Airbnb life: OMG my host cancelled my reservation at the last minute!

I. AM. STUNNED.!!!

Let me start off by saying, this post is not going to provide a lot of advice about what you should do if this should happen to you, because truthfully, I am still working out all of the details of the situation and I do not quite have the answers. This post is really me just venting, and letting you know about things that can happen when you are living life on the road.

So…here’s what happened.

LESS THAN 24 HOURS before I was set to check in to a home for a month, my boyfriend received a message from the host of the home. The message was for an alteration to the dates that we were to stay. Instead of checking in the next day and staying for a month stay, the host asked if we would accept his offer to check in TWO WEEKS FROM NOW for a two week stay, FOR $300 MORE than our month reservation!?!?!

WHAT. THE. ENTIRE. EFF!?!?!

A shorter stay for more money, and we can’t even check in on the day we NEED to check in!!??

Uhhh…no thank you!!

When the text came in, we were packing up and winding down at the home we were in, and making plans for our departure the next morning. But we had to change gears IMMEDIATELY and figure out 1) how do we get a refund and 2) where the eff are we gonna go in the morning????

My first thought was to see if we could stay put for a few more days. However staying at the home we were in at the time was not an option because another guest has already booked it.

We really did not have a lot of time to play around with and we needed to know what our options were IMMEDIATELY. Of course, in the day of on-line support and help bots, getting a human on the phone that could help was not the easiest thing to do. So my boyfriend worked on contacting airbnb and I got to work researching places we could check into the next day.

Though I don’t have any official advice for resolving these types of situations, here is what I did learn from the situation.

1) TRUST MY GUT – When we initially found this place, in our guts, we felt like something was off. The place didn’t have a TON of pics, but we felt like it was enough to make us feel comfortable with selecting it. The host also had kind of a distorted profile picture, which just kinda made us wonder why versus made us feel like it was a deal breaker. There weren’t any reviews, but hey, every home has to start with its first renter. And we had rented homes in the past that had little to no reviews because you get good deals as one of the first three renters for most homes. So that didn’t scare us off, but rather just made us prepare ourselves for a less-than-perfect stay. But here’s what made us question things a bit. Once our reservation was confirmed and we received the address, we googled it and realized it was an apartment versus a condo, so renting from a renter is really what made us apprehensive. I was actually surprised that this was permitted by airbnb but apparently it’s a new thing they started allowing. We feel like home owners and companies that use airbnb income as a primary income source have more to lose if our stay isn’t good or if they don’t live up to their end of the deal. Someone renting an apartment may not have the same type of personal or professional investment in the experience.

2) DO NOT CANCEL – Even once the host made it clear that his home would not be available for our stay, and even though we needed to release this reservation in order to make another reservation, we knew that THE HOST had to be the one to cancel in order for us to get our money back. And apparently he was dragging his feet on processing the cancellation. So unfortunately, we had to wait for airbnb to conclude their investigation into the situation (which took over 24 hours) in order for us to be refunded (which could take up to 15 days for the bank to fully process) and for my boyfriend to be able to book using his airbnb account for a reservation during the same period of time as the cancelled home.

3) BE CLEAR IN YOUR COMMUNICATION WITH THE HOST – Airbnb reviews the communication between guests and hosts. When the host sent us the altered reservation request, we made sure to clearly ask “IS YOUR HOME UNAVAILABLE FOR THE DAYS THAT WE HAVE RESERVED?”

4) MAKE SURE ALL COMMUNICATION STAYS WITHIN THE AIRBNB APPLICATION – This sort of goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. In the event of any issues, this communication becomes your evidence. If it’s done outside the airbnb platform, it may be harder to prove your case.

5) HAVE A BACK-UP PLACE SELECTED – Each time we search for new places, we typically start off with a list and whittle it down based on all of the factors that are important to us (location, price, parking situation, safety factors, amenities, etc.). Once we make our final selection from that list, we typically don’t think anything else about the homes that we cut. But when something like this happens, it would be great to have that list as a starting point if we have to go back to the drawing board. We’ve already vetted or ruled out a lot of the homes, so we wouldn’t have to re-look at places we’ve already reviewed.

6) HAVE A NON-AIRBNB OPTION IN MIND – I have been relying solely on airbnb for my travels, and that is essentially the equivalent of putting all of my eggs in one basket. Though there are stipulations about where I can travel and work from, there are still some other non-airbnb options that I can consider, and I need to have those options on standby just in case. So doing research on other options will definitely be an action item for me in the upcoming weeks.

7) HAVE MORE THAN ONE METHOD OF CASH FLOW – This taught me that at any given moment, $3,000 can be locked up in airbnb shenannigans. Having some leeway with the purse strings will help to make these types of situations not be as dire as they could be.

8) AIRBNB DOES NOT HELP YOU FIND A PLACE IMMEDIATELY – So we had heard that airbnb has helped some travelers that have been caught up in situations where the host canceled last minute. We heard that airbnb will step in and find a place for you. IN OUR SITUATION, this was not the case. First of all, we needed a place THE. NEXT. DAY. which would have been Saturday morning. We had to be checked out the next morning and had a four hour drive ahead of us. By the time someone contacted us to help find a place, it was about 7pm Saturday night. I don’t know what they expected us to do if we were, say, stuck in an airport with no place to go, or traveling with a car full of kids expecting to pull into a home and get them fed and settled at check-in. We didn’t know whether we should drive the 4 hours to the city of the original home we were supposed to go to, or stay put, or head back to Maryland and beg relatives to let us couch surf. Instead we remained in limbo for 24 hours waiting for airbnb to conclude their investigation and advise us about next steps. It was only at that point that they then told us some other options for housing.

HOW DID THINGS END UP?

So the good news is that we were able to find a place for a week, and we checked into that place just fine. Airbnb finished their investigation, refunded our money, and gave us a $200 credit (with stipulations…ugh!). In addition, they assessed penalties against the host that cancelled. Once we got to the place we were able to book last minute, our first order of business was to find another home for the remaining three weeks that were part of our original reservation, and we think we found a nice place that we are looking forward to checking into. As of now, things have all worked out, but it was definitely a stressful couple of days. We definitely learned a few valuable lessons and realize we have a few things that we need to tweak, research, and be mindful of going forward.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? What happened and how was it resolved? I’d love to hear from you!

Airbnb Life: Discovering What I Don’t Need Helps With My Minimalism Goals

The thing I hate the most about airbnb hopping is definitely the packing. It is SUCH a pain! Packing up bags, loading up the car, just to go to another place and unload the car and unpack…just to pack and load…and then to unload and unpack…WHEW! It gets to be a bit much.

It’s rough. It’s mentally draining, and the physical toll of lugging, packing, unpacking, moving, dragging, lugging, and repacking…it’s just so exhausting.

Every time my boyfriend and I move, we go through this round-robin conversation that goes a little like this:

ONE OF US: We have too much stuff!! Should we try to scale back??

THE OTHER: YES! We should!

ONE OF US: OK, we’ll go through our suitcases at the next home and figure out what we can donate or get rid of.

**After looking through each bag and removing at best, two or three things**

ONE OF US: WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF!!!!!

But in all honesty, while I may have too much stuff for life on the road, I do live with far less stuff than what I ever had when I lived in a fixed location. Far, far less. For example…

HOODIES – I only have one hoodie with me. I own…AT.LEAST.20. hoodies AND 10 pull-overs.

JEANS – I have three pairs of jeans with me. I own AT LEAST 30 pairs of jeans and 15 pairs of jean capris.

MAKEUP – I have one eyeshadow, one eyeliner, one mascara…if I were home, I’d have several of each in multiple places throughout my home. And would probably still stock up when I went to stores.

ACCESSORIES – I travel with a small pouch of accessories. At home, I have an entire cabinet devoted to jewelry.

SHOES – I have five pairs of shoes with me, and they cross all seasons, and include my slippers. At home I have shoe racks in multiple rooms AND shoes for other seasons stored in bins.

HANDBAGS – I cannot even begin with my handbag collection. I managed to narrow it down to a fanny pack, a sling bag, two small purses, and one large bag. For me that’s a total success. At home…the story is dramatically different.

So…am I like those people that backpack through Europe and wash out their three pairs of panties at every stop? Ummm no. But am I living with CONSIDERABLY LESS items than usual? ABSOLUTELY!

And each day, it gets easier and easier to not have all of my possessions within reach.

It has been interesting making decisions and figuring out which creature comforts I have to live without. While I love having all of my “stuff”, there have been some positive outcomes from living with less of my things.

  • Less clothing choices means that figuring out what to wear each day becomes less daunting. Less stress!
  • Online shopping is done on more of an as-needed basis, because I have no place to put anything new, and figuring out where to get things delivered can sometimes be logistically difficult. Better for my wallet and no buyer’s remorse!
  • I rarely go shopping for anything in person unless I’ve identified a specific need. More intentional purchasing, and also a wallet saver!
  • Living with less has prompted a lot of productive conversations with my boyfriend around the type of space we want to have when we return back to a fixed location. Communication is key!
  • I have been rethinking some of the possessions that I have stored back at home. If I haven’t used it in this long, do I actually need it. Purging is therapeutic!
  • I have identified some shopping behaviors that I definitely feel like I would like to change. Know better, do better!
  • Learning to make-do versus always feeling like I need to buy things. Appreciate what you have, and problem solve!
  • Living with minimal kitchen gadgets makes me realize I don’t need EVERY kitchen gizmo that I see. Figure out what is needed to prepare meals. You don’t need it just because it seems cool.
  • I have a better sense of what items I love versus things I buy on a whim and then don’t actually ever use. Waste not, want not!
  • Starting with a blank slate in different homes each month makes me realize how much I love not having things cluttering up my space. Cluttered space, cluttered life!
  • I feel like when it comes to decor, sometimes less is more. When I return home, I will decide on a style and be mindful of purchasing excessive home items.
  • I realize now that cluttered space is uncomfortable and mentally draining. It is also the result of procrastination and unmade decisions. Make timely and relevant decisions in order to keep areas clutter-free.
  • I have not thought about any home decor purchases. I’d rather have blank walls than a slew of mismatched things I bought because they were cute.

SO WHAT’S MINIMALISM GOT TO DO WITH IT?

I had already started dabbling into the idea of minimalism. I love the concept and I want to figure out what that means to me and how to apply it to my life. Even before this journey, I felt like my personal possessions were weighing me down mentally, physically, and financially, and I do believe that “things” can totally impede happiness.

The concept of minimalism is too deep to get into in this blog post, but at high level, it’s the concept of living with less so that you can live a more fulfilling, free and intentional life. The concept can be applied to different people in different ways, but I have been intrigued by the idea. I feel like this journey could help me kickstart my minimalism efforts.

I am already overwhelmed thinking about all of the items that await me when I return. And I have already decided that I have no interest in returning to the clutter-filled life of excess that I had. I hope that returning from this journey allows me to make some quick and easy decisions about which items I’d like to keep from my storage unit and which items I’d like to let go of.

Minimalism is a personal journey that means something different for each person. My hope is that the experience of living with less and making do with what I do have helps to frame my thoughts around what is ultimately important in my life.

Have you heard of minimalism? Have you ever wondered about whether it was a good idea for you and your life? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Dear Airbnb Hosts: Let’s talk about reviews

Airbnb Hosts: How you speak to your guests when they post a genuine and honest review of their experience lets me know if you are someone who’s home I would like to stay in. 

I am in the process of searching for my next Airbnb home and I gotta tell you…the way some of these hosts attack their guests when they mention an issue they had during their stay…oh my goodness!!!

Reviews are to be a reflection of someone’s experience, and while some of the feedback may be hard for the host to hear, most reviews are intended to provide insight for the next guest, not to be a trash session for the host. 

I know a lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into hosting. I know it feels personal when people say negative things about your space, your procedures, things you’ve put so much effort into trying to make your home great. It can feel like you are being attacked versus someone just stating what their experience was, and it can be hard to hold yourself back from immediately responding.

But I really urge you to take a beat before you fire off a response to an unfavorable review.

Try your absolute best to take your emotions out of your response. Really absorb what the person is saying, and do some inward reflecting as to whether what they wrote could be their version of what they experienced when they communicated with you, checked into your space, and stayed in your home.

Maybe there really was something overlooked by the cleaning staff. Maybe the parking space was actually difficult to locate. Maybe their version of their stay is actually accurate according to them.

I will be honest. If a reviewer is nuts, sometimes that comes out loud and clear in their review, so a comment from the host, much less a snippy comment, isn’t even necessary. But I will tell you, once the host responds with something snarky, rude, mean, or sassy, that shows me the type of person I may be dealing with when I check into their space.

Will you be polite if I come to you with an issue, or will you lash out?

Mean, sarcastic, harsh comments to a guest’s review puts a bad taste in a potential guest’s mouth. Once I see something like that, I move on and I don’t look back. Life is too short to deal with someone that may potentially lash out at me if I say something to them that they don’t care for.

I also know that hosts would rather a guest reach out the them first, or even send them a private note instead of posting the issues publicly and blind-siding them. But truthfully, guests are not under any obligation to do this. If a guest is staying for two days, and they notice that the sink hasn’t been cleaned off or the oven is dirty, there’s a good chance they will clean the sink and avoid the oven, and the first time it comes up may be in their review. They are only there for a couple of days for an event, for work, or whatever, and they may not want to spend any of that time dealing with housekeeping issues. They may opt to get through their weekend’s events and not deal with the issues at the time of their occurence. That is well within their rights, and the fact that they didn’t mention it to you prior to their review, or privately in a message, does not cancel the fact that it happened.

With that said, that is not my choice…to air issues in a review, but guests have that right, and future potential guests can benefit from them sharing their experience. That is the whole purpose of the review. And a guest does not have to alert a host of their issues or feedback before they write that review.

When a guest reviews a home, the host has the option to respond. This is the opportunity for the host to share their side of the story and to show potential future guests what kind of host they are. Do you think a future guest would prefer to see you blast out a past guest and get into an online verbal fighting match? Or would they rather know that you want people to enjoy your space and that you hope that the next guest has a better experience?

Remember, the response to a review isn’t necessarily to square things away, or to have a final say, with the previous guest. Responding to a review lets future guests know whether you have addressed the concerns raised by the previous guest.

If the previous guest mentions a broken garbage disposal, future guests don’t care that the previous guest should have sent you a private note instead of voicing it in a public forum. They want to know whether the disposal will work when they arrive. If check-in didn’t go smoothly, have you updated your check-in packet or figured out how to make yourself more available when guests arrive? Future guests don’t want to see you have a tit-for-tat with a guest after they are gone. They want to know whether the issues raised will impact their visit if they choose to book with you.

What would a potential guest rather see if your home has a less than favorable review?

Instead of writing on impulse or sassing back to your guest, consider the following things that a potential guest would rather see:

A thank you for bringing the issues to their attention (ex: Thank you for raising my awareness to this issue! I had no idea this happened…) –> Show that you value feedback, whether good or bad.

An apology for something that was overlooked prior to the guest checking in (ex: I’m so sorry! We typically do xyz before guests check in, and I apologize that this was overlooked!) –> Own up to what happened. You have a process, but maybe something was overlooked. We’re all human and it happens.

A statement that corrective action has been taken (ex: we have spoken to our cleaning company and they have assured us that xyz will be done going forward.) –> Sometimes procedures slip. Future guests just want to know that you’re on top of things, and that you want to ensure that they have a clean and comfortable stay.

A message that repairs have been made (ex: we have replaced the broken shower nozzle and our bathroom is all set for future guests.) –>Things break. Guests want to know that everything will be in working order when they arrive.

An acknowledgement that the guest’s visit didn’t go as planned (ex: We are so sorry we couldn’t make your stay more pleasant, but wish you well in your travels!). –> Even if you ultimately feel like there was no pleasing this guest no matter what you did or didn’t do, wish them well and be done with it.

A nice way of saying the guest didn’t read the listing well (ex: I am so sorry that this wasn’t understood! We tried to make this clear in our listing but will look for a better way to let guests know about this up front.) –> There are nice ways to say that you did your part, and the guest just overlooked something. Find the nice words. When all else fails, start your response with “Oh my goodness!” Everything sounds nice after that lol.

My final words on the topic…lean on good customer service. Your response to a review is for the benefit of future guests. Do not waste your effort or energy being rude or upset with someone that has already checked out and gone on about their life. Use your response to reassure future guests that you will do all that you can to make sure that their stay, if they choose to book with you, goes well.

Are you an airbnb host or guest? Have you received or given an unfavorable review? How did it go?

A word…

Grace.

I get it. People get on social media and show all kinds of pieces of themselves. Some are crazy, some are weird, some are full of opinion. I saw a post today…one of the typical posts from a social media consultant of some sort, about what you should and shouldn’t do on social media. I see similar posts pretty much several times a day. And they can be informative and worthwhile for sure.

But this one just rubbed me the wrong way. I’d only recently just posted my first IG post after being away from social media for a week or so. It wasn’t one of those “I’m Formally Taking a Social Media Hiatus” type of breaks. But for whatever reason, I was choosing to be present in my life, and I just didn’t feel like constantly chasing content or constantly thinking about whether I was doing something postable. So I just didn’t post anything for a week or two.

But back to the post. The post was a video or reel or tik tok, I don’t remember. The person was doing a normal tik tok-ish style dance. There was music in the background, and she’s making hand gestures, pointing to phrases on her screen. On beat, with each one of her gestures, a different social media tip popped up. This post was something about how you should and should not present yourself through your IG account, which is similar to a lot of social media grammers out there. I don’t remember the specific topic.

I guess some of the points were valid. However something about it just…made me want to throw up my hands. It just made me think…why can’t we just let people do what they are comfortable with?

Why can’t we show some grace on social media?

People don’t pop out of the womb feeling comfortable shimmying and shaking in front of the camera. You don’t stay on top of emerging trends and technology without having a few trials to figure it all out. We don’t all know how to be the perfect IG business account holders. And really, isn’t that ok?

I know I personally find people that make errors, have flubs, and show us their human side are people that I gravitate to moreso than the grammers that always have the perfect outfit, perfect filter, spic ‘n span homes, awesome music, dances down pat, and food that looks worthy of kudos from Gordon Ramsay himself…

Like…if I want to watch a perfect studio performance and no errors, that’s what tv productions are for.

I feel uncomfortable around perfectionists. I want to see the person who doesn’t know which button to press during a live. I want to see the organization hack in a home that doesn’t look like Marie Kondo just stopped by. I want to encounter people that are relatable.

I don’t want to see those that spent thousands on an account full of staged pics taken by a professional photographer. For me, it’s just not interesting. There’s no depth.

Be normal. Be yourself. Say “umm” 78 times. I’m here for it!

We as a social media community need to give grace. A lot of people…MOST people on social media…also have other full time jobs…jobs that are NOT the business they use instagram to promote. Most have a 9-5 which pays their bills. Most have families. Most have other important obligations. But for most, there’s something about sharing their lives on IG, whatever piece of their lives they choose to show us, that makes them happy. And we follow them because we appreciate the content they share with us.

Instead of being critical of the content, I’d prefer to be happy that people are being vulnerable and open about something in their life.

So here’s what I am choosing to do.

I am choosing to be present in my own life. Posting on socials is secondary.

I am choosing to be gracious towards the small business owner that’s trying to navigate this new uncomfortable way of promoting their business.

I’m choosing to be gracious towards the new mom that has discovered social media is a great way to find a community of new struggling moms.

I am choosing to be gracious towards that shy girl that has found a new interest and is being brave enough to reach out to a like-minded community, even though it is extremely uncomfortable for her.

People are just trying to be social, have a little fun, and share a bit about their lives or their crafts or their business. Criticism is SUCH a turn-off. Expecting perfection is unrealistic. I’m going to stop expecting social media perfection from myself, and just seek to enjoy the community.

Does social media perfectionism intimidate you? Or do you just get out there and have fun?

Let me know!

Quick Micropost

That look when your to-do list is long af but you know you’re gonna be aight.

Y’all, I have so many things to do, but all I wanna do is drink iced coffee and watch indie movies. Being an adult is THE WORST! LOL. I mean…have y’all done your taxes?? Sigh…lol…

Please tell me I’m not alone! Anybody else be out here ignoring the real world like that actually works? Or just me? Lol.

I hate feeling like I should have everything together and just dont. I guess this is a different kind of imposter syndrome. Let me find my notebook and start writing my list. I have some work to do today so that I can enjoy my weekend. 

Happy Thursday, y’all! ✌
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