I welcomed my first guests on July 20th. not a long time in the BNB world at all. However, in a former life I worked for hotels and quaint Vermont B&B’s while developing my career as a musician. Since those days, I moved half of my life into software development and some pretty hard core coding. I am totally appalled by the quality of AirBNB’s software.
AirBNB has raised 2.3 billion dollars. That is a B! That is a lot of money.
AirBNB calls itself a disruptor; forging a new path using technology to allow peer to peer sharing. And yet, the software that we use to facilitate all of this disruption is incredibly inadequate. I am a software developer. I can SCRUM and refactor with the best of them, and I can not believe that after 2.3 billion dollars of venture capital money this is the best that they have chosen to do.
In my line of work, I would create a whole series of user stories, but since this is a forum, I will simply list the feature requests that I would suggest, assuming that these features would be allocated about 300 people-hours of coding. (Well, while also assuming that the developers have bothered with unit tests.)
Minimum Nº of Days. I require a two night stay, but the world isn’t perfect so in any given month, I have some random single nights. I should be able to highlight a random single night and make that available at whatever price makes it worth my while. In essence, I should be able to override my own preference. Maybe, at New Years or the Head of the Charles or 4th of July, I might prefer to require three days. Again, this should be possible.
Extra charges. Why can’t I add a fee by the bed, not by person? Two people who sleep in two beds costs me more than two people who sleep in one bed. In this same vein, why can’t we charge a cleaning fee for short rentals and no cleaning fee for longer? Or vice versa. Again, we should control our preference overrides.
Instant Booking. Simply put, let me control this. So far, it has all worked out, but the fact that I am required to use Instant Booking means that I am looking for an alternative platform that gives me more control over who stays in my home. [I am one of those sad new hosts that can’t turn this off.]
More Instant Booking. If you are going to force me to use Instant Booking, I should have NO limitations on the number of cancelations. Maybe the unlimited is restricted to canceling within the first 48 hours following the booking, and then allow three after that, but again, this is my home. I should feel comfortable with anyone staying here.
Valuation. AirBNB is failing at differentiating the types of spaces that are being posted on their site. I offer a private, three room suite. I can’t actually tell the software where that second bed is since I am not “allowed” to offer two bedrooms and a bath in a shared house. Instead the second bed is shown as being in a common space. No. No it is not! The value of one room with a shared bath, one room with a private bath, three rooms with a private bath, and a stand alone unit are not the same, but the first three are bundled into one very uncomfortable category and AirBNB’s pricing recommendation devalues what I am offering.
Smart Pricing. This “feature” is not smart at all. Does AirBNB just want us to give away our properties? Is the valuation factor, see above, so “off” that they can’t figure this out? Do they not know about the major events that happen in this major city? I wish that there was more transparency about this tool. Beyond pricing isn’t that much smarter, if you ask me. Their bias is that early bookings are a bad thing. For me, that isn’t true. I want people who plan ahead. If that means leaving “money on the table” so be it. I would rather have good people staying with me than a few extra dollars in my bank account.
Security Deposit. I have chosen not to require a deposit on my AirBNB suite. However, I would love the option to require a $50 deposit for anyone who will be using my Visitor Permit for parking their car. That is the cost of replacing the permit. I don’t want to ask for cash or a deposit when they arrive for many of the reasons cited in the tax thread. I just want them to be able to select that they are bringing a car, and have the deposit held by AirBNB.
Additional Expenses. I am getting a lot of international travelers. Their phones don’t work in the USA and none of them have chosen to buy a local SIM card. I would love to offer them a mifi for their stay, but there is no way to add a daily charge to their agreed upon rental fee for this extra. (When I travel, I rent a mifi in each country that I visit and it simplifies my travels dramatically.) This also relates to the security deposit above, since I would want to have a deposit for the value of the mifi box.
I am interested in the forum’s thoughts on the software that is enabling our income stream.