First one in 5 years

My first uncomfortable situation after 5 years of hosting was yesterday. I had a guest send me a reservation request for 8 days. He was a student with his dog who needed a place to stay before his apartment was available. He asked for a discount and since I have kids in college I gave him a $200 discount. We messaged back and forth about his dog as I wanted to be sure he know my rules about keeping pets in a kennel when he was not present. I accepted the reservation feeling good. Then I Googled his name and found it was a name mentioned in a tv show. There were no students in the student directory with that name. There was a facebook account with that name with lots of friends so I wasn’t worried. I did send him a message asking if that was his legal name. I started to get concerned when he said no but that he does go by that first name. He did not provide his legal name in the message. He said he registered for Airbnb by logging in to Facebook which creates an account using Facebook information. So he had a funny name on Facebook. Okay. I asked Airbnb for his legal name and they would not tell me. They said they have verified his identity and that should be sufficient for me. So I messaged him and asked what is your legal name? He didn’t answer. So I asked again and said to send me his legal name within 24 hours or I will cancel. Sounds harsh but his reservation was only 5 days away. I wanted him to have time to find an alternative if he wasn’t willing to share that. Bantering back and forth and THEN cancelling would make it harder for him.
He replied that he likes to keep his information private and doesn’t appreciate me digging in his private life. Then in a separate message he gave his legal name (or was it?) with a comment that he is no longer comfortable staying at my place with my prying into his personal information. I do Google my guests and try to verify information that they provided in their contact messages. If they are a student at the university, I search the public site for their name. If they are attending a conference, I check to make sure that conference is occurring that date. Sometimes I check Facebook to make sure their pictures matches what they uploaded to Airbnb. AND I google their name and 'arrest’s to see check to see if they have been arrested for a violent crime or been in the news for something that would make me uncomfortable. The apartment is only 20 feet from my house.

I changed my cancellation policy to flexible so he wouldn’t be penalized but he said he couldn’t get a full refund. I called Airbnb and they said the reservation is in conflict resolution and the only person who can change it is a case manager. The case manager calls me and said that I have to be the one to cancel plus I incur a $100 fine and it will affect my Superhost status. I said well I could ask the guest to cancel and send him his money via Paypal. After some discussion the Airbnb support agreed, this one time, to cancel the reservation without penalizing me or the guest since we both wanted to cancel. But support advised me to put in my house rules that legal names must be provided in order to make a reservation. In the end, the student said he was pursuing a career in the intelligence field and works very hard to keep his name off the internet. Actually very good idea that I should be more careful about myself. I don’t know what’s true or what’s not but I learned that if I’m uncomfortable with a guest, we probably aren’t a good match, even if my gut is off.

He doesn’t want you to have his name but is staying in your property? Not suitable for Airbnb, they shouldn’t collude with him because they are always gushing about transparency. More suited to an hotel.

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So much BS. There are places like Palm Springs, India, in the EU and elsewhere that ID has to be shown on check in. I personally wouldn’t have had a problem with this booking but you did and it’s your house. It’s a shame you both wasted so much time on the back and forth. OTOH I see his point. Unlike a hotel Airbnb needs to be able to match people who are comfortable with each other and not penalize either of you!

I probably wouldn’t have even noticed if he had used a reasonable last name. I still would have confirmed his student status at the web site though but wouldn’t get too riled up if it didn’t show up. I think if guests are sharing rooms or on the premises of a host’s home, they should be forthcoming with information. If someone was reluctant about sharing their name for professional reasons, then go overboard sharing other information that would help a person feel comfortable like name and phone number of a professor that knows them, or a boss or work employment number. If they seemed like they understood my concern for safety and wanted to help with that, I probably wouldn’t bother to call the references anyway (unless my gut said otherwise). But act like you are hiding something and I’m suspicious from the get go.


The kid is total BS. I’ve known people in “the intelligence field” in my (not really sordid) past, and if they need an identity, they are given one by the Initials. I’ll bet he’s trying to pull something sneaky or illegal; or just trying to get away with what he can get away with.

Your CS person is full of it too – telling you to put it in your house rules about legal names.



Bravo on your alertness and reasoning ~ I’m with you and better safe than…

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Ok, I have to go against the grain here. Why do you need his “legal name”? What does that even mean? The guy is just booking your room for a week. It’s not a long-term tenancy agreement.
I too would feel uncomfortable about a host googling and checking up on me on social media. Am I missing something here?


See, this is the nightmare that Airbnb has created for itself.
People like me, and several hosts on here, have experience in renting rooms prior to Airbnb (uhh yep, home stays has been a thing since fkin forever).

We know what it involves, we don’t take any shit. But now everyone thinks they can do it and Air has to deal with all those thousands of starry-eyed hosts “opening their homes to the world” with ZERO experience of what it actually entails.

It’s not about fluffy towels and muffins and flowers and all that crap.
It’s about PEOPLE. If you are innately suspicious and do not have the confidence to run a hospitality business - do something else.


Seems like you should ask for an ID at check-in if you are concerned about identity. You really can’t do a thorough background check with just a name.


It’s amazing how much a person can find online with just have a full name.

Thing is he could have just said his full name was something common and MsPenguin could have spent time searching and not really determined anything.

Many of my guests - both VRBO and Air, fall into this category. Julie Brown. Mary Jones, Chris White. (I’m not saying those are actually our guests, but names are just like those.) You’ll never find out who they are with those kind of names.


I ask for ID at check in, the county requires I get a copy and keep it 3 years. I have it in my house rules. At check in time I send a message the place is ready all I need is a pic of your ID and you can have the code. I get it every time, no ID no LB code.


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great damn idea, RR! i am fairly new to air and had no idea that they would not share a guest’s full legal name with a host. why not? what happens when a host has need of the name for legal purposes?

You would be screwed if you depend on Air to provide it.


Agreed. I request all reservations to send copies of all guests DL within 48 hours of booking. I have this requirement listed at the top of the house rules. I have only been requesting this for approx. 4 months and I can’t tell you how much more comfortable it makes me. The guests seem happy to do so and I haven’t had any kick back yet. If someone is uncomfortable sending me their DL, that’s ok, they can book elsewhere. No harm, no foul

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