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Friends who want to stay in your Airbnb for free.....How to be diplomatic in saying no

#1

Hello Fellow Airbnb hosts!
I recently listed the second bedroom in my villa in Bali on Airbnb. It’s not 5 star but it’s nice.
Since then, many of my friends have contacted me and said 'Oh Great! You have a spare room in your villa in Bali! I’m arriving on the (date) Is it OK if I stay at your place (meaning…for free) OK I tell them…thinking it’s just for a couple of nights.
Two friends have stayed since,… both for as long as 2 weeks, and I declined Aibnb bookings while they were here. I thought they would say "Hey, thanks for having me stay in your villa. Here’s some cash towards the rent/costs/other. Sadly, they didn’t give me anything other than "Thanks! We loved relaxing by your pool"
What do other hosts do in situations like this? Say No? Tell them they have to pay? Lie, and say it’s booked?
I’d be interested to know.

#2

Oh wow! I hear you!!! I have a studio apartment in Hawaii… and have had the same… friends and extended family wanting to stay, me blocking off the calendar… Then I just said to myself Wait one damn minute!!! HELL NO to all of that!!! This is my income and I’m giving it away!

Do you realize by blocking off your calendar you are PAYING FOR THEIR ACCOMMODATIONS? Of course you do! What a nice friend you are!

It’s totally unfair of friends to ask that of you! Now I say “I can’t block of the apartment for you but if it is free while you are here, you can stay. Otherwise you can stay on my couch upstairs with me.”

I have a small house upstairs. When both my boys are home from college, it’s cramped, here in a 924 sf house. So really that just means, no, sorry. Cannot accommodate friends unless they are singles…and the boys are away.

So yeah, you have some options. Lie and say it is booked. You can’t expect them to fork over cash if you haven’t asked for it. Cheap, tightwad friends!

Even if you show an opening on Air (say they checked and saw it) you can always say, no I am listed on multiple sites.

Or just tell the truth. I can’t block it off because it costs me bookings. It’s money right out of my pocket. Anyone with half a brain should understand that!

#3

First off how can they just not say for how long they are planning to stay
That’s alone is not acceptable .
I would be honest. I would say that sorry guys, I am making money with my room and if you are staying here I am loosing money.
Or offer them to stay until you have a booking, and then they have to go to a hotel.

#4

Susan,

Where are your friends from? Are they just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Bali? OK - in order for me to go to Bali or visit Hawaii, it would take major planning on my part. There would not be this “oh by the way I am arriving on this date.” No, it would be a lot of money to purchase a plane ticket, etc. and also figure out how much my accommodations would cost in order to see if I can even afford the plane ticket. How far are your friends traveling, and would they be in Bali if they didn’t know you?

Anyway…this is what I would do. If you have room for them to stay in your place without using the two rooms, then offer them that space. If that means the couch is the only place available, and you don’t won’t want them there due to other guests, well then they don’t have a place to stay for free. You can suggest they open a couch surfing account and find a Bali host willing to let them crash for free.

FRIEND: Hi Susan! I am arriving in Bali Nov. 1st. I see your calendar is open…would love to stay with you and catch up!

SUSAN: I would love to see you too! Sorry, I can’t commit to allowing friends/family to stay. I get a lot of last minute/same day bookings from travelers and I just can’t afford to turn those away as I would lose the income. And I really need to build up some reviews. But if you want to rent the room you are more than welcome to do so.

FRIEND: Oh, okay…yeah that makes sense. Well, what if I stay and then if you get a booking I can leave?

SUSAN: While I would love to do that, a lot of my bookings come in so last minute…maybe an hour before check in, sometimes even that evening for the same night. So I always have to have the room ready at all times. It’s just not possible. Are you sure you don’t want to rent it since you’d have to rent a place anyway?

FRIEND: Oh, well I guess so. I’ll just pay you when I get there.

SUSAN: Actually I need payment before I can block off the calendar. You can send me a check, pay through PayPal, or book through Airbnb…this is the total. I’ll even waive the cleaning fee if you promise not to wipe your makeup off on my nice towels. I always try to leave money out of friendships, and if something were to happen and you changed your mind, I wouldn’t want it to affect our friendship.

FRIEND: So do you think I am not good for the money?

SUSAN: No, not at all. I just know how money can ruin friendships. So I try to avoid those situations at all costs. Just let me know if you decide to book and by which method, and I will email you the information to send payment.

FRIEND: OK. I’ll think about it.

If any of your so called friends give you any kind of crap about it, they are not really your friends - just a bunch of users

2 Likes
#5

A couple of nights for free to come visit you- fair enough - anymore they will be costing you your income. I’ve only really started to come across this problem for myself as started doing AirBnB this year. Now our room is booked out all the time! Its going to be hard to lose that income to friends that visit, its getting to be a business! I personally wouldn’t want to charge my friends to stay in my house though. My solution is camp in the garden or sleep on a mattress on the floor in the living room. If the room is free I’m letting people stay a couple of nights. Close family is different but i’m encouraging them to visit us out of season now.

If it was my holiday home and I wasn’t there (like my dad’s place in Spain), that’s different I would ask people to pay to book it, I might do mates rates if I could afford to depending on the friendship.

Hope that helps. Ultimately its what you feel comfortable with. I guess you learnt that people won’t offer money to cover costs!

#6

Wow! So far I don’t have any “friends” like that, thank goodness! You’re really being taken advantage of. I have family that comes and stays for months at a time but I put them on the daybed in my office and make them work the bnb. Depending on the friend I’d probably lie and say it’s booked.

1 Like
#7

Mattress in a living room, but what about others guests so wake up and see someone snoring on a mattress?

#8

My airBnB guests do not share access to my living room, only the kitchen. There is no reason for them to go into the living room and see my friend snoring on a mattress/couch.

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#9

If this is uour layout then yes, I have an open space, it doesn’t matter if you share or not you will see my living room. But another question : did you specified in your listings that guests can’t use living room? I am thinking of putting TV in guests rooms and I would want to let my guests know somehow gently that living room is our space and when we are home we would like to use it.

#10

It is not specified in my listing guests don’t use the living room, but they have never once asked or tried to use it, except when they have a small child that wants to play with my child, which is fine. The kitchen is the place that we use for socialising with our guests, and we ask they finish up in the kitchen by 10pm. Mostly as its under our bedroom. Almost without exception my guests always knock on the door to come into the kitchen, not that they need to, they just do. Maybe I have super polite guests? When I have guests, I tend to just hang out with them in the kitchen and chat, I’m happy to do that. They go to their room to have their space and I don’t bother them there. When I have friends over -staying on the floor in the living room, they just hang out with us and the BnB guests too and it all seems to go fine. I guess if you have a tiny flat that wouldn’t work out so well.I put a couch in my guests room, so they can chillout there if they want, but the room has to be big enough for that to work I guess. A TV in the bedroom is a possible solution, sometimes people have it on all night though. So I guess you’d have to monitor that and maybe not advertise it, so you can take it away again if it becomes a noise problem for you.

#11

I have a pretty big jouse, about 200 sq. meters, it’s just its very open. First floor including kitchen has no doors. I feel a little bad not to have TV in guests rooms though when I travel as a guest 95% of the time I don’t have TV in my room also. Very few guests are using our living room to watch TV but then they do it’s a bit uncomfortable for us.

#13

To me it all depends on how close I am to the friends or family. They would have to be really close…like to the point the enjoyment of having them visit would offset the loss of potential income. If it’s someone who is just looking for free lodging and not really here to visit me, then HELL no. I’d politely say something along the lines of ‘Oh, I am so sorry, you know I do the airBnB thing, so i don’t really have room…but I can recommend some great hotels nearby.’ That’s a very polite way of saying ‘take a hike you user.’

2 Likes
#14

I don’t know how we got from ‘how do you handle freeloading guests’ to ‘what do you watch on tv.’, but anyway -

Susan, you’ll have to decide is your airbnb a business, or a way to make cash when convenient? Well, we know the answer, because you’re peeved at these ‘friends’ for taking up your space, costing you revenue, and not even say ‘thanks’.

When they call and say ‘oh, you have an extra room, we’re coming’ say ‘no, I don’t, sorry, but that room is for my business - it is available for rent through airbnb and I’d love to see you’. End of story.

Because the truth is - you don’t have an ‘extra’ room!!

Good luck - let us know how it goes!!

3 Likes
#15

Love your dialogues! I could see it going down that road easily!

#16

You are totally right! Over the course of 1 season, I went from having a spare room for friends and family which “I’ll see if I can rent out if no-one is visiting for a supplementary income”, to not having a spare room anymore; and if you want to come visit you’ll have to stay on the floor! I’m not even entirely sure how it happened, but for me with a small child out in a remote yet scenic place, its a great way to ‘work from home’. Much easier than finding child minders etc… and mostly just involves socialising over cups of tea!

#17

I ddnt quite get it also

#18

That’s just rude to assume you can stay for free if your friend is a doctor can you book an appointment with himfor free if your friend is in construction work can he come and work on your house for free I learned a long time ago you will save a lot of time and a lot of money if you just learn to say NO. Tell them politely that this is how you earn your living they r welcome to stay if they want to register and pay as a guest. They don’t get the time it takes to clean her room when they leave!

2 Likes
#20

Hi konacoconutz, Thanks for you reply. Good to know someone has had the same problem. Think I’m at the first stage you mentioned…Why am I giving free accommodation to friends when I am losing money from declined bookings?. Yes, it’s difficult to have a spare room in a popular tourist destination.Its also difficult to charge friends when you have also stayed for a night or two at their homes.However, my friends’ homes are not in world famous tourist destinations and I’m guessing they would have trouble getting an Airbnb booking at all.Offering the couch is not really an option for me as both bathrooms in my villa are ensuites and there’s no seperate bathroom. Thanks for your advice and suggestions Taking them onboard and moving on to next stage now! :wink:

1 Like
#21

Susan, well said “moving on to the next stage”. I’ve just been in the business since June and man, oh man, have their been stages. From being amazed and excited at all the bookings, to being weary of responding to requests, to now, looking at my phone in dismay because there ARE no booking requests…(I’m booked until the end of October, and I assume November and December are just going to be dead times).

#22

“…when you have also stayed for a night or two at their homes.”

Oh the guilt!

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