Looking for Something to Complain About

There are some guests who check in and just start looking for something to complain about. There are some guests who want the experience of everything being perfect. They want a crisp new $1 bill. If they get a slightly worn $100 bill instead, they are going to complain, ask for money back, and leave a bad review.

My apartments were built in the 1960’s. I’ve updated them somewhat, dressed them up a bit, but if you look, you can find something to complain about.

I want to do everything possible to scare off that kind of guest. My new approach is to start the description with this:

I’m training new cleaners. There are bound to be some oversights. This is also an older apartment, and there are signs of age, wear and tear. If you aren’t focused on those kinds of details, this will be a great apartment for you.

Stole my Croissants!!!!

Hi Matthew… I wanted to reach out and let you know that it appears that someone has broken into our apartment last night. We had a box of croissants in our kitchen and when we got back from dinner last night it was missing. I’m not sure if anyone else has access to the apartment but my mother is pretty freaked out now and doesn’t want to stay in this apartment. Can we get refunded? We’d like to leave as soon as possible.

Flying Steak …

This just in from a guest …

I only damaged two of your houses hold items one of which was a wine glass which I kicked over not noticing and the latter would be a piece of steak went flying on your curtains

Exorcism?

A guest just wrote,

Everything is fine. There are red stains on the ceiling of the bedroom which look to be the blood of some animal. Just wanted to let you know.

Iguana!

This just in from a guest:

Theirs a iguana by the pool we can’t go out

I’m trying to dream up good responses. For example,

Actually that’s the baby alligator. Just wait around a bit and see if the parents come out.

I mentioned this to a neighbor, and he said, “I heard them screaming yesterday and thought someone was being murdered.”

Airbnb Pricing Strategy for Coronavirus

Immediate Occupancy Only

You only want bookings for guests who will arrive in the next three days. It doesn’t matter how long. One day, two days, three weeks, a month. I’ll take any booking as long as the guest is arriving today, tomorrow or the next day.

Why? Because any booking farther in the future is very likely to be cancelled. They’ll block your calendar for the guest who wants to arrive tomorrow and stay two weeks, and they they’ll cancel the day of arrival. And Airbnb will give them a full refund.

Screen, Screen, Screen

You do not want parties, not even a bunch of nuns reading the Bible together. Airbnb hosts already have a target painted on their backs, you do not want to draw any additional attention.

Easily said, harder to put into practice. Actually, it’s not hard, but there’s a limit to what you can actually accomplish. Nevertheless, make the effort. Here are questions to ask:

  • Who will occupy the unit? How many adults, how many children, and who are they?
  • Will there be anyone inside the unit other than those people, even briefly, even during they day?
  • What is the reason for your trip?

There are some guests who fully intend to hold a raging party and know what lies to tell, but you’d be surprised how many aren’t that perceptive. When you get the six high school seniors who are coming to Florida to celebrate their graduation, remember Nancy Reagan and just say ‘no’.

Raise or Drop Your Prices

These are strange times. If you’re in an urban market like me, you may have to discount quite a bit. For example, my apartments rent for about $1200/month unfurnished, no consumables, no utilities, no internet, and on an annual lease. On Airbnb I’m used to getting double that, but I provide more, too. Still, I was recently pretty happy to get bookings that paid me just under $1200/month. Heads in beds, some revenue is better than none.

If you have a country get-away and there is high demand, charge what the market will bear. If you are booked more than a few weeks in advance, you under-priced it.

Set a Progressive Last-Minute Discount

If you use pricing software like PriceLabs, Wheelhouse, or BeyondPricing, you can set sophisticated discounts. For example, I have a 40% last-minute discount that is phased in over 28 days. If my base price is $100, then tonight costs $60, and each following day costs a little more until you get to 28 days from now when you pay full price ($100) for each night.

My goal is not to charge someone $100/night. My goal is simply to make close-in bookings attractive in price, and bookings farther in the future unattractive. To get bookings longer than a few days you have to combine this with length-of-stay discounts. I’ll discuss the exact mechanics in a future post.

And You Wonder Why Coronavirus is Spreading …

We are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The numbers in Florida are exploding.

And yet I get Airbnb booking requests like this:

Can I have a dinner with my family and friends of course outdoors…Because I need the Pool more than the house….Please August 5 is gonna be my birthday and I just came here to do a little something…Thank you sir for your understanding

And this:

Hello good morning! I would like to book your beautiful house it will be only 4 or 6 people staying at night, but I would like to have a bbq/pool party birthday for my fiance on the Sunday 23 August it will be only 15 people min 20 max it’s going to be kind of hangout with family, no DJ just music and have a chef coming over with the food.

And this:

Me: What is the purpose of your visit?

Guest: I am a musician here to play a few gigs.

Me: [cancels booking]