Here’s a message we received when we first woke up this morning from a prospective Airbnb Guest:
Hey! I am a traveling model and Ill be in NYC the 14th through the 19th. Im interested in booking your room for the time but the thing is I get in super late (like 1-2 AM) the evening between the 14th/15th, and I have two male safety escorts who would be with me as well. I was wondering if it was still possible to book the room.
Do you see anything wrong with that? I probably wouldn’t have either if I hadn’t read numerous stories online recently of Airbnb hosts getting the surprise of their lives when they discover one of their guests is prostituting right in their own home!
We live in New York and there are thousands of models all over the place. Yet, I’ve never heard a single real model ever refer to herself as a “traveling model”! Of course they travel! If they work – they travel. They have to. A real model will work in New York for a while, then London, Paris, Tokyo, Milan… wherever. If they’re working, they’re traveling.
Even celebrity super models don’t usually have bodyguards so what in the world would a “traveling model” from Ohio, who no one has ever heard of, need with two male “safety” escorts?
In a business where there’s no telling who may be staying in your home, why would a girl use the phrase “two male safety escorts” in her first message to us? I guess she didn’t realize what images the word “escort” might conjure up. Not to mention that if you’re living such a dangerous lifestyle that you need “male safety escorts” – two no less – then I don’t think I want you staying in my home! It seems far more likely to me that a prostitute would need “two male safety escorts” than a model would.
Maybe she didn’t know, but it’s all over the internet. Prostitutes and pimps have been booking Airbnb places to hang out for a while to ply their trade. With hosts being increasingly cautious about who they rent to, this sure looks like it has the potential to be something like that. I mean, don’t use the phrase “two male escorts” if you don’t want to leave (possibly the false) impression that you may be a prostitute. And for goodness sakes – fill out your darn profile! Here’s her absolutely blank profile:
It says absolutely nothing – so we have nothing to go on. When a guest fills out their profile and writes something about themselves, often times they’ll give clues that hosts can pick up on to decide whether or not they believe it would be safe and wise to have them in their homes. But when a guest says absolutely nothing – it leaves a lot to the imagination.
And you gotta love the way many guests think it’s okay to just submit an email address and phone number for verification. What shady character can’t get a free gmail address and a phone number? Erica here has an email address, a phone number and a Facebook page! Wow! She must be an upstanding citizen. Unfortunately, the fact that a potential guest has an email address and a phone, tells us absolutely nothing about them. And at a time when more and more hosts are being victimized by shady characters who want to use their homes for illegal activities, an email address and a phone number are just not quiet enough to convince the skeptical.
Airbnb has a category called “Offline ID” and it may say “Driver’s License” or “Passport” or something like that. If a guest has some form of offline ID verified, that goes a lot further than having a free gmail account, a possible internet/Skype type phone number and a Facebook page, in making us feel safe about hosting you.
Unfortunately for us, this request came in for a week and a half in January. January being a very difficult month to book in these parts. But I declined the offer. I can’t even imagine what a nightmare it would be for us if a prostitute did show up on our doorstep – with two male escorts! Not worth the risk.
A word of advice to young traveling models – don’t use the phrase “two male escorts” when you write to a host. And write something about yourself on your profile page. We’re very good at sizing up a person by how and what they write about themselves. If you leave it blank though – it just opens the doors for our imaginations to run wild.