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Glad for Direct Booking

Given all the technical, customer service, pricing, and terms of service issues that hosts report here, I’m grateful to have enough past guests that we can get reservations from our repeaters directly.

I’m very glad to have contact info for all our past guests. I so recommend that all hosts do that, separate from the Airbnb platform.

Since our nearly two-year shutdown for the worst of the pandemic, we don’t want the level of occupancy we had before (75% per room, except in the winter).

We’re happy with a slower pace and familiar faces in our shared home.

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Thanks to this forum I immediately put all guests and their info in my phone (backup database, too) for the future.

I now have a guest who will be here for an additional 3 weeks and she’s just lovely. I have closed my calendar after she leaves because I need to rethink ABB as a home share host.

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I don’t have a direct booking website, but I have always kept all my past guests’ contact information, as well as giving them my email address, and told them if they ever want to come back or have friends or family who want to come (I can tell they aren’t the sort of people who would give my contact info to anyone who would be a bad guest), to just contact me directly.

Talking about all the issues on Airbnb- shocking story on the CC- experienced hosts with a separate rental unit on their property had someone break into the house and spend the night there. The trespasser had sent a booking request, wanting to check-in later that day, hosts had sent back their standard list of questions and hadn’t yet had a reply.
Guest seemed to think he had a confirmed booking, and called Airbnb to ask for the address. The CS rep gave him the address, although he did not have a confirmed booking and hadn’t paid !

The guy showed up in the middle of the night, found his way through a locked gate, broke in through the back door. Hosts had to call the sheriff to get him to leave. Airbnb only just responded to their communication with CS 5 days after the incident, saying they are investigating, without any apology about the CS having given out their address to someone who had no booking and who then broke into their property.

Imagine being a home share host and having this happen. Plenty of places where an intruder would be shot by the homeowner, no questions asked.

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CS gave the intruder the address even though they didn’t have a paid reservation? That is really really bad.

Well trained people all around.

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I’m curious because we have some repeaters, though not as many as we’d like. Do you proactively suggest that you take the booking off the platform? [By suggesting this not when they make or are about to make a reservation but after they’re checking out?] Or wait for them to bring it up?

I’m wondering what the ethics of this situation are. My sense is that it would be OK for me after they check out to send a text or email saying that when they want to return that they should feel free to contact me directly and by doing so would save the 14%+ that Airbnb charges as the guest fee, but that it wouldn’t be OK for me to do that when they’ve made a new request or inquiry on the platform. What do you and others think?

Also, for those who pay occupancy taxes in the US, is it a hassle/complicated to remit these directly to the municipality? Does anyone in US who uses Proper insurance know whether Proper would care (maybe I should ask them directly)?

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For me as a homeshare host it’s easy. Before they check out, I just tell them if they want to come back in the future, they are welcome to contact me directly if they choose, rather than go through Airbnb. Usually we already have each other’s email addresses, as that is the way I send my guests the necessary map to my hard-to-find place.

I know some entire home hosts have direct contact business cards, postcards, or the like in their rentals.

You could get in trouble for suggesting to a guest that they book direct when they have contacted you through Airbnb, but once a guest’s original booking has come to an end, Airbnb doesn’t own the relationship between you and a guest.

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OK. Good, that makes sense to me. Thank you.

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Yes. But not while they were here as Airbnb guests. At that time, it didn’t occur to me that we’d be more interested in direct booking in the future.

I have stayed in contact with past guests. We’ve sent them our annual holiday letter, and I’ve had lots of text exchanges with many of them, asking about their family, travels, etc. For just about every guest, I’ve kept some notes about things we talked about during their visit here, so I can easily text to follow up about those topics.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve twice texted all past guests we’d be interested in hosting again, talked about vaccination status, and invited them to contact me by text or phone if they want to stay with us again. I did that last summer, when we were briefly open to “repeat offenders,” as my husband calls them. Then I texted again earlier this year.

We don’t have a separate booking website, either. We do have a simple one-page website where people can easily find our contact info.

As for ethics, Airbnb “introduced” us to these guests, and they all completed at least one Airbnb transaction with us. Now we know each other. We don’t need Airbnb to “introduce” us again.

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There are some guests who, for whatever reason (perhaps they feel more “protected”, perhaps they like to build up good reviews), choose to book through Airbnb (or whatever platform) even if given a choice to book direct. So I wouldn’t actively encourage them to book direct in a way that might make them feel pressured to do so, or give them the impression that the host prefers to circumvent the platform. Which is why I just say they are welcome to contact me directly if they’d like to come back, if they choose.
I also don’t mention saving service fees, as I think that’s somewhat inherently understood.

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Yep. It wasn’t even a situation where the host had accepted the request and the guest’s payment simply hadn’t gone through yet. The request had only been responded to by the host with some questions that the guest hadn’t answered. Host was planning to decline the request if they hadn’t gotten communication from the guest by the morning.

I would venture a guess this was a case of a totally clueless Airbnb rep who never bothered to see whether the guest actually had a confirmed booking, just gave them the address as requested, and will likely either get read the riot act or fired, because there is no guest-pandering advantage to Airbnb to have done this, as they would not get their service fees.

But it’s frightening that they have CS reps that are so poorly trained that they would give out personal host info to a guest without checking to make sure they had a booking. Not only did it create a dangerous situation for the host, that guest could have easily become today’s news headlines as another Airbnb fatality, had the host been of the mentality that shooting an intruder on one’s property is a normal and justifiable reaction.

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I think you’re more optimistic than I am. Given the apparent prevalence of incompetent CS employees, I’m not at all sure there will be any repercussions.

I have 4 listings.
Currently I have a
weekly 2 nighter, monthly 4 nighter, A 2 monthly 7 nighter and a 3 monthly 4 nighter.
These are all direct bookings after coming through an OTA.
I have done my best to develop a relationship with these guests, so I am the first they think of when coming to stay. Preferred breakfast items in the fridge, easy access to the house and check in whenever.
These guests also allow me to move their bookings to my other houses if I can get another booking.
My weekly guy texts me and asks if he is turning left or right.
I ask every new guest if they come to Grafton regularly, and if they do, to save my number.
Currently running at 80% direct bookings :blush: and a reasonably full calendar into the future

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Cool. Good for you. I wish I got repeat bookers, but the problem with living in a place which is basically a destination tourist town, rather than a place a person might regularly travel to on business, to see family, or a domestic vacation place that people return to year after year, is that hosts rarely get repeat guests- they go on vacation somewhere else the following year.

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Oh, I’m not exactly optimistic about CS reps being taken to task for their bad decisions, their lack of knowledge about policies, or the faulty info or advice they hand out. But this one is a little different in that I doubt Airbnb wants their CS reps to hand out listing addresses to guests who don’t have confirmed bookings- that’s no different from hosts and guests trying to exchange contact info to circumvent paying through the platform, which they definitely don’t condone or turn a blind eye to.

Of course, that host will never be told if there were any repercussions for the rep.

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WOW! What a relationship you’ve developed with these guests. You sound phenomenal. I wonder whether you have a skill that transcends hosting. Please don’t tell me that you’re also great with kids, or do you fail miserably there as ‘clueless’? [Ha ha]

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Kids? Not at all. They seem like a different species to me. Never had any. Never wanted any.

My husband and I have run our own businesses for years—long before we started Airbnb.

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Ahh. You’re human after all.

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Do you know how to group text all guests the same note??

No. But I don’t need to, because I customize each text a bit.

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I think its amazing what some of you have created with your repeat guests, well done. Just wondering if you take a deposit to secure a booking, take payment in full or some other way to protect yourself from last minute cancellations etc. I have a repeat client who I actually steered back into Airbnb because it got so casual “ we are thinking of coming, can you pencil me in for Easter and Ill let you know later for sure?” :rofl: :rofl:

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