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Personal Effects in house


Hello Cathy. You’ve had a lot of good advice and you’ve made your mind up in what to do. We host 20 minutes away from your property and I wanted to chip in a little.

I think your place looks like a typical Scottish, lived in, bungalow. I think you make that clear through the photos so people can see what they are getting - after that it’s a matter for their taste or compromise on their ideal aesthetic. If you want to add that line to the description about it being this way, that wouldn’t hurt. Others have also commented on your price; I would agree that at £49 it is too low. Even in low season I would suggest you could more, particularly in higher season.


I have looked at your place and I think it would look dreadful with Ikea furniture and generic pictures. Not because I don’t like Ikea but because it wouldn’t suit your home. People see the photos and choose to stay there, if they don’t like the decor they shouldn’t book it. It’s just down right rude to suggest that you should re-model. If it is specific things like the toaster is broken that is different.

I looked at your reviews and you replied to private feedback unnecessarily. He didn’t mention the kitchen issues publicly:

I would remove some of the many pictures of the outside of the home and tidy up the bathroom photo. But people book those homely homes because they don’t want to stay in a soulless hotel. I have just had 3 nights in an upmarket hotel in Sydney and couldn’t see the value. I should have know better and booked an Airbnb!


I live in the same space where guests rent two of the bedrooms through AirBnB and have never had anyone say anything negative about my stuff. In fact, just the opposite. My ancestor wall in my kitchen is covered with old photographs of family members and these have led to many discussions. Musical instruments fill one end of the living room and my own art is displayed in the public spaces. The guest bedrooms, bathroom, and hallway are a different story. I’ve themed these walls with framed travel posters and wine art (I own a vineyard) and guests seem to enjoy this stuff also.


This is disturbing! I have never heard of Comrie but after clicking on your link my Facebook feed is showing me rentals in Comrie!!!


@TheRock - people expect personal items in a shared space. You live there, after all. The OP rents out a second home. The whole-home rentals are the ones that people expect to have little, if any, “personal stuff”. We rent out our second home, and all of our personal stuff is locked in a closet when we are not there.


In my experience, if I warn guests in advance of anything that might be a bit of a surprise, then there is never any issue. If guests are not told in advance, then there is no amount of explanation after the fact that will be enough. I don’t instant book and when I accept any booking I attach a saved message that outlines every possible ‘surprise’ - this has worked very well.


So it seems, at least in the case of your Guests, that evening they don’t read your listing they read your message. I can’t even get SuperHosts who book with me to read my messages, even messages reminding them how important it is for a happy stay to read the listing. Glad you have such good luck.


I think the key may be that I send it with the acceptance of the booking so it is when they are most interested and motivated and the information is limited and clear with large headings. I am with you on the rest of it because almost no one reads the house rules or the notices in the suite or the listing information.


I somehow missed this article last week. Love it.

@PaulRanson has been making blog posts about a number of things including authenticity.

I’d like to do an immersion course in Spanish. I’m thinking I want “authentic” and “homestay.” But what happens if I get there and I eat something that makes me sick and I have to worry about hogging the bathroom while the family waits. I guess I could go outside and puke my guts out. That’s some authenticity for you.

I love this description of Airbnb and why some residents hate it:

“Airbnb parachuting groups of international tourists into residential communities.” Homeowners often only think of their right to do as they please with their personal property with no care whatever for the needs of the community that make their “personal property” desirable.

This article describes another issue, a kind of privileged elitism as in “an affluent, self-selecting group of people move through spaces…” This isn’t a new issue. Elites always have an outsized influence on the thing called culture. Meanwhile most people on the planet have never heard of Airbnb. I suspect most people traveling haven’t either. I remember decades ago reading about how the TeeVee was going to be the end of regional accents and dialects because everyone was going to want to talk like Walter Cronkite. But here we are, still with regional differences.

Another quote " By late 2012, it settled into the house-porn format it embraces today, with high-resolution, full-bleed images that could have been pulled from the pages of Dwell." Yes, but there are still 1000’s of listings that look just like Grandpa Ken’s or Aunt Dusty’s.

“The Airbnb marketplace is evolving toward its most effective product; it seems that what consumers want more than an exotic experience is something like a Days Inn but more stylish and less obvious — a generic space hidden behind a seemingly unique facade.”

I was just telling @NordlingHouse that I think Airbnb will end up here. Not because it’s cool but because it makes money.

"Airbnb itself had rented Las Cases and Dewé’s space to host a party). The couple sued Airbnb in late 2015. “They are branding their company with our life,”

Ah. the perils of of a life so easily replicated!

“we now have a global grid of 1.6 billion:”

World population is 7.7 billion. I wonder what the international traveling population is? I think it’s well under 10%.

I really enjoyed this read, thanks for sharing.


I moved out of my family home and converted it to a short-term rental when my husband divorced me. I left all books and paintings. Absolutely no complaints; in fact, guests love the homeyness of my place. Truly “personal” effects are one thing, but I can’t imagine books and paintings being a significant issue that would hurt your business.


Loving the advice and content in this thread

@dpfroma love the article like @gypsy I think I may print this out.

As @KKC as said I am really fascinated with this idea of authenticity. I feel its something that guest are looking to pay for or at the very least leave positive reviews… which in the long run is additional value to the Airbnb host.

@CathyT I’m in based in England. I have studied the effect of personal effects in my Airbnb. I have found phenomena. In an experiment I made last year, I found guests were 86% more likely to tidy the house before leaving if personal pictures left hung up. I think it is because the house becomes humanised here’s and article that has informed my thinking from Boston Consulting Group.

Behavioural science shows that when we get a bad review there is evidence to show we are twice as affected than if we get a good review. Its called the negativity bias. Here is a wikipedia article that shows the evidence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negativity_bias to explain it.

Obviously, don’t ignore bad reviews but take them as a weak signal. If this signal multiplied up would cause a devastating effect on your business then give it some credence. For example, if the review said your electrics were dangerous. These reviews seems to be really an opinion and in light of your other reviews says more about them rather than you. I personally would not lose sleep over them.

I have a strategy of answering all public reviews good and bad. One reason is that It shows that you are vigilant to your guest’s needs. By answering all of them you can spin the inevitable bad review with some more positive words, for example… Thank you for your feedback. My furniture is one of the reasons that make my home such a precious space for me and all of my guests.

There is no sure-fire way of getting 5stars every time.

Hope this helps



Molly’s house is really lovely and bright. It has apparently pleased most of your guests. Please don’t be discouraged by the comment of only one guest. Just bring the big portrait in the living room and the two pictures above the bed with you to France next time you go there.


I think you need to raise your prices. Check out comparable AirBnb’s in your area.


The original ethos of Airbnb was that you stayed in someone’s ‘home’.
So leave your books and pictures, they are what helps to make a home.
I have books and pictures in my B&B and get comments on how nice that is. Don’t be swayed by a few nit-pickers.


I wouldn’t pay any attention to what those people said. It is a shame that Airbnb attracts hotel-seekers and encourages hosts to run things like a hotel, but a charming house in Scotland with personal effects like pictures? If there are things might be shabby or a bad mattress, might consider replacing, but other than that, i’d Incur no expense to make people such as that be more comfortable.


How can you answer all reviews when often they din’t Do it until the last minute and Airbnb cuts off edits? Maybe you don’t get many if those.


You can leave public responses to any review that had been left by a guest. When you click on progress and then look at the reviews there is a response link next to each review.


It’s taken me a bit to process this, because you are right it is an experience, but one you would wish to forget!

In the context of our hosting, I think authenticity gives us some insurance against this rebounding negatively. If the experience is considered authentic then there is evidence to show that if this occurred your guest would be more forgiving than if it were not.

Bucher interviewed 30 regular guests and found them to be generally forgiving of hosts considered authentic.



I was not up to hearing/reading any jargon filled academic research this morning but based on the abstract it seems that the researchers are documenting something very familiar to school teachers. We have plenty of obfuscating jargon in our field as well but it was boiled down to this:

They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

I’m certain that my teaching career prepared me well to be an Airbnb host. Even for people hosting entire places that they don’t live in, some sort of personal touch is priceless. One reason @jaquo has so few problems is that she meets almost all the guests at check in. And if not then, the next day. Others may not meet guests in person but they are very aware of what happens and step in to take care of issues while they are happening. Sometimes this might be negative towards the guest but it still shows that the host cares. So messaging to say “your dog has been alone too long,” or “please pay for the extra guests today,” shows that you care, even if it seems punitive to the guest.


But we’ve got to define “authentic,” there’s the rub. It’s like the US court obscenity rule of community standards, “I know it when I see it.”
My daughter’s in the design field, I’m setting up a vacation home that will also be a second Airbnb, and she was explaining to me how difficult it is to have an “authentic” looking collection of art, ceramics or other tsotchkes that appear to have been lovingly collected over time if you’ve got to acquire them all at one go, even if you shop vintage or several different sources.
Also I’ve gotten more than one review comment that indicates guests appreciate things looking “new,” and several commenters here have addressed how guests conflate “new” with “clean.”
Skyline prints and those rustic “word” signs scream “rentalpreneur,” not authentic, to me, but they do have that universal global hipster-ish look that some travelers find comfortable. It’s a conundrum.

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