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Open Home Program Think Twice!

Hello Everyone!

I volunteered for AirBnB’s Open home program. Once. And now I am done. What a disaster! The guest looked lovely and has had great reviews - she is coming here for cancer treatment and I wanted to give back in honor of a friend.

Boy, no good deed goes unpunished. I probably have 100 plus messages on this stay. I agreed to a very short stay this month and a longer stay in October since she had some kind of credit and October is a busy season. I use this money to pay my mortgage! This is my business!

After an exhausting day of messages and more messages (Day 5 of this!) and a busy life with tons of work to do I lost my s**t and I told them all that I just couldn’t do this any more and that I was withdrawing my offer. Support was telling her one thing and me another over and over and over. Then the AirBnb rep started to pressure me to reconsider. Ok, so I told the rep that she could donate part of her salary to compensate me for the hours of wasted time. Not exactly proud of that but I did apologize the next day. I ultimately gave in just to make the whole thing go away. The guest is horrified, as well she should be, but not every guest understands the generosity of this!

Just fair warning out there. AirBnb has no idea how to handle this “out of the box” program THAT THEY CREATED. Boy. Just wow.

Ok, full disclosure, they did send me a gift. I chose the little game that I could put in the AirBnb. It was all kind of sad…

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Inquiring minds want to know, what this guest did that was so terrible, beyond sending dozens of messages? Perhaps if we knew the specifics, we could advise as to how other hosts have handled similar problems. Of course, you may have just wanted to vent, and that is fine.

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I actually resent that Airbnb puts themselves forward doing these “wonderful” things, but it is the hosts doing the hard work and giving up their income to house people for nothing.

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I agree with Chloe, I need more information.

I joined last month in the aftermath of the shooting here but they didn’t match me up with anyone. I remain enrolled because I am less than a half mile from a hospital and so can participate in the medical program.

I’m confused about the nature of the problem. If the problem is the guest then there is no reason for me to withdraw from the program as each person is an individual. If the problem is Airbnb then what is the issue exactly? Is it a different issue aside from general Airbnb incompetence? Since my expectations for Airbnb helpfulness are low that wouldn’t make me withdraw either.

So some specific information would be great.

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Just giving a head’s up on the administrative nightmare of this. They should just be able to book it on their end. Ultimately they escalated it to someone who did do just that, but it took a week of support messages and phone calls.

They had her reserve then cancel, then asked me to lower the price to 0, which isn’t possible and then argued with me about it. Back and forth and back and forth. That is with the first reservation. Literally 50 messages. The guest was trying to do what they asked and was as frustrated as I that a booking that should have been done in a couple of messages was such a mess. Support would not allow me to tell her what to do to handle it. She and I would both be at our computers, ready to do what needed to be done and then support would intervene and try to help and cancel the booking so I couldn’t send her a special offer. This went on for days and days and days. It was just bizarre.

Then on the booking for which she had a grant, that was even worse. They couldn’t tell me how much I needed to adjust the price for the grant, we tried to do the math and couldn’t make it work. That also went on for days and days, with cancels on support end, telling us lower the nightly fee, cancel, re-book, cancel, re-book, just crazy.

I have only been a host a little shy of a year so I don’t have a firm grip on how special offers work, etc., but I do now!

I need no advice. This situation is over. I just wanted everyone in the forum to know what they are getting into. Maybe they will sort this out. I doubt it.

I also have very low expectations of AirBnb support. But this took the lows even lower. Hope that is enough info.

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Typical AirBnB… offering something to get positive media attention, but no procedure to back it up.

I would never lower my price, adjust settings or send special offers. It is AirBNB’s pet project, they should do all the work, not put it on the host.

So I can fully understand why you would get out of the project.

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I would NEVER participate in this program. No airbnb guest is coming to my property without paying - this aint a charity. If Airbnb was serious about this, they would offer the host a payment to cover the expense of hosting a displaced person in need. They dont. They promote this program to make themselves look good on the back’s of hard working hosts.

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Thanks for the detailed reply.

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I’m a bit confused because I thought that the idea was to offer accommodation free?

But anyway, just to show the other side of the coin for lurkers, we had a couple stay in our rental after a hurricane because they couldn’t get home due to the airport being closed. They were lovely and there were no problems.

Personally I don’t have a problem with offering the accommodation for nothing because when hurricanes threaten, guests cancel anyway so the place is empty.

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I was happy to offer the two free nights in September. Gosh, I would wish someone would be generous with me or anyone when they are desperate and sick.

But she also needed 8 nights in October because of her surgery. I just couldn’t justify that many because just that stay nets me about $2,400. And I would have been booked. Everyone in Seattle said no. So, AirBnb offered a grant of $950. I thought I could make it on that. But that was the biggest adm nightmare. That one was worth about five phone calls and another 75 messages. Truly, I am NOT exaggerating!

And it is funny because they took their fee, etc. and I think my net will be about $300 after cleaning. But I volunteered, so no sympathy there. It is the admin that stung.

It is just typical of the internet app business. This is a brilliant model but they don’t know how to do the bricks and mortar customer service stuff that business has figured out (to varying degrees of success) for years and years. it isn’t sexy, it is blocking and tackling - to use a football metaphor.

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So the first 2 nights she would have stayed for free? At what point they asked you to lower price to 0? And this is funny: so the grant was 950$ but Air from these money took out their service fees? This is just funny

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I also thought that the Open Homes program is free. But in order to book for “free” they told her to have me lower my price to 0 so she could book for free. One cannot lower the price to 0. The system won’t allow it. That was early in the process. Support would not take no for an answer on that one. That was one of the issues the burned up a bunch of time.

It IS funny. I assume that the grant was from AirBnb for the October stay. The guest wasn’t clear about it either. When I told her I couldn’t afford to give her a free stay for eight days in October she told me about this grant/credit. It is really funny that then AirBnb takes their fee off of the grant. It would really suck if some non-profit donated that money and then AirBnb took a fee. At some point I may ask, but right now I am done.

The guest is very cool. It was like chatting with a friend. I felt bad for her as she is trying to negotiate this with limited energy and time also. And then she felt like she had to console me. I can’t imagine what the experience would be like in a natural disaster when there isn’t time to fuss around with this. Good grief!!! I eventually just wanted to block the rooms for September and have her stay but AirBnb would have none of it. They forced me to stay in their little circus of crazy!

I will consider rejoining in a year or so when perhaps they have figured out how to do this. I just wanted other hosts to know what you could potentially get into while working with this program. My experience might be an anomaly!

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This I find ridiculous. AirBnB CS should know the lowest a price for nightly rent can be set to is $10. It’s in there own rules for heaven sake.

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Although, ironically, you can send a Special Offer for $10 and it can be for more than one night…

Of course. But she and they wanted it to be 0.

Wow, thanks for the post, Seattlegal. I have not had any bites on my Open Home availability, but am now forewarned to expect crazy-making. I doubt your guest’s grant was from Airbnb.

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Thank you for this information Seattlegal!

I had a guest contact me, a fellow host asking for 10 days via Open Host program, sent me the link too of how it works. It was a bit much for a hurricaine that was not directly coming over. To boot, she traveled a lot based on her Airbnb feedback profile (i.e did not seem she lacked for travel expenses). She said she could pay me “little something”. I had already given a deep discount to a prior guest asking to stay due to evacuation for 6 nights; but then they did not evacuate. Then a lovely couple from same coastal area (as the lady asking for free nights) stayed for 3 nights and were ready to head back to clean up their coastal property the day after the weather breezed past.

Also too, I advised all the potential inquirers that while our home may be located 200 miles Inland, we still get the rain and wind, and trees down and power outages Thst is always a risk, we don’t have a generator. Fortunate for us we got by with power on.

Being honest, none of these programs sit comfortably with me.

Airbnb have a turnover in the billions, yet they are expecting hosts to donate time and money, and to top it off expect their cut when a grant is made.

I can appreciate that temporarily homing hurricane victims is something that is pretty close to home for some US based hosts, but if Airbnb really wanted to help then they should be shouldering far more of the (financial) liability. Even a percentage of what the host would usually earn for the donated nights, just to cover utilities and cleaning.

To me this is an abuse of the program and it makes me wonder how many other instances have occurred and left generous hosts out of pocket.

Today I noticed a link on the dashboard, “Give Back While You Host”. When I clicked it, the default setting suggested I give Airbnb 10% of my earnings for them to distribute on behalf to “non-profits”.

I don’t think so.

Hang on though:

We’re also donating

This year alone, Airbnb is investing over $20 million to help people in need of housing.

Nope, still don’t think I’ll be donating.

End of rant :slight_smile:

JF

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What a shame so many hosts on here feel like @sobepuppy and are only willing to help those who have lost everything if they get paid for it.

The whole point of helping someone out in need is that you don’t benefit from it financially, but do it, because it is the right thing to do.

It is not true to say if Airbnb was serious they would offer hosts payment. I am not Airbnb’s biggest fan by any means but having worked for charities that run similar schemes I can tell you there is a huge admin and staffing cost involved in running and promoting it.

Quite honestly Airbnb should sub contract this scheme to a charity who knows how to run these schemes and can vet both guests and hosts properly.

Of course it is ridiculous that the OP and the guest had such a hard time trying to make this work, but I wouldn’t chose not to be part of the scheme because of one bad experience.

As some on here know I have been involved in a scheme where I offer young homeless people a room in my home on a regular basis. It is so rewarding and I have learnt so much from the experience. Offering a safe, warm space to those who would otherwise be vulnerable on the streets is such a rewarding experience.

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Um, more like “Airbnb Hosts donate their income and time while we (Air billionaires) still collect on grants/funds and Hosts receive ZERO”. and by zero, does participation in this give you a tax write off? A supposed “boost” in listings that will.only get knocked down by mass # calls to Air help and “declined” guests?

Lastly, I had a guest who was brand new to air, did not meet requirements ( i.e no government identification), yet it was able to block my listing dates during the hurricane plus other evacuees did not have access to it. I asked guests to upload ID multiple times, called Airbnb and complained. I had several inquiries during this time for those preplanning evacuation. Getting resolution took hours (they unblocked the dates), hours that are critical to any family already stressed packing up to evacuate. In the end the guest did upload ID and they were the lovely couple that stayed here last week.

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