I admit that I really don’t understand what comes over some people when they become Airbnb hosts. Is it the prospect of earning a ton of money or what? Why is it that they suddenly become blinkered to human nature? Why do they suddenly forget what the world is like? How does this happen?
For many people, and I have to say that this is in particular in the USA, people, in general, seem to be pretty fearful of the world.
Everything is locked, hidden away or alarmed. People have CCTV operating outside their homes. Children are ferried to school door-to-door and it’s unusual to see a child out on his or her own.
People are such germaphobes that sales of hand sanitiser have ‘grown significantly’. Ordinary people take vast quantities of preventative drugs. (An ad I loved when I first lived in the USA was that this particular medicine could ‘stop heartburn before it starts’. What?) They wear protective clothing and eye protectors when doing the most simple jobs.
Some people would call this over-cautious, some would say they are just sensible precautions.
SO WHY DO PEOPLE FORGET TO BE CAUTIOUS WHEN HOSTING AIRBNB GUESTS?
It’s as though they believe that Airbnb has created a race of superguests who never do anything wrong or who are perfect in every way. Hopefully I don’t have to say that this isn’t even remotely true. People are people. Some are good. Some are absolute shitheads. That’s life.
The horror stories that sometimes appear on the internet regarding terrible Airbnb guests are usually (not always I hasten to add) from people who have been renting their home while they are out of town on vacation.
Now, let me ask you a question. If you were in charge of organising a bachelor party or a similar knees-up and wanted somewhere to do it wouldn’t you look for exactly that? A reasonably sized home where the owners are out of town on vacation? Of course, you would.
So these people leave their three-bedroom house or whatever, go glibly away on a jolly without any precautionary preparation. They just jauntily hand over the keys without any backup, without any particular preparation. They just trust that these people are part of this new brand of ‘superguests’ who will look after their property as if it were their own.
Well, they don’t.
And when the householders get back from their lovely vacation they are horrified to find that the place is a mess and even that items have been damaged. Then the neighbours report that there was a lot of noise and many cars parked outside. Their personal possessions have been rifled through, there’s some damage and the place looks as though a bomb’s hit it.
So the householders complain to Airbnb. I have no idea what Airbnb think at this stage. Their customer service rep is probably very sympathetic. (I wouldn’t be. I’d just think ‘you’re pretty daft to go away out of town and trust strangers with the most valuable thing you own – your house’).
Eventually, the media get hold of the story and Airbnb has to cough up for repairs and replacement costs. Because the householder was an idiot and trusted that there’s such a thing as a ‘superguest’.
NOW THAT WAS AN EXTREME EXAMPLE
I know. But minor versions of this happen all the time. Hosts complain that guests aren’t ‘perfect’. For example, they might:
- Not take the garbage out
- Leave bodily fluid stains on the sheets
- Remove their makeup with the hosts’ towels
- Leave a few dirty dishes
- Not clean out the bathtub
Or similar. But good heavens, these people are on vacation. Because I’m a host, I’m a great guest. But I can still fully accept that most people when they are away from home are paying for the privilege of not leaving the bathtub in totally immaculate condition. Truly, most guests are lovely but we shouldn’t expect perfection.
Just believe me, there is no such animal as a SUPERGUEST.