We've all had the gut wrenching feeling after receiving a positive written review, 5 stars in all the sub categories..but then a 3 star overall. Since the Overall is all that really matters to our ranking and superhost status as hosts, it's critical that we receive fair and justified feedback from guests. But, I've had multiple guests leave glowing reviews with absolutely no complaints (in fact, one guest described the place as "perfect"), then an unexplained 3 star overall.
When I've reached out to Airbnb Support to argue my case, I'm basically ignored and given blanket answers about how they can't change reviews until I give up. Maybe if enough of us complain, Airbnb will finally do something about their flawed star system. Let's let Airbnb know that their hosts, the ones that helped build this company, need to be treated fairly when it comes to their review process.
@Emily1166 The "Overall" score is rated separately from the individual categories. If the users submits an rating for the Overall score but does not assign any values to the individual categories, the unmarked categories are automatically saved as 5 stars.
Another thing that happens is that guests mark down in the Overall but actually do give 5 stars in the other categories, because the issue they had was something other than location, cleanliness, accuracy etc. For example, they found the beds or the temperature uncomfortable. On these points you rely on the verbal feedback; best not to fixate to much on the relatively abritrary star ratings.
It's pointless to try and get Airbnb involved here; they remove reviews that violate the content policy but they're not going to revise a star rating just because the recipient feels it should have been different. Read through every post on the matter and you'll quickly see that every host in the history of hosting has always felt that they deserved 5 stars in every category for every booking, and that anything else was unfair or false. And sometimes they are! Exactly why they're not worth losing sleep over.
Thank you for the information. I was not aware that if a guest does not leave a star rating, then it automatically shows 5 stars. If this is the case, Airbnb should not let the person complete their review until they actually take the time to complete the entire review.
I am not complaining about getting a low star rating. If the guest gives me a good reason for their review, I will certainly do everything possible to make sure the next time they stay they have a better experience. For example, I had a couple of guests in a row make comments about the mattress, so I immediately went and bought a brand new mattress. This is how the review system should work...there is an issue, a person mentions it in the review, the host resolves the issue.
When a guest leaves all positive feedback and they even say the place was perfect, but then leave a 3 star review, I have no idea what I need to do better.
But you're right, it's not worth losing sleep over. Thanks!
@Emily1166 Personally I do not think a star-rating system for something as nuanced and personal as hospitality can possibly be fair, no matter how it's retooled. That's not to say it can't be improved, but as they say, when you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig.
There are a lot of things I would do differently if it were up to me - for starters, I'd ditch the 5-point rating scale in favor of binary questions to verify that the listing accurately represented the experience. The thumbs up/down binary is the only quantitative feature I'd make visible to guests, so the focal point would be the text reviews. For guests, I'd add a more comprehensive set of filters to account for the differences between their options, rather than pretend they can make a helpful distinction based on star icons.
Airbnb has absolutely zero intention of overhauling the system, and as @Huma0 says it's long been aware that most hosts hate it. Let's not lose sight of the fact that from Silicon Valley's perspective, the anxiety caused by ratings metrics is a feature, not a bug. That's how they get into your head to modify your behavior.
@Andrew0 is correct. Just because the ratings look like the guest left you five stars in every category, that doesn't mean they did. As it's optional, a lot of guests don't bother scoring the individual categories and, when that happens, the categories will show up as 5 stars. Although @Andrew0 's second explanation is also possible in some cases, it's more likely that the guest who gave you 3 stars overall did not give you 5 stars in every category. See here for more detail: https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Hosting/The-General-Confusion-About-Star-Ratings/m-p/866168
Customer services will not remove a review (and therefore the accompanying ratings) unless they are in violation of the content policy, otherwise, what is the point in having a review system? Annoying as it is when a guest tells you everything was 'perfect' and then leaves you a less than perfect rating, it's their choice to do so, just as it's your choice mark down a guest when you review them. I sometimes leave a glowing review for a guest because, overall, they were great guests and I don't want to put something negative in the review, but I'm only going to give them four for cleanliness because they were simply not that clean. That's my prerogative and if a guest marks me down for cleanliness because it was not up to their standards, that's their prerogative.
Despite that, I agree that the review system is deeply flawed. The main issue though is that Airbnb tells guests that 3 stars = good and 4 stars = very good, but tells hosts they have to get 5 stars all, or almost all of time. That's what really needs to be fixed, but Airbnb knows hosts disagree with this and don't appear to have any intention of making it fairer.
You say 'Maybe if enough of us complain, Airbnb will finally do something about their flawed star system. Let's let Airbnb know that their hosts, the ones that helped build this company, need to be treated fairly when it comes to their review process.'
Sorry to disappoint you, but many hosts have been complaining about this for years (just do a search on this community and you will see hundreds, if not thousands, of posts on the subject). As far as I am aware, the only change Airbnb has announced in response to this feedback, is to introduce a system to detect 'outlier' reviews, e.g. if a guest leaves 5 stars in each category but 1 or 2 stars overall. This will not help if the guest leaves 1 or 2 stars overall but didn't mark the individual categories.
See here for more information: https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Airbnb-Updates/Making-reviews-more-fair-for-hosts/m-p/958608
Thank you for the information! I know it's a long shot to ask Airbnb to improve their system, but I figured that's what their feedback system is for. I doubt anything will change, as Airbnb does not seem to have the host's success factored into their business model.
Sorry, perhaps that part of my response wasn't too constructive!
Yes, of course we should all continue to group together to demand improvement to the review system. It takes a lot of noise over a long period to get tiny changes made, but some changes do get made.
However, one thing they are not going to do is to remove reviews just because the host thinks the review is unfair. It may very well be unfair, but how do they judge whether the host or the guest is in the right? It needs to be pretty clear cut.
Once upon a time, it was possible to have an unfair review removed if you could prove that the guest was lying (via the correspondence etc.), e.g. a retaliatory review where a guest had caused damages and then turned nasty, but those days are long gone. Airbnb has tightened up its restrictions on having reviews removed, so I am afraid it would be a waste of time fighting that particular battle.
CS seems to have adopted a standard response to hosts that contact them saying a review is unfair or untrue. They will simply state that it's the "guest's experience" and that it does not violate their content policy. It doesn't matter if you can prove the guest is lying. Lying is not against the content policy!
@Emily1166 I would suggest that had you done a search on this forum before posting this, you would have seen that there have been many, many threads about this issue, with hundreds of posts talking about this and asking Airbnb to make the rating system more fair. It's not like you've come up with some new idea. Airbnb has pointedly ignored the huge and ongoing feedback about this issue- they don't care and obviously aren't interseted in changing it..
Emily, as @Sarah977 says this is a longstanding 'chestnut' and it has come about because of Airbnb's total lack of ability to problem search! There isn't a 'cause and effect' department that irons out the ramifications of programmers decisions!
I have used this illustration before but, might as well take it for another run around the block.....there are a lot of new users who are not aware of this.
Airbnb, during the review essentially tell the guest to leave a 3 star overall review if they were satisfied with their stay!
Step one is to give the host an overall stay rating....
The guests initial reaction is most likely going to be..."Yeah everything seemed okay, nothing went wrong, we didn't have anything to complain about", and they will be tempted to give a 4 or a 5.
Then they get to tick what was good about the place, 'sparkling clean, 'great communication', 'quick responses' and so on.
Step three follows, and this is where the guest starts to double think his/her decision!
All of a sudden the guest links these five responses with those five different overall star options.
Airbnb tell the guest that a 3 star rating means the placed lived up to expectations.....it wasn't the Taj Mahal, but it was ok....it was 'about the same as I expected'.
So that is what they check, and they then hit the back button, go back to Step One and amend that rating to a three star overall.
They think they are doing the right thing and being constructive with their review.
So Emily, don't blame the guest....they are doing precisely what Airbnb are instructing them to do.
And don't think we haven't made a song and dance to Airbnb about this, we have....many times.
But Airbnb have bigger fish to fry than concern themselves about hosts ratings...complaining will not do you any good. They say they listen to their partners....but in reality, they don't!
Don't worry Emily, many guests don't see overall as the average as you are doing. They see it like a school report where few will get 5 and fewer and average of 5. However, it's okay to let guests know we need them to do the report and that 5 is great. We have had discussions with guests and they were surprised that we needed 5s to continue as super hosts. So they should allocate 5 unless there was something wrong. However, it's the average of all your guests that matters. So have the cleanest property, be the most gracious, host you can be to ensure your guest has the best stay possible and fix problems before or when they occur. Keep smiling, laugh when it's funny and best guest your guests' needs.
When I asked a couple of people why they had marked down certain aspects as I was genuinely concerned, the answer I got was the same in both cases: they wrote the review on a moving train and had intended giving 5 stars!!! Perhaps an option for guests to amend their reviews in such circs? Haha, I know, it'll never happen. 😞
@Emily1166 , welcome to the community! The 5 star system is vestigial, from the days when AAA, BBB, Zagat and other refined/ defined judges, juries and executioners had very stringent methods of assigning star ratings that were nearly reliable. Back then, staying at a 3 star place wasnt the worst or the best, it was a good stay but unremarkable, everything else was above or below Good, the bar was set near the middle of the scale where it belongs.
To be fair and genuine, there is no reason I or anyone should believe Bearpath Lodging's nearly 5*s after hundreds of ratings equals The Hilton Astoria's same rating with millions. Thats an insane comparison that makes no sense but guests, hosts and Airbnb somehow think it should be. Understanding it wont likely change any time soon is the first step to caring less about it! Stay well, JR