Venting about a four star review...

Inna22
Level 10
Chicago, IL

Venting about a four star review...

This guest needed to shorten her stay so I spent at least two half hour sessions on the phone with her guiding her through the process and making sure she gets the right refund and understands it, accommodated early check in and late check out, left a welcome basket, came over to greet them and give a quick tour and when all was said and done, sent some items they left behind at my own cost. And still got four stars??? If this is not above and beyond, what is? What is the point of doing anything extra for the guests if it is not only taken for granted, but is actually not good enough?

14 Replies 14
Richard531
Level 10
California, United States

@Inna5  I'm so sorry to hear about this. 

 

We have found an extremely strong correlation between the guest that leaves stuff behind (and feels entitled to have it returned at no cost), and that same guest leaving a 4-star review.  

 

Once this happens 2-3 times, you'll come up with creative ways to be sure it doesn't happen again.  I know we have!  

 

My wife's theory is that these people are not happy in the first place.  So they leave 4 star reviews everywhere already.  On top of that, they are not organized, not put together.  So with their lives in disarray, ergo leaving stuff behind.  Now they want it sent back.  The behavior is narcissistic from the outset to even ask/expect it to be returned (I left my stuff behind, now you fix it).  So now they aren't even considering the fact that you are being kind to send it back and how that should reflect on their review of your listing/experience.  They already have you as a 4-star stay (because they are awful people).  And it won't even get upgraded by your kindness because they don't even merge the two occurrences together.  Bang!  4-star review.  

 

I'm not sure I 100% agree with the above. . .  But it's a certainly a cynical person's opinion!

Beth214
Level 2
Bristol, RI

I actually had a guest leave suitcases that had to be packed and shipped back.  I've never left a vacation home without my luggage completely.

Inna22
Level 10
Chicago, IL

I would not normally get involved in long conversations with guests as far as logistics that are out of my control such as payments and refunds. This guest called me and started to ask questions, it kept going from there and I got sucked in.

 

It is my choice to leave the welcome basket and greet the guests. I do not expect or even want it mentioned - sometimes I am out of town and can not do these things, I do not want the next person to now feel that they are getting less than others, I would like it to be a bonus. However it is a nice extra not all hosts offer and should award me five stars given there were no issues with the stay.

 

As for shipping, my places are not cheap so my policy is not to charge if it is under a pound in weight and can be shipped first class mail. It is only around $4. Just like I will not charge for a broken cup or a soiled pillow case. I charge for heavier packages. In this case I felt extra generous, I really thought I had a connection with this woman after everything. 

 

I did hear back from her by the way when I questioned what I could have done better. She told me the place was not luxurious enough. She paid $80 per person per night to stay downtown Chicago during a holiday season. What can I say? The Ritz down the street is $1200, she should stay there next time. Their average review rate is 4.6, I am 4.8

 

@Huma0 @Mark116 @Sudsrung0 @Trude0 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Inna22 

 

Well, we know a lot more about the Airbnb payment system than most guests so it is natural to want to help them out when they have questions about it. I certainly have in the past. Sometimes that works fine, other times it bites you in the backside. Often it is better for them to hear it from the horse's mouth, so to speak, so there is no question that the host is trying to mislead them in any way. It doesn't help though that CS is often so clueless these days and misinform the guests. A lot of hosts say here on the CC, always deal with cancellations/alterations yourself and do not involve CS as they might mess it up. So, it's like a rock and a hard place.

 

This guest sounds like high maintenance. Anyone who expects 'luxury' at that price is going to be hard to please. Unless of course, you advertise the listing as 'luxurious'...

 

I also would not gripe about paying $4 for shipping, but it's actually a hassle for me to package something up, trek to the post office and stand in a long queue during office hours. What is 45 minutes/an hour of my time worth? It's less the cost and more the entitlement of a guest that thinks it's the host's responsibility to return stuff that they forgot that would bother me.

 

I have never had that happen, by the way. Plenty of guests have left things behind, but if they don't message me about it, it gets donated, because usually they have done it intentionally because they overpacked and over shopped. If it's something I think is valuable, then I probably would check, but the only time I had a guest who wanted something returned, I told her she could pick it up (I knew she would be in London again) and then I never heard from her. Guess she was expecting me to post it, but then realised that wasn't happening...

Inna22
Level 10
Chicago, IL

@Huma0 I totally agree with you that it is much more than the cost of shipping. Packaging, printing label, shipping. First class mail can usually fit into the regular mail box so I can mail it when I walk my dog.  I do consider it part of doing business. If you think about it, cleaning is also not just the money I paid to cleaners but the time it took me to buy supplies. This is when I look at profit and total time it takes me to manage properties.

 

Serge525
Level 2
Tecumseh, Canada

I'm curious, why couldn't you just do a change request and have the guest accept it ?  This only takes a few minutes, at most, from both guest and host.

 

As for the extras, depending on our feeling about the guest, mostly from the way they inquire / request the booking, communication, etc., we will leave a bottle of local wine.  If it is for special occasion, ex: they celebrate an anniversary, I might even engrave the bottle based on info they disclosed before their arrival.  Nearly all never mentioned it in their public comment/review...  A somewhat good thing, otherwise others might expect it.  However, I few asked if I could do few wine / champagne glasses or wood signs for them.  They paid for them.

 

We had one guest who asked if we could do them breakfast on their check out ... vegan.  I'm an omnivore with strong carnivore tendancy. We were thinking of starting to offer some meals, so what the heck.  I said : sure, I'll give it a try.  I was thinking of doing some fancy breakfast. All they wanted was vegan pancakes for her, eggs & bacon for him.  We added fruit juice, fruit salad and such.  Offered free given it was a trial. They loved the breakfast. They have returned three more times since. Each time I offered them the check out breakfast. We are likely to make it an option starting in 2013 (+$).

 

All this to say, either :

    1) include the cost (no direct profits) in your rates;

    2) do it only for guests you feel will appreciate the extra touch, not expecting a better review;

    3) offer extras as optional items they can order (and pay) before arriving.

Inna22
Level 10
Chicago, IL

@Serge525 it was done that way but because I charge different amount depending on the day of the week and Chicago charges tax, the guest could not understand what they were getting back and why

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Inna22 

 

It's funny what guests do/don't mention in their reviews. I have never understood why, for example, pretty much every one of my guests tells me their bed is super comfortable, but hardly any have ever thought to include this in the review.

 

I think that some guests will appreciate you going above and beyond and others are helpless individuals who are just used to having other people take care of them to the extent that they take it for granted. Or, they just think it's a normal part of a host's responsibilities and therefore nothing exceptional. 

 

Most of the needier/clueless guests I have hosted have not bothered to leave a review, while some have left lower stars even though I went out of my way for them. On the other hand, I've had guests who greatly appreciated extra help/advice.

 

I wouldn't say you SHOULDN'T go the extra mile for your guests. Often it is worth it. But, I definitely don't think you should be the one paying postage for items they left behind and early check in/late check out should only be granted when it is not an inconvenience to you. Doing a check in tour is just normal, in my opinion, but I know it isn't for all hosts.

Trude0
Level 10
Stockholm County, Sweden

@Inna22  For the record: I disagree with the previous comments, in that you should know better and not offer extras*. In my experience, this kind of hosting will in most cases be worth it and pay off when it comes to the review.  You just got unlucky with this particular guest. Keep doing what you do, despite this negative experience!

*) I would have charged for the shipment of the left behind items, though. 

Sudsrung0
Level 10
Rawai, Thailand

@Inna22 

 

Sorry to hear your story,

 

To start with I wouldn't have spent that amount of time on the phone with a guest, 

Its all there step by step guide how to cancel,

As for sending left items, here's my paypay address, if they dont pay I usually give to the cleaner.

 

We have stopped doing a few things because of guest not appreciate what we have done as host.

We used to give to guest who booked 7 days a free boat trip to one of the islands nobody ever mentioned in the reviews, so we stopped,

We used put in the fridge, bread, milk, orange, butter and eggs, we stopped that to much was getting wasted, hardly any guest mentioned it. 

Colleen185
Level 2
Pambula Beach, Australia

Yes, every time I have a guest who bombards me with heaps of questions, my alarm bells go off.

I too, have stopped putting lemons, flowers, shampoos etc as they are just discarded and wasted.

Mark116
Level 10
Jersey City, NJ

@Inna22  You should know better by now:) that the most needy guests are usually the worst.

 

@Sudsrung0  I totally agree.  When we first started we left fresh flowers for every guest, whether it was  2 weeks or 2 nights, 98% of guests never mentioned it and 99.9% never mentioned it in the review.  We still do flowers occasionally if we have a really good feeling about a guest or if we're getting them for ourselves.  Same with fruit...we left it, almost no one used it so it would get thrown out or go bad.  Never was it mentioned 'oh thanks for the apples/pears/oranges'.  We still leave some type of pastry on guests' last night for longer stays, but this is very inexpensive.

 

I also would never spend an hour with a guest trying to change their reservation.  Let Airbnb deal with that.  Same for sending back lost items, if you want them back, you can send me $$ for the cost of shipping.

Sudsrung0
Level 10
Rawai, Thailand

@Mark116 

 

All our guest are from all over the world, the cost of shipping stuff back would be crazy

We had one Canadian girl recently left 2 pairs of trainers some shorts I was able to contact her before she left the island and she said she would come and collect them but she never did so I kept them.

 

Trude0
Level 10
Stockholm County, Sweden

It IS above and beyond.
What else can I say, I guess we’re all just waiting for that guest…

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