Several months ago my friends from Nebraska and I began planning our very first couples spring break trip; we were all pretty excited. We went back and forth with first discussing what vibe we wanted, and once we had decided on Miami (a city that none of us had been to) we began narrowing down the specifics in regard to lodging. I had never used airbnb, but had heard really good things, so we began our search for a 3-bedroom house with a private pool, nice patio furniture, and a grill. After an extensive search we finally found the perfect house. It was close to the beach, and fit all of our criteria. We paid months in advance and all we had left to do was wait!
Is this happening?
My husband, B, and I's flight was scheduled to leave Tuesday at 6:00am. At 10:00pm the night before, we were getting ready for bed, when I noticed that I'd just missed a call. I listened to my voicemail and heard the person on the other end reporting that they were canceling our reservation. B and I sat stunned staring at one another in silence for 30 solid seconds. He picked up the phone and immediately called the person back, no answer. So he called him again with no luck. We were able to find the Help section on Airbnb's website and found a number to speak to an actual person.
I'm here to help you, and I'm a trained professional
The first airbnb person promised that it was her job to help in situations like this. She said that she would assist us in re-booking a different place, and would soon be sending us an e-mail with directions and options. Forty minutes passed, and we had yet to receive anything, so we called back. It turned out that the first person that we spoke with had indeed not been searching for us, nor were they apparently planning to. B nearly lost it.
In response to my husband's terse tone, the next airbnb representative repeatedly stated, "I empathize with your situation sir, I am a trained professional, and I'm here to help you." She actually did send a list of alternative options, the only issue is that the majority of the options she sent only had 2 bedrooms. It was such a nightmare. We went to bed having had contacted several houses that appeared to be available. It was so late at that point though, that we didn't begin to hear back from these people until we were sitting in the airport during our layover the next day. We were disheartened when response after response came back saying "sorry we're actually book." To add insult to injury, our gracious trained airbnb professional that had helped us the night before was now no longer at work, and apparently once you have a "case manager" no body else in the universe can help you. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it involved multiple conversations with multiple airbnb customer service representatives, and listening to a lot of hold music.
Airbnb offered to increase the amount of money that we could spend for a house, but being 1 day before our stay in Miami over spring break, there were simply no houses available. We finally were able to book a three bedroom condo in downtown Miami. My friends and I were pretty disappointed that we weren't going to have the vacation that we had planned, and I was especially frustrated with how difficult it had been with the customer service representatives.
BUT THEN THEY MADE IT BETTER.
After we booked the condo, I sent an e-mail to our "caseworker" outlining what had taken place, and she responded right away. She was apparently under the impression that since we had contacted so many houses the night before, that we weren't going to have any issue with booking a house, and was very apologetic that this had taken place. They ended up offering to pay for a portion of a meal for our group in Miami, and additionally I had requested a (small) voucher to put towards a future vacation home, and they obliged. Although it was stressful, all-in-all I'm honestly pretty happy with how they ended up handling the situation. They went above and beyond to apologize for the poor customer service experience, and the stress that we had to go through when a vacation should be anything but.
But this one was pretty good...
We arrived several hours early to check-in to our condo, and the front desk work said, "Oh you must be so very lucky! Your place is ready for you!" I laughed out loud, and responded, "Yes. I am very lucky."
The location actually ended up working out quite well. It was walking distance to a lot of restaurants, and about a 20 minute drive to some really nice beaches.. which we discovered AFTER first going to the closest beach which smelled exactly like a septic pond.
So maybe we didn't have a private pool, but the condo's pool was never too crowded. The condo also had a fitness center and a hot tub, and enough pots/pans in the kitchen to enjoy one really nice meal at home in which our friends cooked the best spicy spaghetti sauce I have ever had.
We also had a fantastic meal at Tamarina (600 Brickell Ave), it had the coolest lighting and decor. The food was really good and somehow sitting outside with no jacket next to a palm tree made it just that much better.
Quality Time With Quality People
This was the first time that B and I have ever taken a trip with friends, and it was such a wonderful experience. It was finally really good timing for all of us. None of us have children yet, and we are all done with graduate school and also finally have grown up jobs and can afford a decent vacation. We enjoyed beautiful weather in which everyone got perfect cinnamon tans (and I turned blotches of pink, and then white again). We laughed so hard, and it felt amazing to spend time with the people we've missed so much. It just reiterated to me that I will always choose to spend my hard earned money on quality experiences with quality people over anything else.
Speaking of Hard Earned Money
Even though the situation was stressful at first, airbnb more than rectified the situation, and our rental experience ended up being pretty flawless. If you are planning a vacation of your own, and have yet to check out the numerous and varied vacation rentals at airbnb, click below for $25 off! I've check with others who have used airbnb, and none have had experiences like ours.