(In case anyone's wondering, yes we say that about plenty of topics, not just this one . Normally I'd hesitate to intervene in a thread about Airbnb , but this thread is particularly awful so far, with only one comment responding to the article.)
I was just about to write such a comment, but then decided to refresh the page first... And recognized your HN username (I know you're one of the two main moderators), read your comment, and decided not to post mine!
It worked, at least for me :)
On the one hand, the online reputation does work to a degree; we value lots of reviews and a high average score. On the other hand it fails to prevent many of the usual problems with dealing with people. He calls out the opportunists who have no impulse control, but there's plenty of other archetypes of people who will take advantage of a situation when they get a chance and think they might get away with it. Maybe it's the cynic in me, but this article resonates with my general trepidation when trusting anyone or anything too quickly, especially online. No amount of features so far has solved this.
From my own experience, here's a few reasons:
A high number of ratings is more likely an indicator that the place has been on the market for a long time rather than being an especially great place to stay.
The nationality/culture of the guest can have a huge influence of how they rate a place. In Europe, for instance, a guest from Southern Italy/Spain may not be particularly bothered by noise from neighbours, barking dogs, etc. Conversely, those coming from Northern Europe are likely to be the exact opposite.
Some hosts are incredibly pro-active in garnering ratings (to the point of constant harassment). Others less so.
Some hosts will not accept groups of people, parties, short stays or stays from people with no reputation. As a consequence, they are going to get far less reviews than a less careful host.
Hope that helps?
Fraud all the way down...
I don't care where they are. I will never stay at one of my own free will.
At the end it's always the guest who puts the money on the table but it may be less painful as you don't see it.
Ultimately the problem is that the fees are too high considerig the service provided by the platforms.
The frustrating part is that they aren’t incorporated into the nightly rate which is what the listings page shows.
Either way, it's not legal: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/unfair-treat... and https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4453_en.htm
I dealt with this issue a few years ago at a job I worked at for a similar service to AirBnB, the original design was list an accommodation for, say, €500, and then add-on €25 booking costs and insurance later on in the checkout process. We had to change it to list the full price up front.
Enforcement varies per country; in the Netherlands it's quite strong and you run a real risk of fines, but in UK it's very weak and it's common for there to be additional or hidden charges. It's interesting how the "sell an item" pages for ebay.co.uk and ebay.nl differ: on the .nl site it's very clear up-front what you will pay exactly, on the UK site it's not even clear you have to pay anything unless you follow 3 links.
This is not illegal since this is how it works in Europe as well.
So if you advertise with nightly rate in the listing and then add on cleaning costs, booking costs, or anything else in the details page for an accommodation, then that's not allowed.
It's not just me internet-lawyering that, I sourced it from the European commission press release (linked in previous comment), which seems pretty clear on it:
"Airbnb should: modify the way it presents information on pricing from the initial search on their website, in order to ensure that, whenever properties are offered, the consumer is provided with the total price inclusive of all the applicable mandatory charges and fees, such as service and cleaning charges, or, when it is not possible to calculate the final price in advance, clearly inform the consumer that additional fees might apply"
So your “it’s not allowed” is just internet lawyering. Even the quote you have indicates that they are exempt if the calculation can’t be made for the listings page.
This isn’t some special case of Airbnb trying to screw people. It’s common across any industry where there are one time costs amortized over quantities.
I’m guessing maybe you need to enter the dates before they can calculate that. And maybe without the dates Airbnb shows the price without fees.
edit: spelling and formatting
The last time I stayed in an Airbnb house I got a laundry list of accusations. I challenged them as well. (They even went as far as saying that I used too many rolls of toilet paper that weekend) It's a good thing I'm not easily embarrassed.
And 10% of what? If someone books a day, yes, the cleaning fee is more than 10% of that. Don’t like it? Go get a hotel where it’s baked into every night.
Another thing I hate. I was in about 5 Airbnbs this month, and almost every time I'm told not to let property management know I'm from Airbnb. I'm paying a few hundred dollars a night, and I'm given strict instructions to tell the concierge I work for their company and I'm staying in their apartment for business. Or, they need to meet me on the street, so they can escort me into the building and introduce me to management as their good friend from out of town that is visiting for the week.
Airbnb needs to get more strict on hosts. I'm paying money for a service. I shouldn't arrive at my accommodation and be given a script filled with lies to follow, otherwise risk being evicted.
When I travel, and I arrive somewhere, I want to kick off my shoes, take a leak, have a drink, and then think about what to do - not have a 30 minute lecture on the city.
As to the whole “don’t tell the super” thing, it blows my mind that so many people try to do it under the radar. I told my neighbours and the council what I was doing, ensured neighbours had my details in the case of any problems. The council, in both cases (different councils) happily switched me over to a business premises and gave me a 100% rate exemption. I have to pay for private waste collection but it’s £20 a month so whatever - beats council tax. As for the neighbours, I’ve had one call since starting, and it wasn’t to complain, rather to let me know a guest had left but forgotten to shut the front door, and they’d done it for me.
Being upfront and straightforward in all matters is the surest path to success. My neighbours are my allies, rather than a distrusted potential problem. The councils are fully aware of what I’m doing, and support it.
My guests appreciate the no-bullshit approach - and then we do little things that cost us little but really help a guest have a good stay - fresh pint of milk in the fridge, tea, coffee, cookies, chocolates, bottle of champagne. We don’t advertise that we do any of that - the idea being to exceed expectations by setting them at a high but readily attainable level, and then go beyond.
I’ve had people stay for two nights, and come back later for a month.
On the two occasions stuff has gone wrong (sudden boiler leak in midwinter last, and this summer sewers backed up) I gave both guests a full refund and alternate accommodation. It’s more than they could reasonably expect in the circumstances, and even those guests happily left 5* reviews. I see it as a cost of doing good business.
I’ve had one bum review from a guest who it seemed was determined to have a bad time, but you can’t win them all.
I learned all this by operating a SaaS business and web agency for a decade. It’s totally transferable - and this is much easier!
It's back to hotels for the foreseeable future.
Ironically, the only place I've ever returned to happened to be a new listing with no reviews.