It’s Easter bank holiday weekend in London and it’s very sunny. My airbnb is full over the long weekend as usual. My strategy is to be fully booked at all times and it works fine for me (even if I am charging lower prices than this time last year). My average charge per night is only £18 now (my price was £20 when I first started as an airbnb host nearly 5 years ago). This should be a warning to other airbnb hosts that your income could possibly fall over time. The major reason I think this has happened is the increase of rival airbnb hosts in my area. Also the two year delay for the new crossrail train line has not helped.
Airbnb changes to reviews system
Airbnb has informed us that the way it treats your less that positive reviews has changed. The idea is that getting one very bad review when your reviews are usually positive or excellent will not negatively effect your appearance in the search rankings (well thats sort of what it says). I have generally found that getting bad reviews had not overall affected my bookings. There are some reasons for this. The first is my low prices – guests don’t tend to have high expectations of a cheap one night stay. The second is that I have so many one night guests that often a bad review will get pushed down the review feed quickly (hopefully replaced by better reviews) and someone will have to scroll down far to get to the bad reviews. This is another reason why accepting one night only bookings can be a very good thing.
What bad reviews do I get?
For an example of my bad reviews take the case of the guest who wanted to put cheese in my fridge. I have a very clear rule in my listings and that is “no access to the kitchen”. This is mentioned frequently in my listing description (it’s mentioned 3 times in the description and once before you can actually book). I mention this so many times in big letters because so many guests fail to read the reviews properly and just assume they can use the kitchen. So when this guest asks to put cheese in my fridge I said “sorry no I can’t let you use the fridge”. He complained that he got bad service and he didn’t feel welcome. One of the reasons why I don’t let guests into this part of the house Is because my dog is there (the dog will most certainly attack an intruder like this) and in my mind more importantly the guest already agreed to no use of the kitchen when he made the booking. So I believe this bad review to be unfair but there is very little I can do. He is entitled to leave his review. There is nothing I could have done differently other than buy him a fridge for his own personal use for one night and put it in his room.
The most surprising bad review I get is for ‘Value’. I say bad review. This is the Star Ratings that guests can leave at the end of their written review. It’s between 1 and 5 stars (1 being the lowest obviously). I usually get either 4 or 5 stars for everything. But occasionally I get a low star rating for Value and this I find strange. The main reason being is that I am so cheap. I charge £20 or less a night for central London. This is a rock bottom price. I could maybe understand a low rating if my house was literally falling to bits but it’s almost brand new and has most of the modern conveniences. Many of my guests are genuinely surprised how nice it is. So a low rating for value makes little sense unless your really trying to say something else.
The worst review I received was from a guest who didn’t even stay at my listing. A guest booked but was expecting to be able to check-in to the listing very early morning. This was not possible as the room was still occupied by the previous nights guest (checkout is by 11am). The guest was upset and cancelled. A full explanation of this incident can be found here. The guest promtly left all single star reviews for each category. The worst possible. It made no difference that she didn’t even set foot inside the listing. She was still able to rate the listing 1 out of 5 for cleanliness for example. This to me is a very unfair system. The only thing I could do was to leave a reply to the review explaining the incident. But overall it has not affected by bookings (I have over 1400 reviews so this is a drop in the ocean).