Wilmington couple left without a wedding venue; Airbnb says it was a mistake

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 7:06 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Tracy Sisk and Sean Peterson got engaged last year and knew they wanted to have their wedding on the beach.

Knowing Wrightsville Beach is a popular vacation spot, they went ahead and booked an oceanfront house through Airbnb for an August wedding. They booked the house in October of 2020.

Months went by and Sisk still hadn’t heard from the Airbnb host after sending multiple emails, asking about things like parking.

“I got a little bit weary because I had asked the host a few questions and they hadn’t contacted me back, so I decided to look into it more,” said Sisk. “And when I did, I really got the feeling that it was a fraudulent post, even though it was listed as a verified host. So at that point, I reached out to Airbnb.”

After a few messages back and forth, Airbnb told Sisk that the listing was fraudulent and they were refunding her money.

About a week later, Sisk got her money back, but she was still without a wedding venue.

Airbnb said that the home owners used to be Airbnb hosts, but they hadn’t hosted anyone since 2015, and somehow the house was still listed on Airbnb’s website. The listing has since been taken down, after Airbnb noticed that the host had multiple messages that hadn’t been responded to.

In a statement Airbnb said, “We ask hosts to keep their account and listing up-to-date. It is extremely rare for a host to stop hosting and forget to deactivate their listing or close their calendars.”

While the listing itself looked legitimate, there are some red flags that guests can look for in a situation like this.

Airbnb gave tips on how to avoid these kinds of situations:

  • Communicate with the host prior to booking. If the host isn’t responding, let Airbnb Support know so they can look into the problem.
  • Read reviews and check the dates on those reviews.
  • Never pay for your booking outside Airbnb. If a host wants you to pay or communicate offsite, let Airbnb Support know.

Now, Sisk is warning others so they don’t get caught in a similar situation.

“I highly suggest people just really look into where they’re booking, what they’re paying for, who owns the property.”

Sisk and Peterson were able to secure another venue for their original wedding date, but it’s three times more expensive than their original plan — forcing them to have their dream wedding without the vendors they had originally booked for things like food and music.

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