A bad review.
Here is a story that outlines some common mishaps that can occur when communication breaks down between a host and a guest, and a simple solution that can change the outcome for the better.
A Common Scenario
Gary, a recently retired professor, is excited about his upcoming travel and his first Airbnb! After booking his reservation, Gary isn't sure the reservation is confirmed since Huey, the Host, never sent him a confirmation email or thanked him for the booking. Nonetheless, Gary isn't too bothered and looks forward to his travels.
Travel day is here and Gary finally arrives to his Airbnb destination. He seems a bit confused seeing many parking spaces and tries to remember if Huey ever provided parking details. Gary sees a few empty spots in the parking lot and decides to park in one of them. As Gary begins to remove the luggage from his car, a neighbor approaches him. The neighbor explains that Gary has parked in his parking space. Slightly irritated, but trying not to let it spoil his trip, Gary puts the luggage back in his car and drives to a different parking spot.
Standing in front of the home, Gary rings the doorbell. After waiting a few minutes, he looks around to see if Huey may have left the keys in a lockbox or maybe inside the planter. No lockbox, no keys. Gary decides to call Huey, but there is no answer. Gary is now beginning to get anxious and kicks the front doormat in frustration, when he happens upon the door key which had been hidden beneath it. Gary uses the key to enter the home.
Gary is a tired from his travel thus far and hopes the remainder of his stay goes more smoothly. The home looks nice and Gary is excited to email his friends back home to tell them about his Airbnb adventure thus far. Gary turns on his computer but can't seem to connect to the internet. There are multiple Wifi signals available, but all require a password to gain access. He looks around the room for instructions but can't find anything. It occurs to him that maybe the passcode is on the bottom side of the internet router. No such luck! Gary gives up and goes to the kitchen for a glass of water. There on the refrigerator door, on a small sticky, he sees the words "Wifi Passcode".
During the morning of Gary's departure, he sips his coffee while reading the newspaper, when the front door opens. A group of people enter with a mop, a broom, and a vacuum cleaner in hand. The cleaning crew has arrived and wants to clean the home and prepare it for the next guest. Annoyed and embarrassed, Gary makes his way to the bedroom to change out of his pajamas.
You can't help but feel bad for Gary and can only imagine the type of review he will be leaving for Huey.
A Better Way
Now, let's rewind and imagine an entirely different scenario. One where Gary receives a Confirmation message from Huey minutes after booking his reservation. Then, 24 hours before his scheduled arrival, Gary receives a Check-In message with very specific instructions about parking, where to find the house keys, the Wifi passcode and other pertinent details he will need to make his stay a more enjoyable one.
In this scenario, things go so well for Gary and he truly enjoys the start to his retirement, that he actually wishes he could stay longer. Coincidentally, Gary hears the Airbnb app chime from his phone. Gary pulls out his phone to see a message waiting for him from Huey. The message informs Gary of a vacancy after his scheduled departure, and Huey provided an offer should Gary choose to extend his stay. Gary is pleasantly surprised and decides to extend his trip for two additional days.
The day before his updated departure date, Gary receives a very nice email from Huey reminding him of the Check-Out time and informing him of the Check-Out instructions. Gary has truly enjoyed his first Airbnb experience and looks forward to writing an excellent 5-star review for Huey.
Automate and Simplify
In the latter scenario, Huey has added message automation software to his arsenal of tools. Message automation software allows Huey to create personalized messages that include all of the important details that his guests may need. The messages are delivered into the Airbnb message thread on a pre-set schedule for Gary and all of Huey's future guests so he will never have guest communication issues again. Riding this wave of the short-term rental market, the host who is most prepared will be the one who delivers the happiest guests. And a happy guest translates into a 5-star review, which means a higher listing ranking and more bookings.
I was inspired to write this story after recently renting an Airbnb from a super host that used a new piece of software to communicate with me. That software was Aviva IQ, a Silicon Valley startup. Necessity remains the mother of invention, the founders developed the SaaS based application out of their frustration in delivering a streamlined communication process that didn't require immense levels of manual work. Aviva IQ allows Hosts to automate their Airbnb messages so important details about the reservation can trickle out over time, at the optimal time. For the guest, it means having a consistent and enjoyable experience. Their focus is on their trip and less on the details and concerns about rental logistics.
Everyone gets a good night sleep.