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Entitlement Run Amok or a Legitimate Question?

A guest booked ~5 weeks ago at a rack rate for a solo trip in December. The calendar gets filled up as time passes. We’re currently down to 2 more days left un-booked in the month. To get those final days moved, we uber discount them (the cleaning fee alone is massive at $200 so it’s hard to keep the home competitive on single nights). These super low “rates” are visible and it can send an interesting message to those that may book (or in this case, those who have already booked).

So the guest above sends us a request. She tells us how excited she is to stay in our beautiful home, etc. Great! But then she tells us that as a result of her recent observations of our rates, she’d like a “price adjustment” based on the rates she’s observing on orphan days in the same month she has her existing booking. Said adjustment would amount to a reimbursement of hundreds of dollars – so she’s not just asking for something trivial.

Has anyone even heard of such a thing? Is this kind of question/request related to an STR normal? Do hotels do this? Have any STR operators even considered this? The whole concept is very confusing to me!

We graciously declined (of course). However, she really wanted to understand why we would deny such a request. We tried to explain the situation with price fluctuations based on supply and demand, orphan days, the inherent cost of booking in advance, bla, bla, bla. She seemed somewhat placated by our explanation. But there’s still a tone where she’s a little miffed and genuinely feels she’s entitled to a pretty sizable refund - before she even arrives!

Are we starting off on the wrong foot now when she stays? It’s my position that her even posing the question is preposterous. Am I missing something? My apologies if this concept has been discussed before. . .

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I have read of guests doing this before. They simply don’t understand how business works. I think the best way of answering a guest who does this is not to try to justify why the rate changed for some days, but to simply point out that this is how all businesses run.

If you book an airline ticket and then see a few weeks later that they are having a seat sale to try to fill the plane, you can’t then demand to get a refund for what you paid beyond the seat sale price.

If you buy an item of clothing that is part of this season’s fashion, and then see 3 months later that the store now has that item on sale to try to move the outgoing season’s stock, you can’t then go back to the store and demand they refund you the difference.

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So, one of your OTAs is informing current bookings about a promo? Which OTA? This seems odd but sounds like the kind of thing that might happen with BDC or TripAdvisor?

The guest is out of line. You may get a less than stellar review because they are already “miffed.” Oh well.
If you said something along the lines of “We discount unbooked short stay nights to fill the calendar as a business practice, as do many hotels. Guests can always delay booking to see if there are discounted nights, but of course at the risk of none being available.” I don’t see how they don’t understand.

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I’ve been on this forum 6 years and read nearly every post and I don’t recall anyone complaining about this. That doesn’t mean they haven’t, it just means it must not be common. I’ve heard of guests trying to do their own comps and wheedle the host for a discount based on what they perceive as cheaper places but not a guest stalking a listing that they booked and then asking for a discount.

It depends on what you book. If you book a refundable room then it’s no problem to cancel your existing booking and rebook so they might as well discount. There certainly are businesses where a price drop might be refunded to a customer but those aren’t comparable businesses. Comparing your one of a kind STR to a massive hotel is never an apt comparison.

This is probably part of her personality. That said, don’t assume the reservation is doomed from the start. Perhaps a bottle of wine and some chocolates along with a note of thanks will disarm her on arrival.

You have your policy for a reason and are under no obligation to explain to anyone.

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It doesn’t cost her anything to ask, except perhaps your respect.

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They’ve never hosted an STR. If I have gap days in the middle of the week, I routinely offer the guest on the front end & backside of those days to add an extra day or two at super discounted rates.

One guest wanted to know why my regular rate was much higher. I knew she was young. I explained the way the bookings worked out, no one was going to book a day or two midweek at full price. It gave her a chance to cheaply extend her stay & helped me cover the daily expenses.

At first she didn’t understand. I think her travel companion helped her. They booked & it was a win win.

I used to reduce my rates for the 1 or 2 openings in a month to get it booked but since I re-opened after the hight of the pandemic, I’ve blocked the day before and after. I’ve also made it a mandatory 2 day minimum.

I’ve learned a few things. First the STR is above me and I do the cleaning so it’s nice to get a break from people. It’s gives me time to do deep cleanings more often and I heat my home at least 10 degrees cooler than when I have guests. Once I figured out my costs to host, I realized I was making very little money discounting below a certain rate and stopped booking every night.

If I had staff it might be different but I do everything. I’m back to enjoying hosting instead of being overworked.

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Really appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this. Gentle “education” is certainly part of the gig. I just hope this doesn’t become a habit for guests (like the dreaded discount question can happen on a more regular basis). It’s really hard/annoying to explain things that you don’t feel you need to have to explain.

I don’t have children, so maybe that’s why I find it so frustrating!

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If you are sure her dates would rebook, and assuming she instant booked I would cancel as uncomfortable. She is going to give you 4 stars max. I would replace her with a guest who values your listing. The replacement guest will be happy to have found something last minute.

RR

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@RiverRock Exactly where my head was at. But I had already accepted her “Request to Book” in the first place. And it was several days later that she dropped the “price adjustment” turd on my desk. This is the blurb attached to the reservation and it looks intimidating. . .

cancel

We’re going to go through with it. We’ll kill her with kindness (already trying to arrange as early a check in as we can muster). She also asked for a late check out (no on that). Oy. . .

I’ll circle back (reservation is in a week) and let you know. I have an eerie feeling that you’re correct on this. It’ll be the first 4-star on this young listing and we could really hope that doesn’t have to happen.

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From my reading on hosting forums the past few years, this doesn’t work. The entitled demanding types can’t be placated with special favors or bending over backwards trying to please them. They already think they are entitled to whatever demands you acquiesce to, and seldom show appreciation. And still leave critical reviews.

But good luck.

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Good luck with that guest!

Have you considered offering her the option to cancel for a full refund? “We want you to start your stay off on the right foot. If, after explaining to you how AirBnB price structuring works, you are uncomfortable with this booking, we want to offer you the option to cancel in the next X hours for a full refund. We look forward to hearing from you by X PM xST. Otherwise, we will assume you are still excited about your booking as it stands, and we will look forward to your stay.

Up your prices (even higher than she paid) beforehand so when her dates open she sees they are higher. I’m really not a terrible, spiteful person. As I mentioned in another thread…just tired of the reindeer games.

I had someone tell me they wanted to book but the price had gone up since the last time they looked so could I lower it back (shoot, I couldn’t have even told them what it was…sure they’d have been happy to tell me!). Said they’d “just saved up enough money”. Um, no.

This situation is one reason I don’t do last-minute rate reductions. I even raise the price sometimes as dates get closer. I have a bunch of newbie competition right now so I can’t do that, but I will get back to it once the price undercutting stops.

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I’ve previously said here that I don’t entertain discount requests in either of my businesses because “I can book all of my available dates at full price.” That is true for my businesses, I wouldn’t say it to someone who has been watching my calendar and sees that I lower prices to get booked.

For a variety of reasons my small cabin is not booked for xmas yet. I had had a 4 day minimum stay which held it back, plus I had toggled off the dogs allowed. So last night I dropped the minimum to 2 days, toggled back the dogs allowed and updated the house rules and description and raised the price from 195 a night to 295 a night.

When I do a search for just that friday and saturday night there are only 2 listings left, the other is larger at 600 a night. AirBnb has a pop up that says book now there have been over 1300 searches in the last week for those dates.

I am surprised it is still vacant, but I am sure it will not be!

I find in general that my places get booked only 2-3 weeks in advance, after all the cheaper ones are gone.

I used to play with prices and drop them closer to the unbooked dates and that is when I got my first 4 star review, she got the place for $105 a night and was not happy.

Since then I have only raised prices, the cabin that is 195 started out at 165 and I raised it little by little…

If I cared wether or not I was booked all the time I might be tempted to lower prices. But I don’t. :slight_smile:

RR

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This is something I’ve said about my place many times in the past. The cheaper places go first and when they are gone, they are gone. And I’m lucky that I prefer last minute bookings.

I’m not sure about the STR vacation business but in my dog business I’m still getting a lot of late requests as well as last minute cancellations. People are still in flux because of the pandemic.

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We’re not that dissimilar these days. We actually toyed with the idea of only opening weekends this month, but are seeing what happens for now. I’ve kept the mid week days at a fairly high rate, unlike many here who are joining in with the race to the bottom.

The two main weekends, this one and the next one, are both booked solid (all directs bar one) and at a far higher rate than previous years. We’ve already got one Christmas booking, as a result of me not closing the weekdays so, as long as the third weekend books, we’ll be happy enough with that.

The only fly in the ointment may increased Covid restrictions, Spain is now closed to the unvaccinated, with no exceptions, due to the hefty increase in infections across Europe. We appear to be faring better than many countries though, probably due to the high uptake of vaccinations with boosters available now also for many age ranges.

JF

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I was chatting with a friend yesterday about this. While the USA /Canadian border was restricted, many of the prices for monthly off season rentals were ridiculously low. The minute the border opened, prices increased.

Starting 11/1 Bookings went off the charts.

Now with countries placing border restrictions & uncertainty, snowbirds are checking if their rental cancellation policies.

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This was an excellent thread. I have nothing to contribute that wasn’t said already, but I loved it. Can’t wait to hear how the stay and review go. Do update us!

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