According to Airbnb customer service, 3% to 7% of stays turn into a “nightmare” (that’s over 2 million ruined trips per year). Here’s what’s most likely to go wrong on your next stay. [OC]

According to Airbnb customer service, 3% to 7% of stays turn into a “nightmare” (that’s over 2 million ruined trips per year). Here’s what’s most likely to go wrong on your next stay. [OC]

How much are new hosts screened if at all? I would think that’s the main problem, you’re literally staying in some random persons place.

This past September, my wife and I experienced two consecutive Airbnb nightmares that left us and our 10-month-old son on the street in Europe frightened, vulnerable and with nowhere to go.

So we decided to conduct a Airbnb guest research study to find out what’s most likely to go wrong.

My data sources were five 3rd-party online review sites where I reviewed and categorized 839 different reports from the past 12 months:

*Better Business Bureau


*Site Jabber

*Consumer Affairs

*Product Review

I visualized the data using Google Sheets and added the text with Sketch App.

You can learn more about all of my research on my article:

Lastly, here is my video showing the scammer who got us and how he’s created four fake Airbnb accounts in the past 6 weeks even after I’ve reported him to Airbnb:

There is no screening at all. It's even possible to list a place you don't own with photos downloaded from Zillow. It's completely unregulated :(

Edit: I was asked to resubmit this post by the mods because I used the sensational word, "nightmare" in the title. Here is the new post.

The problem is AirBnB doesn't market itself as you described (cheap hostel-esq digs). It markets itself as a sharing economy alternative to hotels and other traditional lodging options, which of course its not. But you're blaming the victim, when it's their marketing that is at fault.

But you can "trust" AirBnB (until you can't, at which point you're going to be looking for a hotel):

We’re here to help, 24/7. Connect with our world-class customer support team whenever you’re traveling or hosting. They’re real humans, and they’re available around the clock, anywhere in the world.

OP is entirely within their right to be frustrated with their experience. This is why you don't use AirBnB.

Thanks, it was a disaster! We saved 2 years for that ruined vacation.

The signup process seems to vary per country. In the US, I have video proof that you can create an account within 10mins and get someone wanting to stay within 2 days only by providing a verified phone number!

That's not really true, I've worked for a property manager who uses Airbnb and they needed to register every home with proof of mortgage or deed and before we were approved to host we had to submit a bunch of documents to be a certified host. Also I'm really sorry you had such a terrible time with Airbnb and I hope your next trips are way better

Your infographic says Airbnb referred to "problem stays" but your title says they call them "nightmares" (and you even put that in quotes, even though it does not appear to be an actual quote), and also implies that every problem stay results in a ruined trip. Would be better to leave out the clickbait.

Don’t take a 10 month old child into a stranger’s home for your family vacation. AirBnB is a budget option for adventurous travelers willing to make those compromises in order to have a cheaper or more authentic/“local” travel experience. Think of it as an alternative to a youth hostel, NOT a 4 star resort.

AirBnB is awesome for those that it is meant for. You seem upset because you weren’t the target demographic and weren’t willing to take on the inherent risk.

That's stupid. The advertise as an alternative to hotels, it's not couch surfing.

My most recent horror story involved staying with a lady that was bi polar.

I needed a place to stay for about 12 weeks, and it was near DC. No apartment will sign me, and hotels are insanely expensive. Airbnb it is.

She was great for the first few weeks. A bit up tight, but I had no real problems. I didn't mind locking the three dead bolts, separating and being very meticulous with the trash and recycling, trash duties, etc.

One day, her daughter left the house and left the garage door open. When I came home, I saw it, and went inside to figure out why it was open. She came in moments later, saw that I was home, and started screaming about how I should have closed it. (Side note, I was forced to park on the street. I never used the garage).

She flipped out, started screaming, and told me to get out. Luckily there were renter laws in place that required her to give me 60 days notice and I didn't have that much left on my stay, so I had to tough it out.

Airbnb sided with me and told me that she was crazy, but I couldn't afford to go anywhere else.

This lead to her trying to make me uncomfortable and leave her house of my own will. She would yell at me for not separating the recycling to her specifications, for not scrubbing the sink after every time I turned on the faucet, she started cleaning the house in the nude, and made it very uncomfortable.

I disagree. Traveling with children is challenging, and with some children, a hotel can make it even more so. One of my children will not go to sleep if there are others in the room. He'll talk, play, roll around, and jump for hours past when he would normally be in bed. We stayed at an AirBnB where he was able to have his own room, and he was able to sleep with no problems. This was much cheaper than getting a hotel with adjoining rooms, and had the benefit of a kitchen and dishes.

I don't think "finding out the day of that you have no place to stay" is part of the risk most people think they are signing up for when they make a reservation with AirBnB.

Oh hey.....I just had my booking cancelled by the host yesterday. She said, "family illness". My ass, she probably got a better offer on someone's trip that overlapped mine.

It would be hard to get that data but obviously would be good to have.

One thing that we found in our research is that it wasn't until August this year that Airbnb even allowed reviews to be posted by a guest who left their stay early. This puts a potentially huge bias in the reviews on their platform.

We also read many reports that Airbnb has censored negative reviews posted by guests. Here's what one travel blogger wrote: “I wrote a review about my bad experience…which was promptly deleted from the Airbnb website just days later, and the entire trip had been removed from my history altogether. It was like my whole trip had just been deleted from their system. Like it never happened.” - Jeremy from

There really should be a formal process to cancel trips. In that if a host cancels they can not rebook the place for the duration of the cancelled trip. And Airbnb should have a process of subsidizing the cost of a hotel when your stay is cancelled within a week.

It's clear from the OP's comments that he's coming at this with a strong bias/agenda. I'm honestly taking the whole thing with a grain of salt.

How do these results correlate to the reviews that the hosts have on AirBnB? Are these mainly unreviewed hosts? How many of these involve hosts who have a good AirBnB reputation?

Anecdotally I have had especially bad experiences with AirBnB in Europe. In many European countries the service is of questionable legality, which means that the business is done a bit on the down low. As a customer that means that you have especially little recourse if things go wrong and it also makes it that much more likely for sketchy characters to be acting as unscrupulous hosts.

she started cleaning the house in the nude

That escalated quickly!

As an Airbnb super host for the past 2 1/2 years, I have a different perspective on Airbnb disasters. My wife and I rent out rooms in our 5-bedroom home just outside of Washington, DC. We also occasionally rent out our entire home on Airbnb. Well, we did until a few weeks ago. After an Airbnb guest group caused in excess of $3300 of damage to our home, we filed with Airbnb, asking that the damages be covered by Airbnb’s host guarantee. Not only did Airbnb reject our claim in its entirety, they also went so far as to return the guest group’s security deposit.

Airbnb’s host guarantee is a sham, pure and simple. Rather than customer service, we were treated to a stream of insults and accusations by the “Airbnb customer service representative.” Our repeated attempts to speak with anyone at Airbnb who could review the representative’s mishandling of our case were met with “the customer service representative followed our policy so there’s nothing we can do.” When a company defers to its own arbitrary policy rather than the business acumen and customer service that propelled them to success in the first place, that company has lost its way.

My wife and I are discouraged and frustrated. We no longer have faith in Airbnb as a company, and Airbnb no longer has any good will with us. We’ve kept in touch with the more than 2,000 guests who’ve stayed at our home, and we’re now messaging them about our experience. The responses we’ve received have been overwhelmingly supportive, and several dozen of our former guests who had sought our advice about offering their own homes on Airbnb have cancelled their plans, and are looking into other home sharing options, such as Home Away.

As an anecdote, I went to London for two weeks and my host harrassed me on WhatsApp after I left him a bad review saying that he made me feel uncomfortable and that several things went wrong with the trip. I reported it to AirBnb and they literally did nothing about it.

It's not a lie, the company I worked for had to do all of that, but like OP said, the regulations change from country to country.

2 Anecdotal Experiences. For the record most of my AirBnB experiences as a guest have been great.

1) The one time I had a bad experience was in Iceland. We were inadvertently locked out of the home at 2:00 am in the iceland rain/wind after a wedding. It was terrible. The host was a C**t and blamed us even though it was another guest (who we werent informed would be staying at the home with us) who had removed the key from its hide away. The Customer service experience was great. We got a full refund...from AirBnb, not the host.

2) Once I went to check up on my friends house. She AirBnBs her home and was not available at the time to check up on the home. It was clear that the guests had a party however there was an "attempt" at cleaning up. My friend was livid. She filed a police report and claimed $8,000 worth of damage. There was not $8,000 worth of damage. Maybe $500 to clean up some scuff marks. I think my friend was particularly upset because of the party and the fact that the guest was black.

Have you ever used Airbnb? Loads of listing advertise cribs, changing tables, etc specifically for families with babies.

I love this infographic so much, if only because in the notes it AFFIRMS it's own selection bias. Why can't more published studies be this ethical instead of pretending their extrapolated results are fact?

Clearly it was short for Trogdor, The Burninator

And there are certainly also very luxurious apartments on AirBNB that provide ample space and comfort for a family, more so than an equally priced hotel room would do.

I don't understand how the concept is better than hotels. Hotels: insured regulated businesses with professionals on staff at all times and hundreds of years worth of established principles and procedures to ensure your stay is safe and convenient. Airbnb: unregulated app trying to drive its stock price up with any fucking weirdo who wants to take videos of your cornhole in the shower, while most likely violating zoning laws and pissing off their neighbors.

In that if a host cancels they can not rebook the place for the duration of the cancelled trip.

They won't do that because it opens the door for a business clone to compete with them. Just as drivers switch between lyft and uber, depending on what's more desirable at any given moment in time, hosts will just cancel on airbnb and take a more lucrative booking from airbnbtoo.

Here on Airbnb's website you can see how lame their background checks are. They say, "If we have enough information (usually at least the user’s first and last name plus date of birth) to identify a guest or host who lives in the United States, we check certain databases of public state and county criminal records, as well as state and national sex offender registries for criminal convictions and sex offender registrations."

And a recent Business Insider article explains how even with a successful background check, "a registered sex offender wound up living in an Airbnb hosting unsuspecting guests."

And not the good kind of nude.

it can be hard when you already spent money on AirBNB. If you are in another country you might not have cell or internet service. So even finding a hotel let alone one you can afford can be difficult

I stayed in almost 40 airbnbs last year. Ive had to contact Airbnb support 3 times. If something does go wrong Airbnb went out of their way to not be helpful. including telling me to go get a hotel and then not refunding me for the hotel and taking away a voucher they gave me. On top of that they deleted by bad review of the host! I rented a private apartment and woke up at 630 am to some one showering in the apartment.

The problem is AirBnB doesn't market itself as you described (cheap hostel-esq digs).

But it doesn't market itself as a hotel either. It markets itself as a service that helps buyers and sellers on the short-term accommodation market find each other - which is what it is. Some of that accommodation is hostel-esque, some of it is luxurious, and anything in between - but the company doesn't promise the same professionalism and consistency you'd get at a hotel. The fact that you're not paying for the service is, like, why it's cheaper.

In regards to using airbnb with a 10 month old, I don't think it's any different than using any other company to book a private flat, as long as you do reasonable things you should be okay, but shit still happens. I've certainly had my fair share of hotel horror stories as well. Traveling with a baby is fraught with issues whatever you do, I think, and you need to take extra precautions.

Your friend sucks you should get better, not racist friends

And fewer hotels than you would imagine have the sort of amenities that a family with a 10-month old would require.

When my family needed a hotel in Tokyo for a couple nights we could not find a single affordable place that provided a crib. The best we found was a place that had a couch in the room that they helped us convert into a kind of sunken sleeping area for our 2-year old.

Of course he climbed out immediately and spent the night sleeping on my chest.

with nowhere to go

Except the thousands of hotels AirBNB is often illegally competing with...

Sorry about that. I agree, the title should be "problem stays".

AirBnB is a budget option for adventurous travelers willing to make those compromises

AirBnB is awesome for those that it is meant for. You seem upset because you weren’t the target demographic

Dude, OP was scammed out of a place to stay. Don't blame the victim here. OP literally wrote that they were out on the streets with nowhere to go.

Is Airbnb's target demographic "people who book vacations looking to be scammed and end up having no place to stay?" Whoa! How adventurous! Sign me up!

That really shouldn't be the case. Unless they advertise it as a website that is just "homesharing" they really should take more steps on screening hosts. It's such a shame because the concept is so much better and cheaper than hotels.

Good for you for posting this, I hope you see this, online reviews are really one of the only ways to get a company to change or reprimand them for their shitty customer service. It also saves the hassle of a bad trip from someone else.

Price, presumably

If they have to do all that, then how are people getting scammed? Does AirBnB check that the documents you send are real or do they just require you send them? If it's just "mail them in," then that really isn't regulation imo.

Edit: I guess I'm asking if you remember anything more about that experience that could touch on the above concerns

So you're saying 93% of stays have no/minimal problems? Sorry about your experience. I'm a host in the US and my experiences have been great.

As a host its absolutely nuts to hear how bad other places can be. Some of my guests have described pretty shitty stays, and there's also a problem with the current rating system, usually it's 5 stars or 1 star, not much in between. I'd be curious to hear about shitty guests too, not everyone is innocent on that front. I have like one low review and it's due to them not closing the blinds ("the room had too much light coming in"), give me a break lol.

What are the many countries you are speaking of? I've stayed in AirBnBs in at least five countries and the practice is above board in all of them. There are limitations in some countries of the number of days a person can use their place as an AirBnB to keep too many from turning apartments into AirBnBs and giving no one living in the cities a chance, but that's the only thing I've heard of (and I've lived in Europe for over two years now).

ETA- the only thing I can find is that it's illegal in Berlin. There are three European cities that regulate it in the way I referred to (Paris, Amsterdam, Reykjavik) and Barcelona requires another type of permit as well. That's from an article in a travel mag from this Summer, so pretty current.

I am a AirBnB host. I had to cancel 2 or 3 stays for different reasons. It sucks and I strife not to do it, but life happens!

If you stay I the apartment mills and not a true AirBnB this will probably less likely happen but at that point you can probably also stay in a hotel.

Coming from the other side as someone that has opened their own home to over 100 people from all over the world in the last couple of years it is also disappointing when you are expected to be better than some Hotels.

AirBnB is a victim of its own success and is sadly more and more like and less the adventure and joy of friendly people that are greatful in having a clean bed and clean place.

It looks like from the data that 3 to 7% of the people who have bad experiences are the people that order food at a restaurant, eat half of it, then send it back because it is wrong/bad and want it for free.

Apparently it's different depending on the country where you host, based on local regulations. From what I remember all we had to do was submit them online and after a day of review they gave the ok, however whether they checked them over or not I really don't know.

Edit: As a side note I remember doing those things in order to be a "super host" which requires verification and good reviews and no cancellations for the past 6 months of hosting, so the process to just list a place as a fresh new host might be easier

I've used Airbnb quite a few times and never had an issue. I also really like Airbnb and the idea of hotel alternatives, but this is really unacceptable. I really hope they fix this broken hosting system and I wonder if costs would be that much higher for them if they had to verify hosts more thoroughly