I come from a finance background and currently work in academics. I've been a world traveler since my college days and currently travel as much as time allows. I've been an airbnb host for two and a half years now and love doing it.
When I first listed my apartment on airbnb, I allowed myself to be intimidated by the threat of negative reviews. I refunded one guest $75 because there was no hot water for 1 hour due to a repair in a neighboring apartment. I refunded another guest $40 because he said the iron I provided in the apartment didn’t get hot enough to sufficiently remove all the wrinkles from his linen shirt. Both threatened me with negative reviews unless I paid them, just like Bryan.
After 2.5 years on airbnb and 72% 5-star reviews (as of this writing), I’m no longer intimidated by review extortionists. I have no problem compensating people for legitimate inconveniences, even perceived inconveniences—it goes with the territory of hosting on airbnb. But I draw the line when the claims venture into the realm of lunacy or flat-out extortion, as was the case here.
In so many words, Bryan demanded to be paid, or he would scare away future guests with a negative review on airbnb and other online exposure. His reason? It was MY fault HE didn’t realize he was booking Oscars weekend and he wasn’t prepared for the traffic and parking difficulties this would entail.
My listing plainly ADVERTISED Oscars weekend. It was the first line in the apartment description! Since the location is 30 yards from the red carpet, this is a major selling point for many guests. It also justified my elevated rate for the weekend.
Bryan instant booked my place without ever asking a single question about the weekend and the logistics involved. Still, as soon as I received his booking confirmation, I immediately advised him, “You will likely encounter a traffic and parking nightmare, particularly on Sunday.”
For security reasons, the city of Hollywood and Oscars organizers didn’t make much information about street and parking lot closures available in advance. Streets and lots that were open for last year’s Oscars were closed this year. I had no way of knowing if/how my guests would be affected the night of the show. Bryan was upset that I didn’t predict the unpredictable.
Bryan stopped communicating with me 4 days prior to his arrival, and didn’t communicate with me again until AFTER checking out. When he finally did contact me, it was a demand for money. In the meantime, I continued communicating with him. As soon as I became aware of new closure information, I updated him immediately. He never responded. I had NO IDEA Bryan was having any problems until after he checked out, and thus never given the opportunity to help him.
In any case, I offered to split Bryan’s parking costs 50/50. He rejected my offer and in a pouty, condescending email, demanded more money. At this point I realized Bryan wasn’t interested in solving an actual problem, but rather looking for a handout.
I hope the reader will see this for what it is. Thank you for checking out my listing and taking the time to read my response.