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Embarrassing dilemna with "friends"

OK, not exactly an Air problem, but a HUGE dilemna for me … so I thought I’d ask you clever people.

Our Airbnb is a rather nice garden apartment under our house and we have a lovely garden and pool so it’s been very popular this year. Obviously we sometimes have friends and family stay there: if they’re very close we don’t charge and are glad to have them. Others get a big discount or stay in the house with us. We don’t rely on this for our only income but we’re not rich and Air has certainly helped supplement our pensions.

About a year ago I became friends with a woman through an online interest group and as she lives in the same town as my daughter we’ve met two or three times, got on well, e-mailed back and forth etc … anyway, she told me how much they loved Southern Spain and they’d had to cancel their holiday there the year before because her husband had been diagnosed with cancer, and was still undergoing treatment. She knew from the beginning that I do AirBNB, but OF COURSE I went and said well, you must come to our place when husband is better, etc.

So it went along and payment was never discussed … I assumed they’d just come for a few days or would say “Let us know how to book you on Airbnb”. Husband is now much better which is great, but she then emailed to say that they’d like to come and intend to stay for TWO WEEKS. Well, these weeks were free at that time and I felt I had to say yes (I’ve since had to turn down a booking for 3 people at that time which would have earned us 800 Euros …) and they have booked their flights. However, it’s become rather obvious to me that she doesn’t intend to pay, as she’s thanking me for my “great generosity” …

If it was up to me, and knowing I’ve handled it really badly I’d probably let them come (while resenting it all the while) and chalk it up to experience that I should not be such a wuss, but my husband is adamant that this is taking advantage of us (it’s not as if they’re young and poor - our age and comfortably middle-class!) particularly as he hasn’t ever met them. He’s prepared to offer them a deep discount of about 30% and write on our behalf in a really friendly way offering this (he’s very good at writing diplomatic emails!) but I still feel deeply embarrassed …

What would you do, fellow hosts (apart from not letting it get to that stage in the first place, obviously!)?

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Hi @Malagachica,

Maybe I’m missing something, but why not let your husband take care of it, and try to stay out of the picture? If he’s willing to handle it, I don’t really see a downside from your perspective. It’s actually pretty good (I think) that he’s willing to step up and take care of it. It helps, of course, that he hasn’t met them.

I agree that it’s an awkward situation, but I also agree with your husband that being taken advantage of is not a good feeling. It isn’t just about the money. You have to live with the feelings afterwards. And to be clear, it does sound like the other lady is taking advantage. 2 weeks is quite a long time. And you are running a business. If you weren’t, then it wouldn’t really be a issue, I guess. I’ve stayed in the homes of near strangers before now without feeling I needed to pay them.

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Whenever I’ve bunked for free with friends I always offer payment (they decline) and then take them to dinner or buy gifts for them or their home. Sometimes I just leave money where they will find it after I leave. Maybe they are going to offer something after they arrive but unfortunately is sounds like you have to go with your husband’s plan and hope for the best.

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I live in the New York area and this situation has come up time and time again. I swear that since we moved here (from Canada) every “old friend” or long lost relative all of a sudden wants to visit me. When we first started doing Airbnb we were live in hosts, so our two spare bedrooms were always for guests first. But we did take friends/family in our basement. I was always very resentful when people would presume to book a two week trip. My days are spent running my business, so adding extra non-paying guests into the mix, ones that also want to socialize or have you be their tour guide or plan their itinerary? Pain in the ass.

As we grew and started adding more properties, then family would say “oh, if there’s a slow week at your place can I come visit” and if it was a good friend/close family I’d tell them what time would work and I let them know that I would give them a free space for three days, but after that I was losing too much business. So you can stay free for three days, but that’s it.

I think that in your situation you can either take the very good feedback posted above, or you can be honest with your “friend” and say - look, when I offered for you to come stay I actually meant only a few days. We simply can’t afford to let our apartment go two weeks in prime season for family. If you’d like to stay the whole time we can of course make you a great deal, but this apartment needs to generate revenue.

If she’s a good friend she’ll understand. If she’s a user, she’ll be pissed off, you’ll have to deal with a bit of fallout, but she’ll never ask to stay for free again. So carefully weigh the downside of being honest with her, as I think you’ll see that there are better reasons to tell her how it is then to let her come for two weeks. Let her do that now, and you can bet she’ll make it an annual trip!

Good luck, I know it’s awkward.

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In my opinion, you made a mistake in the first place, however, they might have some plan to buy you a gift or offer money after their arrival. It will look good if they offer something and you accept it then. It’s your mistake and asking money now will be rude. Your husband should respect your feelings. If he wants to handle this, he can do so from the next time. But intervaning into your decision (although it’s a mistake) doesn’t sound right to me. It’s too late now for your husband to get involved. I would rather take this experience and see how it goes and learn from it for the next time.
You never know they may turn to be a very good people and genuine future friend.

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How far out is the trip? Could you say that someone has asked to book the second week and ask if they might be interested in staying with you the first week and then they could see another part of Spain?

If the trip is just a few weeks away, it seems fairly awkward to charge them and offer a 30% discount. A free week is still a very generous accommodation and heavily subsidizes their trip.

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I have had this happen as well… and been in the same boat. Having been burned once by family who didn’t appreciate what they got and left me out of all the fun and fesitivities they were having, I realized I can no longer subsidize friends’ or family holidays. When I get requests or hints (in Hawaii so frequent) I usually say, I can’t block off the rental for you as that’s money out of my pocket. But if I want them, I say I have room upstairs but I can’t block off the rental. That’s usually enough to discourage them. :wink:

In your case, I would write back to the woman and say you’ve had offers for the rental and have blocked it off to accommodate them. Is there any way she could contribute something toward the lost income you will be facing?

Ugh, just ugh. You have learned your lesson!

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Malaga,

You mentioned in your post that sometimes friends stay in the house with you. Does that mean they stay in your quarters and not the garden apartment? If so, then I would ask her if she and her husband would prefer to sleep on a queen or king airbed (since you are getting inquiries for the dates she wants the garden apartment).

Either she will offer to pay to book through Airbnb. Don’t let them hold your calendar and then back out at the last minute. Or she will be pissed, tell you off, and then you can say goodbye to this relationship for good. I won’t beat you up because you already learned your lesson. But I do feel this person is the “give an inch take a mile” type. Good friends don’t take advantage.

Or I would do as your husband suggests and let him handle it. There is nothing to be embarrassed about in front of these people who are coming. I doubt much embarrasses them, if they aren’t embarrassed to ask for a free two week vacation.

Keep us posted

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Malagachica

Yeah well a lot of god people took their time to write ideas to you at your requests.

How did it go?

Im sure you don want anybody to think your a user as you suspected these folk were.

You know its really simply dear. Why should your husband have to get involved.

Your hiding out from the truth/ You shot your mouth off being oh so generous in the heat of the moment.
Ok Ok wed all done that. But YOU should just tell her you cant afford to loose 2 weeks rent .
That you meant a few days!!
bet u said come for a few weeks didnt you?
Thats why your embarrassed . Give it up this is your fault. IF hes just had cancer hes better not going.

They WILL pick up on the stress.

Ok. You’ve received some conflicting advice here but one thing is quite clear. Everyone seems to agree that a good friend wouldn’t take advantage in that way. It doesn’t matter if you offered it and now regret it, or that other people do/don’t think your husband should get involved, the issue is still there and needs a solution.

You’re obviously not the type to take advantage of other people’s generosity - therefore you didn’t anticipate this ‘friend’ taking advantage of yours. Decent people simply don’t expect free accommodation at someone else’s expense. It’s not your spare room, it’s your business and she should respect that.

I often strike the same issue with friends as I live in a great location. However, only one has ever asked if she could stay for free (or very reduced price) and this friend has a bad reputation as a user.

I would politely go back to your friend, tell her you’re very embarassed and be honest with her. You wanted to extend friendship by offering a few days accommodation or longer at a mate’s rate. But that you don’t wish to forego several hundred euros in rent. If she doesn’t understand that, then she’s not going to be the kind of friend you’ll want to continue with.

I hope it works out okay for you. Do let us know how you manage to resolve it. I’d be very interested.

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I agree with @Wilburforce. Truth is, you are going to have to eat crow. I know I’ve had to do it. It’s an awful, awful feeling. I’ve been in that place, of something being decided and inside I’m thinking ‘what? whoa. Huh?’ but I don’t think fast enough to deal with the situation at the time.

It’s unfortunate that you did make a commitment and she’s booked her flight. She was a pig for assuming she could have a two week free stay at your place. But unfortunately you didn’t stand up for yourself sooner. At the same time, you have to be honest with her, especially as your partner in this business did not agree to the free stay. And since he IS your partner, you have to take his opinion into consideration.

Good luck! It’s going to work out fine - either you will become better friends, or not friends - but the time to find out is now!

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oh, and have you posted your listing? Sounds like a place that needs to be on my wish list!!

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Nothing is for free! These are not your regular friends…they are people who want to book an airbnb…and THAT costs money…do not feel bad for wanting to be compensated…tell them you ONLY book through AIRBNB for insurance purposes…offer a 10-15% discount if you want…but you are not obligated to host any guest (via Airbnb) for free! P.S tell them honestly that this is how you earn your money…a doctor would NEVER diagnose someone who is not a paying patient. You operate a hospitality business…charge accordingly! Worse comes to worse, tell her she can only stay a week,not one day more. Being taken advantage of takes the friend out of friendship! If you value the friendship be honest about the fact that you charge money for your apartment.

Tricky situation, and we all been there; I have done that many many times, kind-hearted people expect others to ‘know better’; they don’t. I just went through it last month, my friends wanted 10 days, ultimately I gave them 3, their trip went without a hitch, I found time to spend with them. What I wonder is if your friends decided to come for two weeks because the accommodations were ‘free’. That would be the height of irony.

What I would do is to do cut it down to a week, and it is not like that would prevent them from coming at all. One must do what is fair to oneself, otherwise resentment will rise and they will not be friends in the long run anyway. Of course, a bit of bs salesmanship always helps: “My friends, there was a couple that had contacted us long ago and they finally decided to come, to our surprise on the very ~second~ week of when you be in Spain, it would help us out greatly if you would stay at a lovely little place (Villa X, suggest a place) on your 2nd week. Thanks in advance, and btw how are the kids,etc etc.” Meaning make light of the subject.

Their response will speak volumes.

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You could also play the opps silly me card

"Forgot to give you the link to our Airbnb page … Can you book through there? I need a few more good reviews … Of course I’ll give you a discount "

If they don’t reply / get funny - bad friends

In that case, I’d rent the apartment out regardless while they’re there and put them on a bed in your space. Or pretend to rent it out as the cost them having all that space is likely substantially more then a spare bed with you.

I think you need to do something as it’ll eat you up - if it isn’t already!

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First, a huge thank you to all of you who have replied to my dilemna - it has been extremely helpful to have all these thoughts from people who are familiar with this kind of situation. I lay awake a lot of the night thinking about this, also skyped my daughters (my usual go-to for good advice!) and am much clearer now about what I should do - though still don’t feel great about it!

Exactly! I would really have been happy to have had them stay for three or four days but it was when she came up with the “two week” idea that I absolutely now realise I should have put my foot down, but I am, I’m afraid, a dreadful moral coward and absolutely hate telling anyone something that might offend them!

I have also realised that, to be honest, it is less the fact of losing the money that I’m upset about than her assuming we would host them for free for two weeks[quote=“Wilburforce, post:10, topic:5041”]
Decent people simply don’t expect free accommodation at someone else’s expense.
[/quote]

So I’m going to be honest with her, and come clean, as several people have suggested. We will offer them a discount which will be the equivalent of 4-5 free days and we’ll also offer them the use of our second car, which will save them having to rent one. I may also offer what Mearns suggested as an alternative - give them a free week and gently suggest thay might like to visit another part for the second (I know they want to visit Madrid anyway, but since the husband is still not 100% they may not want to travel. I REALLY don’t want them to miss out on their holiday, but I’m not going to mess up our business either!

I’m truly grateful for all the suggestions. As you’ve said - I’ve certainly learnt my lesson! We’re going to email her today - I’ll keep you posted.

@dcmooney : Not sure how to post my listing. Does this work?

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Well, we’ve all done it. Tacitly agreed to something because we’re too slow (or nice) to react appropriately.
Good luck.

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Your place is beautiful!! I’ve always wanted to visit Malaga!

Malaga is a prime holiday hot spot for Brits. I actually got invited along on a hens do there - but had work so couldnt go.

I bet is getting very hot at the mo

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Note: the ?preview is redundant.

Nice place. Very “vacationy”.

Well, you’ve already come to your conclusion, but I’d like to offer that some people, including friends and even family, truly do not understand the mindset we hosts have as our spaces in our home being a business/source of income that we, to some extent depend on. Many people just do not grasp the seriousness with which we approach our Airbnb.
Although I tend to agree with everyone else that getting an invitation for a visit would not include the assumption that it should last for 2 whole weeks. In my mind, I would assume that invitation to include a few days only, not my whole 2 week itinerary!

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