I’ve got a return guest who has become a friend of mine - I’ll refer to her as A.
A stayed with a host in Paris for a few days and due to some issues with cleanliness thought that the listing deserved a four star rating. She explained the reasons for her rating to the host in private feedback, but concentrated on the positives in the public review.
The host replied and thanked her for her four star rating. A uses a Airbnb a lot when travelling for work, but since this happened has constantly being declined by hosts she hasn’t stayed with before. She believes that the previous host knew this would happen, and did this out of spite.
Now Airbnb do not allow prospective hosts to see the actual star ratings that guests have given previous hosts, just their comments. A is asking me if hosts are allowed to mention the rating that a guest has given to them, when replying to their reviews.
Just to add, A is a great guest. She is upfront without being rude, and has never caused me a problem.
@Jane563 There very well may have been good reasons why A gave a 4 star rating, I would surely never rehost anyone who gave me a 4 star rating, since thanks to airbnb's system, anything less than 5 stars is the kiss of death, and if I could see the guest's ratings, I would discourage any guests who routinely gave out 4 star reviews from booking with me, because the truth is, that airbnb doesn't care about the text in the review unless there is a complaint, the only thing that matters is the stars.
@Jane563 I would explain to A that the Airbnb rating system is terribly flawed and that if guests want to be successful on the platform as far as not being declined, that they need to accept that hosts have zero input into the unfairness of the rating system and that all our pleas for sane changes go unanswered. She needs to understand that anything less than a 5* Overall seriously hurts the host. That it isn't hosts who tell guests that 4* means Good, it's Airbnb, then they turn around and punish hosts for 4* ratings.
A can be honest in her reviews- she can certainly mention in the written review that the place had cleanliness issues, or whatever she thinks needed improvement. And she can mark low stars where applicable. But when it comes to the Overall rating, she needs to understand that its just a stupid game, created by Airbnb, that all of us are caught up in, and if she wants to be accepted as a guest in the future, she'll need to play that game or risk being declined.
I myself wouldn't turn down a guest who had rated a place 4*s, but I would definitely make it clear to the guest when they stayed with me what the consequences of that are. I've had some lovely guests who, when I explained the system to them, were shocked and said they felt terrible for giving previous hosts 4*s- they of course had no idea what the repercussions of that are for hosts.
Very well put Sarah. When she contacts me again I will tell her what you’ve said. I’ve had 4* overall ratings before and it’s very frustrating. I have worked as a chambermaid in a hotel and know what hotel standard cleaning is, even though I got caught asleep in a guest room on changeover day and nearly got fired!
I value my Superhost status because it keeps guests coming. I’ve been booked solid and have just taken four days off to have my sister to stay as it was her birthday. Now I am free again, I’ve had someone book for ten days.
@Jane563 Since you're a Superhost, I'm sure you can understand this dilemma: you receive a booking request from a well-reviewed guest who you have every reason to assume will be a successful booking, no damage to your property, everything fine. But you have reason to believe that they might give you a 4-star rating rather than a 5-star.
Now, in a rational system, this would not be a problem. 4 stars still means that the stay was successful, the guest was happy, no harm was done, maybe some detail could be improved (hopefully with constructive feedback). And if your primary concern is just keeping your room full and looking after your guests, that's all perfectly fine.
BUT if you're invested in your Superhost status, taking this booking is like inviting hazardous waste into your nursery. Either you're carefully screening out guests who seem unlikely to leave 5-star reviews, or debasing yourself to make sure even your worst guests don't get rubbed the wrong way. You wouldn't take a chance on someone like A.
As a host in the know, you could explain to her how the Airbnb bots treat a 4-star review as an utter failure, because it would be uncouth for her future hosts to do so. But perhaps the more important thing for her to learn is that hosts would rather be informed during the stay when there's a problem, rather than have to wait until their review to find out the guest wasn't fully satisfied.
Airbnb's stupid status-anxiety-driven dopamine-driver is the primary culprit here: no self-respecting hospitality professional should feel held hostage to a bot and some pixels. But read these forums for a minute and you'll see, thousands of people out there are obsessing over this stuff, and A has run afoul of all of them. The host who called her out on it didn't show their best face, but unfortunately Airbnb has given them many reasons to feel that A damaged their business. So she's going to have to live with the consequences of being an undesirable guest. Perhaps you might advise her to avoid "Superhosts" when making future bookings.
Unfortunately, this is a flaw of the rating system. Take it or leave it.
We all suffer from this arbitrariness - hosts and guests.
We all lose when we take this rating business personally.We become defensive, confused and unwanted.
The best we can do is carry on. Guest has a million choices. She will find hosts who will accept her.
She will have the chance to be "nicer" in the future. Her rating will go up, if she is the great guest you say she is. Maybe she'll rein in her need to chastize future hosts and become more diplomatic. Maybe she'll consider that hurting people's livelihood has consequences.
Of course, if the guest really wants a good rating, she can start to leave cash tips. Works everytime!
I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in being unhappy with Airbnb metrics. I live in a somewhat rundown urban area and am consistently rated low on location, which I can do nothing about, and which is irrelevant to most of my guests. I feel that rating on location is unfair.
Also, there is no comeback when a guest unfairly rates you low e.g. I have full information on how to reach my house on the listing, and am also available by phone for help. It galled me to have a 3* review from someone who didn't phone but commented that the house was hard to find. The same guest marked me down for an unclean bathroom - it was spotless.
We have to swallow the 4 stars given now and then and carry on. First, because there are persons who like to mark down - looking for the slightest thing which is not perfect by their standard. They are prone to give advice to others how things should be done! Second, the one day guests would never loose time listening to our explanations how a 4 star can damage our reputation. Several times I was given 4 stars - asking - "Why?" - answer - that was my SUBJECTIVE feeling, but everything was great! It is not true that one or even several 4 star ratings will totally damage your/our Super-host status. But it is always a stress receiving one, esp with stupid or no reason at all.
I have recently had a few folks say everything was just peachy in their narrative, give 5 stars in all categories and a 4 overall. I absolutely would not rent to those folks if there was a way to see them coming. One of them even mentioned they'd like to come back. Um, nope!
If a guest who doesn't have a 5 star rating books from me I usually let them know and we work on making sure they earn a 5 from me. I find they appreciate it because they don't know their rating. We can usually figure out where they (or a host) went wrong. It's worked out well. Sometimes, obviously, the low rating was for something inexcusable and I steer clear.
It sounds like "A" had issues with the rental on top of the cleanliness. Perhaps she might mention something in her profile/bio to acknowledge it and say that she loves to award 5 stars? Just a thought...
@Heather133 Love your idea about mentioning that she loves to give 5 stars in her bio! Would only work if true, of course. 🙂
I have a guest coming in a couple of weeks who has already said he's going to mention something nice I did for him in his review. But to be honest, I felt uncomfortable with that. Is it genuine or a veiled threat? Not that I'm paranoid at all lol.
If I see signs that a guest is difficult once they are inside our unit, I will leave an honest review once I received a notification they left me a review. And I do reply to all reviews guests leave me, good or bad. I really regret not writing this past guest a bad review but being a nice person, I sometimes avoid it unless they are absolutely horrible.
Going forward, I will now write reviews in such a format so that guests who leave me bad reviews will have consequences. Example.... "guest was ok, so and so. To all future hosts, please read my reply to my guests review of me for more information about guest."
I wish I had written this in my previous review of a guest who gave me a 3 star review. My reply to his review was perfect however I wish I had notified future hosts to check my reply. Surely, he would never rent another place again if I had done so. You can have a look below...
Sean s apartment is quite good for a couple night s stay. But mind you there isn't much ventilation in the apartment. So you might end up feeling hot on a warm day. Plus since it's a complete airbnb unit upstairs and downstairs. The upper section of the house can be quite noisy even after the silence hours.
Response from Sean:
Hi Karan, while we appreciate honest reviews, this cannot be considered honest since you never stayed at this listing. You booked it for your brother which I realized the day of check-in when he had called me asking to bring him a "cotton bath robe" at 10pm. I feel this negative review was written only because this was the rare exception which we could not accommodate a guest request. I politely told your brother that we do not provide bath robes at this listing. He seemed to not take it well and I then explained that we he had an ample amount of towels available to him. Considering that this listing was only $70 Canadian dollars when you had booked it for him - that the 1 bedroom suite is fully private with a new fully equipped private kitchen. Given the low cost we charge for this listing, I think expecting a "cotton bath robe" was a little unreasonable and something you may receive at a hotel that charges $300 + per night. -- I can assure future guests that there is sufficient ventilation with 3 windows which can be opened, vents which supply air to the suite as well as a fan for our guests comfort. As for the noise, that is speculation since you never stayed at the listing however guests can expect to hear noise occasionally since this is a basement suite which is clearly stated on our listing.
I am going to make sure I read every review of every potential guest from now on and I will decline each and every one that rates all 6 categories 5’s and then gives a 4 rating overall !!!! This is unacceptable and should NOT be allowed !!! The overall rating should be based upon the 6 category rating ONLY.
airbnb has NO idea what they are doing when it come to “rating” the final overall rating by allowing the guest to choose anything lower than a 5 if they fave all categories 5 stars !!!
I am speaking with an attorney as I was taken off superhost for this very reason - it doesn’t make any sense. Every review that I was given 5 stars in all 6 categories should never be a 4 overall rating - Ever !!! This is craziness and I have been a superhost for 3 years - with all other factors being almost perfect - I resent this and it is hurting my listing -
I am forwarding this letter to the “contact us” platform also.
I absolutely agree. I have guests who give me really positive, enthusiastic references in text and then mark me down on the final score. It's not a matter of vanity or of taking them too seriously, we work hard for these reviews and it's simply not fair.