The soft towels are neatly placed on the bed. My clothes are folded back into my suitcase that yesterday the porter carried to my room. This is my perfect holiday in a lovely hotel, paid for by the cash cow Airbnb I hosted for seven years. A hotel holiday is my dream, but book an Airbnb, never, and here’s why.
Hosting was a joy, to meet travelers, to have a business that worked, for me, that actually made money what a dream! After 245 reviews I had a 4.81 star-rating. Really?
It’s easy to forget the couple who found half a blowfly thrown onto the bed from the fan, or the man who found the week old garbage hidden in a cupboard, or the couple who claimed to have been attacked by ants and run a mile.
As a host I dread a ‘one-star rating’. A bad review can be devastating for your revenue. So, over the years it seems that hosts, like me, have learnt the tricks to manage complaints.
“The rating system for properties is pretty much entirely rubbish,” said AirbnbHell, Founder Dan Weber.
‘Buy ‘em off!’ I advise any host.
On one Saint Patrick’s night my neighbours sang ‘Danny Boy’ while sculling green beer till dawn.
My two worn out Airbnb guests appeared over my rickety fence that divides my home from an Airbnb apartment the next morning.
No amount of apologising could bring a smile to their face’s, but cash did the trick. I paid them a day’s rate as compensation and a cheap bottle of wine. They didn’t post a review.
There are other tricks. “If a Host gets a couple of bad reviews, they can simply cancel that account and create a new one with the same address the next day, no verification or red flags from Airbnb,” said Weber.
As a host I’ve chatting to guests, i’ve listened to traveller’s tales from around the world and one lesson that comes through is while there are unique benefits to Airbnb, the risks are enormous. A bad experience can ruin your holiday.
“Never, never would I book an Airbnb,” said Toni Ough * after a trip through Europe. “In every apartment I had to log my bags up four flights of stairs; with my 59-year-old creaky knees. Not one host mentioned this on their Airbnb page.”
Megan Jones * a host and a regular traveller admits that most guests are too nice to leave a bad reviews, leaving future guests unaware of the drawbacks.
“When I book through Airbnb, I read pages of reviews to find a hint of a problem. ‘The apartment was on the fourth storey which wasn’t a problem for us. But for anyone with heavy bags this could be a problem’,” said Jones.
“Another big problem we hear about is when Hosts cancel reservations on Guests last-minute,” said Weber.
I’ve had to cancel bookings. Imagine the dread realising you have one apartment, one date and two bookings from two websites. A hotel with many rooms can accommodate double bookings it’s not that easy for home-shares.
On his website there are devastating stories of guest’s bookings being cancelled as their driving towards the apartment. Can you imagine?
“When we arrived in Cologne we reached the host at 6:00 PM. She said that she wasn’t in Cologne, and that she was in Berlin.” Whose fault was it? Airbnb? The host? It didn’t matter, while the Airbnb’s price was 80 euros per night, the couple ended up paying 189 for a hotel. (Airbnbhell Posted: September 19, 2019)
There lies another logistical difference with Airbnb and hotels. We assume a hotel will have a 24-hour reception, and maybe someone will welcome us with a cool drink.
With Airbnb, getting access to an apartment can be annoying and a time waster. “The greatest stress was not knowing if the host was going to be at the darn door, particularly if we had a night entry. I ended up worrying about how long we’d be waiting in the dark for the host. In one place I found the key tucked into a saddle bag on a bike in the lane. Ridiculous! It was an unnecessary anxiety; it was just so weird” said Ough.
“Berlin was a blessing. I booked a hotel as I couldn’t be bothered ‘dicking around’ with Airbnb anymore. I knew a hotel would have 24-hour reception, be legitimate, I wouldn’t have to second guess anything. There are some great Airbnb’s but I certainly had my fair share of duds,” said Ough.
- names changed