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HELP! How would you handle this?

Hello!

I am a fairly new airbnb host and have until now only had good experiences. Until last night.

A couple living in a city a five hour drive away booked my apartment and early on asked if they could check in late, saying “it might go up to midnight”. Although a bit unconvenient, I agreed to it. I’m renting out the whole apartment, so I have to be present to give them the keys, but can’t stay there myself when I have guests. On the day of the arrival I told them that my friend would be meeting them as I was out of town and I could only be there half an hour after their estimated arrival time, so I sent them his number in case they would arrive before I was back. To this they replied that they will be late (without saying how much late, should have had some warning bells already then) and suggested meeting at a hotel in the city center so it would be easier to find. Thankfully I didn’t agree to meeting anywhere else than the apartment. Would have been a long wait…

I told them I was now at the apartment and asked for the time of arrival, this was half an hour after they were already suppose to already have arrived according to their original plan. Then I got a message from them it would still take them THREE (?!?!!) hours to get to the apartment, so they would be more than 3,5h late in total. On a Friday night. Although that meant missing the last public transport, I still waited for them that time, hoping to at least get an answer to my messages. They knew I had to get up early the next day. Three messages without a reply later, I finally went to bed at a bit before 4 am.

I didn’t end up hearing anything from them until after 9am this morning. Instead, they had called my friend 40 times, no more no less, starting at 5 am. His phone was on silent so there was no response, and it was anyway clear from our messages that any arrival after 00.30am would be met by me.

The thing is, they have a booking for two nights and I am now unsure how to handle the second night. I feel highly uncomfortable letting these people stay at my place (especially since I wouldn’t be there), but would not like to receive a penalty from airbnb either. I am afraid that something will “disappear” from my apartment, or that there will be damages to it or something else (the woman who booked only has phone number and email verified, and of her husband who’s also coming I know nothing). The message I have received this morning (9.30am) is very angry, and blaming me for them having to sleep in the car although they didn’t even arrive in the city until 5am (when original check in was supposed to be at 00.00, and it’s only a five hour drive away from their hometown), and they had not once contacted me (only my friend who was scheduled to house watch until 00.30) before after 9am.

Like I said, I am new to hosting on airbnb and could really need some advice here.
What would you do in this situation?

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If you are not concerned about losing any money, then see what Air thinks about relocating them with no penalty. Just explain to Air that they are behaving in an angry manner…all this after you waited up until 4 a.m. in the morning, with explicit instructions.

It almost sounds like they were trying to avoid meeting you or something. So strange to want to meet at a hotel, and then not calling you at 5 a.m. That is such odd behavior…that they wouldn’t call you until after 9 in the morning.

If for some reason you want to keep the reservation, or if Air won’t let you cancel - then reply back to the angry message and ask for clarification of why they were calling your friend when you told them that you would meet them at 12:30. I would want to find out more to this story before allowing them in.

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Call AirBnB, and have them cancel the booking.

Tell AirBnB that the guests are behaving hostile towards you, and you do not feel comfortable having them in your house. Tell AirBnB that the guests were a lot later than expected, 05:00 AM and not midnight like agreed, and that they are now blaming you.

Do not text or call the guests, only use the AirBnB message system.

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@Chris as usual, clear, simple, logical advice given step by step… . Do as he suggests.

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Well as it is a weekend booking (i.e. otherwise someone else would most likely have booked those dates) it would be annoying to loose both nights payments, especially as my check in time is set to 2pm (check out at 11am) so half of their first night’s stay was already used before they even planned on arriving, I consider this kind of behaviour to be equal to a no show. Actually even worse as my friend has been harassed by phone although he has nothing to do with the apartment except that he was waiting to make sure there would be someone to welcome them had they arrived early. If I cancel the booking myself I will end up with the automated “host cancelled the booking” message amongst my reviews, and I would rather avoid that.

I wrote them a long message asking about their reson for not showing up (I slept in the apartment last night waiting for them and there is a direct entrance to the apartment from the street so they could have just knocked). The only reply I got was “okay then, how do I get my money back?”. No answer to the questions, no comment about why they were calling my friend instead of me, why they were so late or why they didn’t simply come straight to the apartment.

I really hope this is a one in a million kind of behaviour…

Hi @Sofia, I think as hosts we have the good angel/bad angel constantly battling. The good angel wants us to honor our commitment, give guests the benefit of the doubt, offer a good experience, etc. The bad angel is telling you to cancel the reservation because you have warning signs that this isn’t going to go well BUT you want to keep the money.

They inconvenienced you, and your friend by having bad planning. They expressed no remorse when you asked them to explain the situation. So you have to decide if it’s more important to continue having a bad experience for a the revenue of a 2 day booking and a possible auto review “this booking was cancelled”. I am not saying it’s an easy choice, but after 6 years of hosting on Airbnb I can tell you that every single time I’ve had a bad hosting situation, it’s been telegraphed to me in advance and I chose to ignore it, because I didn’t want to lose the booking. In the end, I always lost more than the booking.

So as others have said - call Airbnb, tell them this isn’t working and you feel threatened and they need to cancel the booking on your behalf. If they agree, don’t have any further communication with the guest. If they disagree, then cancel, take the very big cancellation hit, and move on. But you probably (not that you shouldn’t, nothing of this was your fault) can’t have both piece of mind and the revenue from the booking in this case, something has to give.

Good luck.

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Sofia, do not cancell yourself and do not refund them willingly. Call Air and ask them. Make guests cancel.
First night you can definitely keep the money anyway

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Have you contacted AirBnB already?
Start covering yourself and inform AirBnB about the situation.
Make sure AirBnB knows this is a no-show.

Your reply to the guest should be short and simple: “You can start by canceling the reservation”.
Do not reply to any other messages again.

If you are lucky, they will cancel, hoping they get their money back. By canceling they will not be able to review.

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Sofia, I am sorry this happened to you. As a newbie, you will find if you read a lot on this forum that most experienced hosts only accept guests that are fully verified (phone, email, social media, and government ID). Some will not take guests who have no reviews. I accept only those who are fully verified. If I get an inquiry from someone who isn’t fully verified, I message back that they need to be fully verified BEFORE I accept their booking. Some, I never hear from again. Others finish the verification process and I book them (I’ve had the best luck with these first-time Airbnb guests – they don’t have high expectations and then they are more than pleased when they see my place).

And, do what Chris says – let THEM cancel. I have even gone so far to say, “Since this is your issue and I have done everything I can to accommodate you, I cannot cancel the reservation – only you can.”

Let us know how it turns out!

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Agree. Don’t think of the money at this point. The guests were in the wrong.

Update: The guests cancelled the reservation by themselves this afternoon, without any apology or explanation on why they did not show up as planned last night. Before cancelling they apparently (according to them) made it to the apartment without notifying me about it first, 14 hours after our original meeting time, but there was no one there to open up (and quite frankly if true I would not have felt comfortable opening to them in that situation, had I been home). After cancelling they demanded a full refund, as I had not been there to open up once they finally (14 hours late, 24 hours after initial check in time, at 2pm instead of midnight!) showed up. That’s clearly not going to happen, especially as they still haven’t provided any kind of reason for not showing up when agreed on, nor even apologised for the inconvenience this has caused.

I suspect they might simply have found cheaper accommodation and trying to avoid cancellation fees this way, that is the only way I can make any sense of this.

Thank you everyone for your advice and support!

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YAY… This could be one case of a bad situation working out in your favor. You did get compensated for your annoyance though.

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Ignore them, and keep radio silence.
But do inform AirBnB about the situation, in case they try something trough the resolution center.

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I’d definitely call AirBnB, the guest will be asking for a full refund and expecting you to pay for a replacement property and you need to make sure Air has heard the full story.

By the way - the host cannot physically cancel less than 24 hours before checkin, and can’t do it after checkin, even if the guest never shows up. Something to remember next time. If you have a no-show and Air cancels it, you should still get the first night’s fee since it was no fault of yours. And in this case, they haven’t cancelled before the second night either, so hopefully you keep the whole fee.

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