During the holiday season, we (mom, brother, and myself) decided to drive from New York to Florida. I don’t recommend a three-day drive with family. On second thought, I am not sure I recommend a three-day drive with anyone.
We had planned to stop along the way in Washington, D.C. and Savannah, and of course, we were staying at Airbnbs. I was trying to be considerate to hosts by not blocking the holiday season for just one night rentals, which meant I left the booking of the space until the last minute.
Our needs were simple – a one night rental and a private apartment with three beds. Although we were only going to be there for one night, I wanted to have access to a kitchen for a quick coffee or tea for my mom. Yes, I’m a considerate daughter. Rushing to find a place, I looked at photos and reviews and glanced at their descriptions. No, I didn’t read the descriptions fully. Yes, I became one of those guests who don't read.
Thankfully, I only needed to send choices to my brother and didn’t have too many cats to herd. We quickly decided on places, and I booked my Airbnb.
The Washington, D.C. space was great and met our expectations. It was exactly like the pictures in the ads – a two-bedroom apartment in a big building. Communication and check-in went smoothly. The host left some snackies (chips and water), which were greatly appreciated.
The space in Savannah was beautiful and appeared to meet our expectations for what was advertised: a lovely two bedroom house with three beds, a great kitchen and living room. At least, I thought I was getting all that from the photos. While in Washington, D.C., I decided to read the description of my upcoming Savannah space more thoroughly. To my surprise, buried 4 paragraphs down, I found that:
- It’s a shared space and not a private apartment. The owner would be there.
- We couldn’t use the kitchen or living room.
I emailed the owner and he responded quickly and confirmed that, yes, his description was correct. I mentioned to him that, yes, I was at fault for not reading the entire description; however, he really should be more forthcoming with his guests and prospective guests.
From my experience as a guest here are my tips for hosts:
My first tip: be quick in responding to your guests. Ideally, within 30 minutes or less. Remember the guest is looking and inquiring about multiple locations. If they email you and receive an immediate response while they’re searching, you’re ahead of the communication game. This demonstrates to the guests your willingness to respond quickly to their requests and they might just stop looking. As a guest, looking for a space becomes overwhelming. If your first choices contact you quickly, you (the guest) can stop the search.
I have stated this before, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t show something your guests don’t have access to. The Savannah home had tons of amazing photos of the kitchen and living room. That I couldn’t use. Imagine my disappointment. If there is an area or item you don’t want your guests to use, don’t show it. For example, don’t show the wet bar and then be surprised when your guests drink your alcohol.
There is a reason that our guests review us for our accuracy. In the Savannah house, I was paying almost $200 for two bedrooms, which did not include access to the rest of the house. Be accurate in your descriptions, photos and communications.
In the host’s defense, Airbnb doesn’t have the option for someone to offer a two bedroom share listing. If you have two bedrooms and want to list them, you have to do it as a private home. That being said, it is your responsibility as a host to be clear in your first communication with a prospective guest, stating, “Please note that this listing is a shared space, even though it is listed under the private apartment category. I (the host) will be your roommate.”
At the end of the day, we didn’t stay at the Savannah home. It was late, and we were still driving. It was going to take us another hour out of our way to get there, so we decided to just book a hotel near the highway. The cost was less than the Airbnb space, and we knew exactly what we were getting.
Airbnb is not for everyone, but that will story will be for another post.
Is there anything in your listing you need to explain on your communication? Are your guests clear on your listing? Comment and share your communication style.
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Until next time. Happy Hosting!
Great post – as I’ve been looking at these for trip starting tomorrow! staying at one next week, and yes, some descriptions are vague. I hope you were very clear in your comments on his listing – that is how I’ve found some valuable info, previous guest comments. Thanks
In those cases I want to ask the guest, how can I make it clear that I have stairs? Since I posted a photo, mention it in my description and you didn’t see any of it. Clearly, I’m doing something that it isn’t coming across. Do you have a suggestion? BECAUSE you dear guest didn’t read any of it, right? Ahh.. I’m actually about to do a podcast all about reviews.