From the Understanding Complainer to the Perfect Guest, meet some of the characters who have come to stay in my Little Piece of Paris.
Airbnb has become the go-to site for holiday renters. There are 60,000 listings in Paris, making it the number one Airbnb destination in the world. When we first made our Paris apartment available, we were immediately swamped with requests. Adjusting the pricing and the minimum number of nights has made it more manageable. We want to spend some time there ourselves! We have a few hosting experiences under our belt now and have learned that renters come in many guises. Here I introduce just a few. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the renters.
The ‘Understanding’ Complainer
Lola from London was our first renter and almost put me off renting out for good. She arrived late, but failed to inform the bnbsitter who was meeting her. When we finally got her settled into the flat she sent me a message: “Hi Leona, I’m just wondering if you can reimburse me the cleaning fee; it’s kinda dusty in here.” My heart sank. I badly wanted everything to be perfect and for our renters to love the place. I rang Mr A Little Piece of Paris, who had been responsible for preparing the apartment for the first renter. I believed him when he told me he had scrubbed the place thoroughly and that it must just have been renovation dust settling after he’d finished. That was the first of a string of grumbles. Lola couldn’t figure out how to open the doors to the balcony. She couldn’t work out how to turn on the heater in the bathroom. The internet wasn’t working properly. I tried my best to be friendly and helpful but I was weeping inside. She comforted me with the fact that she, “wouldn’t give me a bad review,” and would, “focus on the good stuff”. She “understood”. I love our studio in Paris. A lot of attention and care went into making everything perfect. To me, this felt a lot like emotional blackmail. I was happy to see the back of Lola. Fortunately, the guests who followed have been easier to please.
Let’s call this one David. David came and went with hardly a whisper. He was friendly during the initial communication. We liaised to coordinate his arrival. Then he stopped messaging and has left me wondering whether he was ever there at all. I got no response to my request for a confirmation that he had arrived safely; no messages during his stay; no review. I suppose that no news is good news and I should be happy to host such a low-maintenance renter, but there’s something slightly unnerving about the guest who comes and goes in the night.
The Costly Late Arrival
We use a company to meet guests and do the check-in. The service costs 20 euros provided that it is booked more than 3 days in advance. Last-minute bookings incur a 20 euro surcharge. Arrivals before 08.00 and after 22.00 are 10 euros more. Tim failed to inform me of his arrival time until two days before. When he did, it turned out he would be arriving at midnight. I didn’t have any information on my page about check-in time restrictions and didn’t feel comfortable leaving the key in a bar for him like he suggested. In the end we paid 50 euros just for this guest to receive the key. Lesson learned.
The Perfect Guest
If all renters were like Vicky (name not changed because I’m sure she won’t mind), life as an Airbnb host would be a walk in the park on a sunny day. Vicky was the first person ever to contact us. I was excited to receive her booking but wanted to set her expectations because we had just completed the renovation and I felt there were a few finishing touches missing. Vicky was very understanding and reassured me that everything would be perfect. She was quick and friendly with her communication: no complaints, positive feedback. She left the place neat and tidy and promised to recommend it to her friends and colleagues.
What I’ve learned so far is to go with your gut when accepting bookings. If someone seems high-maintenance at the beginning, they probably will be. Clearly state any terms and conditions on your Airbnb listing. If I had made it clear that check-in was between 08.00 and 22.00, I would have saved myself money and hassle. I suppose that if all of my guests were like Vicky, I’d have no stories to tell. I have the feeling that this is just the beginning of a colourful collection of Airbnb tales.