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Should I decline this booking request (and report it?)

hosting
#1

I received the inquiry below 8 hours ago, and it makes me suspicious because a) she says she is a new user; b) has no ratings; c) lists no information in her profile other than her first name and home city; and d) says she is booking the reservation for someone else. Four red flags that add up to one big one. Should I approve her?

“Hello Eric, I am simply double checking the availability of your rental. I am wanting to rent this space for my mother and her husband as a Thank You gift to her for helping me out with my kiddos! I have never used Airbnb before and am new to the process! If you could message me at eith (Phone number hidden by Airbnb) or (Email hidden by Airbnb) that would be appreciated! I look forward to hearing from you!”

#2

Me, I would reply politely and say thank you and what a nice idea etc etc, Then say that, as they’re new to Airbnb, they may not realise that third-party bookings are against policy.
Then take it from there. It costs nothing to engage and educate.

I have taken third-party bookings and most of the time they’ve been ok. But sometimes not… What if the mother and husband don’t like your place? That’s awkward on all kinds of levels.

I find that hardly anyone has info on their profile anymore. Personally, I don’t care any more. In fact, someone who gushes too much about themselves puts me off.

5 Likes
#3

Some hosts won’t like to have guests who were booked through someone else but other than that everything seems okay. It’s perfectly normal to have new users with no reviews or profile information.

As @Magwitch says, if you don’t want to be involved in a third party booking, just tell the guest. On the few occasions I’ve done that, I’ve suggested that the actual guests create their own account and that Arbnb will walk them through it on the phone if needed.

1 Like
#4

The message seems forthright and honest but as you said it has multiple problems. If you need the business then you can coach them through it. I’d be inclined to tell them to call Airbnb for help and then the agent can help them.

1 Like
#5

Thing is, though, that if this is a gift as the OP said then that would kind of destroy the intent! That’s why I would start a communication with the guest who enquired and give them a chance.

#6

True. And her message seemed to be straightforward and clear enough so I’d accept anyway. (Although I use IB so wouldn’t have had the choice).

It’s one of those issues that hosts can’t agree upon - to accept third party stays or not. Neither can Airbnb, come to that.

2 Likes
#7

Yup. I don’t see anything wrong here – just an inexperienced user. Definitely not something I’d report to CS!

1 Like
#8

They should look into getting some sort of Airbnb gift certificate. Let the parents create their own profiles and choose a place that they like. Is this the thing that I don’t even know? I don’t think I ever even really thought about a certificate for ABB…

5 Likes
#9

I have had several great guests that were new to AirBnb and had no ratings. My only concern would be the third party booking.

2 Likes
#10

Like everyone else said, Newbie mistake. Just let them know the ins and outs of ABB. I think the suggestion for an ABB gift certificate is a good one. Explain also that you cannot see the phone number or e mail and why. The main problem with 3rd party is communication. My daughter wanted to pay for my accommodation for her graduation. The host was cool with it, I think because I was a host as well, and my daughter gave me access to her account so I could communicate with the host. It worked out well. I would only take a 3rd party booking under similar circumstances. IF they don’t want to let their parent use their account for communication, insist on parents phone number(s) and ask how tech (text) savvy they are. I would also tell them that anything communicated off platform would be repeated on platform. You just have to go with your comfort level on these things.

2 Likes
#11

I have taken such a booking, @lanninge , and it turned out fine. The deciding factor for me was the honesty, and it sounds like yours is being honest.
That was a few years ago, though, and if I got one of those today I would suggest she “invite” the parent to create an account so she can get whatever referral credit Airbnb is offering these days. Win-win.
Airbnb gift cards or certificates are available only in the US, as far as I know. I do know for sure they are not available in Canada.
Like the others, I would not report this. I would just help her through it.

#12

We’ve never had a third party booking, but I’ve made one as a guest, as a wedding gift for our daughter and her husband (after 3 kids and 12 years living together!!) who desperately wanted to go to Venice for the Damian Hirst exhibition, but couldnt afford it at the time. I agree that it’s a pity that there’s no such thing as an ABB gift certificate - it would make a great wedding present.

4 Likes
#13

I’ve had a couple guests who were booked by a family member as a gift. It made me slightly nervous because I’m a budget place and was thinking damn, I’m going to get slaughtered by disappointed people at their skinflint relatives!! But it turned out fine in the end.

I’ve learned that you can never predict what’s going to happen. Be prepared for the worst is my motto these days. So it’s a bonus when all is well!

1 Like
#14

Assuming you can contact them directly by email or phone is a common new user mistake. I just say: “AirBnB will redact phone numbers and email addresses until you have booked and paid , there is no way around this.”. As for the rest follow other people’s advice, it’s up to your level of comfort, I’ve never had a problem but maybe I am lucky.

#15

There are Airbnb gift cards - I bought one at a display of gift cards at (of all places!) a Lowes home improvement store. Gave it to my daughter with a printout of Airbnb Experiences in her area as part of her Christmas gift.

3 Likes
#16

@lanninge said " a) she says she is a new user; b) has no ratings; c) lists no information in her profile other than her first name and home city; and d) says she is booking the reservation for someone else. Four red flags that add up to one big one."

Those are NOT four red flags!!! At most it is one pink flag.

A) New Users have to start somewhere. This is where you earn your money as a host and help educate the users in The Way of Airbnb.

B) Rating – OF COURSE new users don’t have any rating!!!

C) WHERE is it written you are required to provide a multi-page personality profile??? This is a New user who needs to be educated, not stiffed because she is new!

D) Pink Flag, not red!! Upfront she tells you why she’s booking. Yes it’s a third party booking. But as others have explained, I would accept this boking in a heartbeat and use the opportunity to make a great new member of the Airbnb guest family.

3 Likes
#17

First… I agree it is just a newbie and doesn’t understand our request for the all the information. When we first started out we didn’t have our listing perfected and I am sure we have all made updates and our fair share of simple mistakes. We all started out w/o reviews…so that is why I normally either walk a guest thru a third party booking (setting up new account) or just accepting it. Also patiently (attempting anyway) to answer all the questions they have prior to their receiving the House Manual. We all started out brand new and we still walk thru the issues of navigating the web site (with it’s constant changes) on a regular basis…

#18

Hi @lanninge,

I’m not sure how long you’ve been hosting (you didn’t say), but here are a few comments with some overlap with what others have been saying.

As others have pointed out, of those three “red flags”, only one is a real problem, and that is (d). Don’t accept people booking on behalf of other people. It’s a violation of the TOS, and it’s also, generally, a bad idea. Tell them, politely, to have whoever it is to create an account and do their own booking. But this request is not necessarily indication of anything bad either. Often people just don’t think. After all, if there is a problem, it’s not going to be their problem. Don’t expect random people to be concerned about your interests.

Regarding the other three “red flags”, guests can’t help being new, and if they are new, it’s not too surprising they don’t have any reviews. Yes, people should write some information about themselves, but they may not do so out (for example) some (reasonable) desire for privacy. I suspect information harvesting from the net is increasingly a thing. Or they may not simply have bothered. I do mention it in my initial reply, if they haven’t provided any information in their profile (and if they haven’t, I ask for a little information). You could do the same. Sometimes people do add something to their Airbnb profile in response.

Possibly the most important thing to realise is that if the guest has made an inquiry, statistically speaking, it’s not that likely he/she will book. My experience is that if guests are going to book, they almost always submit a booking request first thing. If they make an inquiry, they are most likely not that serious, and have probably made multiple inquiries for other places. Inexperienced hosts don’t realise this immediately. Often people will waste the host’s time asking questions, and indicating that they will book. Most of the time, at least in my experience, this doesn’t happen. Other hosts experience may differ, of course.

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