Reviews and Responses

Reviews are an essential part of Airbnb, and it’s important to learn how to utilize them for maximum benefit.

The Benefits of Double-Blind Reviews

Airbnb currently uses a double-blind review system. What this means is that neither you nor the guest can read one another’s reviews until both parties have submitted their own. If one person hasn’t written a review within the 14 day review period, then they forfeit their right to create a review but can then read the review for themselves.

This system helps to protect you from retaliation should you write a poor review of your guest. The last thing you want is to write truthfully about a messy or disrespectful guest only for them to make up lies about your property. While the double-blind system may not be perfect, it’s a great step in combating overly emotional reviews, lies, and intimidation.

Dealing with Bad Reviews

Even if you do everything perfectly, every host has to eventually deal with their first bad review. Some guests are picky yet polite about certain things, while others simply wish to vent. Regardless of how kind, fair, or even accurate their review is, it’s in your best interest to calmly respond as quickly as possible.

It’s essential to respond to every review, but bad reviews may need a bit more of your time and attention. Take the time to calmly read the review a few times over, and think about whether their complaints are warranted. Sometimes people leave poor reviews because their overall trip wasn’t the best, and they then take out their wrath on you. Or maybe the lights were too bright, or maybe there was a plumbing disaster. Bad reviews come in all different styles, but you’ll want to create a small checklist of their complaints so you can adequately address each of them in your response.

Dealing with Bad but Reasonable Reviews

When writing your response, begin with an understanding phrase such as, “Thank you for your feedback. I greatly appreciate it.” From there, you can go over each complaint in greater detail. For example, if they left a negative remark about the plumbing but you had fixed the problem during their stay, you can respond, “I apologize for the plumbing issues during your stay, and while I had it fixed as quickly as possible, I understand that this was an unfortunate occurrence. Now that the problem is solved, I can assure you it will not happen again.”

An answer like that does numerous things. First, it directly addresses your guest which shows them that you care, and it also outlines the problem and solution for any future guests that are reading your page. Remember that your response is as much for the previous guest as it is for the future ones, and you want to show that you’re a reasonable host who cares about the guest’s wellbeing. It also shows future guests that they will not have to deal with any of the problems mentioned.

This type of response-style can be used for a number of complaints. If they complained about a shower curtain, the water pressure, or other easily fixable things, make sure to comment that you’ve fixed the problem, and post any pics as proof. This act of professionalism will go a long way in retaining your previous guests and calming the worries of future ones.

Dealing with Bad and Unreasonable Reviews

You may have done everything perfectly, but maybe your guest’s flight was delayed, their own home was flooded while away, and they’re in a perpetual bad mood. When it came time to review your property, they took all of their frustrations out on you. These types of reviews are luckily fairly rare, but you have to be prepared for them. They are angry, illogical, and they will try to get a reaction out of you.

Let’s say you have a perfectly nice bed, but your guests didn’t enjoy it for whatever reason. Everything seemed fine during their stay, but their review reflects a different reality. They write about how your bed hurt their back, ruined their trip, and gave them eternal insomnia. It sounds dramatic, but so are these types of reviews. Maybe they scream about how unhelpful you were, but you honestly can’t remember a single bad encounter with them. While you may completely disagree with their assessment, you should treat it the exact same as any other review.

However, you can change your tone slightly to avoid confronting them. Let’s say an angry guest writes, “The host was awful, awkward, and boring! I hated him, his home, and his stupid decorations. His bed also destroyed my back! Don’t ever stay here!” Your goal isn’t to change their mind (no matter how much you’d like to!) Your number one job is to convince others that this reviewer is simply in a bad mood.

To do so, you can craft a response like:

“Thank you for your feedback, it’s always greatly appreciated. I’m so sorry that you didn’t enjoy your stay here. Next time, if there’s ever anything you need here, please let me know so I can ensure you have the best time possible. My guest’s happiness is my number one priority, and I would have loved to help had I known about your concerns during your stay. For the bed, I purchased the most comfortable bed I could find, and while most guests seem to enjoy it, I understand that not everyone likes the same things.

Apologies again for any inconveniences.”

The above response addresses any direct concerns they had without admitting that they’re true. It shows that you’re even-tempered, caring, and truly thinking about your guests. You could have the most comfortable bed in the world, but if one out of a million hate it, it’s still worthwhile to apologize for their discomfort.

When Bad Reviews Are Warranted

Sometimes things go wrong. Your power went out, all of your silverware broke and you couldn’t replace it, and maybe you were late giving your guests the key. In cases where the bad reviews are warranted, it’s important to write a heartfelt apology along with concrete steps that you’ll take to amend things immediately.

The Psychology of Bad Reviews

Bad reviews aren’t all bad news, and it’s very possible that you’ll see some of your seemingly angry guests again sometime. While 1-star reviewers may not return, most people write reviews because they truly care about their experience. Some people only wish to vent, but the vast majority of reviewers want to reflect on their trip both publicly and privately to you.

When someone writes a bad review, they’re often thinking about what they’d like to see in the future should they return. They’ll imagine how this or that could have been better, and if you can provide it to them, then they may daydream about returning again sometime. People crave comfort, and having a special room that’s “theirs” in a destination they love can be a powerful thing.

People also love talking about their trip as much as possible once they return. They want to go over the details with their friends and family, and they’ll spend hours talking about small details to anyone who will listen. If they can convince their friends that your city is worth visiting, they will likely recommend your place as well. People want to stay at a place they know is legitimate, and a friend’s recommendation can go a long way in sealing the deal.

Response Timeframe

You’ll want to respond to any reviews ideally within 24 hours, although within 12 hours would be best. Never leave a review unanswered, and you can even leave a simple “Thank you!” note on reviews that are positive but short. If you have a busy schedule and can’t immediately respond, you can also setup automatic responses with a phrase like: “Thank you for the review! I will read it very soon and respond to you as soon as possible!” If you do leave a response like this, make sure to follow through with an actual personalized response.

Reviewing Your Guest

It’s also important to leave a thoughtful and honest review about your guest as soon as possible. Try to leave emotions at the door and write truthfully about the entire experience. Even if they arrived 15 minutes late at check-in, you can thank them for warning you ahead of time. If they showed up late but failed to warn you, then be sure to mention that as well.

Even if they did everything perfectly, sometimes people just don’t get along. You may not have liked their personality, or you may have gotten annoyed by their quirks. However, try to put these feelings out of your mind before writing. Judge them solely as a guest and not as a potential friend. Some things to think about include:

  • Punctuality
  • Communication
  • Cleanliness
  • Respectfulness

Getting More Reviews

Most guests enjoy leaving a quick review as both a thank you note and to help other guests. However, others are more apprehensive to do so. They may simply forget, or they only think about writing reviews when something goes wrong. To help get more reviews, which is essential for increasing your ranking and trust within the system, you can subtly remind your guests to leave a review within the 14-day window.

Simply send them a personalized note thanking them for their stay, and add some small details so they know it’s personalized. If they got their keys from a lockbox, you can simply say that you hoped they had a wonderful time. At the end of your note, you can state that you’re excited to read their review soon. This is better than simply saying, “please leave a review.” Both statements work, but the first is more kind and less forceful, and it will push forgetful guests towards writing that great review!

View our post here to see what guest see when they are reviewing your property.