What Protections Does a Host Potentially Lose By Communicating Off Platform?

I was surprised to read this at Help Article - Airbnb Help Center

Other than this statement I do not see in the terms of service or elsewhere that you lose these protections and benefits if you text with a guest other than on Airbnb. Do you? Realistically do you believe this statement above?

I suppose that this is language intended to deter such communications but is not enforced by Airbnb. Do you agree?

I think Airbnb is most or only concerned with pre-booking off-platform communications since these could be used to take the booking elsewhere. Agree?

We’ve discussed off-platform communications before here. My takeaway is that the general feeling (consensus?) is that communications should primarily if not exclusively be on the platform, that it’s especially important that communications related to or that might give rise to a Host or Guest complaint be on the platform, but also that Hosts will often generally communicate with guests where the guest is most comfortable assuming that if/once a complaint arises that Host communications should move back on to the platform.

A member recently posted that Airbnb did review and accept an off-platform back/forth communication between guest and host. But that is anecdotal.

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Considering the glitchy issues of the site, the sometimes extremely slow delivery of messages, the lack of internet connection along huge areas of our highways and the company not following its own policies, why do they need a verified phone number as part of the booking?
I give my contact details via the app as I do a meet and greet on every booking to make sure the guests can reach me and I have a meeting time set up

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I think what Airbnb is saying there, which does make sense, is that they won’t necessarily honor damages, deal with complaints, etc., if the communication about those things isn’t documented on the platform. If a guest phones you to complain there is no hot water, and you tell them to check the breaker on the electrical panel, and if there’s still no hot water in 20 minutes, you’ll come by to see what the problem is, Airbnb has no record of you appropriately responding if the guest claims you didn’t.

But if I tell my guests to phone, text or whatsapp me when they arrive at the bus station, so I can pick them up, that would never lead to anything in which Airbnb is asked to be involved, so it’s of no import.

I have communicated quite a lot with guests via email or text and it has never occured to me to care what Airbnb thinks about that, because it has never been over something with the potential to be contentious. I email them a map to my place, for instance, with photos of landmarks where they need to turn. I might also include info on how to catch the bus from the airport if that’s how they are arriving. They do, however, get an Airbnb message from me telling them I have emailed the info and to please confirm that they received it, which they do. So they couldn’t claim I never sent directions, even though it wasn’t through the platform.


Absolutely agree. And it’s easy to understand why. We do not pay to advertise on the site. We pay a fee to Airbnb when we get a booking but we pay nothing to use its site, its technology, its message system etc. etc.

Remember too that they are (currently) the industry leader. So it’s pretty good that we get their services free and only pay when a host/guest booking has been made.

The company sees to credit card handling for us, refunds, sort-of customer service and so on so paying when we get a booking is fine.

After that though, we’re on our own. (In every way, not just communication).

How we communicate with the guests during the stay is completely up to us. I always communicate with the guest in the way they prefer.

And after the stay, our guests are legitimately our guests. We’ve paid our fees and the guests are now ours. If they choose to return, it’s because of our work, our hospitality, our friendliness, our helpfulness and so on.

Not sure what these are. I’ve been advertising with Airbnb for seven or eight years now and have contacted customer service only twice.

I have all my licenses and STR insurance and other required permits. And from what I’ve read here over the years, I’m convinced that there few if any problems for which Airbnb customer service could provide ‘protections and benefits’.


Of course it makes sense that communications relating to a complaint or what could give rise to a complaint be on the platform. That way Airbnb and everyone involved avoids authentication issues involved in off-platform communications.

But Airbnb’s words are much broader than that:

  1. They say 'if you do, you lose . . ." They don’t say ‘potentially lose.’
  2. They don’t qualify the ‘if you do’ language in any way. They could restrict that ‘do’ to actions or inactions that give rise to liability, damage, etc.

I’m guessing that the Airbnb lawyers just wanted language as broad as they could get, perhaps concerned that once you start qualifying yourself there’s room for costly argument and legal expenses. I’m not aware of any evidence that Airbnb enforces this language in the broad way it’s stated.





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