Our First Negative Guest Experience as Airbnb Hosts

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I knew this would happen. We had our first horror guest experience as hosts in Airbnb. Ugh. Miguel and I have been hosting only since June 2019 so I know (and expect) that there will be more horror guests coming. I just didn’t expect us to have a negative guest experience as Airbnb hosts this soon.

This horror guest requested to book our unit back in November and I accepted it.

We indicated that the check-in time is from 3 PM to 8 PM only because of our caretaker’s availability. Then, this guest said that they will arrive around 10 PM.

Okay, it’s not a problem because our caretaker said that she will wait.

Late 10 PM… they still haven’t arrived.

Sure, no worries. It’s probably because of the traffic jam and whatever reason they may have—I don’t mind; I just feel bad for our caretaker.

As hosts, we want to be proactive in our communications with the guests. We will provide the necessities, but if they need something, they can always ask us.

The guests didn’t say anything so we assumed that they didn’t have any issues during their entire stay. Then after a few days…

We got an overall rating of 1-star

Guest’s feedback has 6 categories and the guest rated 1-star in everything except location.

  1. Accuracy
  2. Cleanliness
  3. Check-in
  4. Communication
  5. Value
  6. Location

I love constructive feedback since this would help us become better as hosts. What I don’t understand is how she rated us.

1-star for accuracy because of photos. I double-checked the photos, confirmed with Miguel if the furniture was changed, etc… and the only inaccurate one is the bedsheet. I mean… aren’t we supposed to change the bedsheets? ?

1-star for cleanliness because of the bathroom, bedroom, and common areas. This is purely subjective that’s why I looked through the public and private reviews, and ratings of our previous guests. Apparently, this guest is the only one.

1-star for check-in because of the late host. LATE HOST, SHE SAID even though our caretaker has been waiting for them, and even though they arrived way, way past the allowed check-in.

Now, this is the part where I got infuriated and realized that this guest could be a competitor & just wanted to leave a bad review. 1-star for communication because of slow responses. I immediately checked our previous conversation and saw that the latest response was 10 minutes and most of our responses are within a minute or two. So, how can it be 1-star?

As hosts, we rely entirely on the reviews and ratings of the guests so it would help us and the future guests if these reviews and ratings are accurate. As a guest, I also rely on the reviews and ratings before I book accommodation. So I know how important it is for these to be reliable.

How the Airbnb customer support responded

I tried to understand how and why we got this review so I consulted with Airbnb customer support. I remember saying,

Can I request you to look into this and see if the rating and review is valid?

I also said that I don’t mind if they would not remove the public review. I am more concerned about the rating because the 1-star rating dragged down our average and it is an inaccurate and untrue rating—which they cannot do anything about it because “Airbnb does not mediate disputes concerning truth or fairness. We expect the author of the review to stand behind the content of their review. “

I asked them how fast should the host respond to guests, and they said that it should be within 24 hours. I even asked if they consider the 1-minute response time as slow and they said that it all depends on the guest.

There are too many back-and-forth conversations with the customer support and they keep saying that the Airbnb community relies on “transparent and honest reviews”. Mmmkay.

I gave up. We are in a grey area, and this is technically not against the review or content policy. It’s more of questionable reviews & ratings despite the opposite of what the guest truly experienced.

All I could think about is if hosts can magically send messages to guests in 1 second with a proper response to inquiries or concerns. Or should we upload every photo of the bed with different bedsheets? Or should we ask our caretaker to sit down from 3 PM to 8 PM so she can greet the guests as soon as they step in the lobby? ?

The bottom line, if you are a host and you have complaints about the ratings & reviews, etc., you need a bit of luck in dealing with the customer support! (Also browsed through the community for hosts, so… good luck to us, hosts!)

Anyway, the Airbnb customer support still tried to help (which I am thankful as well) & forwarded the guest’s account for close monitoring and investigation that might lead to permanent removal of the guest on the Airbnb platform.

On a positive note, Airbnb updated their Review Policy

I still cannot get over what happened, but I found out that Airbnb has updated its Review Policy effective 11 December 2019.

Airbnb Update: Making reviews more relevant and useful for our community

Updated Review Policy: Airbnb’s Review Policy

We’ve also invested in retraining our customer support agents and improving our workflows, so hosts will receive better support in instances when irrelevant or biased reviews happen.

I’m glad that Airbnb is making improvements on this. I hope (and I am looking forward) that there will be better support for hosts soon.

What we learned from this guest experience as Airbnb hosts

  1. It’s true when other hosts said that they were at peace when they didn’t have the Superhost status.
  2. We already got a 1-star rating. What else could be worse than that?
  3. There will be more and much worse guest experiences to come.

If you were me, how would you handle these kinds of reviews?

Thankfully, this experience doesn’t sound that bad; no missing items, our unit was not trashed, our caretaker was not harassed, and the guest did not throw a party.

It affected us for a little bit because ratings and reviews matter in Airbnb (and the fact that I’m a tiny, little bit perfectionist). Luckily, this negative guest experience as Airbnb hosts did not make us put off renting out our unit.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment down below.

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