My life as an Airbnb Host What I've learned from hosting and how I make money using Airbnb

What to do if you get a very bad Airbnb guest review?


It’s now November in London and the long warm summer we had is over. For anyone visiting London this summer was ideal with long hours of daylight and such warm weather. Bookings were generally good and steady all summer but I was unable to increase my prices because of the Airbnb Smart Pricing system keeping my prices down.

What to do if you get a really bad review from a Airbnb Guest?

A guest booked a one night stay with us and wanted to arrive early in the morning. She sent me a message to that effect and selected as her check in time when booking ‘8am – 10am’. She can do this because my calendar settings are set to FLEXIBLE for check-in time. My check-out time is set to 11AM.

Airbnb now allows you to set a Check-in Window

The reason my calendar is set to FLEXIBLE check-in is because many of my guests automatically assume that check-in is only possible later in the afternoon like so many hotels. I always try and get my listings ready as soon as possible. Often a room is set and ready to go no less than 30min after a previous guest has left. My check-out time is by 11AM but many guests leave much earlier, some leave very early in the morning to catch an early flight etc.

The guest who gave me the bad review had seen my calendar setting as FLEXIBLE check-in and assumed that the room would be ready any time she wanted and therefore turned up at 8am. This might be understandable if it wasn’t that I specifically told her when she booked ‘the room might not be ready until 12 but she was welcome to come early and leave her bags’. Had she mentioned at this point that this would not have been acceptable since I had a FLEXIBLE check-in time then I would have asked her to cancel the booking and I would have made sure she got a full refund.

The guest arrived at my house at 8am and was then surprised to hear her room was not ready for her. She mentioned she had been on a long flight and needed to rest. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do for her. The previous guest was in no hurry to leave. She called Airbnb to complain and they cancelled her booking with full refund. I understood some of her complaints about the problem. I do understand that from her point of view it was somewhat misleading to have a FLEXIBLE check-in setting and the room not be ready. However I did make it clear to her at the time of booking that the room might not be ready but got no reply.

When a Airbnb booking is cancelled it’s still possible to leave a review. This is apparently so a Airbnb listing that is deemed unacceptable can get the bad review it deserves. Previously it was not possible to do this so bad listings didn’t get the bad reviews. But in my case this meant that this unhappy guest could now write almost anything she liked about my listing without even having set foot inside. I subsequntly got a 1 out of 5 star review across the board. So for example I got 1 out of 5 starts for cleanliness without the guest even having seen the listing. This strikes me as unfair.

If you get a bad review it’s a good idea to leave a reply on the review. The important point here is how you deal with the complaint. This is not a good time for revenge no matter how tempting it might be. You need to be professionally and explain any misunderstanding or mitigating factor in a way that sounds reasonable. The more reasonable you sound the more crazy the person making the complaint might appear. Someone reading the review might assume they were overreacting.

Can Airbnb protect hosts from one-off bad reviews?

This question was put to Airbnb at one of the host Q&A sessions – Can Airbnb protect hosts from one-off bad reviews?

At the last Host Q&A, in June, 2018, we said, specifically, that we’d look into outlier reviews. To be clear, one-off low reviews can be considered outliers when a host has otherwise great review scores, but a single guest leaves a bad rating that seems out of place. Here’s a solution we’ve come up with: We’re working on building new tools that will automatically detect when outlier reviews like this occur— and give us an opportunity to correct them. So let’s say a guest gives you five stars for cleanliness, accuracy, check in, and so on— for each of the sub categories— but then a two-star rating overall. The new tool will flag this and prompt the guest to correct the overall rating. We’re developing this new tool now, and you can expect to see it soon.

The answer was that one off bad reviews should not effect a hosts profile overall in the search rankings etc. This is good for me as I already have hundreds of reviews and one bad review should not hurt me overall. However a listing with only a handful of reviews could suffer considerably.

About the author


Airbnb host and I live in London.

By richsaint18
My life as an Airbnb Host What I've learned from hosting and how I make money using Airbnb

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