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I’ve just had a weird experience with guests who absolutely refused to use Airbnb’s messaging to communicate. Of course, there were the initial few emails prior to and at booking, with the final one reading, “please text or call me ONLY.”
O-k-a-y – this was the day of the arrival, so I responded with the usual “Airbnb encourages hosts and guests to communicate via Airbnb, blah blah blah.” They were late arriving, I have self check-in, and I had to be elsewhere so I didn’t meet them the first night. So far, so good.
Then the next day they texted me to say there was no hot water. I documented it on Airbnb but had to have the actual conversation via text. Again, from the guest: “do not contact me via Airbnb.” Weird. They WERE responsive to texts, however.
Got a plumber to replace the broken HW heater thermostat (and was lucky to find someone who could come on the same day). When it looked like I couldn’t get a same day plumber appointment, I called Airbnb to get their advice on options for rebooking them elsewhere, and the CSR very sternly said to communicate ONLY through Airbnb. Right…how do you make a guest do anything, right?
I never did meet the guest, and got a terse reply to my “all fixed, problem solved” text. I am not hopeful for a good review, but I did everything I could, so I’m okay with it.
In their review, I reiterated with them the advice of the Airbnb CSR.
Have you ever run into this before? How did you/would you have handled it? My hosting style is such that I try to give guests the space they want, and it’s an entire cottage they rent a few doors down from my house.
I have had a couple of guests who insisted on a phone call before they booked or arrived. Each of them has been so much trouble that going forward if someone refuses to communicate via Airbnb I will decline their booking.
You reviewed them already and mentioned that they refused to communicate via Airbnb? As a host I would be very hesitant to book someone who refused to use airbnb but I instant book. I haven’t had that happen yet thank goodness.
They left the place so clean it looked like my cleaning helper had already been there, so although I gave them a low star rating on communication I did not mention it in my review…it was a mixed experience, as is often the case. In my private comments to them on the review I very thoroughly outlined why they need to communicate via Airbnb.
Wow this has never happened to me, thank goodness.
I’ve had guests call me before, but not out of a refusal to use the AirBnB message system. It was either their concern about the system as a new AirBnB guest, or they had made a day-of booking and just wanted a verbal confirmation that I was ready to accommodate them. None of them have stood out as being more or less trouble.
Never happened to me that a guest actually refused to communicate through the system. It would make me uncomfortable, particularly if they wouldn’t say WHY. My immediate thought is that they wanted to hide the trip from someone who had access to their, possibly joint, Airbnb account (ie. spouse or partner) or they were using someone else’s account when they shouldn’t have. Either way, bad form. At least they didn’t cause you any other problems, though.
I’ve never had a guest explicitly tell me that they don’t want to communicate via Airbnb but if they did, I’d have to ask myself why. And probably come up with dodgy reasons.
But like @KKC I use instant book so don’t have the chance of refusing them. I’ve had guests though who simply prefer to text or call. In those instances, unless it has been trivial stuff, I’ve added the situation to the Airbnb system as a back up and paper trail. For example:
Further to our text conversation, I want to thank you so much for letting me know that that bathtub is draining slowly. As I said in my text, a plumber will be attending to it no later than 10 am today. Thank you!
Then I follow it up:
Thank you for allowing the plumber access this morning. He assures me that the problem is fixed. Please message me here if you have any further issues during your stay.
This way if a guest mentions something in a review I can have it removed (hopefully) because I can show Airbnb that the matter was dealt with.
I wondered if they were hiding something, too, but the booking is obviously right there on the platform, so I don’t know. I’ve had guests shoot me a text outside of Airbnb before, but I always direct them back, and try to meet them personally so I can just explain “It’s the best way to get in touch with me because it contacts me 3 ways, and there is no way I can miss anything…” It’s almost always an Airbnb newbie. This guy wasn’t new. He had 3 good-to-great reviews. After a couple of dozen rounds of guests with zero issues they needed to contact me about, OF COURSE it’s the guy who is balking at Airbnb messaging who was there when the hot water heater decided to malfunction.
So weird. I have heard some crazy stories on here, but this is a first. I’ve had folks who are bad about communicating, and they usually turn out to be the less desirable guests (and also tend not to leave reviews). But, I have never had anyone specifically say please communicate outside of Air BnB. I agree with others. HUGE red flag. Since they had already booked though not sure what you could do except ride it out. Definitely a good idea to let Air know that they specifically requested not to use their communications platform. Maybe in the for-Air-only feedback space they provide when you are leaving a review would be a great place to document this.
I’m glad others think it was very weird, too. I wracked my brain trying to think up the pithy/cool/direct/funny phrase to try to get him to stick to the platform while it was going on – which is why I posted here. This forum has offered me some good turns of phrase in the past.
When weird stuff happens, I always try to inject some humor/extra kindness to leaven the directness in my messages and that usually works. We all know some people don’t listen and sometimes it’s way past direct.
Until the day of arrival, he seemed okay, and messaged as usual via Airbnb. Yeah, the red flag was waving high the entire time they were here once the issue came up. As I said above, I did put it in my private message to the guest in the review, but I guess I forgot to mention that I covered my butt in the message just for Airbnb in my 1st post.
That’s a good approach and I usually aim to do the same. But if someone has minimal English it can backfire and then there are the stubbornly humourless ones Nothing you can do except count the money and be thankful they didn’t trash the place.
The guy who booked the place isn’t the guy staying there. That’s why it makes sense to hand over communication to phone/text once check in happens… because if you communicate through the portal, the person who booked now has to relay it to his friend/whoever he booked for. It becomes a nuisance game of telephone and the person staying there doesn’t want to inconvenience whoever booked his stay. And, the person staying there doesn’t have access to the main AirBnB account.
It’s hard to say why someone would check in another person–maybe they are underage and can’t sign up on their own (like a high school student), maybe it’s a gift, whatever. It ain’t right, but I’m just explaining motive.
If I were you, I’d go over and do some comparing. Of course, it’s the easiest thing in the world for the guy to change his profile pic to match whoever is there… but this is my vote. Edit to say that it looks like you may never know because he checked out, and you never met the guy. I’m guessing he didn’t want to be met!
One thing you can do is call the number from a friend’s phone and say, “hey, is this Josh?” He’ll say no and then you can ask, “oh sorry, who is this?” Ten bucks says he will give his name. You can see if this matches the booking profile name given on AirBnB. If it’s a mismatch… then the person who stayed at your place isn’t the person who booked!
Many people still don’t have ‘smart’ phones and this is likely why they are saying this. They simply cannot access a website or app and text or call is the only way to communicate - they are not being difficult.
Or they are an international traveler with no internet access outside of free wifi spots. I have explained this to many hosts when I have travelled
99% of my guests fall into this category so it’s unrealistic to always communicate via ABB and not guest friendly but I always try it first and always copy conversations into it.