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Confessions of AirBnB Hosts

June 19, 2015

Jefferson memorial during Cherry Blossom Season — possibly the most popular timeframe to visit Washington D.C.

Since we’ve decided to be based in Washington DC for the foreseeable near future, we are exploring all sorts of ways to replenish our travel fund. Aside from actually getting paying jobs, our most lucrative endeavor has been AirBnB. We’ve put our spare bedrooms on the site in May, and overall have had a fantastic experience so far. The extra income is not insubstantial, the guests we’ve hosted have been an interesting and diverse bunch, we are constantly talking about travel, and I am actually doing something that I am really good at and enjoy: hosting people. Many wins all around. Of course, as with anything else in life, there are some downsides to AirBnB – one of them is having to decline  guests’ requests.

Have you ever been declined on AirBnB for no apparent reason? Or received an excuse like – oh whoops, we are actually out of town / have family staying in town, so no, the room isn’t available? Ever wonder if it’s actually true? I never really gave much thought to this, as it happened rarely and there are so many options that it doesn’t really matter – someone, somewhere will host you! That is until we started hosting people ourselves. And then, the faux pas that travelers commit on AirBnB became almost instantly clear. On a good day, which is most, I will look past these errors in judgment and send a friendly reply to the person requesting a room.

But, I have bad days too – and on those days, I will just decline your request. Why? The simple reason is you’ve annoyed me. Now please keep in mind that we’ve used AirBnB exclusively as travelers for several years now, and until we started hosting just over a month ago, we were regularly committing these errors in judgment and good manners. So with that in mind, here’s some reasons why we would decline your request:

No Picture, No Name, and No Verifications

Not to mention anything about reviews or references. This is my number one peeve on AirBnB. You are wasting my time – and yours. On a good day I will ask you to fill out your profile, give me your full name, put up a picture, yadda, yadda, yadda. I just got annoyed writing this. And I am a bit shocked at how many requests we get like this.  C’mon people, just 5 minutes more of your effort to fill out the profile and you instantly become a much more appealing guest. Do you really think I would be ok with someone named “Sam”, whom I know nothing about – even the gender – come stay in my home…particularly if I am not there?!

Lengthy / annoying questions for an inquiry

You know that button that says “contact host”? If you click on it, and then proceed to send us a list of questions that you could really answer yourself…and I quote here from the ones we got “Is it a separate bedroom & bath? Do you have picture(s) of the bedroom? “ (A: read the description please) “Is this location close to Mandarin Oriental Hotel?” “Could you please let me know how far (walking distance) the Law Center is from you” (A: Have you heard of google maps? Because no I haven’t walked everywhere in the city, no I don’t know where those places are, and no I am not a concierge, and I sure as hell am not going to google this myself)….then I will probably decline you, even on a good day. Not only I am annoyed that you are asking me to spend 20 minutes of my time figuring out questions that you can easily answer yourself, but I also think that you will be a high-maintenance guest. On top of that you aren’t even committing to a booking. No thanks!

Bad Reviews

Ok, so this one is a bit unfair…but I declined someone because they wrote a bad review for another host. And that was the only review they have ever written. Now, the problem wasn’t a bad review itself – it was what this person found to be missing: “guests could be made to feel even more welcome with a few simple additions – bath soap, washcloth, better quality pillows, hide cleaning supplies (visible in the living room and bathroom), tea kettle for guests’ use. Although the host invited me to call if I needed anything, I chose not to inasmuch as I managed without any of these things.” I mean, really? I enjoy hosting and try to make sure that guests have all the necessities…but, I would rather not find out whether the quality of our pillows would be suitable to this person requesting a booking. Particularly since AirBnB provides the opportunity to send a private message to the host letting them know if something was lacking.

Your offspring is capable of using the internet him/herself, no?

This is another bad one, which gets an automatic decline. If you send an inquiry requesting a booking for your son/daughter because they have an internship in Washington DC for a few weeks, I will try very hard not to write anything mean in return. Such as – do you want me to spoon feed them breakfast in the morning as well, and wait up for them every night and report back to you on their wellbeing? Or, hello – your 18+ child is now an adult, capable of doing simple tasks such as requesting a booking on AirBnB. And if they aren’t, well, we certainly do not want to host them.

it’s actually great

I have probably scared anyone potentially looking to stay with us from ever sending us another inquiry or making a booking request, I promise we are actually very attentive and good natured hosts, and if possible, even better guests! Overall our experience has been really positive on AirBnB in either capacity, and majority of the requests that we get are perfectly awesome.

So…do you think we are being totally unfair and obnoxious? Do you use AirBnB for travel or hosting? If you haven’t signed up yet, here’s a $25 AirBnB credit to get you started.

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