You asked: Can Airbnb protect hosts from one-off bad reviews?
Reviews are so important. They not only impact the success of your business, they’re also really personal. We know you put a lot of thought and care into your hospitality and that it’s frustrating when you receive a review that’s uncharacteristically low—be it a mistake, a misunderstanding, or an unfair assessment. You’ve raised concerns about this, and we want you to know that we hear you and we’re taking this issue really seriously. We’ve invested and will continue to invest a lot of thought and effort into how we can make the review system more fair.
The good news is, we’re already making a lot of progress. Here are some updates we can share with you now, below, and we’re committed to keeping you in the loop as we roll out more changes.
A tool to detect outlier reviews
At the last Host Q&A, in June, 2018, we said, specifically, that we’d look into outlier reviews. To be clear, one-off low reviews can be considered outliers when a host has otherwise great review scores, but a single guest leaves a bad rating that seems out of place. Here’s a solution we’ve come up with: We’re working on building new tools that will automatically detect when outlier reviews like this occur— and give us an opportunity to correct them. So let’s say a guest gives you five stars for cleanliness, accuracy, check in, and so on— for each of the sub categories— but then a two-star rating overall. The new tool will flag this and prompt the guest to correct the overall rating. We’re developing this new tool now, and you can expect to see it soon.
Research into how those reviews affect Superhost status
In addition, we’re doing research to see how a single outlier review can impact a host’s ability to gain or retain Superhost status. The ultimate goal is to find ways to make outliers less impactful for terrific hosts and to make sure the review system is fair.
Location, location, location
Finally, we’re looking at the Location rating and how that can affect a host’s standing. It’s worth noting that Location isn’t used in calculating a host’s overall rating. But you’ve told us that you’re frustrated when you get a low rating in this category since where your home is located is out of your control. And we hear that.
This is a tricky one. It’s a hard concern to address because judging the quality of a home’s location is so subjective. Some guests may love that your space is off the beaten path; others might be disappointed it’s not closer to public transit. We’re doing a lot of research into how we can continue giving travelers the information they need and want when they’re making booking decisions and, at the same time, make sure hosts aren’t affected by something that’s out of their control.
So we’re looking into new ways to collect and highlight guest impressions of your home’s location information. While we don’t have a concrete announcement on this yet, you can expect to hear more details soon, perhaps at the next Host Q&A. In the meantime, please know we’re working on this. Keep sending us your feedback on how we can make the review system as fair as possible.
View this and other answers from the Host Q&A here.
1. I would also suggest that Airbnb take account of the number of stars the guests have given other hosts in the past. Some guests just don’t give 5 star reviews no matter what. That should be weighted in the algorithm for host reviews and a correction should apply for this.
2. I commented on this previously and I am doing so again. AIRbnb needs to rate guests. For example there are guests who will be very critical of a property only because they want a big discount and they will threaten their host with a bad review. Hosts should not be exposed to this and if guests were rated by hosts and these ratings were made visible to hosts this would protect hosts. This is important and I believe hosts need this. A guest informed me recently that my taps were old fashioned and I should have modern ones. She photographed dust and magnified the pictures and told me she wanted a refund which I gave her as I did not want a bad rating. I bet I was not the only host who experienced this with this guest.
I bet I was not the only host who experienced this with a guest.
We have just had one of our listing ratings seriously impacted on together with our reputation after receiving a promissed one star review for disallowing a 'guest' to have a visitor for a sleepover.
This tendancy for using reviews as a weapon against the host are the new platform norm and we also believe hosts are now excluded form the resolution centre like us being in fear of receiving another bogus review that will leed to listing suspension?
Perhaps the time has come for class action to claim compensation for the many hosts with tarnished reputations and then perhaps we all will receive the necessary funds to convert our houses into Botique Hotels and to live happily ever after?
You can't take class action against Airbnb. You can't even take them to court. You gave up your rights to do so by checking the "I agree to the T&Cs" box.
We could not find reference to the Terms of Service document on the platform and had to search with Google to find a copy and have just read the Terms of Service again.
Unfortunatly we have to agree with you, Litigation is totally out of the question.
Wow. I was actually thinking of de-listing because I got a really bad review. I was devastated. My roommate helped me answer all the points in that review, mostly because she thought the review was thoroughly unfair (and I was in no frame of mind to answer the woman back myself). My roommate thinks that if I cannot handle/ignore bad reviews, I shouldn't do Airbnb. I have seen several ways of dealing with poor reviews. We just thought it best to address what we can and let it go. So... what I've read here actually helps me feel a bit better... actually, a lot better... except that up until now, I've tied myself into knots, trying to make guests comfortable and happy. But weaponizing reviews?? I can't even fathom... I can't function like that. And I have a GREAT location, too... for the bit of space I offer. Well, I will try to hang in there. Y'all are tough. I need to read on the Community more often. There is a LOT to learn here.
Location is indeed subjective. A guest last week reviewed my studio as small so a ding for location . Yet the following night another guest reviewed it as spacious. If this is all dependent on how they compare it to their own homes. It’s crazy!
I believe you are right in what you say Ria as my property is 7kms out of the town. I give a clear description of this in my listing, I state we are surrounded by bushland, I use landmarks and street signs, the google maps to my house is very accurate, but one person who didn't follow the instructions and said it was hard to find and has an incorrect address has stated this in the review and has affected my rating. Its very frustrating and I am not sure what else I can do to please everyone.
@Veronica440 You can't please everyone, you'd go insane trying. But you can leave a response to a guest review- keep it brief, professional and unemotional. " I'm sorry XXX had difficulty finding my place, but clear directions were given which unfortunately were not followed."
This is exactly what I got help, responding to a guest! I was told I had to '... be the adult in the room...' I laughed, but actually, not so funny. Anyway, I can only hit 'thumb up' once, but if I could, I'd hit it about 8 times (for all the people who told me to let it go, that my Bunkhouse is a lot better than what was written, including my mom who said some other stuff, but I can't write it).
I had the same problem. I warn my guests that GPS will bring them to the entrance from the regional road and send them GPS coordinates form the courtyard entrance, two pages of description with photos how to come to the courtyard where they can park, but still some of them complain that it is hard to find.....
Veronica, you live in one of the most beautiful locations. We took guests to Cervantes recently after visiting the Pinnacles and they were delighted with a free dolphin display and surprised how big the fishing and mining industries are in WA.
However, even though we are in the suburbs, guests got lost recently using their GPS and arrived late despite clear instructions to follow from the airport. They gave us a 4 for location, as we had the wrong address on Airbnb!
@Airbnb The location rating isn't "tricky". Airbnb just needs to remove this category rating completely. There is nothing else Airbnb needs to do re dealing with this. Hosts are quite clear in their listing descriptions as to how far their place is from the center of town, the beach, public transport, etc. If the guest fails to read the listing description to ascertain whether it will be suitable for them, and neglects to message the host before they book to ask questions re location, it shouldn't be the host's, nor Airbnb's problem. Guests need to take some responsibility for reading the details of the places they book, not just look at the photos and the price.
But I am very pleased to hear that Airbnb is looking at removing outlier reviews. This is long overdue. But it seems to me that this problem has not been looked at on its fundamental level. The review ratings have to look the same to guests as they do to hosts. Telling guests that a 4* review indicates that the accommodation was better than expected, and then turning around and considering a 4* review to be grounds for removal from the platform for hosts is insane. My guests have been shocked and outraged that Airbnb would lead them to believe that a 4* review is fine, when hosts can be delisted for that. They feel tricked and lied to by Airbnb.
I recently had a guest (who's also a host) who conjured up a bogus reason to leave my 5 Star Lakefront Private Guest Suite about 4 hours after she arrived. (Another one who didn't READ the description) She was correctly refunded 50% of her payment per my Moderate cancellation policy. In her review, she gave me 5 stars for all categories, yet 3 stars overall and STATED in her public review that she 'was angry because the host refused to refund her money.' I had to state in MY public response that she LIED and actually WAS paid per the cancellation policy in our contracted mutual agreement. (Her own listing has a STRICT policy, refunding NOTHING in a similar case.) She had immediately opened a Resolution Center case for the rest of her money, which I denied. I was SURE AirBnB would remove her review since it was a blatant LIE, but so far, I've been denied. It's been refused because 'that was her experience'. An obvious LIE should not be allowed!! A 3 Star review should NOT be allowed based on STATED anger against a host who honors an AGREED cancellation policy as contracted. The content policy states reviews should NOT contain info about a Resolution Center complaint. Why are these policies NOT upheld?? What does a host need to do to be treated fairly and the policies applied appropriately?? Why have a policy if it's not going to be applied?? I've never understood complaints about Support in the past, but now I do.... I'm a repeat SuperHost, and if I'm not being treated fairly, who is??
I’ve had a similar experience.
A guest-who changes their mind and cancels a booking post checkin time, and then accuses the host of not refunding them in the review!
My reply was removed coz I clarified she was refunded as per cancellation policy & resolution done via Airbnb. (Coz I referred to an Airbnb investigation)
Apparently it’s ok for guest to talk about refund but not for host to clarify! Outrageous!!