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I use Instant Book with all possible requirements turned on, including the profile photo requirement.
Recently a guest booked with IB and when I saw the photo, it was a German Shepherd. I really love dogs so I shrugged it off.
After communicating with the guest via telephone texting (the only way she would accept) I became uncomfortable with her on an issue related to the booking.
So I called ABB Support. They advised me to require ID at check in. Brilliant! I thought. This would negate self check in, but that’s not a problem for me, usually–I can meet the guest at the door.
So I kept communicating with guest on this issue, no response.
Finally I sent a message saying I was going to cancel her reservation unless she responded to my messages on the ABB website. She sent a wedding party photo, and then canceled the reservation, to my relief.
I now have a no dog photo policy. I also think that it might be possible to get sus guests to cancel if you keep messaging them about an issue like this.
My profile pic is a sunset from our deck. When setting up my account, I couldn’t find a picture of myself I liked, so I used the sunset, figuring I’d change it later. After 5 yr & probably a dozen stays as a guest, only one host asked me to send an actual pic of myself. Not a photo of a dog, but I guess I fall into that “guilty” category”.
I am really unphotogenic and quite dislike photos of myself, but I do have a photo of myself. When I first set up my account, I posted a photo of my dog, but immediately got a pop-up message saying “Is this really you?” So I think they used to have some algorithm that flagged non-human face photos. This was back in 2016.
What I don’t have, and what I had, like you, planned to do later, is a profile write-up, nor verified ID. And like you, as I now have a bunch of lovely reviews, it doesn’t seem to matter.
If I booked as a guest, which I’ve never done, I would have to upload ID, and would do a profile write-up for the benefit of hosts I wanted to book with.
I have it in my house rules - and my instant book rules that the profile picture must be a picture of the person’s face without sunglasses or a hat obstructing their face. They are also required to send me a selfie of the guest (Along with full legal names, current address and age). It’s in my instant book requirements.
I have a strict no third-party booking and that the guest booking must be the first to arrive.
Between the two things above, I don’t get any surprises anymore.
I request all info within 24 hours of booking. If the guest doesn’t want to provide info, I let them know that they can cancel penalty free within 48 hours of book.
A. To know that the person who shows up at my gate is the person who booked.
B. If they had an inappropriate photo for asking to rent a place, it indicates an attitude or cluelessness that would be a red flag. I’m not talking about a photo of their dog, or a sunset, but a photo of them brandishing a gun, giving the finger to the camera, naked, or wasted at a party. I have read posts from hosts who have gotten booking requests with all of those photos.
A friend of mine who hosts, after accepting the booking and then seeing a photo of the guests, then tried to encourage them to cancel, as they were incredibly obese. It wasn’t that she has anything against fat people, it’s that the studio apartment has a tiny bathroom and a quite small shower stall, which they literally wouldn’t be able to fit in. Of course she didn’t say that, just mentioned that her bathroom and shower were quite small, and they might be disappointed with that. She also had street construction going on in her neighborhood, and never knew from one day to the next whether her guests would be able to park in front of her house or a block away, which she had been messaging all her booked guests about. These folks didn’t look like they could walk a block.
They insisted on keeping the booking, indeed had to park a block away, arrived red-faced, sweating and looking like they were about to have heart attacks, could barely make it up the 3 porch steps, were shown into the unit, took one look at the bathroom, and immediately wanted to cancel. (Which she agreed to, just to get them gone ASAP)
So in this case, while the photo alerted the host that it literally would not be a good “fit”, and the guest didn’t withdraw the request, if they had taken her discouragement to heart, that photo would have been a valuable thing for the host to see.
I’ve had exactly that. (Well, the opposite, rather). The guest was from a Scandinavian country, I forget which, but I assumed from the name that the guest was male. When ‘he’ arrived he was a woman.
At first, I thought she’d probably booked from her husband’s account, but no. Mind you, had that been the case, I would have been okay with it. She was one of my longer-term guests - about three weeks I think - and she was lovely. Even after three weeks, the apartment was in fabulous shape.
True! That’s a really valid point. I was once a little concerned about a guest because she looked so evil on her profile. When she arrived, I blurted out ‘but you’re so pretty!’
I can’t count how many flowers, babies, sunsets, insects, national flags and other items I’ve hosted (and even once, the Taj Mahal.)
I ask guests to change their profile picture. If they don’t - I contact customer support. In my case - the guest was non responsive and I eventually canceled the booking. Then the guest rebooked and included their profile pic.
My property requires providing ID to enter the area - so normally when I remind people of that - people either provide profile photos or cancel
I had to go into my profile to see what picture I had used. Low and behold it’s a picture of my husband and I, at our wedding, which is now over a decade ago. We didn’t look that good the following day, much less now. Good luck someone trying to reconcile that picture with me.
I gather that it’s unusual, but I have never had a guest who didn’t have a clear face photo. Of course people don’t always look in real life like they do on a photo- I could easily pass them on the street before meeting them and not think it was the person in the photo, but they look enough like their photo when they arrive that I can tell it’s the same person who booked.
Same! I hosted a gorilla once, as well. And a sewing machine, I think. Some sort of machine anyway. And hundreds of guests who look nothing at all like their full-makeup, taken-decades-ago, or flatteringly-angled “real” profile photos.
Guests recently looked quite fit in their photo for our hiking and camping place, but they must have had an unhealthy pandemic. Could barely make the trek in. Did survive it, thank goodness.
I would say I put no stock in photos, but if the photo is of a dog and no dog is mentioned in the message I will ask something like, “Is the pretty golden lab in your photo coming with you?”
I knew a woman where I lived in Canada who was quite the character. This was before the days of everyone getting tattooed and pierced, or she probably would have been. She had long, flowing dyed red hair, and made all her own clothes, which were very flamboyant and decidedly weird. She wore very pale face make-up, which made her look ghost-like. She worked as a stripper at one point. She looked quite out-there and a bit scary. At any local dance, she always came alone, loved to dance, and was always right up in front of the stage dancing wildly.
But when you talked to her, she had a soft, quiet voice, was actually rather shy, never said anything odd, she didn’t drink or even smoke pot, and lived a quiet lifestyle with her boyfriend on a rural property, where she grew an organic garden.