We have a suggestion box, which I have found is a nice safety valve from nitpicky feedback in a review. Guests can tell you what they think should be improved immediately, feel heard and not even sign their name if they don't want to. We have actually gotten some really great ideas for our outdoor spaces (the box is set up to say "what is big improvement project we should work on in the coming years? Something like a hot tub? Outdoor shower? New back porch? Tell us your thoughts!") It can also tell me a little bit about the mindset of the guest. Complain-y suggestion and no communication? Lets me know to triple check that there were not any issues we weren't told about.
We have had a series of retired and older guests in the last several weeks and suddenly we are getting lots of suggestions about the furniture. The sofa is too hard to get out of. There aren't enough "recliner type chairs." Sofa doesn't fit enough people. They don't like the leather. My listing has older photos, but we added a big velvet wing chair and ottoman in the corner of the living room. My sofa is about 8 feet long and easily seats 4 which is the max capacity of the listing. We also added tie-on cushions to the kitchen chairs as they are admittedly cute but not super comfortable. And a leather sofa is essential for any pet friendly listing. There really isn't enough room to do "recliner type" chairs as they take up a lot of space (and don't really go with the decor.)
So two questions 1) how much should you take guest's opinions on furnishings into account and 2) as a guest, would not liking the furniture (or a piece of the furniture) cause you to either not revisit the space or leave a poor review? Just wondering how seriously to take these suggestions (or not.)
What a great idea with the suggestion box! Your listing is absolutely lovely and it's furnished very nicely. I see where an older guest might appreciate a recliner and easier furniture to get out of. They probably love theirs at home and would find it so comfy.
But I guess you need to ask yourself what your goals are with these guests. You've mentioned that older guests tend to be harsher and harder to please. Do you want them "making themselves at home" with longer and more frequent stays? Do you want this to be your primary demographic? At the moment your listing is flexible for young families and couples as well. How would they feel about those changes?
We had my in-laws stay and they had a lot of suggestions for us! Some are easy to fix: but we tried to stay on the less permanent side. For example, they said the shower/bath was slippery and suggested we put decals on the bottom of the tub. Those always freak me out when taking a bath, so instead I got a shower mat to put in that bathroom in case someone wants to use it.
Of course I want our older guests to be comfortable, but we have more families with dogs staying than anything, so I would weigh feedback within the perspective of your whole vision for your property.
Such good comments @Lenore22. @Laura2592 If you keep shifting to please these particular guests, pretty soon your listing will look like a retirement home 😜 Make any subtle changes/additions you can, to make everyone comfortable, but stay true.
The suggestion box can still remain a way to give guests that ‘outlet’. But of course, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
@Lenore22 I did first think about this in terms of who we want to attract. The priority list is:
- We need to be happy with our own space. This is a little weekend place for us primarily (we stay at least once a month) and guests offset the cost. One day we hope we won't need to host at all. We removed many of our paintings and antiques from the space to get it ready for guests, but I still need to like the way it looks and be happy with it when I stay there.
-Couples or singles on a relaxing or romantic stay. Those are our target demographic. Young professional couples is really our target audience, with or without pets.
-Everyone else. We get a fair number of retirees and small families, but each have some challenges associated with them. We don't want to keep those groups away and are happy to have them stay with us, but they are a secondary target market.
Our target demographics usually don't complain about furnishings in general. They are usually either exploring the local area or just cozying up in the cottage. Families don't complain either unless its a safety issue we were not aware of.
In my personal experience, I don't really expect the seating at a hotel to meet my individual comfort standards (beds notwithstanding.) I have stayed at Airbnbs (and regular BnBs) where there have been some furnishings that either were not to my liking or weren't immediately comfortable. I can't say I ever thought twice about it. I just wonder if this is just something I overlook but really matters to others.
@Laura2592 “I just wonder if this is just something I overlook but really matters to others.”
I don’t think so, generally. Keep in mind that it’s the older demographic who are giving you these suggestions. As you say, your target demographic seem just fine with everything. The older demographic tend to have certain very specific priorities and tastes.
A couple of years ago, we received feedback from a mature couple that the tub was slippery. This was most likely due to spilled shampoo, body soap, conditioner, etc. We had already installed grab rails, and their comments let us know that we should also provide a bath mat for guests to use.
@Laura2592 Remember that this is your house. You use the furniture just as much as guests do and there was a reason why you choose a particular piece.
I've only run into problems in Airbnb's when a host (usually a property owner type with lots of listings) furnishes the listing like an IKEA showroom to make it look pretty for the photos. The couches and chairs are so cheap and uncomfortable they are unusable, the mattresses are 3-inch pieces of foam. I've spent the night in 2 separate Airbnb's where the bed was so uncomfortable that I never slept. I've always had this theory that when hosts receive 5 stars for all subcategories but a low score overall, one big reason could be that the place was just uncomfortable in terms of sleeping and lounging. It doesn't fit into cleanliness, accuracy, location, value, or communication but it definitely makes a large impact on the overall stay.
So true @Emilia42 ! I would say that pretty and Instagramable photos attract guests, but what makes them stay (aka leave good reviews or recommend others) is surely the comfort. That is the 1st thing each of us should think about. No 5* review I ever given had an uncomfortable bed, sofa, chairs or overall impractical things...
1) I always take guest feedback into account when they say there's a feature that they think would be helpful to add, or something for which the usability could be improved. But I wouldn't take it seriously if someone objected to the aesthetic choices, as those are shown right there in the listing.
2) I would never review someone's furniture critically unless it just flat-out didn't work. If I really like a host's style choices, I'll compliment them in the review, but if they're not my flavor I just let it go. That stuff doesn't play much of a role in which listing I choose - I'm focused on location, price, and amenities.
@Laura2592 The only really useful suggestion we had from guests was to change the shower curtain rod to one of those that bends out, giving more space for the person showering, a handful of people suggested this and we changed it.
I don't know that you're going to get much useful feedback in terms of styling of furniture. One of my worst ever guest stories is thus: we had done a series of upgrades..new bathroom vanity upgrading a tired old one, new, larger kitchen table [same wood tone], more stylish kitchen chairs, had brought out the large antique dresser from storage that is there now, had switched an old rocker for a new bench in the bedroom. So, everything was a true upgrade, newer, fancier, better. We had a set of guests then give a 3 star rating and complain that the photos weren't accurate, which I guess was technically true, but it was somewhat mind blowing to have guests complain that the space was better than the photos.
"somewhat mind blowing to have guests complain that the space was better than the photos".
@Mark116 It's a thing. I was just reading a comment on another thread about this exact thing. Guests gave a low score for accuracy because the space was better than they expected.
Now, how to word that one for better listing description accuracy 🤔 hmmmm.....
I'm with @Laura2592 "people are interesting'.
Got a low score for accuracy once. I’d taken pictures of everything, nothing had changed but, the guest imagined the place was bigger or something.
Perhaps the dissatisfaction had nothing to do with the space or hosting