Kicked out of my hotel on a holiday weekend

When a family of four doesn’t get the hotel room it reserves, mayhem ensues.

Question: We are a couple from Brazil who was visiting Florida with our two children over the holiday weekend. Our trip was great, until a dispute with the Hampton Inn & Suites Sanibel Gateway ruined everything.

The room was booked in advance and paid in full through Priceline. We had contacted the hotel prior to arrival to confirm that we would have two double beds, since we have two children, ages 2 and 4. The Director of Sales confirmed our accommodations, after having some trouble finding the reservation.

On the night of arrival, we walked up to the reception desk around 6:15 p.m. The employee on duty, Nicole, was working alone. She informed us that the hotel was overbooked and that she had booked another hotel for us for one night. The following night we would have to return to the Hampton Inn and stay there the second night.

Given that we were on vacation with two young children, we didn’t agree to that offer. We agreed to move to another hotel, but for two nights, not for one. We explained that we had plans during the day, and it would be very inconvenient to switch hotels.

The receptionist did not agree and became very rude and aggressive in tone. In her own words, she was “very frustrated” and had “no time to deal with this now,” adding, “I knew this would happen!” She told us we’d better accept what she had to offer, or leave. She would cancel our reservation in the Hampton Inn, and we could find a hotel on our own if we wanted to. We were “only a third party reservation” as she said, because our reservation was made through Priceline.

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We are hotel owners ourselves and have dealt with these situations in our 25 years in the business. We kept calm and asked to speak with the responsible manager or with the director of sales with whom we had contact before. Unfortunately, at that moment, she paid no attention to us anymore because she turned her attention to the pizza delivery guy, who came in to bring pizza for her dinner. She attended to him and brought her pizza into the back office. Only then did she come back to attend to us.

She refused to contact the Director of Sales as we requested. Instead, she called another manager and handed us the phone angrily. When my wife explained what we suggested to Nicole, the manager asked to be returned to Nicole. When she hung up, she immediately called the police, saying we were disturbing the peace. I told her that was very unprofessional because we wanted to solve the problem she created. She told us that there was no problem anymore because she canceled our reservation and she would no longer provide another hotel. Then she asked us to leave.

I was escorted out by a police officer in front of all guests, and after a conversation with the officer, I was handed a trespass warning.

After three hours of looking for a hotel in the area without any luck, we had only one option left. We called some friends in Coral Springs, on the east coast of Florida, and drove there. We crossed the Everglades at night with two small kids, driving 120 miles without a cell phone or Internet connection, and we stayed two nights with our friends.

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The worst of all is that the Hampton Inn chose to kick a family with two small children to the curb. It is outrageous. Hampton Inn has our contact details and could have notified us of the overbooking in advance. We did not cause any trouble, nor harm anyone. We did not scream or raise our voices. We did not insult anyone or call any names. We simply asked them to do the right thing. For that, we had to pay an absurd price. We want to be compensated fairly and honestly for all the troubles we had to go through. Our three-week vacation ended very badly, and our memories of Florida are quite negative. We did not get to visit the west coast of Florida as we had planned due to this incident. Can you help? — Sandrijn van Hoof, Maragogi, Brazil

Answer: We hate to hear that you were forced out of the hotel because of an overbooking situation. As you well know, this can happen during peak season, and hotels typically make efforts to accommodate confirmed guests in nearby hotels.

Given your family situation, it is understandable that you would seek to be accommodated for both nights at the alternate lodging. While reasonable, this is not always possible.

Unfortunately, the front desk employee, perhaps with consent from her manager, made an unwarranted call to the police. These desperate tactics are sometimes used to diffuse a situation, though of course the opposite effect is achieved, tipping the power imbalance in favor of the hotel.

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That was uncalled for, unprofessional and simply wrong. And yes, you should get an apology and compensation, or at a bare minimum, an explanation for this unsettling event, which would ruin anyone’s trip.

You started by writing to the Hampton Inn director of sales, who simply offered you 50,000 HHonors points, but no apology. As you aptly note, 50,000 points doesn’t even cover two nights in that same hotel during peak season.

You responded that you didn’t think Hampton Inn was taking this seriously, especially when you had not yet received a refund from Priceline.

That was the last you heard from the Hampton Inn.

When you spoke with Priceline, customer service shared some background on your booking. The agent told you that the price you paid was low for the property during peak season — but that should not have mattered. When you confirmed your accommodations with the Hampton Inn director of sales, it took him three days to locate your reservation. Not surprisingly, when the hotel was overbooked, you drew the short straw.

Our team contacted Priceline, which refunded your money and offered you a coupon for five percent off your next booking. That was dissatisfying, though, because you really sought acknowledgment from Hampton Inn that their employees treated you and your family poorly.

It’s a painful reality that a customer service situation gone bad could mar the entire state of Florida. The unsettling display by the front desk staff, tacitly approved by hotel management, only solidifies your impression that customer service is a foreign concept in America.

Is American hospitality a thing of the past?

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Jessica Monsell

A writer and natural advocate, Jessica joined our consumer advocacy effort following a decade of work on behalf of air crash victims at one of the nation's largest plaintiffs' law firms. She has lived in Europe and Asia, but now calls Charleston, S.C. home.

  • Peter Varhol

    No, American hospitality is not a thing of the past. I personally have had recent exceptional experiences with individual people going out of their way to help.

    That said, we are human, and sometimes we are under pressure. Our interactions aren’t always as we would like them to be. I’m sure we all regret such situations, and more often than not they shouldn’t happen. But they do.

  • Alan Gore

    Is there security footage of exactly what happened in the front desk area that night? If there is, but they “lost it” for that occasion, then you win.

  • AAGK

    They should have been accommodated for both nights at the other property, no excuses. It is unreasonable to expect these folks to be inconvenienced twice for the hotel’s bad planning.

  • IgorWasTaken

    I don’t know what sort of disclaimers Priceline offers at its site, but if it’s not uncommon for PL customers to be bounced/walked from hotels because they were “only a third party reservation” and paid less, then Priceline may be subject to some big liability here. In other words, it’s as if PL isn’t booking rooms, it’s booking standby rooms – rooms only if the hotel isn’t oversold.

    Again, maybe PL covers themselves via a disclaimer, but otherwise seems like a problem for PL.

  • Dennis Lewis

    Is American hospitality a thing of the past? No. But I’d like to know if they were going to be walked to another Hampton Inn. I have relatives in Fort Myers, and there are a lot of Hampton Inns in that area – in addition to a couple of Hilton Garden Inns and Homewood Suites. And because it’s the closest Hampton Inn to Sanibel Island (as its name indicates), rates at that Hampton Inn are usually higher than the others. Just saying. Priceline and all.

  • Travelnut

    Wow, it was really crappy of that hotel to expect that family to be walked to another hotel for only one night and then come back. I would have refused too. I also have a problem with a hotel who treats guests differently just because they used a third party booking service. Don’t offer rooms through Priceline if you don’t like their pricing policy. If you offer a price, directly or through a third party, and the customer accepts, it’s on you if you think the rate is too low.

  • Rebecca

    This is a tough one. Certainly the OP made a reasonable request. He didn’t want to have to go to an alternate hotel, then have to check out and back into a new hotel when he had plans and it would have been grossly inconvenient on his short vacation. Its 100% on the hotel if they overbooked, especially since he went out of his way to confirm his reservation. I wasn’t there, so I don’t want to make a judgement about what actually transpired. They apparently did offer 50,000 points, so obviously they weren’t that appalled at his behavior that he wasn’t welcome back. That’s very telling.

    I tend to believe the OP that the front desk person had an attitude. I just don’t know whether he became a belligerent troublemaker. I’m honestly leaning towards no. Those that are tend to request all sorts of extra compensation and throw around terms like “emotional distress” and “mental anguish”. The fact that he apparently isn’t doing that, and isn’t looking for a giant payday definitely makes him much more believable. If I had to guess, I’m thinking this situation didn’t call for the hotel clerk calling the police. She probably had a long, irritating day, as evidenced by the fact that the hotel was overbooked, she was alone at the desk with no manager on duty, and it was 6:15, after most people had already checked in. I absolutely fault the hotel for overbooking, knowing guests are going to be walked, and then having literally no management on duty. That’s unacceptable. Whoever is in charge should not be a manager. It wasn’t the middle of the night, it was 6:15 on a holiday weekend.

    Personally, I see this case just illustrating not to use a third party site. Again and again and again we see stories here of those that used an OTA. If anything goes wrong, you’re stuck in a no man’s land where everyone passes the buck. Hotel’s employees seem to freely admit that those with OTA reservations, especially from opaque sites, are treated as the least important reservations, the first to get downgraded, bumped, always get assigned the worst rooms. The OP seemed to have a clue; he states he is a hotel owner. He repeatedly followed up with the hotel about his reservation. I’m guessing that’s because he knows how hotels feel about guests that reserve rooms on opaque platforms like Priceline and Hotwire. As someone else pointed out, it’s likely the hotel uses these sites simply to hope a room that would be empty gets filled. The OP should have trusted his instinct.

    I’m guessing he didn’t save more than $50. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone thinks $50 is worth the trade-off. I’m not rolling in money, but I’m also not willing to chance a million things going wrong to save a relatively small amount of money. But apparently lots of people are, or Spirit wouldn’t be growing. They end up usually costing more when you factor in fees, and you’re flat out screwed if there’s any sort of delay, especially if you have a connection. But people keep flying them.

  • John Baker

    Unfortunately, hotels overbooking isn’t Priceline’s issue. Each hotel has their own methodology for determining who get walked when they are overbooked. Most often its something like loyalty status followed by revenue generated (ie rate). Priceline customers are going to lose in that case.

    The guilty party in this case is the hotel. First, they allowed themselves to be overbooked and then they expected a guest to change hotels on their whims.

  • Dutchess

    What irritates me the most about this story is the FDA’s response of “you’re only a 3rd party reservation”. Hotels could easily prevent this by not allowing bookings from 3rd party sites. If you hate them SOOOOO much then stop them. But NO, they want their cake and eat it too. They allow booking and then treat these customers like poo. Any doubt of this, read flyer talk and r/talesfromthefrontdesk, they love to treat third party bookings like garbage give them worst room on purpose, not honor requests for room type, walk them to crappy hotels in a flash. There’s always two sides to the story but I don’t doubt the family’s version here. This needs to stop.

  • Stuart Murray

    Had a somewhat similar situation at a Houston Holiday Inn. Checked in on a Sunday night, no one on duty outside of a young, inexperienced front desk clerk. This time the issue was a power outage. It was midsummer and got hot quickly in the hotel. And on top of that, outside of my room, the alarm was sounding, and even after the power came back on, she and the one other employee working that night couldn’t get it shut off. They couldn’t move me to another room because their computers didn’t come back up properly even after the power came back on. She called someone and said there was nothing they could do, I’d have to live with the bad room. It was getting late, I pushed it harder, and they finally walked me to another hotel down the road, much nicer, and the difference at their expense. I stayed there the entire three nights at the price I had been quoted at the Holiday Inn. So it can work out, under the right circumstances.

  • RBXChas

    If I’ve learned anything on here, it’s that I should never book using an OTA (assuming I don’t use a traditional travel agent). I used Priceline once and only once, for a business trip for my husband. Priceline apparently didn’t pay the Sheraton by check-in, so they charged us the full walk-up room rate. The problem was that they didn’t say a word, and it wasn’t until my husband checked our business checking account that he saw what happened (he also learned the hard way not to give the hotel a debit card). I had to make several phone calls and then of course wait the requisite number of days for the money to reappear in our account. To Sheraton’s credit, they were incredibly apologetic and did process the refund quickly, but I shouldn’t have had to ask, nor should the amount have been charged, period. It wasn’t worth the little bit I saved per night vs. the AAA room rate I’d have gotten through Sheraton or whatever other hotel I’d have picked if I’d been choosing the actual hotel.

  • Rachel1265

    As a hotel manager, I will say that bookings with 3rd parties are often the most difficult to deal with. Frequently the OTA will promise guests things that they shouldn’t (connecting rooms, rollaways, room types, etc) and then the hotel has to break the bad news that these are not available when the guest arrives. Also most large chains have agreements with the OTA so even if individual hotels want to block OTA reservations, they are unable to.

    OTAs also offer zero flexibility when it comes to things like changing or cancelling reservations. For example, say you booked a 3 night reservation thru expedia but your flight was cancelled so you were not able to get there the day you planned: If you call the hotel expedia does not allow us to modify the reservation, you would have to contact them directly. It does not allow for upgrades, date changes, cancellations, extensions, early check out, etc. If the desk agent attempts to make this change to the reservation, the credit card that expedia sent (not the guest’s credit card but a “ghost” credit card valid only for the specific dates and amounts of the reservation) will decline. So some of the perception that hotels treat 3rd party reservations could be attributed simply to the restrictions that the OTAs place on the hotels.

    Also, in the hotel’s defense, having experience on the Hampton system, Priceline NEVER gives the guest information with the reservation. They transmit the guest’s name, but fill in the rest of the information (address, phone number, etc) with Priceline’s info. So even if the hotel wanted to contact the guest to let them know about the overbooking ahead of time they would not have been able to.

    Now all that being said, and before you verbally skewer me, if an employee of mine treated a guest that way, had that sort of attitude, they would be looking for a different job so fast it would make your head spin. Challenges with the reservation are never a reason to be rude to a guest. When walking a guest, yes, non reward member reservations are more likely to be walked, but a multiple night reservation is a bad one to pick for this very reason. If you have to walk a multi night reservation, best practice would be for you to make sure the hotel you are sending them to has availability for the whole length of stay.

    A difficult guest or situation is never an excuse for bad behavior on the part of the employee and if they don’t understand that, they are in the wrong industry.

  • mbods2002

    Sounds like the people running this Hampton hotel are in the wrong business. If the front desk child didn’t feel like she could help this family, she should have called her manager, who then could have made it right. That didn’t happen. Horrible customer service all the way round and no excuse for it. Glad they got their money back, glad to know this hotel on Sanibel is not a good one and I hope he writes a review of his experience.

  • Lindabator

    corporate may have given them the Honors points – that does not mean the hotel in question wants them back

  • llandyw

    First, I never book a hotel with an opaque site. I use either the corporate website or the system through work. Either way, I call the property the night before, or early morning before housekeeping gets to work to confirm or verify the availability of the room type I wanted.

    I have stayed at one hotel north of Baltimore and have had the same room most of the time (quieter side of the hotel). This hotel is a Hilton property too. I did end up at a Hampton nearby twice. The people working there were nowhere near as friendly or helpful as they were at the other property.

  • llandyw

    I see multiple comments that hotels shouldn’t overbook. Hate to tell you, but hotels ALWAYS overbook. If they don’t, they don’t get filled. Typically it’s 10% of the rooms the hotel has. In most cases this is good business practice as rarely does a hotel have to walk anyone.

    However, sometimes things go wrong. Frequently it’s someone forgot to close out reservations on the opaque sites, or even the corporate site. Sometimes they have to place a room (sometimes multiple rooms if there’s a water leak for example), and find themselves with not enough rooms available.

    The better hotels though adjust their overbook rate during peak season. High demand ones may even reduce it to 0, but typically it’ll drop to 5% or sometimes 2%. Others just leave it at 10% and blame everyone else.

  • MF

    TN – you are right in theory, but you presume that H.I. has integrity, and is not just a ‘money grubber’. Maybe you are mistaken? Cynically speaking, it’s not a bad business model to have ‘second tier’ hotel guests – if you’re full of first tier guests, ‘sorry, no room at the inn’, if not, we will tolerate the riff-raff. Customer differentiation is a way to maximize profits…

  • Rebecca

    That makes sense. But I would think if he was that truly awful, he would be blacklisted. Or at least that the corporate office would not try to give him points and apologize. I’m just not getting the vibe that he’s a crazy.

  • Travelnut

    Interesting theory, MF. I actually agree with you, except that hotels are listing their excess inventory on Priceline and the like that they don’t expect to sell at their usual room rates. They don’t have enough “first tier” guests to fill their hotel to an acceptable rate. At that point, the “riff raff” is saving their bacon.

    And I make no assumptions about the OP. Usually, in a “he said, desk clerk said” situation, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

  • Rebecca

    This is very helpful, relevant information. The reason I read this site and the comments. I don’t have hotel experience, but my experience working with customer service systems (which are somehow always created and updated by someone that has never once actually dealt with a customer, and thinks they know better than the people actually using it) makes me very sympathetic!

  • Rebecca

    I’m really thinking here that she couldn’t call the manager and they wouldn’t answer if she did. I would go so far as to say she would probably get in trouble for calling, if she even had the number. I’m not excusing her behavior by any means, but what management allows there to be NO manager on duty, at 615 on a holiday weekend, in an overbooked hotel where guests are being walked? And NO manager available to call if there is an issue? While the employee’s behavior is not acceptable (I believe the OP here), I think management’s behavior is even worse.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    I’ve only used the opaque priceline myself a couple of times, but my anecdotal experiences were fine. We got the smallest rooms, but otherwise no problems and we were treated well (though we only do this to stay in four or five star hotels, not a 3 or less star hampton).

  • PolishKnightUSA

    This is an instance where someone can be right and wrong. Right that they shouldn’t be bumped with small kids and have to come back and then the police called and giving them warnings for failing to leave right away when they’re told to leave, but that’s the situation.

    Personally, I would have asked for a compromise. Agree with the manners challenged employee to leave for the night and ask for an upgrade at the other hotel. AND early check in and bag storage. Yeah, it’s a hassle but promise to work with them and ask for some perks. Simply stating “I need X and I won’t take less!” will result in the jerk being what they are. But if they sense you can work with them, and you’re firm you want something, you can usually get it.

    If you get absolutely NOTHING, then they’re superjerks. I would go to the other hotel and wait for the jerk to go offshift. 6PM? She probably gets off at midnight. Call at midnight and explain the situation: You have small kids, blah blah blah, she gave you NOTHING and can they help. Maybe a room opened up? Some additional perks? Hang up and call someone else is my motto. Then report the jerk as much as possible. Find out the GM. Say you want to work things out. Escalate while you’re there and do it in the background. Don’t let her know what you’re up to. Call again at 8:30AM when the next shift comes online. Talk to a dozen people.

  • KanExplore

    Great point. The hotel really dropped the ball. American hospitality isn’t dead, but it clearly wasn’t on display here. Sounds like a very poorly run place.

  • AMA

    This is impractical. What stressed-out traveler is going to do all this with two little kids while attempting to salvage 48 hours of vacation?

  • Nathan Witt

    This is one of those situations where asking the Director of Sales for a quick email confirming the reservation and anything else he promised you would come in handy. It’s stupid that it’s come to this point, but when anyone promises you anything on the phone, it’s good to get it in writing.

  • mbods2002

    Yeah, very badly managed. Bad customer service trickles down….

  • mbods2002

    I have a feeling even that won’t have helped.

  • mbods2002

    Agreed, but this hotel just didn’t give d*m about their guests. They didn’t try to make them happy. Only aggravated the situation instead of accommodating their request to stay 2 nights at the other hotel. I mean they called the police on this poor family! Booooo

  • IgorWasTaken

    I never said overbooking is the issue. The issue is disclosure.

    It doesn’t matter who “the guilty party” is; it matters who has a performance duty to the traveler. If (just hypothetically) PL knew that 15% of its customers are walked or denied during certain times in certain locations, they should tell their customers that up front. IOW, an individual traveler being walked may be beyond PL’s control, but knowing the likliehood of that happening and telling/not telling PL’s customers is in PL’s control.

  • flutiefan

    my company throws such points at anyone who complains, even those travelers who are actually arrested and booked. so i don’t place any intrinsic value on the fact that Hilton gave them HHonors.

  • flutiefan

    the ludicrous part of this story (and what makes me less sympathetic to the OP) is the part complaining about her paying for her delivered pizza and dropping it off in the back office. oh my goodness, how absurd of her!

  • Stephen0118

    I’ve told this story in the past. I will never ever book using an OTA because some hotels treat you like dirt. I don’t care if the price on the hotel’s website is more expensive, I will always book using the hotel’s site. What happened to me was that I booked a room at the Aria in Las Vegas using Expedia. We had trouble with the lighting in the bathroom. We called the front desk to ask for maintenance three times. Each time they said they would send someone up. They never did. I really doubt that maintenance is busy because it wasn’t even peak season. Needless to say, I will never stay at the Aria again.

  • taxed2themax

    Wow, it sure sounds like there were a lot of places and chances for this event to have taken better turns — rather than end up where it did.
    On the issue of the call to law enforcement. That’s hard to say as we have only one side of the story and don’t have either the other, or an independent first-hand account. Therefore, I cannot say the hotel was right to do so…. or was wrong to do so. I think there most definitely a time, place and situation where a call to law enforcement is warranted and other times where it’s not. I would need more facts to say one way or the other.
    I don’t think it’s outside of reasonable to decline a request to contact the DoS, IF that person is not ‘on-duty’ (meaning is at home or otherwise) in that I think so long as there is another management person who carriers the same level of authority available, that this is reasonable. Would it be helpful to have that specific person – the DoS? Sure it would be, but I think that when someone who is at the position of local hotel DoS is ‘off the clock’ they should not be contacted outside of truly emergency or similar situations.
    What I’d like to know is why was the request for a 2-day walk not an option? True, in most cases, walks are only for the overbooked night in question, but at the end of the day, as I know it, there is no law that explicitly states a walk can’t be for more days other than just the overbooked day in question.

  • Peter

    As I sit here in my hotel room in Italy, my reaction that while the OP is due some form of compensation, Americans really have no idea how good they have it.

    After 10 days in Spain and Italy, where I have been repeatedly lied to, attempted to be cheated, asked for corrupt payments, and watched obvious tax cheating going on, I have just tried to grin and bear it, while dodging and weaving to avoid most of the pitfalls.

    Quick (and incomplete) summary:

    – rental car companies offering smaller cars than booked as “upgrades”, not honoring points purchses, pressuring “super” insurance coverage, and sullen and/or no staff help with anything (numerous cigarette breaks).

    – discount airline treatment of passengers (yes, I mean you Vuelling, although I imagine RyanAir and EasyJet can meet you at the bottom).

    – hotel and restsurant reservation and service lies and challenges.

    – demands for untaxed cash payments and payoffs.

    The list could be longer, but I fear boring you. I could keep the advocates busy for a week.

    Bottom line is that American has one of the best service cultures in the World, and let’s just not forget that. And how many of us, after a foreign trip, breathe a quiet “thank goodness” when we enter US airspace.

  • CycleAZLindyB

    I would have just taken the one night at the other hotel and then found a way to move back. Pretty simple if you ask me.

  • DChamp56

    50,000 points… oh boy! That and $6 buys you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
    This receptionist needs to be fired. Period. Then give these people back a prompt refund of real $, not play money.

  • DepartureLevel

    Actually recent travel news sources are reporting that IHG (Holiday Inn) and Hilton are not honoring third party (vendor) bookings. I think this is a good thing. Personally, I would never use any “opaque” travel website Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire, etc., because when things go south they dump it on the consumer to deal directly with the hotel or airline. In turn, the hotels and airlines dump it right back on the the vendor. It’s like tossing the proverbial hot potato – “Here you take it”…”NO!, I don’t wan’t it”, and so on back and forth.

  • whatup12

    It’s called Airbnb. And have never looked back.

  • TMMao

    We had a similar experience when our flight was delayed and I called the hotel to let them know we would not be arriving until the next day. At first, they couldn’t even find our reservation and then after some more searching, discovered it had been cancelled by their corporate reservation office over a week before arrival. A call to Priceline resulted in their “travel specialist” contacting the hotel directly to rebook the room at the original rate, and even getting us a refund for the first night not occupied. We’re still not sure why the hotel’s corporate resv office cancelled our booking in the first place, but my guess is it had to do with the low rate, which was 60% less than the hotel’s own website showed for that period. In the end, there was a bit of hassle but not enough to turn me off from savings of over $500 by booking through the opaque OTA.

  • cscasi

    I had an experience with Hilton several years back. We were booked into a Hilton in London, but it was overbooked. They walked us to another Hilton (late afternoon) outside town at Wembley; about a 25 minute drive. We were not happy, but guess what, we got a decent room there for one night, the hotel paid for our taxi both ways and even had a room waiting for us and did a big load of laundry for us when we came back the first thing the next morning. We feel we were treated fairly.
    Having said that, I do feel these folks were poorly treated, no matter if they had a third party reservation or not.

  • Peter

    I find Airbnb to be VERY spotty. Some renters behave professionally while others are “hobbyists”. Here’s a recent situation …

    In Italy, driving 3 hours to a rental in Padua. Delayed rental car pick up (of course). Driving through heavy storm. It’s getting dark. No initial email from owner (at all) and no answer from him 14 hours after we emailed him.

    Then read the fine print (shared only AFTER the booking was complete) that apartment is in “no go” zone (i.e. No cars allowed). A few suggestions like, try this address, ring bell to see if you can park in their yard for 50 euros (must be a cousin or pal), or a public lot, first come, first served. Only a 15-20 minute walk to apartment (and this will now be pretty late, with no response from owner at this point). Not sounding like a great idea.

    One Skype call, no answer. Another, a half hour later, we can’t hear each other. Darkness falling. Rain coming in buckets on dark windy highway. What would you do?

    I said the heck with Airbnb and found a nearby hotel. Later politely asked owner to return one of our two day fees. Of course it is impossible as he has “strict cancellation policy”. Not quite as strict disclosure or communication policies. Nit wanting a donnybrook with Airbnb (which then hurts your “rating” and ability for future rentals).

    Long-winded way of saying I have had several properties misrepresented on Airbnb in the past (NY, Maui), so I prefer not to use them …

  • whatup12

    I hear you, but it not about using “them”. Ie, Airbnb is only an intermediary as you note. And I am as picky with choosing an Airbnb as I was when I used to deal with hotels including now having my favourite Airbnbs in different cities and countries. I have used the service all over Europe, the Congo, Chamonix, Mali, Australia, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal, Ghana, (lots in) south Africa, Canada, etc etc etc. And I don’t book unless reviews are good. If there are no reviews, I am seriously hesitant to book. If the person doesn’t respond when I contact them, I cancel. And indeed, even with strict cancellation rules, Airbnb still refunds if they don’t respond to me.

    If the reviews are less than stellar, I don’t book. Although there is always at least one or two airbnbs that are truly stellar in a city…including Kinshasa!

    I have lost most of my hotel status except for the United 1k which gets my marriot gold and Delta Diamond which gets me Starwood match. And I don’t care. I still have way better experiences in Airbnbs than i did in hotels–and also have my own washer/dryer, dishwasher, kitchen, etc.

    Too bad about your experiences but would only suggest that you are as vigilant with booking with Airbnb as you were with hotels. After nearly 40 bookings, I have never had an experience like yours–but have cancelled probably 10 within two days of booking if i had a bad feeling due to limited contact, etc. The closest ting that i had to a bad experience was in Accra when it was basically a hotel selling rooms on Airbnb. But even then, I got a nice room and was all prepaid.

  • Peter

    Please don’t assume having people misrepresent their properties as a lack of vigilance on my part. I used Airbnb since they started as well as a wide variety of other travel apps. I merely pointed out my greater than normal rate of problems, the severity of which means you may get into a city late at night with no place to stay.

  • whatup12

    Agree–tried to be as ginger as possible with my “suggestion” as anonymous advice is rarely useful. I think this just comes down to you and me having very different experiences!!

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