The AirBNB "Platform"

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.

Susan

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I saw a post on this forum where someone said they found a way to turn it off “hidden” on their iphone app. Maybe you could find the hidden trick?

I asked them to tell me where they found it since I have searched without success, but they never responded.

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“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.”

You can change the minimum number of days in the calendar

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Yes Yes Yes on the ‘Valuation’ and ‘Pricing’ issues specifically.

Valuation - yes, I have a two bedroom ‘semi-private’ apartment for rent. I can’t make it ‘entire’ because there is no door that locks between their space and mine. I can take up to 5 people, and they get a kitchen and eating area as well as the bedrooms and private bath. I’m sure it hurts me in the search because people with 5 may well want ‘2 bedrooms’ but they won’t find me. STINKS! I brought this up to someone at airbnb once and she thought I was totally right and said she’d push the idea up…

Pricing - yes, what is really going on here? Those price ‘tips’ hurt EVERYONE! Especially hosts who have figured out what it takes to run this business and want to charge for the value they offer. Other hosts in the area are listing places at those price-tip prices which 1) costs everyone plenty of money and 2) devalues the Airbnb brand. What if Hilton decided to list their rooms at $75 a night? Everyone would suffer, from the stock-holders to the employees cleaning the rooms. And people would think Hilton was JOKE.

Does ANYONE know the business logic behind selling our quality product at thrift-store prices?

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Maybe getting much more users to air bnb (more users can be good if they want to get the company listed).

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You are saying you have found a way to make an exception to the minimum night preference without changing it for bigger blocks of time in the future? In general, I want a two-night minimum, and then every once in a while, I want to allow a specifically chosen night to be available with a one-night allowance.

If I can do this, please please please tell me how.

I think I do the opposite. One night and for some period of the year two nights

You are right! I can do this, though it is totally non-intuitive. I went to availability settings --> Add another requirement [which I think was special for weekends before I added anything] --> Popup menu to bottom “Custom” --> Entered the single date and made it a minimum of 1 night.

Thank you for encouraging me to take a closer look!

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What you need to do is just make a whole new platform :wink: Yeah, my husband is a Senior Business Analyst with his company, and he knows coding, mobile app design, etc. I’ve debated on having him create a website for me, but I like the large, global access that Air offers.

As a wife of a web developer with no real knowledge of my own, I can tell that there are so many options that would make this better.

And the pricing is a joke. Even those just starting looking for reviews should double the suggested prices.

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I don’t have the right stuff to raise 2.3 BILLION dollars! I will let younger turks lead the way. I have already changed as much of the world as I can. :slight_smile:

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I think there is a calendar setting that allows this?

Hi @smtucker,

I agree that the Airbnb platform is rather flakey. I’ve said this in a bunch of places in this forum already. And I think most of us have come to a similar conclusion. It’s a bit of a mystery why a business with so much money can’t find competent developers. They’re not that hard to find.

I think my number one improvement proposal to the existing Airbnb model (and I’ve already said this in more than one place here) is to have some kind of record of changes made to ones listing. Currently only Airbnb has any record of changes. And it’s not clear if they keep a record either. So in the case that Airbnb and the host have different ideas about what some setting was, there is no record to look at.

Though since it seems that they are starting to ignore even clearly stated host preferences, I’m not sure how much that would help.

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I am not aware that they ever did not ignore clearly stated host preferences.

There has been some discussion about this here. Do you want me to give you link to relevant threads? Unless someone else would oblige.

Only if it’s a link to a clearly stated host preference that they did not ignore…

You mean that they did ignore? Those double negatives have left me confused, sorry. I’m not a fan of double negatives. No, no to double negatives.

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Sorry, I mean they ignore them all. Are you aware of any that they have not ignored? There must be a few?

Heh. I’m sure they honor host preferences most of the time. I thought we were discussing cases when they didn’t. :slight_smile:

Volume. Cheap prices = more bookings and more people on Airbnb than the competition.