An Airbnb, Vrbo or other rental host ghosted you. Now what?
By SALLY FRENCH of NerdWallet
Lauren Gumport was en route to a vacation on the island of Chios, Greece, in July, where she was set to stay in an Airbnb for five nights with her best friend.
But upon her arrival in Athens to connect to her flight to Chios, she received a WhatsApp message from someone stating that their dad owned the Airbnb property, but that they managed it. The son said they'd be out of town __ and that their dad didn't speak English __ but that Gumport would still be able to check in with the dad.
Gumport, who works for the travel insurance company Faye, is no stranger to stories of travel mishaps. She sensed something was off but forged ahead with the Chios flight. When she arrived at the meeting spot near the Airbnb, no one was there.
"It was hot and not in a touristy area, so it didn't feel great," she says. "We were exhausted from the flights and just wanted to drop our bags, so that was frustrating."
She had an international cell phone plan, so after 15 minutes of waiting for the owner,she called Airbnb customer service. An hour later, an Airbnb customer service agent finally offered to rebook them elsewhere. But with no other suitable Airbnb listings, Gumport declined the offer. Airbnb then offered to pay for two nights at a hotel.
"Airbnb didn't give any type of nightly cap on cost, and frankly the island didn't have a ton of options," she said. "We found a great hotel and sent Airbnb the receipt."
The two-night hotel stay came out to $443.50, and Gumport received a reimbursement from Airbnb to her bank account in a few days. Airbnb also refunded the $434.22 cost of her original five-night reservation.
As for the other three nights they were supposed to spend in Chios? Gumport took the opportunity to check out another Greek island, where she booked a last- minute stay.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR HOST DOESN'T SHOW UP
Gumport contacted Airbnb as soon as she realized her host wasn't there and says Airbnb appropriately compensated her for the inconvenience.
"Luckily, my friend and I have traveled so much that when things go wrong, we just quickly pivot and laugh it off," she said. "We stayed two nights in the other hotel, had a great time, then hopped on a ferry to Samos, Greece, for the rest of our trip."
But not all vacation rental companies have robust customer support, and not all will be as generous with compensation. Plus, not all travelers will be able to pivot like Gumport.
And it's not just vacation rental companies, like Airbnb or Vrbo, where ghosting is a risk. It's a challenge facing the ever-growing list of peer-to-peer travel platforms. That includes RV rental companies like Outdoorsy or RVshare, and rental car companies like Turo. There's also a boat equivalent called GetMyBoat.
Each company has its own set of policies to mitigate mishaps. Some immediately rebook the closest alternative, which can often entail an upgrade.
By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023
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