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Host penalty for declining inappropriate booking requests


#1

Hi All,

I am new to the forum and have enjoyed reading other hosts experiences and tips.

I hope my recent experience and air bnb’s recommendations might prove useful to others.

Recently I got a message on my listing page telling me I needed to work on the listing as my acceptance rate had fallen below target ( 86% with a target of 88%) . As I am a super host I am keen to maintain my status

I contacted air bnb to try and understand why. The reason given was I had declined two booking requests recently.

The “declines” in question relate to:

A) person trying to make a 3rd party booking - as we are aware this is against air bnb’s own rules ( I politely advised that 3rd party bookings are not permitted and recommended the person wishing to make the booking could set up an account)

B) A guest trying to make a booking for 5 ( my maximum capacity is 4) and this included 3 small children and my listing clearly states the apartment is unsuitable/unsafe for small children ( won’t go into detail but low wall drops right into concrete walkway and if they survive the drop they would then roll into the harbour).

I questioned customer services as to why I had been penalised for declining two requests that in one case did not meet airs own rules and the second because the guest had not read the listing or if they had , had chosen to ignore it. ( Not even sure how the second guest could have made the request as it exceeds the capacity of the listing and is unsuitable for children ( that’s another discussion!)

These seem very legitimate reasons for declining and so to be given a black mark is frustrating. In discussion with CS I was told they don’t look at the reasons for decline - Its just recorded as a decline ( Even though as hosts we are asked to detail the reason for decline) I asked what I should do if I get more inappropriate requests. It was suggested I asked the guest to withdraw the request. I think this is unlikely to happen (if I had been “rejected” by a host I might not feel inclined to have further interaction)….In the meanwhile the dreaded clock is ticking. They also suggested I let the request expire ( Thought that was a big No No) and then said I would probably make up the numbers soon ( What if I get another 3 requests in a row I have to decline because guests don’t read??) Not happy with the response I spoke to a second CS who seemed more “in tune” with my problem. We discussed the option of having another “button”, that is not accept or decline….but is something along the lines of “Inappropriate request” with the requirement to add free text explaining why the request was inappropriate.

Only having accept or decline gives us hosts only one option if the request is inappropriate and this inevitably results in us being penalised. In future as suggested by CS, I intend to ring air bnb and request they decline the booking so my metrics remain intact. I would welcome any others thoughts /suggestions


#2

As you have read here already all you need to do is reply. You don’t have to accept or decline. So respond with a question. “What brings you to Orlando?” or “I see you have three children, did you see in my listing that we aren’t suitable for children.? Our low balcony wall…blah de blah.”

Another technique advised here is to send a “special offer” that’s extremely high priced.

I suggest you search the forum for other advice on how to avoid declining.


#3

I agree @KKC that hosts should always respond to a request (Airbnb actually tells us this in it’s Help Centre.) than decline it.

However I do think Airbnb should alter the ‘decline function’ so that there is a category for a) a third party booking and b) doesn’t meet house rules or listing requirement with boxes for pets, children, too many guests etc

@CJD - how long have you been hosting. When I didn’t use IB I often declined 2 guests or more on the trot and this never affected me, so i am wondering if you are a fairly new host?


#4

Thanks Helsi, I have been hosting for just over a year……
I must admit I was of the understanding that for a booking request ( not just an enquiry) you had to either accept or decline within the 24 hour window. I provided explanations to both guest the reason for the decline, but was not aware that just sending a reply stopped the clock ticking……

This is in the Q&A section in the help centre You have 24 hours to accept or decline a reservation request before it expires. When you get a reservation request, those dates will be blocked on your calendar so that other guests can’t request them until you accept or decline the pending request.


#5

As already mentioned @CJD you just need to respond to a request, but please don’t feel you need to take our word for it. If you feel more comfortable give Airbnb a call and check directly.

When I look at Airbnb Centre it simply says You can (not that you have to) decline a booking request, but must do this within 24 hours.


#6

Thanks Helsi

If I get further clarity I will post


#7

They seemed to have removed “guest wants to book dates that aren’t the ones they asked for” as well making it even harder.


#8

Hi All,
As Helsi suggested I contacted air bnb to seek clarity on this. Below is a cut and paste of the conversation…

"The question is that if I get a booking request (Not just an enquiry) must I either accept or decline in 24 hours.

If a guest tries to make a booking that does not meet air bnb rules OR my own house rules can I just reply and tell them their request is inappropriate
Airbnb Support

2:42 PM

Yes, Claire.
Once you receive a request, you have to respond in 24 hours to maintain you response rate. This means that you can send them a message and decline, or you can accept the request.

That is up to you, but for your response rate, you have to respond to your received requests.

Claire

2:48 PM

Thanks _ so just to make is very clear if a request is received there are only 2 options - accept or decline. Just sending a message alone will affect your response rate negatively"

Airbnb Support

4:51 PM

I am really sorry for the delayed time to response.

You are right, sending only a message without approving or declining a request will affect your response rate."

So, if you get a request that is not right for your listing or breaks air bnb rules you must decline and as a result get a black mark against you. Hope that is helpful


#9

How did you respond - with a gee thanks? Screwed if you do and screwed if you don’t!
Airbnb is heading to a hotel model where we supply the rooms and we take all comers, like it all not.


#10

Wow @CJD

Thanks for following up on this and letting us know the outcome.

I think however I will carry on just responding, rather than declining, as I have a 100% rate and am not risking getting knocked for declining bookings.


#11

Thanks for returning with their response. I have Instant Book and so little experience with responses but I’d still reply to guests with inappropriate requests and try to get them to cancel their requests rather than outright declining. Like Helsi it seems like I just respond without outright declining and it doesn’t affect me.

One more thought: many Airbnb CSRs give different answers, don’t know what they are talking about and even lie. Like debthecat said, they want us to accept 100% of requests as quickly as possible and don’t care about what the host wants or needs.


#12

That hurts. Last night at 2 a.m. I got a request to book from someone in California. It was an actual booking request in which she asked for dates, but said she was coming to Florida to visit her relatives in a town 50 miles away. I did not accept or reject, just replied that it would be easier for her if she picked a host nearer to the relatives. I am in a small town and the relatives are in a much larger town, I am sure she can get a lot closer. That would not be right to accept and have her find out she had to drive more than an hour to see them. I have had several people like that and they seemed quite happy I did not accept their reservation. I guess it’s a matter of picking the best of two evils, if you accepted the reservation and THEN when they got here they found out how far they had to drive and complained would be worse than rejecting them. And, what does a no response on my part entail, if I respond telling them I am too far away what does that count as if I do not accept or reject!


#13

KI think my approach in future will be to reply without declining explaining why my listing is not suitable and ask them to cancel the request. If they don’t and if I am nearing the 24 hour deadline I will contact air bnb and ask them to contact the guest. Would be so much easier if we had a third option of an “ incompatible with Airbnb/ House rules” option


#14

I actually declined the request I received yesterday based on the horrible reviews. I don’t know if it is a new thing because I haven’t had to decline before but there was actually several reasons I could have chosen including inappropriate or uncomfortable. It didn’t gave me a space to tell the guests why I was declining and a space to tell Airbnb my reasoning


#15

I have a 100% response rate and I do decline a couple of booking requests a month.


#16

Hi All,

Shows how confusing all this is!! Just to clarify, declining does not affect your response rate………mine is also 100% - It is your acceptance rate that is affected and this is the message that is under your “Progress” tab

" Basic requirements
These targets help us ensure that every stay is comfortable and reliable. Your listing could be removed if you consistently fall below.

What to work on

Requirement

You - 86%

Target- 88%

Accepted reservations

Make guests feel welcome by accepting requests whenever you’re available."

So if you send the guest a nice e mail telling them your listing is 100 miles away from where they want to be but don’t decline your response rate is impacted. If you decline them because the guest has bad reviews/is trying to make a third party booking/bringing 3 toddlers to a place that is listed as unsafe for children then your acceptance rate is impacted


#17

So to be safe, I would just call Airbnb in these situations and have them decline and have them assure me that neither rate (response or acceptance) will be affected negatively!!


#18

Brilliant :heart::heart::heart: thank you


#19

Something that I believe I’ve done before in this situation (where I didn’t want to press the ‘decline’ button but couldn’t accept) is to block off the dates requested for at least a day, and then it I’ll notify the potential guest that the dates are no longer available. I haven’t done that in a year or so, but it seemed to solve the issue.


#20

At some point, hosts will need to organize. I’ve been a host since 2011. Back then, the model was dubbed “the sharing economy.” It was about facilitating human connection, fairness, and decentralized profit sharing. Airbnb’s mission was to establish a connection between travelers and people with extra space for a more authentic and humanized travel experience for travelers, a new source of income and community for hosts, and benefits to the local economy instead of the hotel industry. In other sectors of the sharing economy, companies like Uber and TaskRabbit sought to facilitate the sharing of rides, supplies, labor, etc.

Airbnb seemed, at that time, committed to respecting host’s rights and autonomy. As long as hosts were honest about what we offered, and we followed through with our commitment to our guests, Airbnb didn’t dictate the details or coerce acceptance rates. The company was thoughtful about how policies impacted hosting. It was a big deal when they introduced safety standards, and they went to great lengths to respect host’s input and expense, even supplying initial smoke detectors, for example.

That’s a smart way to build your base. That approach created a depth of loyalty that served the company well when cities tried to ban Airbnb. Hosts became activists, even at their own expense, to help Airbnb overcome these obstacles. Predictably, when the company secured its place in major cities, and experienced explosive growth, the usual profits-over-people ethic has taken effect. It’s a one-way power relationship, in which the company can dictate terms, and hosts have no negotiating power. The company intelligently limited hosts’ ability to contact one another independently for this precise reason: so that we couldn’t easily organize ourselves for collective bargaining.

At some point, hosts will need to form an Airbnb Hosts Union. Otherwise, coercive measures will continue to be introduced, steadily eroding the profits and autonomy of hosts, until we’re functionally nothing more than a massive corps of uninsured, unrepresented, underpaid employees.

This is the model that has turned Uber drivers into serfs, and it’s the model that has gradually been adopted by nearly all of the so-called “sharing economy” networks. It works like this: pretend to be a mission-driven company offering the independence of self-employment, and committed to fairness, until you build a massive network of members who are financially invested and dependent on the income. Once this approach has delivered marketplace dominance, start squeezing host profits and coercing them to sacrifice all of the privileges of self-employment (autonomy, decision making power, flexibility) while bearing all of the burdens of self-employment (supplies costs, paying our own taxes, income unpredictability, etc.).

They’ve done this gradually enough that hosts who were uncomfortable enough to rebel simply self-selected out, and those who won’t rebel have gradually acclimated to each new squeeze, and newcomers just assume this is the way it has always been, so what’s to complain about. It has all been very smart, if your goal is to capture a huge, compliant labor pool, and gradually bend them to whatever ways and means will optimize corporate profits, even if it turns the whole project into something barely better than miserable for hosts.

You’ll hear the exact same story from the first Uber and Lyft drivers, Instacart shoppers and deliverers, etc. I don’t know about TaskRabbit, because I haven’t connected much with them. If Airbnb had remained genuinely mission driven, and maintained the value of fairness, I would have remained one of its most vocal proponents. But they’ve turned out to be yet another army of amoral Capitalist raiders hiding inside a Trojan Horse called The Sharing Economy. Maybe they started out with values and a genuine mission, and they were seduced by their enormous profits, I don’t know. But if they had a soul, they’ve lost it.


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