page where you got that bit of writing from on airbnb Cabinhost, as it doesn’t appear to line up with the rest of the policy stated clearly elsewhere, and it also doesn’t say anything about penalizing hosts for letting requests expire. But it does seem that the message I got is trying to tell me to accept or decline in 24hrs, or watch out!

Our listings are way back in the search ratings too by the way. Properties more than 50 miles away come well before ours in our town search. All this despite excessive glowing five star reviews and Superhosts. Thankfully we are pretty exclusive, are in no means hurting for bookings, so don’t care if they play their silly little games. The thing I noticed that set them back the most was when I removed instant book (instant book puts you first), and put a deposit on. As soon as I did those two things, I disappeared off the planet it seems!


#12

Here is the link Sandy: https://www.airbnb.com/support/article/28

Oh how I do feel your pain. I have had people put in reservation requests to have a one night party or small wedding ceremony, etc. I am very diligent when playing 20 questions so it is disappointing that my acceptance rate goes down just because I am trying to protect my investment and don’t allow large parties exceeding my max.

I noticed Airbnb now has the comments before a guest sends a reservation request and asks them to tell the host about their trip and visitors, etc. I really like that but they really need to go further and tell guests that every single thing must be disclosed. Because if guest is hiding/lying then they lose all their money and too bad - so sad.

I am also listed on vrbo.com. I list an entire home, so I don’t have the experiences you do with guests staying in your living space. I will say this…out of Flipkey, vrbo, and airbnb. - my airbnb guests typically divulge more info during the inquiry stage, due to the prompts from Airbnb. I still have to play detective and it is really sad that our society is so quick to try and lie and take advantage of someone.

I am listed on booking.com and it is instant booking. I try to not to use them much anymore. I pick up the phone immediately after I receive their reservation and go over all the fine print: cancellation policies, damage deposit, etc. Recently due to Booking.com changes it has gotten really bad because people think they have a free cancellation. I end up telling them to go online and cancel NOW so that I can reopen my calendar. Such a waste of time.

I too get them late at night and hate that. I think I am going to put in my listing in bold letters to not send a reservation request unless they will tell me the answer to the following questions: blah blah blah blah. And they acknowledge they have read all house rules, acknowledge tax to be collected upon arrival, etc. I am working on being more explicit in my house rules. I don’t even care anymore if someone is offended…I say good riddens.


#13

The below link shows airbnb has a number of manipulative tactics to manipulate hosts into accepting every booking request from any guest as quickly as possible with the minimum time for dialog between host and guest. They punish hosts that do not comply with fast acceptances by burying their listings. Now I see what has happened to my listings.

Firstly it says here (although it uses language to deflect from the punitive elements it has in place for declining bookings), accepting guests will improve your acceptance rate (duh), which thusly affects search placements. One doesn’t have to be a genius to work out that declining bookings is going to have the exact opposite effect, although airbnb chooses not to say it. These are manipulative tactics.

Secondly it says allowing a reservation to expire is not a good ‘tactic’ and will damage acceptance rates, response rates, and therefore search placement.

I believe this to be an unsafe practice. We are not hotels. We don’t have security. Airbnb doesn’t do background checks. We’re responsible for making sure we’re comfortable with who we let into our home, and we are expected to do this often with guests that have no profile picture or reviews, or anything on their profile, and the bare minimum of a message if any. Some simply just make a booking request. It’s insane that airbnb cares so much more about money that they are willing to discourage hosts from taking the time to message with guests before accepting a booking.

https://www.airbnb.com/support/article/360?topic=221
While it is important that you respond to all the reservation requests you receive, you can choose to decline any request that you can’t accommodate. Accepting more guests will improve your acceptance rate, and frequently, it will improve your listing’s search placement.

Allowing a reservation request to expire is not a good way to decline it, because it will not only decrease your acceptance rate, it will also damage your response rate.


#14

Thanks Cabinhost. Just wanted to let you know I posted my message while you must have been posting yours. I am just reading yours now and will respond. My last message was not a response to your message :smile:


#15

Off topic slightly, I’ve just deactivated my listing on FlipKey after getting the second guest they sent me to literally walk off the property complaining, leaving 6 days on their reservation! FlipKey sends you very unsophisticated travelers! This doofus did not understand that he paid a booking fee to book through FlipKey and didn’t realize I didn’t get to keep the whole amount. FK is a hot mess… Three inappropriate guests who would have been happier in a condo… Deactivate! I don’t need that kind of traveler!


#16

They should change the timer to allow more time if the host and guest are engaged in discussions about their stay, especially if you are conducting background research.


#17

Well crap Cabinhost, it’s totally blatant isn’t it? I am disgusted with the 24hr window we get to discuss a booking. Some guests just don’t get back in that time frame. It’s a lose-lose situation for hosts, unless you take all guests when you are available, which is what airbnb audaciously suggests here:
If the dates in a reservation request are available, and you can accommodate the guest, Accept the reservation.

We all know if we did as they suggest, we’d have problems out the ears and be very unhappy little campers. It sounds as if airbnb just doesn’t get what hosts are dealing with at all.

This is depressing to know you are being forced to work on a level or compete with others in the area that are more willing to take anyone who comes along and hope for the best, or put up with whatever happens. This kind of system shows a complete lack of caring for the host and guest experience, especially in a home when more than one guest or guests may be staying such as ours, so we very carefully select guests that will be respectful.


#18

By the way Cabinhost, airbnb seems to have run into its own issue regarding their overly short time period allowed to accept a booking which is likely why it withdrew the rude sounding email from my inbox. What if discussions do lead to a booking - but of a different room than first reserved? Am I to be punished and forced to deny a guest, even though I am accepting them (just in my other room?). It’s just a stupid thing to punish hosts for trying to communicate with their guests a little before allowing them into their home. It’s a win win for airbnb though. Remember, if you get the feeling that you made a bad decision accepting a guest before they arrive (and we hear of this often) - guests start demanding this and that, or expecting things that aren’t listed, or showing that they have paid no attention to the listing or house rules- guess who ALWAYS KEEPS THEIR FEE IF YOU HAVE TO CANCEL? And believe me you need a very good reason to cancel. A difficult, annoying or otherwise bothersome guest that you only found out about after being pressured by the clock into accepting the booking of without adequate communications is just something you will have to live with, literally.


#19

I had a conversation on Twitter with Airbnb today about this. I’m sure you all know this information but it helped clarify it for me.

Airbnb Help ‏@AirbnbHelp 15h15 hours ago
How do we calculate response rates? Find out in this helpful article: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/430

Me 14h14 hours ago
@AirbnbHelp what if a guest sends a reservation request first but you need time to get to know them, ask about their stay? are we penalized?

Airbnb Help ‏@AirbnbHelp 13h13 hours ago
Nope, you can deny the request and ask them some questions without penalty. Send a pre-approval when you’re ready!

Me 13h13 hours ago
@AirbnbHelp Denying requests doesn’t count against us?

Airbnb Help ‏@AirbnbHelp 13h13 hours ago
Not directly. This post explains the way the process works best:http://blog.airbnb.com/how-search-makes-the-best-matches/

So what I understood is, not responding affects our response rate. Declining is factored into how visible we are in searches.

Obviously this still counts against us, but in a different way than not responding. I would say denying until you have more info sounds like the best option if a guest requests a reservation right off the bat.


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