Reasons not to host on Airbnb (use these platforms instead)

By Tony Russell •  6 min read

This article is about solid, specific reasons to investigate hosting on other platforms, and the problems that there are with just relying on Airbnb with specific reasons.

Airbnb’s Vetting Process

Airbnb substantially limits your own vetting process for guests. You have to rely on their vetting system, which gives you a microscopic about of information of guests whether you accept automatic bookings or not.

It is true that Airbnb has taken steps towards, for example, limiting parties, however generally speaking when you compare Airbnb to other platforms you have to rely on their systems and their processes to vet guests.

Airbnb will also not allow you to ask for information such as passports or driving licenses so you can verify our guests’ identities.

Damage Deposit

Airbnb will not allow you to take a substantial damage deposit (over which you have control).

In the event of a problem (or a guest trashing your property) you have to rely on the Airbnb support process to recover damages etc.

I have seen much evidence of Airbnb siding with guests when there are problems. I’ve attached several screenshots of posts I see on Airbnb Facebook groups all the time.

gyests complaining

Note the language that is used by Airbnb is threatening: “You have until … to respond …. Hosts …. may be subject to review”

In the event that you have a problem, Airbnb is extremely difficult to get on the telephone, and in some departments, they actually refuse phone calls and will only deal with you over email.

Market Positioning

Although this is not universally true, Airbnb does have something of a reputation as a “cheap-sleeps” website. It would not be to go to booking portal for business rentals, for example. Which are likely to be booked on sites like Expedia or Booking.com

Alternatives to Airbnb

On both the Expedia group and affiliates and Booking.com and various other websites, you have the following advantages:

1. You can charge a security deposit in whatever form you wish, as long as you stipulate this in your booking conditions.

This could be a credit card pre-authorization or a bank transfer.

In my experience in the short-term rental business, the easiest way to prevent problem guests and damage is by charging a hefty deposit. Children or younger people will not have the funds to pay a security deposit, especially if a group of six is splitting the cost of one night between six people (this often happens on Airbnb).

2. Secondly, where people have to validate their identities, you have an immediate opportunity to understand the demographic of the person that’s booking your property.

Of course, you must adhere to the relevant discrimination legislation in your country (and I would never discriminate against someone based on anything other than youth). However, this does provide you with an opportunity to flag up a booking for parties – a major red flag for me.

Review Process – Airbnb

On other platforms, the review process is much more simple than Airbnb.

I have much evidence via Facebook groups of people making retrospective complaints about an issue that they don’t flag up during their stay but raise when they leave (as per the image above) where the obvious implication is that they going to leave the host bad review if they are not refunded a certain amount.

One of the problems with the Airbnb review system is that hosts are heavily penalized if their review levels fall below a certain level.

Put simply, you (almost) have to have a complete set of five-star reviews in order to qualify for the “super-host” status.

If you’ve had 200 reviews over the last year, for example, the chances of all of those reviews being 4/5 or 5/5 is very slim, and therefore you lose the “super-host” status.

This is a problem because when guests are browsing listings to book they will naturally opt for the perceived benefit of someone being a “super-host” even though in reality it’s a pretty simplistic mathematical calculation and nothing more.

In my opinion, guests have cottoned on to this review system and use it two their own advantage and to the detriment of hosts.

Review Process on other Platforms

Other platforms have a simple review process where you are allowed to review on five (or so) criteria, and I have found these reviews to be much simpler to use both as a host and a guest. See this article on how to get great reviews on booking.com

Location

Finally, Airbnb will not even show you the exact location of a property until you book. On the one occasion I have stayed at an Airbnb rental, this resulted in us staying in a cottage which was literally miles from anywhere.

On other platforms this is not hidden, it’s quite obvious where you’ll be staying, you can review the surrounding area, and to my mind it’s a much more simple and open process.

Cancellation of Bookings / “Exceptional Circumstances”

Nothwistandading the truly exceptional pandemic, I have seen numerous examples of where Airbnb has been particularly detrimental to hosts.

For example, I’ve seen many examples of guests trying to cancel non-refundable bookings, and it being approved by Airbnb for the most tenuous of reasons:

For example: there was a storm (as that was recently in the UK) therefore the guests were unable to get to the property and Airbnb cancelled the reservation under the exceptional circumstances clause.

Other platforms simply don’t have this problem/hurdle. Although some placed restrictions during the height of COVID-19, in normal times (and let’s hope we getting back to normal times) a booking on a more conventional travel website has clear and unambiguous conditions attached to it.

To use the previous example of someone not being able to get to a reservation because of a storm: the cancellation policy would apply irrespective of the weather, and people would be expected to have travel insurance. The idea of having travel insurance does not seem to work with Airbnb guests.

See this article for further background on this policy.

Finally

For many people Airbnb is a simple and easy platform to use for new hosts, or for people looking to make a bit of extra money, however, if you are looking to create a serious business, my recommendation would be to explore other platforms in depth.

BUT

My advice is use booking.com! It’s 100 times easier to use, the staff are helpful, and they don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are. A business. Check out my booking.com articles here.

I have reviews of other platforms on this website, in particular, I would recommend the articles about how to get more bookings of Booking.com.

Tony Russell

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