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Slightly clueless guests - rant/vent and how to prevent this?

I am hosting a Chinese family that booked on IB, they arrived last night and it’s been … Interesting.

The lady’s English isn’t great, plus she doesn’t seem to have the AirBnB app on her phone. Somehow she managed to book, and then couldn’t find my address and I had to message it to her.

While I was showing her around she seemed puzzled about the layout, specifically the lack of dining space. This despite the pictures on my listing clearly describing how the set up works.

Then shortly after checking in she told me the caravan was cold. I panicked, thinking the heater had died - but no, a window was open and her son had the door swinging. It’s fully insulated and double glazed, but such a small space, it loses heat very quickly! Told her to keep the door shut…

Now they’ve come home and messaged me that there was no hot water. Turns out they had turned the hot water cylinder off - despite my telling them to leave it on all the time.

I’ve added a code word into the end of my extended description, to see which guests in future are actually reading the listing. Apart from turning off IB, or hitting them over the head telling them to READ THE DAMN LISTING, any ideas to help prevent all these issues with future guests? LOL

I feel your pain, we have a mother/daughter here at the moment causing mayhem.


I have a code word buried at the bottom of my listing and honestly, it’s a joke. I’d say that less than 1 in 10 inquiries mention the code word. I have instant book so really if they read it great, but if they don’t there’s nothing we can do. Even if they agree to the listing and house rules before clicking “book it” it’s like the iTunes terms and conditions - they are pre-programmed to look at the first line, hit “accept” and be done with it.

It’s a big huge issue for me too and I’m not sure that there is good way to prevent this. I bet this is the top bug of hosts everywhere.

Sorry to hear of the “situation”. A couple of things…

  1. Stop using Instant Book and vett your clients. You’ll have many fewer problems.

  2. Is the hot water heater specifically labeled LEAVE ME ON!! We had to do that with a switch for an outside light, so that guests would turn it off when they came back of an evening.

  3. Same thing for the door. A sign that says KEEP ME SHUT. It’s a caravan, and many folk who are not caravaneers don’t understand about keeping doors and windows closed to keep heat or air-conditioning inside. They think the system should be able to heat or a/c the whole outdoors too.

  4. I haven’t seen your listing, but does it give a space dimension: 2.5 meters x 6 meters? Again, non-caravaneers (or narrowboaters) don’t understand how compact some spaces can be.

  5. Your code word is a good idea. Add to that a copy of the house rules that they must read and sign at check in – which includes things like Do Not Turn Off The Water Heater…


@KenH’s points are excellent, I also have small, friendly ‘reminder labels’ on water conservation, outside light, water pump switch, etc.

Besides, I always give them a 5 minutes walk-through, more like 3 minutes, and I drag my guests from point to point and I am very straight with them but make it fun: 'Ok guys, don’t be a Chibangee and leave this light on", etc. I am sure most are still wondering what a ‘Chibangee’ is, but they know they don’t want to be one. LoL.

I honestly don’t expect them to read a guide nor remember what’s in it.

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Me too :slight_smile:

I’ve been hosting guests since the eighties (traditional B & B in those days) and every time there’s a problem, it’s an opportunity to learn so that problem can be avoided in future. And despite hosting guests for so many years, I’m still learning :wink:

For example, I once had a similar thing with the water so I have a lock on the cupboard that contains the water heater but if I hadn’t, I’d put a piece of duct tape over it and point it out to the guest. Even if they don’t speak the same language, they get the message. We’re dealing with human beings after all, and none of us is perfect. (Guests especially!)

Before booking we ask guests new to Airbnb to give us two code words - one in our description and one in our house rules - and offer a bottle of wine as a “prize”. Good investment of $5 imho.


Always make a game of it, more fun.

@Mearns I always do a tour of the space with the guests - I did tell her verbally not to touch the hot water, but I think her English reading is better than listening. Still frustrating though…

@KenH small signs sounds like a great idea - will definitely do that :slight_smile:

I made a habit of telling guests everything anyway all over again when I greet them. And how many say :“really, we can’t cook meat?”. Not only that I say, you can’t really cook that much, period. And then the laundry, the same. If I don’t say anything hoping they read the rules they will run the machines all day long. I put in big letters " please read rules with great attention".
Still some ignore it.


No doubt some are just genuinely slow-witted, but the more one is explicit, the less of those one will encounter.

Hi @Mearns,

I was wondering that too, so did a search. Your post is hit number two. :-), and basically the only one in English. I think you made it up. :slight_smile:

Of course I made it up. LoL

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