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Unsolicited 'advice' from guest


#1

Hi, I wonder what people feel about unsolicited ‘advice’ from guests?

Most of our guests are pretty nice and seem to really like our flat. But we’ve just had a couple of really grumpy folk which actually upset me a lot. Now, I know one shouldn’t be emotional (but being chronically ill, and killing myself making our flat really lovely for guests doesn’t help) but the guest left a rather nasty note for me on departure. Completely random rants for eg, no ‘paper towels’ (we provide kitchen roll, I’m not sure what paper towels are if not that. We’re in the UK, they were from the US, and one or two other silly things.

I always get 5 star for cleanliness as I am mad about cleaning and getting the place spotless. But we rent out the - completely separate and self-contained with own entrance, keys, private gardens - lower ground floor floor of our Georgian house.

When guests stay I literally tip toe around upstairs, keep the TV low, am always on at my 10 and 13 year old boys to talk quietly (poor them!), never have guests round in case they talk too loudly (!) or play music or have parties,(obviously!). We’ve also soundproofed the (locked) door that connects the flat to our house. There’s nothing more we can do - some noise will occur in a lower ground floor flat. Surely people know that when they book? I feel they are annoyed we live above them. But surely better we live above them than unknown persons who might make goodness knows what noise?!

Anyway, this guest complained about the noise and said it was incessant all day and night. This can’t be literally true, as I also make sure we mostly live on the upper floors (we have 4 floors) and are of course out often in the day, as were they.

Okay, I knew he was a fusspot already as the booking procedure was a nightmare (wanting discounts, quibbling airbnb fees, exchange rates, coming early unannounced etc) but we always do lots of extras (freshly made cakes, snacks, welcome groceries, etc) to make guests welcome and hoped this might please this guest.

Any advice you can give would be gratefully received.


#2

Flax… hello!

You answered your own question right here. The guest was sending out the kind of red flags that next time you should pay attention to. If guests even ask for one of these things, I decline them. If I’ve already booked them, I know I’ve got trouble on my hands!

Hope it gets easier. Cheers!


#3

I know, konacoconutz: steep learning curve! We’re still fairly new to this.

We’ve been renting out a holiday cottage for years, but that is several hundred miles away, (with a housekeeper nearby, I hasten to add) so have never had these issues.

Renting out our own house with us being here, is an entirely different matter.

We started off so gentle and nice and giving… but.we’re learning!!


#4

Sorry they were Americans! Most guests aren’t like that. Make sure all of your rules and expectations are clearly outlined and you will have a much easier time. Good Luck!


#5

Yes, you’re right, I have since carefully changed the description and made it absolutely crystal clear that we live above, that although we’ve soundproofed the flat and try to keep quiet, a lower ground floor flat is inevitably not going to be absolutely silent. Husband said this is going to put people off, but I think I’d prefer that than having a heart attack trying to keep my family in complete silence for weeks on end!


#6

Oh boy! You should have seen this one coming! Wanting discounts! Really, you should have sacked him right then, before he could book. You rent a nice flat, he read your listing and knew rates and what he would get. The very idea to ask for discounts. You should have asked him kindly to try a different listing. This Air BnB is peer to peer, only when both parties agree is their a contract made by booking. You had the perfect chance to avoid this guest. Next time a guest gives trouble over rates at the time of booking, just ask them to move along. We are not Hotels, and, if he doesn’t get to book with you, he can NEVER review you.
You see what I am hinting at? Don’t accept troublesome requests at time of booking. I am American, but have decades of experience staying in UK B and B’s.
Please do as I do, never take a booking from someone who is already asking for extras, like early arrival, or discounts. You allowed him to book, and he came and burned you for it! A nasty sort we all need to avoid.


#7

Yes, you’re quite right. He was a red flag. I was just being too soft. I’m a quick learner though!

I wasn’t suggesting that as an American he was difficult, just that perhaps the ‘paper towels’ was an American thing (we call them kitchen roll here - unless this is something different?)

We’ve had some very nice Americans to stay!


#8

I guess my concern was something I can’t really help: ie. we live above guests and have to go about our daily lives on the floors above. He made me feel bad about that until it hit me: hold on, I’m allowed to have a life here - this is actually my home!

I think because our lower ground floor is entirely separate, guests perhaps feel more entitled to complain? But as you say, it was probably he was just not a nice person and nothing would have been good enough.


#9

He sounds like a really unappreciative and ungracious guest. It’s such a bummer when you get someone like this – it’s been the exception for me but it is so unnerving and unpleasant when it happens.

I also live above the apt we rent out and I have two toddlers under 3 yo, so I have a very clear note in the listing – *This apt is under our main room and kitchen and you will hear our children and living noise after 7:30am. This apt is perfect for early risers who are out for much of the day – you can expect quiet after 8 pm." (my kids are in bed by 8 pm) In addition to this, I have a standard note in my email to prospective guests that warns them about the noise and I say I’m ensuring this won’t be a problem before I confirm a booking. I’m a bit cheaper than other properties in my n’hood and everyone has been pleased – I get early risers who don’t complain and they get a little bit of a bargain. The slightly cheaper price helps me breathe a bit easier and not stress out too much about the noise. I’m trying not to live too differently as a result of the rental – by lowering the price a bit, this seems to help me do that.


#10

You sound like a lovely English host. I’ve only had great English guests btw. One even sent me a box of beloved Yorkshire Gold when she returned from the Colonies. :slight_smile:


#11

Thanks chicagohost, that’s interesting to hear. I mean, we can’t apologise for living, can we?!

My husband didn’t want to mention noise as he felt it would prevent bookings, and anyway, no one has actually complained about noise before (though that doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t disturbed.) so why draw attention to a possibly non-problem? He’s not bothered about grim notes from guests: water off a duck’s back. But I fear negative reviews, not that we’ve had any …yet.

I did grovel (urgh, arrow to the heart) in a message to this guy apologising for the noise hoping to avert a bad review…

I have, however, now made it clear that we live above and for guests who are ‘extremely noise sensitive’, that a lower ground floor flat may not be for them. I’ve been down in the apartment and road tested for noise and you can hear something, but not much. Footsteps, low talking…nothing too disturbing.


#12

Thanks konacoconutz. Yorkshire Gold is pretty good, I have to say!


#13

Flax I stock up on knickers from M&S and on Yorkshire Gold from Sainsbury’s whenever I’m in England. :slight_smile:

Don’t take your mean guest to heart too much Flax.

I once had a couple from Amsterdam arrive and immediately complain how far it was from the airport (disclosed of course) Then they complain that my place in the quiet country of Kona sounded like “the middle of Manhattan!” He hated the sound my fridge made. Something “humming” outside was keeping him up. :slight_smile: The neighbor picked the one day of the year to go outside and talk on her cell phone. I thought they hated my place and hated me!

I worried and stressed during the whole visit. I even went so far as to open a claim with Air, who did hold my hand when I told them I felt uncomfortable with these guests. (Similar situation to you, downstairs studio.)

Fortunately, he went on to chill out, fall in love with Hawaii and met a wonderful sea turtle he connected with and left a great review.


#14

I think I’m going to copy your idea of being very explicit about where exactly the flat lies underneath the house: kitchen and living room. You’re right, being very clear is going to avert trouble. I’d rather have less stress and few bookings (just about…!)


#15

Hah, M&S knickers…not quite as they used to be I feel (though still good). I now buy knickers from John Lewis!!

Yes, I’m over it now and it’s lovely to share on this forum which I’ve only just found tonight. Opening your own home to people is a very different thing from renting out a place you don’t live in. We have rented out our holiday cottage in the Highlands for year. I found that difficult enough! I’m not really cut out for it, but you know…money…

It’s funny, one knows that there’s nothing so strange as folk, yet the reality of it in your own home is often difficult to take. Glad your fussy guest chilled out in the end!


#16

Just by describing your flat as on the first floor of a two story home should be enough Flax. I think people “get” the idea that if they are renting out the bottom level there could be noise from upstairs.

I use the words “the studio is on the garden level of a single-story house” to describe my place even though, let’s face it, mine is a built-out basement… that can sometimes be musty as basements are. But I don’t tell them that musty is a possibility!

Sometimes if guests bum me out I ask myself, “What do they want for $89 a night?”

Flax, just think about it, there are people who would complain about the Penthouse at the Dorchester! Guests will be guests. And some are just plain crappy and even give you a heads up they are going to be crappy.


#17

Yes, I thought that people would get that a lower ground floor flat (it’s not quite a basement as we’re on an escarpment, so our ground floor is really first floor) means that people will be above them. That’s why I never actually pointed it out.

I have pointed it out now. The issue is, does drawing peoples’ attention to the notion of noise alert them to a problem which may not be an issue for them and then reduce bookings (my husband’s view)? Or is it best to address possible fusspots (albeit, trying to spot red flags and not book them beforehand) and make the situation absolutely clear?

I know, it really amazes me how demanding some people are. I wouldn’t dream of being demanding in any way shape or form and I have stayed at 5 star places like the Dorchester (very occasionally!) Can you imagine leaving notes for the manager of a hotel? Though probably, as you say, some people do.

And as you say, what we charge for what we are offering. People expect absolutely 5 star everything for 3 star prices. Highly irritating!

But for me, the real issue is: they’re criticising you and your beloved home. That’s a difficult one.


#18

I’ve found disclosure to be a wonderful filter and guards against negative reviews – I don’t want noise-sensitive people even wasting my time (or theirs) with inquiries. I tend to get older couples since I think ppl in their 20s might want to stay out late and sleep in.

I believe that negative reviews hurt future bookings more than disclosure. This depends on the popularity of your locale, of course, but I’ve been booked more than I even wanted from March-Nov of this year, despite the fact that I highlight the noise issue. I have 39 positive reviews and I think this really draws a lot of traffic to my listing – none of the reviews complain about the noise. I think the goal of finding the right guest for my place makes the most business sense.


#19

Also – the beauty of the listing is you can revise it endlessly. If you feel after 3-4 weeks that requests have dropped off, just change it!


#20

I’m sorry to hear about your experience, flax (and welcome to the forum!). The hospitality industry is tough, especially when it’s your home you are opening up. I know most of us put a bit of our heart out every time we welcome new guests into our home - and we work hard to provide a nice experience for them.

The fact is, they just weren’t a good fit. If they do leave you a bad review, you can kindly say “I’m so sorry we weren’t a good fit for your family. We work hard to be sure our guests are comfortable in our home. Had we known the noise was disturbing you we would have tried to fix the issue”.

This tells everyone you care about providing you good customer service and that the guest didn’t give you a chance to fix it at the time.

I do agree with you that, the more information you can provide in your listing, the better. Be as honest as you can and no one can say you weren’t. However, people often miss such facts, and even if they read them, may not comprehend how it will affect them. We just aren’t always going to please everyone. (Much easier to type than to accept, I know)

We are also living above our guests. And I’m also telling my kids to be quiet, way to often! It was great to hear from another mom who walks (tip-toes) in my shoes! (You too, Chicago!) Do you have any other tips for reducing noise? We have learned to not let doors and drawers to shut loudly, we speak much quieter, and I try to get our dishes washed nice and early in the evening. However, it is still a source of almost constant anxiety for me. Our floors are all hard wood and we don’t use rugs, so I know that doesn’t help. I started shopping around a bit for some rubber mats for my kitchen, but didn’t find anything right off. I’m amazed at the noise people do tolerate. They really genuinely don’t seem to notice. I’m astonished. But I’m sure we’ll have some guests soon who react as yours does.

But to complain about lack of paper towels?? They couldn’t just knock on your door and ask for a roll? Or walk to the corner market and buy their own?

Good luck!


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