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The “Airbnb” mistake that makes your clients hate your guts

I’m in a ranting and raving mood, I guess. Yesterday, I warned both freelancers and business owners alike to avoid Upwork. Today, I’m channeling my rage towards another equally as frustrating company:


Here’s why:

Don’t get me wrong, I love staying in Airbnbs. I’ve stayed in more in the past year than I can count on my hands. But I’ve also opted for hotels more often than I would’ve thought.

Airbnb has an incredible advantage over hotels:

They offer a cozy, real house environment where you don’t have to be trapped in a stuffy and boring room with one TV, no kitchen, and no separate rooms. (The last one is a big downside of hotels, especially since I wake up earlier than Peanut, and like to use my mornings when I’m traveling to get work done.)

But they make a fatal mistake—which coincidentally, many business owners make in their own businesses—that could put the nail in their coffin sooner rather than later.

What’s their fatal mistake you ask?

They give their customers a horrible customer experience.

Yes, I prefer staying in a home instead of a hotel room. But that’s about the only advantage Airbnb has over hotels.

The disadvantages of Airbnb?

* They charge you exorbitant cleaning fees… then make you do most of the cleaning around the house before you leave.

Worst part? They hide their cleaning fees when you’re booking, so you get a similar feeling of sticker shock as you do when you buy a ticket on TicketMaster and get hit with their outrageous ticket processing fees.

* They rarely come stocked with, well, anything.

Is hotel coffee great? No, but it’s free. And you expect it to be there. Not the case with Airbnb. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ransacked cabinet’s in an Airbnb looking for coffee, only to realize I have to go to the store and buy my own coffee.

I like waking up with a steaming hot cup of black coffee. This inconvenience, while minor, rubs me the wrong way.

* They’re often more expensive than hotels, even nice hotels.

Half of the value of renting an Airbnb is it’s a more cost-effective solution compared to hotels. But they’re often more expensive than hotels. Then they make you clean your mess on top of that. If they were cheaper, but I had to clean, fine. But they’re more expensive, and I have to clean.

* Some Airbnb owners are incompetent at best, and shady at worst.

Peanut and I traveled down to Cincinnati for a concert for New Year’s Eve. We booked a place on Airbnb months in advance, only for them to cancel on us the day before we were supposed to stay there. So we had to scramble around to look for another Airbnb at the last second. (Getting refunded wasn’t as easy as it should’ve been either.)


I’ve heard horror stories from people I know where the Airbnb owner tries to blame the renter for damage that happened around the house before they ever stepped foot in it. While the Airbnb we stayed at in Cincy didn’t do this… there were a few chairs that were already broken before we got there.

Say what you want about hotels, but they don’t cancel on you at the last minute.

* Late check-in, and early check-out.

In Cincy, we couldn’t get into our Airbnb until 4 pm. But we had to check out by 10 am.

Now, I’m usually up way before 10 am, but not always (especially after a concert that lasted until 2 am). But even when I’m up hours before 10 am, 10 am comes quickly. There have been plenty of times when this interrupted my morning.

I’m sure I could go on about all the shortcomings of Airbnb, but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll leave you with this:

Airbnb seemingly tries to ruin the customer experience at every opportunity they get. That’s why, despite being superior to hotels in many ways, I’ve stayed at more hotels in the past couple of years than I would’ve thought.

The lifeblood of any business—whether it’s Airbnb, John Brandt Copy, or Target—is the customer experience.

Think of ways you can improve your customers’ experience (and areas where you don’t provide an excellent customer experience), and do everything you can to improve it. It may be the most important tweak you make in your business.

Speaking of crucial tweaks in your business…

If improving your customer experience is the best tweak you can make, the second best one you can make is replying to this email to see if we’re a good fit to partner together.

I’ll handle your email marketing strategy and copywriting, and you’ll enjoy your bank account ticking up and up and up.


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