Tricky negotiating beforehand

I am having a lot of people asking for reservations and then not making bookings. If I give a pre-approval, does the system automatically place a hold on the calendar and for how long? At the same time, these same guests are emailing me frequently to ask questions about things that are already listed on the site. On top of that, some of these same guests are also trying to go around the Airbnb system to make a private deal with me (something I don’t want to do). How are you guys handling these things? When do you cut someone off? Does anyone have a polite response that suggests a limit (on communication) without sounding rude?

Irene, I can’t speak to the issue about pre-approvals and whether it puts a hold on the calendar and for how long but I would recommend not doing private deals with guests if possible. The main reason is because you will not be protected by Airbnb’s insurance policy should anything happen. I also personally feel that guests who are trying to save a few dollars by cheating the system won’t be as conscientious or respectful of your place as guests who are willing to go through the regular Airbnb channels. That is just a generalization and my personal opinion but I’d rather have the peace of mind knowing that should anything happen, I’m covered by Airbnb’s policy.

Can anyone else give some insight on whether Airbnb puts a hold on a host’s calendar and for how long if they give a pre-approval?

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I have the same question. I pre-approved someone last week and although they never booked, the calendar still shows it. And if you’re not going to pre-approve someone who’s asking for a deal, what do you do? I don’t want to decline and have it affect my profile.

Apparently, declining is not an issue because Airbnb say it allows people to make plans easier. It’s just that I worry about doing it too often. It does seem that some guests try to develop online relationships and then start making noises about contacting me off the Airbnb site. The first time this happened, I gave the guest my name (it was my first booking and I wasn’t sure what could go wrong) and he found me on Facebook. He now has a longish booking that is an extremely good deal for him ($56/night for a luxury 2 bedroom condo) AND he’s just informed me that there will be two extra guests, which isn’t really good for my space since there isn’t a lot of room for them. (I didn’t have the extra guest fee set up in time.) This last time, the guest kept referencing my cancellation policy and how it could be bad for them. It was clear they wanted me to change it. That worried me since it was an almost month long booking during a so-so season. If I lost their booking, I would probably have to drop my prices considerably to replace the income. At any rate, I didn’t feel that this was a good enough reason for turning them down, so I booked off a couple of days in the middle of their tentative booking so having them as guests became impossible. I don’t mind offering deals, but I don’t like being forced into it. I’d rather just turn these guests down, but I worry about doing it too often, as I’ve said.

If I understan correct-the Airbnb insurance protect only hosts in USA

Irene, I don’t think a mere inquiry and pre-approval holds that space. It’s just an inquiry. If a paid booking comes through, then of course it’s held. Never ever deal with someone offline. It’s a violation of Air TOS and could get you kicked off Air if they discovered it. Also… If they want to go around the rules, that says A LOT about their character and the kind of guest they will be. The platform actually protects you… I would ditch anyone who tries to go around Air.

Because they added additional people to your booking, you have every reason to cancel. Contact customer service and see if they will unblock that time period (which they block to punish you for canceling). You should never ever let a guest intimidate you, and/or contact you through other means! That’s downright stalking and it’s scary and AGAIN, sends out a red flag about the kind of character this guest might have. You are under no obligation to refund any money once a guest has booked (although you may elect to if you wish, I only do it if they can show documented proof why they needed to cancel such as a death certificate.)

I know it is hardline, but guests have played me too many times with various sob stories and I’ve been the loser for it. Remember, this is a business. I’m not in it to do favors for people! I’m a great host but have learned not to let guests push me around. I am sure you can rent the space to others… and by the way, if you book a space longer than 30 days it turns your transaction into a “month-to-month” rental situation (at least here in the States) which subject to regular tenancy laws…and that means you have to go to court to evict them, say if they just decided to stay and not leave. You should do anything longer than 30 in blocks of 29. That’s to be on the safe side. I dunno. I’d ditch these guests! They sound like trouble to me!

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I’ve written this message to send to over-fussy guests: Somehow the message has been duplicated…oh well.

Dear X

You seem to have a lot of concerns when it comes to Airbnb and my place. I understand that you are spending a lot of money and that of course you want to have a good stay. The Airbnb system is very good for hosts and travellers alike, which is why I use it. I’ve put a lot of thought into choosing my prices and settings.

I’m a good host, but my time is limited. I would advise you to go back to the Airbnb site to check both my listing and their FAQs if you need more information. I’m sorry, but I can’t invest more time answering questions and the pre-approval I’ve issued will expire in 24 hours.

Airbnb is a great service with amazing places and wonderful hosts, so I’ll certainly understand if you book somewhere else.

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um… if you don’t mind me saying so, it sounds a little harsh and might be kind of a turn off. I wonder if you might want to say it in a more concise manner. “For the answers to these questions and more, please read my detailed AirBmB description. Once you book I will send you a more comprehensive document with complete information.”

By the way, being in Hawaii I tend to get quite a few lookie loos and question askers. If they have specific questions about the location, I don’t mind answering. If they want to know an itinerary and information about Hawaii things etc., I politely tell them I will provide more info when they book.

I have also found the EXTREME question askers who end up booking turn out to be trouble. I once had a guy ask a million questions about Hawaii and the place before hand. Once he did book, and I was able to send him lots of info, he still wanted his hand held about every little thing. I went out of my way to help him plan an itinerary for his mere four days here and did everything but wipe his bottom with a huggie. When he got here I spent a ton of time talking to him. he was here in summer and booked my low season rate! My repayment?

A review with a laundry list of complaints a mile long, starting with the hair dryer he couldn’t find and the taxes he had to pay (agreed with him and discussed beforehand!) How far away it was from town, etc. All things that are discussed in my listing description! As well as that he didn’t understand why he had to leave the apartment clean–obviously a newbie! At the end he left a compliment for my hospitality but it was buried in the negatives. So yeah, watch out for the overly nervous guests who ask a million questions. And don’t put any weight into offering pre-approvals! All it means is they can book it when they’re ready. It doesn’t tie you up.

My posts keep repeating themselves. When I delete the second message, both disappear. Hmm. Thanks for letting me know. Sometimes it’s hard to know how I sound. I’ll try to friendly it up a bit.

Here is my new version. I want it to be a bit of a clear cut off point, as in I want potential guests to understand why they won’t hear from me until after they book. That said, let me know if it’s still too harsh.

I understand that you have concerns when it comes to Airbnb and my place. I’m an experienced traveller myself, so I know what it’s like to spend a lot of money on accommodations. That’s why written such a detailed description and posted 27 photos of my condo.
The Airbnb system is very good for hosts and travellers alike, which is why I use it exclusively. I’ve put a lot of thought into choosing my prices and settings.
The Airbnb site and my listing are full of information about my place and how to book it. I’ll be happy to continue this conversation after I’ve received a booking.
Airbnb is a great service with amazing places and wonderful hosts, so I’ll certainly understand if you book somewhere else.

As per the Airbnb site:

“Hosts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States are currently eligible. We are committed to implementing the Host Guarantee in other countries and are actively working to do so.”

So if you’re in those countries you’re protected by the host guarantee. Whether or not they actually pay up is another matter of course :confused:.

I totally agree! The guests who have the most questions are the ones who end up being the most troublesome. We’ve also had people request to see the suite first. We agreed once and then this guest ended up cancelling last minute and he had booked for 2 months. Since then we’ve had a no pre-viewing policy in place. We have Airbnb verified photos so I think that should speak for itself. Some guests are definitely not worth the hassle!

Yes, I’ve had two people ask to see the place in advance. A third asked and I said no–I was on vacation myself and I didn’t want to inconvenience the guests who were there. I also had to go off the site. I didn’t know how else to get my address to the people who wanted it.

This to say that I too have decided not to do that again.

I could be wrong but I believe letting them see the suite in advance is also a violation of the Air TOS, as there is to be no contact between guest and host outside of their platform for obvious reasons. ( If you talk to them in person, and do the transaction between yourselves, Air could lose the booking.) But also it’s a safety measure that protects you… First of all, why should you waste your time and inconvenience your current guests by showing the apartment to lookie loos? It’s also a red flag and signals that the guest is inexperienced. And inexperienced means trouble!!

If someone asks me to do that, I automatically ditch them. There are 1000 more to take their place!

I once had a guest locate me through the AirBnB overly detailed public locator map. They showed up at my door, wanting to book and I couldn’t have been more shocked! I’m in a rural area on a quiet street and they could easily identify my house by the photos I posted!! I asked Air to expand the map so my street, and even subdivision could not be identified and they readily complied! I told the guest the place was unavailable and they left.

There is no benefit for you to have contact with lookie loo guests before they pay, and everything to lose.

Irene, it sounds OK, maybe except for the last line. It’s a little unfriendly and sounds like a paraphrase of “If you don’t like it, there’s the door.” :slight_smile: I think you got the point across and don’t need the last line.

One thing I am wondering about is this–if you are getting a lot of questions, maybe your text description could be beefed up? Try to include the answers to questions you get a lot in the public description?

I always deflect questions from lookie loos about things to do in Hawaii… When they are a confirmed paying customer, then I will help with questions. If not, let them consult Fodor’s Big Island of Hawaii, which I also happen to write for!!

I think I’m getting inexperienced guests. They ask general questions about how to book, not about the property. It’s like they want me to help them through the process. I did think about adding information, and went in and changed my listing, but honestly, the questions aren’t really relevant to it. Do you want to take a look? Here’s the link: Don’t feel obliged, btw. I already appreciate the feedback you’ve given me so far. :smile:

Wow!!! Your place is totally gorgeous and you have five stars already from 11 reviews?!! That’s awesome, and your description is wonderful and perfectly clear. I would say if you get booking process questions you can direct them to the Air FAQ section to sort out on their own. You can’t actually walk them through the process like they want. But really, I am thinking if they are having trouble booking this simple platform, they can’t be too bright, can they? Your place is obviously great and I wouldn’t worry too much about the people who can’t figure it out?

One other thing… if you don’t mind my two cents…:wink: you could charge way more for cleaning. I charge $85 and no one blinks an eye. My place is nowhere near the size or scope of yours. It must take you on the order of three to four hours to clean. You offer a lot for the money too in the way of extras. I think they expect a higher cleaning fee.

I think you are already in the running for Superhost as you have five stars on everything. Me, I’ll never be five stars, haha.

Now I want to go to Montreal, :slight_smile: as you have done such a great job selling the area itself. Kona is an easy sell as is all of Hawaii overall but your listing is a good example of selling the area itself surrounding the flat (unfamiliar to many of us) so people will want to go there in the first place!

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I think I will charge more for the cleaning, you’re right. And thanks for the compliments…it’s a new condo though, so it’s not hard to make it nice.

Before I got my first booking, I had one guest who wanted to see the place beforehand. I had 0 reviews, my verified photos hadn’t gone up yet. The meeting went well and he ended up booking a couple days later. He just checked out a yesterday, no problems. He was just being cautious, and I understood why.

Now that I’ve built some traction, no chance I would ever do that again (although nobody has asked since). One, I’m pretty booked up, and I would never think of letting some rando in while I had a guest staying there already. Two, it’s probably just a waste of time. I have positive reviews, verified photos, etc…somebody else will take their place.

I’d also be wary of anyone who wants to save a few bucks by booking outside of the Airbnb system. Airbnb fees are cheap enough, and they give me some peace of mind. Not to mention I wouldn’t want to risk my account by breaking the rules. And it speaks to their character that they don’t care about that risk.

I don’t think I would ever send a message that said something like “I’d understand if you wanted to book somewhere else” because it comes off as a tad passive-aggressive. I’d just patiently answer their questions. Many of my Airbnb guests are first-timers, I don’t mind walking them through it. Although I’ve never reached a point when a guest asked an unreasonable amount of questions, I’d probably find a lighter way of cutting them off.

But I am pretty firm on my no discount rule. Typically they are people who just want to stay a couple nights. I simply say “I only offer discounts on stays a week or more” which is spelled out in my pricing. I usually never hear back from them. But somebody always takes their place. And they probably found a cheaper place. So whatever.

Luckily I haven’t dealt with a lot of the creepy situations I’ve seen in this thread. Showing up at your doorstep and asking if they can book outside of the Airbnb system? Good lord.