Airbnb UPdates September 2020

Dear hosts, my last episode all about Airbnb was at the beginning of summer, and so much has happened since then. It’s time to get caught up with Airbnb Updates That Will Impact You, September 2020 edition. 

In today’s episode I’m going to talk about:

  • Airbnb’s Customer Service woes
  • Party and Event policies
  • Superhost status: What you need to know
  • And The Latest Cancellation Policy.

Dear hosts, we now have Catherine Powells, Airbnb’s new Global Head of Hosting who is providing Airbnb’s updates via videos. There have been three videos since the beginning of August. (The last video from Brian was back in May.)

Catherine joined Airbnb this year, and she comes from Disney.

In each video, Catherine updates something different. At the latest, she talked with Global Head of Operations Tara Bunch. BTW, Tara used to work for Apple. They're bringing the big women now.

Customer Service:

If you’ve called Airbnb with any issues in the last few weeks, you probably didn’t get to speak to a customer service person, even if you were a Superhost. They were giving priority to reservations that were arriving in the next 72 hours or emergency situations.

Just because something is important to you, it doesn't mean it's an emergency for Airbnb.

How do I know? Because this just happened to me.

My Experience with Customer Service:

Nowadays when I get an inquiry or reservation request for La Casita in Puerto Rico I make sure that the guest is aware of the local strict regulations. Such as requiring you to show a negative COVID test when you arrive at the airport or limiting the beaches for exercise only.a

If someone wants to come for a vacation, I don't know if Puerto Rico will provide the best experience with everything that is closed. And we have a curfew of 10 pm. Oh yeah, that is still happening.

A guest booked, and two days later he wanted to cancel. I said “Fine, I'll fully refund you,” but he also wanted Airbnb's fees, which it’s not my problem and I can’t give it back to him.

Both of us called Airbnb because the guest was blocking my September calendar. This was late August, and you know I wanted those days opened. Neither one of us could reach customer service. The guest got a response that Airbnb would cancel in two days. Four days later: nothing.

I wasn't a happy host, I moved the guest's reservation to January since I knew no one was booking that far ahead, but guests were booking September. Days later, Airbnb finally canceled the reservation.

How is Airbnb Fixing Customer Service:

Tara and Catherine talk about the customer service issues we hosts are having. Part of the problem is due to the fact that Airbnb reduced their staff by 50%. In addition, they didn't expect travel to pick up so quickly; but it also meant a lot more cancellations and issues.

Fewer staff and more issues mean they decided to make changes like priority support for bookings within 72 hours.

Customer Service Update:

  • Working toward the goal of having up to 8,000 customer service staff by early November—Airbnb is adding about 200 support staff per week
  • Restoring priority phone support for Superhosts
  • Giving priority phone support to hosts and guests with bookings within 72 hours
  • Prioritizing urgent issues and emergencies
  • Aiming to handle most phone calls in under two minutes by the end of September

Tara, you got your work cut out for you. I’m so glad they are updating the customer service department.

Let's talk about money…

Payment Delay News:

If you had guests in July, go and double-check your bank account because Airbnb had some technical issues releasing the payments. They're saying it was small; but it’s important to you if you didn't get your money, especially at a time like now. Nothing about money is small.

In the latest video, Catherine and Tara spoke about this delay and how Airbnb introduced additional monitoring to identify issues before they happen. Yay us.

Remember that if you're a new host, your identity needs to be verified before certain payments go out. Airbnb also sends another verification after payments reach a certain financial threshold.

Here’s a useful tip: Make sure you check your dashboard or junk folder for any Airbnb messages.

Parties and Large Gatherings Policy Changes:

I know that parties are a big issue for us as hosts. Trust me, I know. I had a guest throw a party at Eveland which I talked about in Episode 69 An Unauthorized Party In My Home and I shared details about the resolution in Episode 88: Tuning-In to the Airbnb Legal Drama Brandon McKenzie

The current Parties and Events policy prohibits the following:

  • Gatherings of more than 16 people (effective for reservations made on or after August 20, 2020)
  • Any party or event that is not authorized by the host
  • All open-invite parties and events (ex: parties without a fixed guest list)
  • Parties in apartment buildings or other multi-family housing
  • Gatherings of more than 16 people at single-family homes (These are not allowed, regardless of host authorization)

Also, be aware of the following points regarding Airbnb’s policy on Parties and events.

  • Guests will be reminded of Airbnb's latest Parties and Events policy before they leave for their trip
  • Airbnb will take action against guests who violate their policies
  • In certain countries and regions, they have implemented restrictions on some local bookings of entire home listings by guests under the age of 25 who have negative reviews or fewer than three positive reviews
  • Remember, this revised policy doesn't mean that your House Rules and your screening of guests can be any less vigilant. Guests will party.

Superhosts Status:

If you're a current Superhost, Airbnb has extended your status through March 31, 2021 — as long as your response rate is at least 90% and you have a 4.8 overall rating.

Airbnb is waiving the criteria for the number of stays and cancellations until the next assessment.

Dear host, if you meet all four Superhost criteria, you'll be eligible for the $100 USD Superhost bonus. Here’s a quick review of the four criteria.

You must have…

  • Completed at least 10 trips OR completed 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights
  • Maintained a 90% response rate or higher
  • Maintained a 1% percent cancellation rate (1 cancellation per 100 reservations) or lower, with exceptions made for those that fall under Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy
  • Maintained a 4.8 overall rating (this rating looks at the past 365 days of reviews, based on the date the guest left a review, not the date the guest checked out)

You’ll want to go to the Dashboard to check out your performance status.

Catherine didn't talk about cancellation policies, but here’s the latest information as of September 1st:

Extenuating Circumstances Policy and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)–

Do you still have any reservations that were made before March 14th with a future check-in date? If so, that guest can cancel and be refunded.

  • Check-in dates between March 14, 2020, and October 15, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be canceled before check-in. The guest has to have made the reservation on or before March 14th.
  • If you have a reservation with a check-in date after October 15th, that is not currently covered for COVID-19 related extenuating circumstances. Your cancellation policy will apply as usual.
  • For any reservation made after March 14th, your cancellation policy will apply as usual.

Check your calendar to see if you still have any lingering reservations and contact your guests, be proactive.

This is the latest news from Airbnb. Customer service, July payout, Parties and Gathering, and Cancellation policy.

I’m happy to share it with you because I always want you to be informed and in the know.

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