Need help with an unusual request

Hi. Today I have received this message and I find it very peculiar. Thank God I have you guys here. Thank you. Why would people do something like this? This is her message. What would you do?

“Hi there! I am looking to hold a few mini photo shoots for Christmas and am looking for a nice place with a fireplace to bring in some garland, wrapped gifts, and stockings for a nice indoor setup. Is this something you could accommodate? Guests would only be there for about 20 minutes each, and my husband would be with me, assisting with the shoot and making sure guests stay only in the photographed area. (I should mention all of my clients are people I’ve been working with for years, so no funny business would happen). Let me know please – thanks! Your place would be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT, so if you have ANY questions or hesitations, please let me know. I’d love to answer any you have!”

Cheap set for nice photos, wonder what they are charging…?

I would first find out what “type of mini-shoots” are being done. Then if you still approve get a contract written up and about what you allow or don’t allow and since you are having a ton of traffic thru the home I would increase your price accordingly. The only time I approved a photoshoot in the home it turned out to be a provocative nude photoshoot… never again.

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Why would people do this? The same reason movie companies “rent” homes/buildings/etc. They get something that looks nice and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than building extensive sets.

I’d be getting website/business info on these folks, and doing some checking things out. If they’re legit, I would be adjusting my price upwards. How many are “a few” mini-shoots. How many days do they want to rent.

I wouldn’t necesarily have them book through AirBnb. You’ll want a separate contract that states that they must return the to property to the exact condition it was in before they arrived (and you’ll need photos of your own, of the whole place to prove the existing state).

they want to rent one night. she said 20 min per group. i don’t understand why would they bring people to shoot next to a christmas tree? what would they do with the pcitures? greeting cards? yes, your point about the website is very good. thanks.

It doesn’t really matter what the end result is (Christmas cards or whatever) but it matters that you get the money you’re entitled to. It seems that they are wanting to use your place for commercial purposes so you’ll need to know about the insurance they have for all these people who will be popping in for 20 minutes each. They probably don’t have insurance so don’t take their word for it - demand to know the company then phone to check.

Or just tell them no - there are plenty of other guest who will be more straightforward :slight_smile:

thanks so much. Based on this info I denied the request. too much traffic will upset my neighbors. then I have a no shoes indoors policy which they wont respect. And then all the matters you outlined. Thanks again. Now of course Airbnb will be on my case I denied too many requests!


I would say yes, send a special offer 4X your rate due to the commercial nature and then not worry about it.



Reasonable idea. CASH.

One nighters? Photo shoot?

Red flag. Red flag.

Given that they were honest about it, I would do exactly what @RiverRock says. Make sure your covered by your insurance and charge them a commercial rate.

If it’s a semi naked woman going “Santa I’ve been a naughty girl, but you can leave something in my stockings” I’d at least get some free copies of the photo for my AirBnB page.


An army of white fluffy kittens! Ooooooo!

@justMandi if it were kittens I’d have offered the house for free and would participate :slight_smile: and probably adopt a few. I’m nuts for cats.

Commercial rentals for film and professional photo shoots can go for $1000 a day. Photographers and filmmakers count on hosts not knowing this and giving their space away for 10% that. I always decline photoshoot/film requests, though I know one host who adjusts the reservation to cost $1000, and the would-be guest always moves on to seek out another sucker.

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This is the problem, isn’t it? We are dinged for too many declines but AirBnB doesn’t take into account that the guest was declined because they wanted to violate our house rules (commercial activity, pets, too many people, shoes inside, outside visitors etc.).

Since I moved to InstantBook, I’ve actually had to decline fewer people. The rule-breakers InstantBook and I call AirBnB to cancel them. (This is almost all third-party bookings in my case.) It is a pain to get on the phone with clueless CS agents who beg me to make an exception to my rules, but as far as I can tell having AirBnB cancel instead doesn’t hurt my search-rankings like declines do.

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I have a listing on Giggster, and the rate is $100/hr for the same house that’s $165 for AirBnB. It’s all about commercial shoots and the liability that goes with that (and the unknown quantity of having unknown people through your space) and the Giggster bookings actually have to have their own liability insurance and any film permits necessary, and you (or a monitor) are encouraged to be on site during the process to assist. I also always decline commercial shoots and refer inquiries to my Giggster page. I made an exception a few months ago for a Director of a film who talked a great game (small budget, great story for a good cause he was producing) and regret regret regret it. Small budget productions mean less experienced crew; I got to move the piano back into its exact position myself when they were long gone and am still finding bits of gaffers tape stuck to windowframes everywhere. Also, the trash they left behind (neatly bagged, but still) took 4 weeks of regular pickups to work off.

Why do so many hosts look for reasons not to host? I just do not get it.


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They look for reasons not to bring in potential problems. Every business is properly measured by risk adjusted reward, not just profit.

If a film crew is brought in, among other problems, you may not be covered. There is a reason shoot insurance is so expensive

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