A bad Airbnb mattress

July 18, 2021

When I arrived in an Airbnb in Izmir in Turkey about a week ago, my girlfriend and I quickly discovered a problem: the mattress felt like a sinkhole. Sleeping was very uncomfortable, since the middle of the mattress became like a mountain valley, so we rolled towards each other. We love to be around each other, of course, but try sleeping with a rolling sensation—it’s tough!

We had two options:

  1. Leave a bad review when leaving the Airbnb, telling the hosts the mattress sucks and that they should replace it.
  2. Tell the hosts immediately and see what they can do.

Some background here: I’m Dutch and we Dutchies love to be direct. When we have something on our mind, we’ll tell you. That can make Dutch people seem rude, which is sometimes, but not always, a justified impression. My girlfriend, though, is Turkish, and Turkish people handle communication very differently. (On average, of course!)

From what I’ve seen over the past few years, Turkish people are much more polite than Dutch people and also tend to avoid conflict. They might not express their discomfort, instead waiting for a moment later to somehow signal their displeasure. That’s not my style of communication, but I can appreciate the advantages of doing things that way.

In the Airbnb, I couldn’t resist the direct approach. We messaged our hosts about the mattress, very politely. And it paid off! Within a few hours, the hosts showed up with a brand-new mattress. They literally went out and bought a new mattress, dragged it up five flights of stairs, and came and installed it on the bed. While they were at it, they reinforced the bedframe. Talk about service!

To top it all off, they also bought and brought over some fancy new towels, after I mentioned that the existing towels left cotton balls all over our skin. (I promise, I’m not one of those traveling nitpickers!)

Needless to say, I gave the hosts a five-star review on Airbnb.com after our stay.

Now think about when you recently wanted to give someone feedback. How did you handle it? Did you express your thoughts? Was it well-received? If not, could you have handled things better?

And what about the other way around? How open to feedback are you? Do you communicate to people that you love to get better and that you want to hear what they have to say?

There’s no growth without feedback!

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