First guest... ugh... bad experience

So… after a few months of getting the home ready for rental I finally have my first guest! I’m a very detail oriented person and tend to overthink things, but the house was r-e-a-d-y!

Upon arrival I get a mountain of messages from the guest.

“There is something beeping! Something is beeping in the housseee!!!” - I think, oh great. A smoke detector. I replaced all of the smoke detector batteries last week. I send my maintenance guy to take a look and fix whatever… he texts me and informs me that the guest left the fridge door open. The refrigerator was beeping and the guest couldn’t figure that out?!?

“There is a screw loose in the pool light! We are going to get electrocuted!!” With a photo of the light - I was aware of the loose screw, it is a cosmetic issue. I very politely informed the renter that it is a cosmetic maintenance issue that will be fixed in the next few weeks.

“There is a lizard inside the bed sheets!” - A lizard inside the beds heets? Why would a lizard crawl in the bed? I just made that bed with clean sheets. I receive a picture of a lizard but can’t figure out where the picture was taken in the house.

“There are ants in the master bedroom!” - Ants… okay maybe sure, but I stayed there for a week just a few days ago and there were no ants. But sure, maybe there are ants. Exterminator time.

“The television isn’t working!” - An hour and a half on the line with technical support revealed yes there is something wrong with the Cable TV box. The guest is fine with Netflix/Prime Video.

A day later “The pool guy hasn’t come to fix the loose screw in the pool light yet!” - Um… I politely and patiently said it is a cosmetic issue that won’t be fixed during your stay.

“We slept in the other bedroom and there are ants in the bed!” - I asked for pictures of said ants and get a reply “It was 3am and I didn’t think to take a picture.”

My crystal ball says: Bad review incoming… Refund request incoming.

No you weren’t.

It’s not fair but it is what it is. Remote hosting is doubly problematic it seems. Also it sounds like this is a pretty nice place (re: pool). I don’t know your rates but people paying up for a nice place probably expect perfection.

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Ok, any tips on how I can be r-e-a-d-y? :slight_smile:

What I meant was you probably thought you were but things happened so you weren’t. I’m not sure what else you could do other than fix any cosmetic issues you know about (loose screw) before you start hosting. And if there are lizards and ants (are you in a rural area?) then warn about it (esp lizards) in the listing. I just had a baby gecko in my Airbnb bathroom last week. I thought it adorable but a guest might not.

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Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

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I’m giving the guest the benefit of the doubt (as expected), but I live in the Florida Keys and have properties in the Bahamas. We have bugs and lizards. Never, ever, have I heard of a lizard crawling INTO the sheets.

The home is in Orlando. Plenty of bugs.

Also, I understand your point about expecting perfection. I have stayed at more than 5 different airbnb homes in the greater Orlando area “shopping the competition”. Close 3 weeks of renting units. I know what the renters in the area expect for the money.

Now the guest says “I found the ant spray.” - I don’t have ant spray. Hahahahaha

You better ask them what they found.

I stayed in a $750 a night property in Costa Rica. We had multiple bugs inside including one huge spider in a shower and one smaller but very aggressive spider in the same room. It was on the lower level with a door leading to the outdoor landscape. One of the kitchen sinks leaked onto the kitchen floor, The “hot tub” wasn’t hot. The pool lights were on a time and would go off every night while we were still in the pool. The power went out twice.

It was a VRBO home but I still gave it a glowing review. Of course it helps when you step outside and yell up the hill for the on site gardener/handyman to come help and he does. And brings his cute kid and cute dog.

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Sounds like you first guest is a real whiner and has never been away from home if he doesn’t know about modern fridges beeping when left open! Most folks from up North are not accustomed to geckos/lizards coming into the house. We know they’re good – they eat the ants) but Guests don’t.

I’m over in Fort Myers on The Other Left Coast. If you don’t, you really should have a “Bug service” that comes around automatically at 4 or 6 month intervals to spray for ants and inside to spray for Florida beetles.

It sounds like you weren’t quite “ready” if you knew about loose screws and other cosmetic issues and did not fix them first. A short paragraph in your description about local wildlife other than Mickey and Goofy will not go amiss.

Also you should have done a White Glove inspection the morning of the day that first guest arrived.

Lizards/geckos can and will get into beds if the sheets are turned back instead of made-up flat. Had that happen here the other day after the cleaning lady left. She though she was doing something special and nice to have the sheet/comforter turned back at the head of the bed, but I had a gecko bed partner for about 3 seconds that night!

Make sure your cleaner keeps an eye out for gecko poop, and have someone check the place for deposits if the listing is empty for a day or more between guests.

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I give you credit for responding to each issue so quickly.

Having been in customer service most of my career, I learned something. You can do everything perfectly with no bumps in the road and the customer satisfaction is OK. But in those instances when a problem arises customer satisfaction can erode fast. It’s how you respond to the problem that can have the biggest impact. Fixing things fast, having a customer focus can take what would have been OK customer satisfaction to Excellent. In many instances (not all) it took it to a higher level than had there been no issue. It showed the client that they mattered and that you took the time for them. With that said:

  1. Take a deep breadth / Exhale.
  2. Realize that you will have good and bad guests. some who are pickier, some who are sloppier, some who are just perfect. Plan for the worst
  3. Realize it all comes from experience. No matter how “r-e-a-d-y” you think you are, you will be more prepared each time, because you will have a quick answer or resolution ready for having encountered that before. #itgetsbetter
  4. There will ALWAYS be that sudden surprise (TV not working, broken water heater, etc). Have a backup plan or a way to stay on top of it - quick fix, an offer to the guests (dinner, refund, gift, bottle of wine, etc), or something else.
  5. Acknowledge that you are doubly challenged because you do it remotely.
  6. Study this Forum (use the search function) because many of the issues you will encounter, someone else has as well and posted here.

Advice from me: Try to remediate / offset the situation(s) with the guest so that they leave on a positive note; maybe that will work to your advantage when they write their review. It might work, It might not.

I wish you LUCK. And when you get frustrated go back to #1.


As you’ve discovered, there’s a lot more to hosting than just thinking that a rental is ‘ready’. In this instance, it seems that the rental wasn’t ready and neither was the co-host. (I’m assuming co-host if this is remote hosting).

Every time a host or co-host has to deal with a situation, they learn from it.

During the house tour, when showing the guests that there is bottled water for them (or whatever) in the fridge … “oh, and be sure to close the door as it’s one of those that beeps. I once had guests who couldn’t figure out what the beeping was. Hahaha”. When the guest got in touch, regarding the noise say ‘have you left the fridge door open’. And getting a maintenance guy out is crazy and is going to cost you money.

You were aware of the loose screw but didn’t fix it. So that’s a lesson too.

Lizards can get all over the house in South Florida. Don’t you or your co-host warn about local fauna during the house tour? Same with ants. (Why don’t you have ant spray?)

Have the TV on when the guests arrive. That way your co-host has been present when the TV is working.

That is brilliant advice. Remember that each guest query or problem is an opportunity to show how wonderful you are. Over the years we have had just about every breakdown or problem ever know to man but the issue is how you deal with it.

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All excellent advise. Thank you! I just had ant spray and traps delivered to the guest. And I agree about the customer focus! As a business owner of 22 years I have learned this is key.

I will say, if having a single loose screw is “not ready” then nobody is ready. What counts is how you respond to the issues. And yeah I guess bad luck. In my 43 years in the tropics I have never crawled into a bed with lizards or ants inside the sheets of the bed. Let alone sheets that had just been changed earlier.

Also, cleaning crew was there that morning for the White glove check. They are very thorough and didn’t see any bugs or ants. :man_shrugging::man_shrugging:

Oh well, this will improve my hosting skills.


I had long term tenants complain about ants a couple years ago. Exterminator service wasn’t part of the rental agreement, but it made me realize how ants could affect short term tenants. I don’t use any insecticides or traps inside, but I spray outside every 3 months. I use bait for ants to kill the entire colony since pesticides are only temporary. The bait I use is Amdro for large areas, and Bayer Maxforce for small areas.

Ants in the bed is likely a result of ants in the house combined with a guest that ate in bed.

I haven’t seen any lizard or geckos in my listing, but they sometimes come in my own house when doors or windows are left open. Geckos will get down in the sofa cushions, so bedding doesn’t seem like a stretch. I’m not sure that you can eliminate the problem, but as with spiders and scorpions, eliminating their food source (via regular insecticide spraying) helps reduce their numbers. Hopefully, most guests know lizards and geckos are are harmless.

You are taking a risk on not fixing anything you know is broken, cosmetic or not. I would expect most hosts do this though, for various reasons (time, cost, etc.). I’m guilty of it, too.

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Yeah. One of the “beds with ants” has never even been sleeped in. No food has ever been eaten in the beds. I guess the ants are tired and want to catch some zzzzzs so they crawled into bed? Hahaha

The guest seems pretty cool about it though. :+1::+1:

You might be able to 180 this guest’s potential review if you act humble and lovable, and make the guest think that THEY have helped YOU. When we help people and they are grateful, it creates those warm, fuzzy feels.
"You are my first Airbnb guest. Thanks so much for bringing all these things to my attention so I can make the place better in the future. Do you have any suggestions for me? Here’s a [bottle of wine, dinner gift certificate, token refund . . . whatever is easy for you].


If you like killing ants without pesticide, feed them cornmeal. It kills them.

On not fixing something we know is broken: A few weeks back we were sitting here talking about the house. Husband says, “I wish I had fixed that hole in that one bedroom door.” It was pre-existing damage that was actually supposed to have been fixed before we closed on the house. We didn’t push it. It was one of those things that we kept meaning to get around to doing and it didn’t get done.

I said, “Eh, it’s barely noticeable because it’s at the very bottom of the door. We’ll get it next time we’re out.”

Not kidding you, like 30 seconds later I hear the AirBnB notification sound. Guest sends me this picture.

Wanting to make sure they didn’t get blamed for it. It’s the first person who has ever noticed it. It looks much worse in the picture because you’re looking dead on it. It’s where someone kicked the door, clearly. We were laughing and tripping out that we had JUST been talking about it when the first person ever mentioned it. Should have kept our mouths shut! :smiley:

It’s on the list. shrug


Oh and reading those messages, the guest says “We love the barn swallows on the porch!” I groaned because I know that means the whole corner is full of poop. And breathed because they appreciate the birds.

Painting the ceiling of the porch blue to deter them from nesting there is also on the list!!!

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Sorry, but that’s an urban legend. If you sprinkle cornmeal for ants, you’re feeding them.

And it shows! You have a knack of giving good advice without sounding patronising or judgmental. I was reading your points and realised that by now I do most of them without thinking but sometimes it’s good to remind oneself of them.

I particularly like

But as an eternal optimist I’d add “but hope for the best”!

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PLEASE tell me why this is … and let me know if it actually works.

We are “blest” with 9 lovely pine trees in our garden and round the pool, and as well as having to sweep up a sackful of pine needles Every. Single. Day we are visited by flying rats (aka pigeons) who crap all over the terrace.

If it’s blue do they think it’s still sky and not therefore a toilet?

It’s probably the first person who mentioned to you that they noticed it. I notice a lot of things in the Airbnbs where I’m a guest that I don’t mention and I don’t deduct stars for. Examples in the past year: A shade that couldn’t be raised in my bedroom, and a bathroom vent cover absolutely covered in dust. Had I been in a stand up shower I probably wouldn’t have noticed but I was taking a bath in a clawfoot tub with only a hand held shower. So I decided to take a bath and was laying back in the tub relaxing. If I could have found a step stool in the house I would have cleaned it. LOL.