How to review this one?

Guest contacts me asking if he can book, and take photos of my place for his portfolio.
I am a photographer and I have no issue with this, I understand what it’s like to be building a portfolio. He also offered to give me copies of pics he took which is neither here nor there for me. So I google him and see he is a working photographer, so it’s all legit. Anyhoo, he’s from Sth Africa and must be newly arrived in Australia and wanting some different samples for his website. He’s also not taking photos to sell online as stock photos (this is a part of my income stream) because he would have asked for a Property Release.

So he turns up with his wife and kid (they paid for 3 people which is a higher rate), and his kid is scared of dogs (pets are disclosed in the listing, including in the photos), and when we offer them a calf feeding experience he says “oh my daughter will love that”. She did not. :sweat_smile:. The wife and daughter don’t speak much English so communication with them was stilted.

Around 5pm he packs up his gear and they drive off, saying thank you and good bye. They didn’t even stay the night. All paid, no chargeback, no further communication.

But how weird, if he’d asked me i would have let him come and take pics for free (during the day), not sure why he paid for it and why he opted not to stay the night. And he has written us a review.
It’s also possible he wants a good review cos he is a newbie 0*.

I’m really not sure what to say in my review. I didn’t meet them, my daughter and husband did. They both said they were all a bit odd but culturally that’s not unusual for Sth Africans when they first arrive in Australia, they have some quirks that make them rather unusual to us, so I won’t read into it too much.

I’m assuming he’s keen to get a positive review on his ABB profile too. but what to write? tia

I’m wondering if when he asked if he can book and take pictures for his portfolio, and you agreed if not by words by accepting the reservation, that he now owns [or thinks he owns] these pictures and can publish them without a ‘further’ release. His actions seem consistent with such a belief.

I don’t know if you care, or how much, were he to publish those pictures of your property. If you do care, expect your review to become in evidence in any negotiation or trial and if you care much I would seek advice from your lawyer on what your review, if any, should/shouldn’t say.

If you don’t wish to go to the expense of seeking legal counsel, I would either not review or review where the subtext was emphasizing that the relationship was that of STR guest and Host (rather than photographer and subject).

So my first draft of such a review might be “This reservation was the first for this new Airbnb guest. We were delighted to host him, his wife and daughter as our guests. They communicated well, treated the property with care, would host these short-term rental guests any time!”


he does own the pictures. and he can publish them on his website. Why do you think the photographer doesn’t have copyright of images they created?

why on earth would I sue him over that?

ok, cool, i was just wondering how to stay neutral and neither admit nor deny he actually stayed.

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I don’t know. Your post spoke of a property release. I’m a little confused here on what it is you want.

you need a PR if you are going to use an image in a commercial way. I’ll tidy up the post so others don’t get confused by not understanding photography laws.

I was just wondering, do i mention he didn’t stay the night? I’ve no clue if he’s tidy or respectful or anything. the wife gave us mild Karen vibes (also quite common for Sth Africans fresh off the boat), but of course i’d never comment on that or even mark down someone because they were standoffish. I’m after some neutral and vague wording.

Well, if you say he didn’t spend the night, you’d sort of have to explain why, which you don’t know, otherwise it might sound like they found something wrong with the place. (I’m thinking the Karenish wife found it too rural or something, offended by the smell of cow dung, girl was scared of the dog, maybe the calf, too, girl said, “Daddy, I don’t want to stay here”, wife told him she wanted to go to a hotel maybe?)

How about something like “I didn’t get to meet XX personally, but good pre-arrival communication, polite interactions with my family during their brief stay.”

Did they even go into the accommodation? They must have used the bathroom at least? If so, and they didn’t make any mess in there, you could also say they were tidy. I mean some people could make a mess in a couple of hours, even if they didn’t spend the night.

they live down in town, about 40mins away, so going home was an option for them. I assume he planned on staying, otherwise why pay for the extra person?

I like what you’ve written there, and you’re right, i don’t want to say they didn’t stay over. it’s possible his wife pulled the pin, but what a waste of money!

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I wonder if his child’s fear of animals made them pack up and leave. You mentioned she was afraid of the dogs and didn’t enjoy the calf feeding. I really like the review Host AirbnbVRBO wrote.

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from what i can see from the cameras, they didn’t bring in bags. I think dad orchestrated this whole thing, and dragged mum and daughter out for the adventure. South Africans have a deep love of nature, and that includes very large wild animals. I’ve always envied this about them, we aussies also love nature and our unique animals but when you have lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos etc etc of course you have much to be proud of, they have a strong connection to the wildness of their continent that is not understood by modern western culture. Even the prissy city folk still have great respect for wild animals, so it’s weird to think this was the reason. We even have a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a much loved breed from that part of the world. Of course i’m generalising, and people are people are people. Assholes are everywhere, good people are everywhere.

Weirdly, I think he was genuinely willing to pay me just to take the photos for his portfolio, and perhaps his wife pulled the pin. but my place is really very nice, I’m going to say it’s likely nicer than where he is living, and he met my husband (also a saffer) and could have stayed and connected with a countryman. The whole episode is weird and i’m not out of pocket, so great!
but it’s weird, and so i don’t want to give future hosts a false review, cos they were all a bit weird.

but of course my review, his first and only review, is transparent to him, if i give him a poor review he’ll see it, and that might also turn him in to a vengeful guest. There are layers and layers here. (maybe if Hitler hadn’t been spurned by the cute jewish girl in grade 8, things would have turned out differently?) extreme example but i’m always, always about the Bigger Picture.

In his inquiry it seems that he never said they were staying overnight, although I might assume that too. He seems respectful in that he didn’t expect to spend time at your place without compensating you. It seems his biggest fault was not reading about your dogs in your description. Children’s reaction to new experiences is unpredictable and parents have to adjust on the spot. I would review him positively and factually. You might say that it was unfortunate that he did not note the presence of (maybe add, friendly, well behaved, etc) dogs in your description since his child didn’t like them. My only worry would be that if he mentions the dogs, people might think that you had vicious, scary dogs.

Well, if they live 40 minutes away, and this was his first Airbnb, maybe he thought he had to book it for all of them, just to come over for a few hours. Or in case they didn’t feel like driving home.
Strange, but possible.

How about foregoing leaving a review at all? Or just tell it like it is, “XX booked here to take some photos for his portfolio, and didn’t actually use the accommodation, so the usual guest review doesn’t apply. Communication was fine and polite.”

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Give him a vanilla good review if he followed the rules and left everything tidy. I don’t check if my guests actually sleep in my rental.

Why would you elaborate? If you’re curious as to why they didn’t stay, just ask them.

If I had had this situation, I would probably do exactly that- just ask the guest for some explanation. And probably tell them that although they would likely appreciate a review, I really have nothing to review him on, as str reviews have to do with whether guests left the space clean, followed house rules, etc.

I don’t like the idea of giving a guest who in fact didn’t stay a 5 star rating, because it would be based upon nothing, so there is nothing honest about it, and they may end up being far from 5 star guests in the future. I simply wouldn’t leave a review at all.

yes, this is what i’m struggling with.

I don’t think the dog issue was a big thing at all. I wasn’t going to say anything about that.

I left a neutral review, ending with “welcome to Airbnb (and Australia)”.

he left us a full 5-stars with “Wonderful place! We loved all of it!”

all’s well that ends well. :slight_smile: