Got my first airbnb inquiry completely in Chinese. I don't speak chinese or even read it. How do I handle it?

I just got a newbie airbnb inquiry completely in Chinese. He is going to the community college that is close to me. How do I respond to this inquiry? I already asked him if it is ok if I only speak English. Would it be reasonable to decline his request after 24 hours because of language barriers? would be a good place to start. If you aren’t willing to do the extra work to communicate with someone who is not comfortable with English, that is, of course, up to you. If he is going to community college in an English speaking country, chances are he can at least read the language.

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We get a fair number of Chinese, usually going to or coming from Yellowstone and very few of them speak English. Sadly, I don’t speak Chinese (or any other useful language). Nonetheless, we manage to communicate enough to get information across and most of the folks who stay with us can make efficient use of Google Translate. Word of warning, though–Google Translate is not great with asian languages and we’ve had more than one incident where we and the guests blinked at each other in bafflement at what came through. The guests are, for the most part (mercifully), tolerant of our shortcomings on the issue.

You can decline, though I am not sure how Airbnb will feel about it-- but if you are really not comfortable with the situation, it may be worth it.

I’ve had plenty of Chinese guests who don’t speak any English at all. I’ve used Google translate.


Use google translation. Or if the guest is booking your place for community college, I’m sure he can speak some English. Maybe not fluent but should be enough to book an accommodation.

Depending on where you are located, you are going to get many guests with limited English. In my book, it’s not a reason to decline them.

I have had Chinese, Indonesian, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Italian, Danish so far. Each with a variety of levels of English, yes it’s a little more difficult to communicate with those who don’t speak English but not the end of the world. I get a lot of French so a friend who is French kindly translated my rules and guest book for me.

If your guest going to study in your country he is more than likely to speak and read English to some extent.

Airbnb normally translates languages on it’s platform so not sure why the inquiry came out in Chinese.

I don’t think it would be reasonable to decline when you don’t even know what his levels of English are. Or to decline just for that reason. Airbnb is meant to welcome everyone wherever they come from.

I would decline. The one time I accepted a booking like this, where the guest only communicated in Italian and I used Google translate to understand what they were saying, it was a disaster. I wrote back to them in English every time. When they arrived they used the language barrier as an excuse for not following my house rules and taking every advantage of my house including the food in my fridge (I don’t provide breakfast.)

Specifically for Chinese guests since I can speak Chinese even tho I cannot read or write it, I do accept them even if their English is poor because once they arrive I can still communicate with them. But that’s my only exception now.

I have a rule: “One of the guests must be fluent in English”. Problem is if none are then how do they read that? I put it in there so if there are any language issues I have some recourse with Air that the problem is theirs and shouldn’t be mine.

Do you say

If you cannot read and understand this sentence, please do not book with me

? :rofl:


Update: So I airbnb texted him asking how was his english and also gave him a deadline of 10 AM today to respond, if not I would consider him not interested in my place and decline him. He responded completely in english and apologized for not responding earlier since he is new to the app. I approved him.


All’s well that ends well.

(Thank you @BillShakey)

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My last rule says: “I agree I have read all the rules, including this one”.

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“My only rule is that you follow all the rules”


I know English is “the international language” but is it necessary to be so… draconian? How would you feel if you booked the trip of a lifetime to Paris or Prague and the host said Si vous ne parlez pas le francais - adieu.

There are plenty of ways to communicate: google translate, sign language, showing people things in person. I find this thread very disheartening for two reasons: how is it possible that someone can be somehow penalised immediately for being a bad guest because they do not speak fluent English? In this day and age???
Secondly, that Airbnb was actually called about this non-issue. That’s just ridiculous. Honestly, the trivial crap that hosts call up about astounds me.

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My response is based on the guest not even bothering to use Google translate to try to communicate. That’s what happened in my case with the Italians. I had just assumed they read my listing by using the translate button on the Airbnb site but when they arrived they actually told me no, they didn’t really read my listing and didn’t know I had soooooo many rules (and didn’t know that I didn’t serve breakfast before eating my food). I really should have realized this based on their communication with me in full Italian. Doesn’t that seem a little weird, to expect me in the U.S. to understand Italian? They are the ones booking, they should make the effort to understand my listing somehow. I would do the same if I was going to France for instance. If I see the listing I want is written in French, I’d try to use Google translate to explain to my host that I don’t understand their language, but I’ve used this tool to translate and I think I’ve understood but please correct me if I’m wrong.

As long as the guest shows me they are trying, I really don’t care how well they speak English.

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Everybody has a smart phone. We had a Chinese lady who used her phone to translate everything, she was very nice.

Why do they have to be fluent? Surely that’s very much against the ethos of Airbnb and restricts the guests who can visit who aren’t fluent…or is that the point?

Shows how important it is not to make assumptions @Yen1 and discriminate against guests whose first language isn’t English. How would you like it if a host saw your profile pic and decided not to rent to you because they assumed you couldn’t speak English just by looking at you?

I didn’t call Airbnb about this issue. How did you get to this assumption?

Saying they need to be fluent just means they can’t use: “my English isn’t very good so I didn’t understand about the cats/showers/locks/curfew/etc”. Perhaps I should say “proficient” rather than “fluent”. Of course they may not understand what “proficient” means. I have benefited from the kindness of people in countries where I spoke barely a word of the local language so I am not trying to be mean to them.

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