My family and I have spent three months abroad, during which time we have made our apartment available on Airbnb. It has mostly been a positive experience for me as a host, except for some minor issues related to changing reservations. I once cancelled a reservation upon the guest's request because he wanted to have his HR department pay for the rent instead of himself. (There was no way to enter a different credit card). That ended up flagging me as a bad host and also blocked my listing so it couldn't be re-rented. It ended up being such a hassle to rectify that I decided to sublet my apartment directly to the guest, without using Airbnb as an intermediaty. The staff was helpful in removing the bad rating their "algorithm" had given me and expressed remorse and understanding that I cut them out of the loop. They said they'd learn from this.
In May I was contacted by a guest who wanted to rent my place for the month of July. They seemed legit so I booked them in straight away.A feew weeks prior to arrival the guest requested to arrive a day earlier because of flight changes. I approved the request and earned an extra day's rent. Splendid.
A week after the guest had settled in, she contacted me again and wanted to extend the departure date by two days. Splendig I thought. That's another two days rent. So I surfed to the approve page and approved. Then I got a message from the guest:
>> Hi Aslak! (some unrelated chatter about how she loves her stay so far). I also noticed everytime I alter a reservation they are charging me almost 200 GBP as their fee on airbnb, is it possible for you to cancel my request for the extra night and I will pay your neighours for it today by cash? it really is a bit ridiculous
And I'm like. Wat.
I replied to her that I thought that was unheard of, but it's really a matter between you and Airbnb. I'll contact them as well, not to be nice, but just because I'm the annoying kind of person who takes pleasure in telling people they are acting like morons. That's not to say I'm not often right though. In this case I definitely am.
As explained by the friendly customer care representative, Airbnb's "algorithm" charges guests a fee for every reservation modification, whether it is an extension or shortening of a stay. That must mean that Airbnb either prices these two services at an equal price, or that they haven't considered the possibility that they are different services. In any case, their pricing model for fees is naive at best, damaging at worst. For their own bottom line that is.
The formula they use to calculate the fee ends up being disproportionatly high for longer stays, as it is a constant fraction of the entire stay. Want to stay an extra night? That will cost you an extra day's rent. Oh and a small fee of, uhm the same amount as the rent.
Isn't it obvious that as soon as people using Airbnb realise this they are going to shortcut Airbnb every time they want to extend a stay? Airbnb is effectively charging people money for doing more business with them. We'll see how long that business strategy works.
I'm still waiting for Airbnb to get back to me about this. I have requested that they reimburse my guest for the disproportionately high fees they charged her. There should be absolutely no fees for extending a stay. I actually think they will understand this and fix it, but since it's taking so long I thought I'd put it up here. Maybe that will speed it up.
Otherwise, I love Airbnb.
If anything happens I'll update here later.