At the end of last year, we announced several updates outlining new policies to help address irrelevant and biased reviews, a topic many of you understandably have expressed concern about. Thank you for all the feedback you gave in response to this, I've been reading all your comments and additional ideas on what you would like us to focus on next.
Although only a few weeks have passed since then, your suggestions are already making a difference.
One feature we've just launched (yes! It is already live!!), is adding a prompt to the overall rating section of the review process for guests:
If a guest gives 5 stars for all subcategories ie. Cleanliness, Accuracy, but then selects 4-star as an overall rating, a prompt flagging this to the guest will appear.
It was 100% your comments in these threads that inspired us to ensure this work happened. Shoutout to our hosts who brought this to our attention: @Sarah977, @Paola4, @Susanna0, @Laura108, @LuisCarlos1, @Aaron79, @Mariana58, @Justo6, @Rodrigo569, @Elmari0, @Melodie-And-John0, @Dee51, @Brian1595, @Peggy137, @Heidi313, @Ela22, @David64, @Anne8553, @Keita5
Of course, there were many other suggestions given and this is just the beginning of our work to make improvements in this area. Please do continue to share your ideas across the Community Center and we look forward to providing you more updates throughout the year.
For anyone who missed the link to the article in my previous post - every host on the platform should still familiarise themselves with the new Vice story, with how Airbnb's review system is perceived by consumers, and in particular, with the company's official responses therein. (Once again, hosts who are "educating" their guests about the Airbnb review system, needs to be very, very careful)
Review Scams And Threats.
The ultimate goal for Airbnb hosts is to keep their five-star ratings, and, if possible, attain Superhost status, which, among other things, requires them to maintain at least a 4.8 overall rating. Anything less can impact the number of bookings they get, and there’s more than one guide on keeping ratings high the honest way
Somewhat frequently, hosts—even really, really bad ones—will seemingly ask up-front for a five-star review no matter what the stay was really like. Conti, for instance, got an odd request for a five-star review at the end of her disastrous stay in Chicago:
The last time I heard from Becky and Andrew, they sent me a strange message on Airbnb asking that I give them no less than a five-star review—since Airbnb had “changed its algorithm”—and that I communicate all concerns privately.
“I respectfully request that you let me know about any challenges you faced with my property directly on this message thread rather than write a 4 star review [sic],” they wrote.
Someone else who said they stayed at a “Becky and Andrew” property in Milwaukee said she received the same request from them: “After we checked out we also got a request to give a five star review, and handle disputes privately.”
That is one particularly ham-handed way to do things. But the people who wrote to us also experienced some of the other ways hosts attempt to keep reviews spotless. Some hosts demanded that guests who had bad experiences not review them, or else prevented them from doing so until the time window in which they could leave a review expired.
Getting a bad review hidden or pulled down entirely
Airbnb will hide or pull down reviews in certain situations—and, again, there are several guides available online for how hosts can get reviews pulled down, sometimes for good reason (if the guest never actually stayed there, for instance, or is clearly lying). But several people told us they felt that system had been weaponized against them, used to keep their accurate complaints hidden.
I recently left a fair, yet three star review on a host’s page, and then Airbnb took my review down saying it was "against their policy." Apparently, the host had completely fabricated a fake text conversation claiming I “extorted then for a refund in exchange for the promise of a good review” and sent a screenshot to Airbnb of the supposed text “thread.” After contacting their support to explain my situation, Airbnb claimed that they had done their due diligence of investigating and told me not to contact them anymore, case closed. - Location unspecified
Running out the clock
Several guests told us that as they tussled back and forth with hosts and Airbnb for a refund, the two weeks they had to review their stay expired, and they were unable to leave one. Guests are also unable to leave reviews if their stay was cancelled—even if it was cancelled because they arrived there, noted the house was actually, for instance, a trap house (another real email we received) and left immediately
I cancelled the booking within five minutes of arrival as not being what was on offer on their site. I got nothing in writing either. Airbnb refused to refund me pending an investigation and stalled and stalled. As a guest one only has 14 days to leave a review of a place. Between Airbnb and the host, they stalled until I was no longer able to leave a review. I also never got a refund. - Pretoria, South Africa
Airbnb says that in this specific instance, guests should leave a review while the dispute resolution is still happening:
“We encourage people to leave reviews, even if a dispute or mediation with a host is ongoing. Our double-blind review system ensures the review will not post or be visible to the host until the host also submits his or her review, or when the two-week window lapses. We send multiple email reminders during the two-week window to leave reviews, including right before the two weeks are up.”
This last one is less a “scam” and more just “flatly illegal.” A small number of people described getting threatening or abusive text messages after leaving a bad review:
I wrote a scathing review on the host's profile and the host replied with a ridiculous number of abusive Whatsapp voice messages, claiming to be Lithuanian mafia. - Lithuania
The integrity of our review system is paramount. We do not tolerate efforts to game the system, and hosts or guests attempting to do so are subject to consequences, including suspension or removal. If a guest is asked either to not leave a review, leave a false review, or feels that a host is engaging in extortion, they should flag immediately to our team so that we can take action. They can easily contact our Customer Support team about these issues through our app or the Help Center on our website.
We maintain a clear and strict review content policy, and the threshold to even consider removing a review is very high. Justifiable reasons for removal may include hate speech or extortion, for example. We want guests to see all reviews associated with listings -- both the good and the bad -- so that they can make informed booking decisions based on authentic experiences.
@Susan17Although I've tagged Susan, this reply isn't directed solely at Susan ....
I agree with much of what's been written about the unfairness of review systems and policies and terms, and that there are many scammers out there abusing the systems. I also note and agree with Susan's comments on hosts using AirBnB for business purposes, and how damaging AirBnB's policies etc can be.
We have a business. We own properties ourselves and we manage properties for other owners. AirBnB is one tool we use to generate bookings and income. We are very aware of the damage that bad guests and false or unfair reviews can cause. Sadly, there is little we can do to prevent bad guests booking and staying and even less we can do to prevent negative reviews, even when properties are top class.
And we see that all OTAs have issues / problems. None of them are perfect. Hosts are always lowest priority.
The vast majority of our guests are good. It's that tiny minority who cause the problems. It takes a lot of 5* reviews to negate the effects of that one unfair 2* review. That's not fair on us.
Being a business, we do rely to some extent on good reviews, but they are not the be all and end all. We don't measure business success by the number of 5* reviews we get, we measure it by income.
We list properties on AirBnB, TripAdvisor, HomeAway and Booking.com. AirBnB gives us around 12-15% of all of our bookings. About 40% of our bookings are direct through our website / social media. This lessens the effects of bad AirBnB guests and negative / unfair reviews. We still get bookings and income regardless of unfair AirBnB reviews.
We took on a new property last year, the first guest booked through AirBnB and gave us a (unfair) 4* review. We deleted the listing and created a new (identical) listing. Although that 4* still counts in our overall score, it doesn't count on the new listing - the new listing can therefore get the 5* reviews it deserves. It's a couple of hours work to recreate the listing, but we're in business and that's what we do.
That same guest asked this morning for a discount on another property - not a chance. If he books at full price, so be it, but he's certainly not getting a discount. We have done some special rates for guests who gave us amazing reviews last time, they are worth it.
A few days ago we had an enquiry from someone with back problems wanting to know what mattresses we have. Now we all know that guest comfort is subjective. We could have the most fantastic mattresses in the world, and one guest will say the bed was too soft, the next will say it was too hard, and the next will say it's the best night's sleep they've ever had. Yes, we've had that. But bad backs are a problem and we've also had a guest with a bad back who called us every day and "didn't like to complain, but" wanted us to change mattresses etc etc. We tried new mattresses, foam toppers, all sorts, but the guest just couldn't get comfortable and gave us a 3* review. So when this new potential guest asked about mattresses because of her bad back, we suggested she might prefer to find another host with a special mattress for her. No problem to us - someone else will book that week instead.
So .... the bottom line is, if you are an AirBnB as a business, act like a business. Don't stress about reviews, focus on making money. Sure you want guests to be happy and comfy - we do too - but don't stress about the reviews.
Business is about making money, not about whether you are a 4.7* or 4.8* host on AirBnB.
Just to be clear - in my own case, I've never (in ten years) received a bad review that I wanted or needed to have removed, never had to delete a listing because of poor reviews, and I absolutely refuse to buy into that star ratings nonsense, and never even look at mine these days. So I could just (wrongly) assume, "Ah well, it's not affecting me personally, so I'm alright, Jack"
However, when any review system causes as much angst, stress, anxiety, obsession, worry, anger, frustration, chaos and confusion as Airbnb's does, and directly results in such extreme and unwarranted loss of time, manpower and user earnings, then its clearly untrustworthy, unreliable and utterly unfit for purpose, and needs disbanding, and rebuilding from scratch.
And when the whole world starts talking about how scammy and easily manipulated a company's review system is, on foot of viral online articles and global media coverage (especially when the company itself relentlessly places so much emphasis on "trust"), then it really has to go, or at the very least, be subject to a complete overhaul. Because in the end, it damages all our reputations.
And yes, business is business. But there are fair, just, lawful and ethical ways of conducting business, that every company - large or small, multi-national or local - are expected to adhere to, and comply with.
hi.. thank you for the upgrade.. it was most refreshing and lighten the weight of host..
One suggestion, or may be gratitude..
I always question.. why guest naturally have to bully and made up stuff to get what they deserve.. I mean a mutual friendliness should be enough.. but is human nature..
I understand ..
but since January mid.. I notice the big difference in guest attitude toward host..
is it just at my accommodation or is it happening in general..
they were more timid and relax.. more understanding.. and all the demands was communicated in a polite and friendly attitude.. no extra made up stuff.. nor pressure.. I love to do it for what ever they need.. adjustment and etc..
by this kind of attitude it feel nice and appreciated.. it made me feel even comfortable to be part of the community..
thus I want to extend my deepest gratitude...
I am Jeffrey Bong ( Jeffrey Wilche Budiwarman)
Just an update below, with the responses received to the questions I asked of Airbnb earlier in this thread, in relation to false reviews/fake profiles/fraudulent hosts.
Just wanted to let you know that Airbnb has delayed my payout for 1 month and is giving me the run around.
Please check community center and search delay payout. It's not only me.
Laura, if you are an administrator please help us.
Disappointed with Airbnb.
This is all just lip service from Airbnb. We recently had an intensely stressful and upsetting experience where Airbnb gave us, and continues to give us, no support in what was a security breach of our home, with unauthorised people in our home (which we were alerted to by our neighbours). It was an incredibly stressful experience and is ongoing as Airbnb refuses to remove the false guest review with blatant lies and false statements, which can be proven as such by Airbnb communications and external security camera footage already provided to Airbnb.
(**Further detail of the situation is included further down*)
The guest had the audacity to leave a review rating us 1 star for everything (and overall), and stating falsely, amongst other things, that;
- we had yelled abuse at them (false - as proven by the external security camera vision we provided to Airbnb). We were calm at all times and had to ask the guest to lower their voice so as not to disturb neighbours
- that we threatened to call the police as soon as they had 'visitors' (false - we did not raise the matter of contacting police until the following day, many hours after their reservation had already been cancelled *by Airbnb*, it was late afternoon and they were still refusing to leave our home or communicate with us).
At all times we were simply calmly and kindly trying to maintain our clear ‘House Rules’, however the situation escalated solely due to the guests’ aggressive and rude behaviour and repeated breach of ‘House Rules’ when calmly reminded of our ‘house rules’, and being asked to have the unauthorised guests leave. Its also worth noting that the guests, prior to their breach of 'house rules' had, unprompted, complimented us on our 'beautiful home', and noted they were enjoying their stay.
Probably most upsettingly, the guest noted in their review that Airbnb had contacted them after the event to *apologise* to *them* for the experience. We didn't even receive a phone call from Airbnb to check if the guests had actually left our home, despite keeping Airbnb constantly informed as to the situation, and informing them that we had, ultimately, had to call police to assist us in having the guests leave.
I also had to enter into debate with Airbnb as to why we should not be out of pocket for the reservation cancellation when Airbnb wanted to refund the guest for the remaining days of their stay and deduct this from our payout!
The Airbnb representative has now simply told me that they cannot remove the review, case closed. Such a disappointing and stressful experience which has really left a bitter taste. Is this the way Airbnb supports their long-term hosts and stands by their own written policies regarding 'revenge reviews' and false, defamatory statements? A guest can delete their profile and start again any day they choose, with little loss. Airbnb expects that hosts must simply bear the long term impact of false reviews and revenge reviews.
We were notified by neighbours that our guest had unauthorised/ unknown people inside our building and home due to a noise disturbance coming from our home. Unauthorised guests/ visitors are contrary to our crystal clear House Rules, and very clear messages highlighting this policy to guests *before* we accept a reservation (we really just want every guest to be a good 'match' for our home and vice versa, so they enjoy their stay). After contact from the neighbour we checked our external security camera (clearly noted in our listing) and confirmed that there were unauthorised ppl inside our home. After being asked calmly and kindly (first via Airbnb msg (unanswered), then an attempted phone call (unanswered), and then, later, via our home intercom from the building doorstep) to have the unauthorised ppl leave our home, the guest came outside and yelled at us, told us they could have anyone they wanted in our home "because they paid for it", and again allowed unauthorised ppl back inside our home a second time later the same night. They then simply refused all communication. We were left in a position where confrontational guests with unknown unauthorised people were inside our own home and they were not communicating with us at all. I was in fear for the safety of my home, and my own safety should I try to speak to the guests again.
Airbnb "support" gave us little to no assistance, only agreeing to cancel the guest reservation the following morning, after a stressful, sleepless night and at least 4-5 (!!) phone calls to Airbnb in an attempt to get help/ assistance. We’ve been around the block enough to know that Airbnb would have offered even less support had we cancelled the reservation ourselves, despite having grounds to do so. Airbnb ultimately agreed to cancel the guests' stay, and then turned every assistance to the guest.
After Airbnb cancelled the reservation (and we gave the guests, under pressure from Airbnb’s ‘customer service’ person, until 1pm to depart our home) the guests refused, by written message, to leave until Airbnb found them alternative accomodation. Ultimately, at 3pm, we advised the (non-communicating) guests via Airbnb msg that we would have to call police to assist us with their removal as they had at that time been trespassing in our home for a number of hours and would not even answer the intercom. As a woman, I was not going to enter my own home to confront two combative male guests. We did in fact have to call the police, who were thankfully very understanding and helpful in ensuring the guests left our home.
...and I have had to re-post my comment above as it seems that it was deleted after I originally posted it earlier today