Agreed: Airbnb's rating system kinda sucks.

Status changed to: New

As a HOST: Every time I sign onto my dashboard I'm greeted with the warning that "You’re at risk - Your account could be suspended if you don’t focus on improving to meet Airbnb hosting standards."

I know of no other realWorld system in which a score of 4.5-out-of-5.0 (i.e. "90% positive") is the cutoff point for threatening someone with suspension. Do you?



* airbnb's rating system is a mystery to all of us
* airbnb claims that they have "hosting standards", but nowhere are they defined in terms of the rating system on which they're supposedly based, so ...
* those who do the rating don't know to determine the value or implications of airbnb's 1-2-3-4-5 rating


Most of us in the realWorld reasonably assume that a 4-star rating is 'pretty darned good'. Only in airbnb's fantasyWorld is a 4-star rating the basis for suspension.


Okey dokey. Let's make the rating system simple:

  1. Unacceptible
  2. Needs improvement
  3. What I expected
  4. Nice
  5. Excellent




The baseline (3) is "What I expected"


Below that (1, 2) is the basis for finger-wagging


Above that (4, 5) is the basis for reward


Transparency : Label-the-Table

The ratings have meaning

and implications

and they're unambiguous

to everyone


Now you've actually crowdsourced some Wisdom

rather than just collecting numbers


My stuff: 

Case Studies, etc
the UX Craft
the Ideas Blog



Kraków, Poland
Level 10



Your just wasting your time Airbnb is not run by the force in run by Darth Vader and they never listen.

Berlin, Germany
Level 10

Absolutely agree, @John784 . There is no consistency between how Airbnb present the star ratings to guests and how they portray the ratings to hosts. A 4-star rating is "very good," and yet we are punished for receiving them. Unless they can somehow get all parties involved on the same page about precisely what those numbers mean, they are meaningless garbage data.


I also agree that there should be greater clarity about "hosting standards" on both sides of the equation, as this vague notion seems to be particularly problematic for hosts offering low-cost/budget listings. There will aways be people who forget to scale their expectations to our offering and price rather than measure them against 5-star resorts. 


Airbnb should certainly take measures to ensure hosts (especially new and untested ones) are providing everything they advertise, but arbitrary star ratings don't supply the data necessary to verify this.  Rather, a quick questionnaire to a sample of guests would have far more value. Something like:


"Did the host provide all the amenities advertised in the listing?" (Accuracy)

"Were you provided with clean linens and sanitary facilities?" (Cleanliness)

"Did your host uphold your agreed check-in procedure?" (Check-in)

"Was the property located in the place it appears in the listing?" (Location)

"Was there a contact available at all times to address your questions and needs?" (Communication)

"Would you recommend this property?" (Overall)


(I would nix Value altogether, as if the guest doesn't find the price acceptable they shouldn't book the place to begin with)


If considered objectively, all of these criteria are better addressed with yes/no questions than star ratings.

Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ
Level 5
Many excellent points, @Andrew0. As per @Cormac0's observation: I'd be more confident if I ever saw a response from Airbnb itself to these wise crowdsourced insights from experienced hosts. Their recent 'town hall' video of answers-to-cherry-picked-questions was well-intentioned but inadequate.
Silver Spring, MD
Level 2

I agree with you all.  The rating system is etremely vague and not defined.   I think Airbnb needs to modify the questions for the guests so that every Airbnb host has a shot at an excellent review. There was an Airbnb guest who recieved a bad rating from a guest in which there was a I recall a McDonald's bag tossed in the street by someone walking in transit to the subway and the guests rated the Airbnb host based off of that instead of the actual hosting experience.  Something the host was not responsible for....

New York, United States
Level 10

The point here is are we making money yes , what kind of services are we giving some thing to think about we can not I say it again we can not please everyone,and everybody,and everything else you know what I mean Airbnb is aware of all of this 

Vancouver, Canada
Level 2


All of my 4 star guests left fabulous reviews saying how much they loved my place.

Then why 4 star?

Because to many people 4 out 5 means great!

The rating system is the No. 1 prioritized thing that airbnb needs to change!

Panajachel, Guatemala
Level 2

I totally agree. I have lost a listing twice now due to 3 star ratings. All as a result of guest not reading the listing - the house was too the title it says 5 bed house!? Or, too many people and dogs on the beach...the house is beach we have control of who uses the beach?! When I brought up these points with AirBnB....this involved at least 4 or 5 telephone conversations of nearly an hour each, they refused to take this into consideration!?

I just had 12 people turn up for a booking for 5 in a house that has a max. of 10. We agreed if they paid for the extras...listing clearly states extra charge for over 6 guests.....the guest refused to pay full amount....AirBnB steps in and ends up paying $100? No doubt he will give a bad review and I will be at risk of losing the listing yet again?! 

AirBnB has unfortunately become very bias towards the traveller, giving us the hosts, very little credit, when in fact they would be without a business where it not for the inventory we give them!?

Sadly, I know I am banging my head against a brick wall!

Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ
Level 5
Sorry to hear about your situation, @Francesca0 - especially since you've lost business as a result and airbnb is unwilling/incapable of dealing with it. Airbnb wants to appear to be 'a crowdsourced platform', but does not back it up with actual (necessary) CURATION. Okay, so - in practical terms - That's an expensive proposition. But it still needs doing. As a usability design professional (30+ years, 100+ clients), I have some research creds and am a pretty good hand at coming up with viable solutions. Both of those things are valuable in the flawed airbnb environment. Now all we need to do is agree on a price. By all indications: Not immediately likely. In the meantime, we'll just continue the frustrating bitchfest here, I guess. Net/Net: It doesn't get better until it gets worse.
Braunston, United Kingdom
Level 3

I am very tired of the rediculous rating system.  Hosts are expected to provide 5 star service (with many guests expecting you on call 24hrs!).  At the same time we are continually pushed by airbnb to reduce our prices to a level that is not remotely profitable.    I have had a super host rating for almost 2 years, yet my properties can often not even be found in the listings.


Over the 2 years of hosting I have found that guests are becoming increasingly high maintenance, with ever higher expectations  (leaving damage, leaving a mess, drawing on the sofa, throwing up, spilling food and drink all over the white walls, squashing mosquitos on the walls,  rudeness, calling up at rediculous hours because they can't operate the tv, helping themselves to things from my private garden, nosing around private property that has noting to do with the property they have rented etc).  Meanwhile many are completely unreasonable in their reviews (e.g the place is dusty, after they have had 10 people (with 2 dogs)  for lunch who didnt take their shoes off).  


If I get dropped from the listing I will not come back to airbnb as I strongly feel that they do not look after their hosts. At some point they may actually realise that you can not operate this business if you do not look after hosts as well as guests. 



Kimberley, Canada
Level 10

I think that 4 stars is perfectly acceptable, not something to get that warnig for.
They need to revamp the whole rating system.

Guests don't understand it and then rate for things beyond a host's control. Location should NEVER be something to be rated. Location is given in the listing and on the map on the listing page. That should be enough.
I got dinged by a guest for location because they somehow thought we were a 5 minute walk from the ski hill, despite my listing clearly stating we are 5 minute DRIVE away and despite the location being correct in the listing and on the map. It is VERY CLEAR that we are not on the mountain or that close to the hill. Totally NOT cool!

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