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How far to go with guest interaction?

I’m a new host and just hosted my first guest, but the reservations are piling in rapidly, and I’m trying to keep up while learning from my experiences.

The first guest left me a great review saying I was the “best host ever”, and then sent me a private message saying, since I’m a female host, he thought it wasn’t safe for me to help guests find the apartment, and then show them how it works (since I live in Japan and host international guests, I show them how to turn on hot water and use the air conditioner.)

I suppose I can prevent going inside the house by creating a guide that explains how to do these things, but is it really dangerous to walk guests to my house if I’m a woman? Is it really dangerous to be showing foreign visitors where I live? Maybe I’m naive and believe that because Airbnb guests have to pass security checks and I always check their reviews, profiles before accepting, that they wouldn’t try to hurt me.

What am I supposed to do then? I can’t change the fact that I was born a woman? I honestly didn’t think anyone would try to harm me until he said that, but now I’m kind of worried. Luckily the rest of my bookings for the next two months have been made by female guests–something that I also think is attributed to the fact that I , too , am female and my apartment is more catered to women anyway.

Are there female horror stories about inappropriate male interaction? How did you solve it? It’s kind of difficult for me to find someone to meet guests in my place, as I’m a freelancer and most of my friends have full-time jobs with zero flexibility.

Another question I had is that an upcoming guest is asking to add me on Facebook. I’m extremely private and my facebook is strictly for friends, family, and people I trust (because I’m a freelancer, with a few jobs in traditional media such as television and radio, I’ve had problems with ~untrustworthy~ friends reaching out to clients I’ve worked with, either thinking they can get jobs for themselves, or trying to hurt my reputation, or people reposting photos/information of me on anonymous message boards in an attempt to talk about my ~much guarded~ private life.)

So you can understand why accepting a random airbnb guest that isn’t coming for another month, is entirely out of the question for me. But I’m wondering if I’m being unreasonable? I always respond quickly through the app, and would give them my phone number if necessary upon arrival, but how do I decline to give them my facebook information without giving them the impression that I’m untrustworthy or a “cold” host?

Advice is appreciated. I really want to have fun with this.

Hi Micaela

As other people have said to me, on this forum, and at home, dont host anyone (or put yourself in a situation) where you feel uncomfortable.

I am a bloke so can’t speak for the female side of things but reading your post, I can only advise the above. Trust your gut. Be a little bit risk -averse. Especially if you are allowing people in to your home where YOU live too. So far we have had only good or great guests. But I have declined quite a few that I had a small sniff that they could be trouble. No-one is desperate enough to make money, if they have a spare room in their home, that they have to take in absolutely everyone that makes an enquiry!

I dont know enough about Japanese culture to suggest that a woman showing around male (or otherwise) guests would be “dangerous” or unculturally correct… .But I can imagine, as they are quite traditional, that there may be some unwritten rules about this kind of gender issue. I would ask some Japanese people about that…

In respect to international guests, most people in the west dont care, if it is a woman or man. Just make sure you dont come across as vulnerable and they won’t take you that way. Be sweet, but dont take S**t from anybody!

In regards to your Facebook request. I personally would not be accepting requests on FB from randoms. This is someone, who has seen your profile and photo on a public website. The website is for business and although is Hospitality based, it is by no means a reason for you to feel like you should become anyone’s “friend”, online or in real life. ESPECIALLY if you have not met them! (You will NOT come across unfriendly. And if that person thinks so, they are weird and you shouldn’t let them stay anyway!)

Creating a user guide is always a recommend, whether you show them round or not. (I always show them around my house, but I feel that is a hosts duty. But then I am in my own home in the UK and a bloke. Although I dont have an issue with my partner showing guests around either.)

I would ask this guest why he thinks it is dangerous. If he has reason to put that, he is (hopefully) being a good natured worrier or he himself has issues himself about gender strength and I would be cautious as to his potential reasonings to bring it up. But he needs to give you more insight in to why he has stated that. I find it a strange thing to say.

Ultimately, it is FANTASTIC fun! I have met many brilliant people from very interesting and different walks of life. From Movie crew to government policy advisors and everything in between, Young kids travelling the world to people coming to visit family who live near me… All been great to talk to and find out about their lives. I have had no issues so far. But I am vigilant on who I let in. I advise you do the same.

Good luck with it!

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Thanks for the reply–to clarify, I’m renting out the entire apartment.

I live in the suburbs with my boyfriend in a big house with a dog, but I keep a spare apartment in the city because I do work irregularly in the city and sometimes it’s easier to stay downtown. I rent out that apartment on the days that I’m not staying there–so I wouldn’t be staying WITH the guests, but since most of them are international and don’t speak Japanese, I offer to meet them at the closest station, and walk with them to the apartment while having a quick chat about the area, their concerns, places to eat, etc. During that time, it is me and the guest, one-on-one, but we’re in the centre of the city surrounded by people so it’s not dangerous.

He was telling me that I shouldn’t enter the apartment WITH him (or other men) to show them how to use things. (This was an international guest from Macau, by the way.) It’s not a Japanese cultural issue, as I’m dealing with international guests, but maybe I’ll just chalk it up to him being a little too concerned.

I will just use common sense and continue on, I suppose. Perhaps leaving a guide to using the equipment, etc, will be useful if I am accompanying male guests alone to the apartment though.

Thanks for the affirmation re: facebook too. I want to be a friendly and outgoing host, because I know personal impressions help for reviews (and as a traveller/airbnb user myself, I know from experience that a warm host create an overall warm experience.) but I also want to set boundaries and protect my own privacy.

Thanks so much for the encouragement! :smile:

micaela, you have the added “problem” of being young and attractive. while i personally believe most guests are safe, i could conceive of SOME international, male travelers trying to take advantage of you. certainly there are misogynistic cultures where a young woman alone is a target for inappropriate behavior. i certainly wouldn’t add anyone to your facebook unless you had met them and like them. you can be warm and friendly and still set boundaries. as nick says, if you feel uncomfortable about something, don’t do it. if you have a late arriving male guest that you feel sketchy toward, see if a friend can go with you for check in. it only makes sense for women in this day and age to take reasonable precautions.

Thank you Stephanie! Bringing a friend would be a great idea, especially if it’s in the evening. I’m sure it’s a lot cheaper to bribe a friend with free dinner than it is to hire someone to meet and check in guests for me. So far most of my reservations fall on weekends so it shouldn’t be hard to lure a friend out on a Friday or Saturday night…

Thank you so much!

Great advice from Stephanie! I agree, when you are young and attractive, sometimes you will attract opportunists. So if you have a male coming on their own (or with other males, bring someone with you for safety.

I once had a British man who had obviously seen my photo, but perhaps not read that I was married and lived here with my husband. I had done all the interacting with the guest, and met him on his late arrival that evening. He was a little tipsy from some ales that he had partaken of on the way here, and was much more touchy freely than I expected from a stranger - lingering hug as if from a long lost friend, and a little more closeness and contact than usual. He seemed to be flirting with me. This was a married guy, so it took me by surprise. After arriving so late in the evening and me standing there in my dressing gown, he showed no signs of wanting to end the chat, and no awareness that I may want to get back to bed (it was around midnight, but he was probably jet lagged too). Thankfully my husband appeared, and his face changed to one of surprise, then dawning understanding. It seems he thought it was just the two of us for a few days in this big lonely house, and that I may require the touch of a man (or he may require the touch of a woman Not this one however!).

Although I don’t think he would have hurt me, I didn’t like the idea that he may have chosen our place due to my picture and the thought of a possible conquest. That reminds me, I still need to change that pic and get the two of us up there.

So yes, as a single woman, you just may find that someone gets the wrong idea, or does decide to try his charms on you, or heaven forbid something worse. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, as women are vulnerable due to lack of strength compared to men should you be so incredibly unlucky to have someone choose to do the wrong thing. That or arm yourself with some kind of weapon that is legal in Japan, like Mace to allow yourself time to get away, or a knife if you could stomach it. Of course the odds are slim, but better safe than sorry.

I am an Asian woman but I deceitfully post a photo of myself from 10 years ago when I was in my late 30s as my profile photo but then a current photo on the 2nd click. I am happy to greet surprised male guests who look dismayed that I am now overweight and old. Men from age 20 to 60 with obvious “Asian fetishes” have confided in me about their current/former Asian (Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese) girlfriend or wives…some tell me about their unhappy marriages…one even told me he once had a “geisha fetish.” Unfortunately I also dismay women who thought I might be the same age as them to go hang out with - only to see I’m old enough to be their mother. I figure this is a small deceit, as after all, as AirBnB hosts we are renting out rooms, not ourselves! One male guest told me that he has noticed this frequently among female hosts he has stayed with (posting photos of younger selves). Or, I see reviews where there’s a beautiful young girl and the guests always says, “So&so wasn’t there, but her husband/BF/father/roommate was there to let me in.” Let’s face it, age-ism, racism and sexism is alive and well in the age of “trusting sharing” AirBnB. I frequently get guests who also ask whether I shouldn’t be afraid to rent my home alone. Well, don’t rent to anyone from the red states or any culture that believes in the subjugation of women, is the only tip I can give you, and people who have no reviews or clear profiles. I also enjoy renting to more than one other guest at a time - that keeps people in check. I don’t rent to friends or couples so everyone is on their own here.

Interesting cs2015. On the one hand, what you are doing is not entirely unusual, you see this with professional women and men’s online profile photos (CEO’s, lawyers, real estate agents) also, but I have to say this struck a nerve with me. Mainly because this industry is built so much on trust. I have had a few guests arrive that looked nothing like their profile photos, because they were obviously from years ago too, and although it’s not a big thing, I was taken aback on their arrival, and it felt a bit weird. Not because I care two hoots about their age, but just because I had believed the photo I was looking at was the person I would be meeting, and it is a shock when it’s not. It feels something like a betrayal when you feel like you are talking to a particular person online because that is the photo they have shown, and it turns out they are quite different.

As a host, I feel that trust is paramount. When the first thing that happens to your guests when they arrive is that they feel ‘dismayed’, I would be slightly concerned it wasn’t the best way to start a stay. I agree you’re renting out your room, but you are also presenting yourself as a host (otherwise why the picture?), and just like you show the real picture of the room, not the room from ten years ago before you refinished the floors and replaced the tatty curtains, it only seems fair that you show the real host. I don’t know if it’s so much that women wanted a pal, so much as they were feeling the way I have when people don’t match their photo - tricked.

Personally, I don’t think you will get less guests by showing yourself as you are now - just happier and less confused (or dismayed!) beginnings. I’m sure you have a perfectly lovely angle from which you look just as beautiful as in your youth. Youth isn’t always as charming and attractive as a life lived well.

But this is just my opinion, and you know what they say about those :smile:

I never worry about that.If they have gone through the hassle of booking and giving out their info I doubt if they are going to be an ax murderer. I believe in showing every guest how everything works; they never read the manual and will text you with a question; waking you up at night! So I request they text me 30 minutes before arrival; I then open the electric gate.I live like 5 feet away; I meet them and I do a 2 minute walk thru-if its a couple my husband will take the husband and show him the electronics etc and I will take the woman in the kitchen and show her around.There are a LOT of little details they need to know; how to use the backup electronic lock(if they lose the key) ; to NOT put food in the sink since there is no garbage disposer. There is a list of 15 things they need to know;like holding down the toilet handle for complete flush;to keep doors always closed so a lizard doesnt come in;once we do the 2 minute walk through we never hear from them again with questions of any kind; they appreciate it and also you get to make small talk for a few minutes, etc build repoirre (I cant spell) the whole point is to get that perfect 5 star review!

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Well heck if you don’t give 2 hoots about age then why should it matter? It’s not like I’m posting photos of myself pre-puberty. Most people can’t judge people’s ages between 40 and 50 anyway.

Think you missed the point. It’s the fact that someone suddenly get the shock of seeing someone different to what they were expecting, I have experienced the same thing, and it took me a few seconds to regain composure (mine were that people looked much better in the photo than in real life as to be unrecognizable). It’s not about age cs, I’m not a spring chicken myself. It’s about presenting yourself honestly, so that people don’t feel like there are any other ‘surprises’. At least that’s the way I felt. Anyway that’s just what I believe, you don’t have to take it on board.

Micaela, You sound like a great host! I agree with others that it seems like the risk is low - but there’s always risk. Why don’t you just prop the door open (is this possible with the climate, etc?) Then you aren’t secluded. Otherwise, dang, life is risk everywhere - being alone with a traveler who has had his id vetted and connected his bank account with the reservation? I don’t know - that doesn’t sound high risk to me.

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i’m not thinking ax murderer risk dc. more along the lines of inappropriate advances. there certainly are men out there who may strongly come on to a pretty woman who is warm and friendly in that type of private setting. have you read the article of the boy who was locked in an apartment for 4 hours by a psycho host? a woman is more at risk than a 19 year old boy for sure. it’s just wise to be aware.

Even though I am 50 I have definitely experienced unusual guest behavior. One young Chinese guest asked what he was supposed to do about his “boner in the morning.” (I said “Go ahead and masturbate, there’s a box of tissues in your room.”) One man from Alaska told me he was looking for an Asian wife and asked me to see a movie with him. One Korean man ran into the shared bathroom and peed with the door open. I suspect that when I began my Airbnb some people thought I was running an Asian massage parlor brothel or something, since I had so few house rules, so I love crushing their expectations.

O my god, he did not!!! And you calmly answered!

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Your guest was expecting sex work!!??

Horrific!! I would have been flustered and scared!!! Yikes. Not good!

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