The tentacles of tech are everywhere; its strangulating presence leeches into our every second. Yesterday I had an appointment with a professional in Granada, Spain. I am looking at the possibility of relocating here, (more about that in a future blog), and was looking at real estate.
Almost as soon as I had walked in the door of this real estate office, this lovely young man said: you’re a writer. I said: oh, well, yes, how do you know?
He said: I looked you up and found out all about you.
I blushed. I’ve heard this before, but it still shocks me that anyone would want to look me up.
I said: Oh, OK, I hate the internet. And I laughed, shaking his outstretched hand. He said: You write mystery novels. I said: Oh, yes, well and others. He said: I love to read. I said: My dream is to be translated into Spanish. I love your language.
And so it went on. For the next forty-five minutes as I sat in his presence – he behind his desk and me in my chair opposite him, I feel uneasy. He didn’t make he feel uneasy personally, he was a nice, pleasant, charming man in his 30s I am guessing, who was genuinely professional.
But I had to ask when the moment opened up. I said: Why did you look me up? He said: Your name, it’s very unusual so I looked you up, and there you were.
The man seemed like a gentle soul and no doubt if I was living in this town he might possibly become a friend – that is how he made me feel – but the experience was unnerving.
Which brings me to……my absolute top loathing at the moment.
I will dance in the street the day that platform is shut down forever, blitzed out of existence, never to return.
The reason? I was curious to try it out. I have friends who host on it, and it all seemed harmless enough. A way to make some money always sounds good, doesn’t it, so why not, I thought.
I have a little flat in a great city. It’s bright, airy, stylish and very clean and comfortable and it’s in an amazing location. Logic says Airbnb it. Right?
I decided to put up a listing, not thinking I’d get any bites. I got bookings instantly, lots of them, and the guest theme was this: a cheap by-the-night place where lots of friends can pack themselves in, slashing the cost of a stay down to a few pounds each.
I don’t have a problem with the guests, I have a problem with Airbnb.
I was responding to booking almost 24/7 or that is what it felt like. On the bus from Malaga airport to Granada my phone kept pinging and I get having to respond to bookings. OK, you might think, but this is where Airbnb scores a big fail and I’ll bullet point things below.
I did not turn on auto-book on my dashboard, but guests were auto-booking anyway.
Guests wanted to bring their friends and pack three separate friends into my tiny place – I’d have to supply three sets of bedding.
If you don’t respond to bookings within a certain period of time, Airbnb penalises you.
You set up your listing and put your pricing on auto-check meaning their robots calculate the optimum price for your entire flat, marking it down so that you’re competitive in the marketplace which makes the whole experience pointless, you’re earning less that you’d be earning if you were stacking shelves at Tesco – or at least that’s how it appears.
And Airbnb requires you to go lower than that too, offering discounts and half-price offers for monthly rents, in order to get reviews and bookings.
The Airbnb platforms monitors your every move, as a host, calculates what you are doing right (often not much at all) and what you are doing wrong (meaning what you need to do to get more bookings).
The only entity in this equation – You, the guest, and Airbnb who is making money is Airbnb.
I calculated down my booking rates versus my income, dividing the ‘spoils’ by the time spent on the platform dealing with bookings, the work involved in cleaning and making my flat comfortable for guests, and the psychological warfare that Airbnb level at you if you do not play the GAME exactly as they have designed it, and came out seriously behind, at a loss, spending money on keeping up this joke system, rather than making any at all.
The bully-boy tactics behind Airbnb needs to be investigated. I seriously think they are a force for evil, like booking dot com and Uber and all the other internet platforms out there who wrap their tentacles around our necks, and try and spin their evil in the name of ‘freedom’. Airbnb only cares about making billions, it cares zero for hosts and guests.
Needless to say I have deleted my Airbnb account and will never, ever, ever be involved in any way, ever again.