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

I will never have Airbnb Superhost status

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From the start of the year my star ratings have gradually gotten worse. In January I had 79% 5 star reviews, just shy of the 80% required for Superhost status. Since then my five star reviews have dropped to 66%.

For a while I was very unsure why the ratings had dropped so much. Almost all my guests had written in their reviews that they were very happy with their stay. The only negative review I recall said the “bathroom was too cold” which was true because my wife had left a window open in the room across the hallway and we didn’t notice for two days (whoops!).

Airbnb now give you a breakdown on your star ratings by category
Airbnb now give you a breakdown on your star ratings by category

Room For Improvement

Recently Airbnb have introduced a tool on the dashboard giving you a breakdown of the categories for your star ratings (previously these were aggregated). So you can now see how many stars you got for ‘Cleanliness’ for example.

My breakdown for each of my listing highlighted my problem – the location. I had been marked down on location several times (some reviews only giving me one star) which explains my ratings dropping off gradually. Frustratingly location is the only area I can do little about. It true the area I live in is not considered the best part of London (to put it mildly). But It is located in zone 3 (of a possible 9, the closer to the centre the lower the number) and my low price reflects the unattractiveness of the area. If I was located in a leafy part of central London then you can bet I would be charging much much more.

Airbnb recommends me to better describe my area in my listing description so to give guests a fair warning of what to expect. I’m hesitant to do this as this would surely put guests off. I’ve added into my description ‘ethnically diverse part of London.’ My area Newham is about at ethnically diverse as you can get as it attracts the poorest people of London, mostly new arrivals in the UK from Eastern Europe, and has a large Muslim community from the sub continent.

To reach superhost status you need 80% five star reviews
To reach superhost status you need 80% five star reviews

Your only as good as your last review

Potential guests do look at your star rating when choosing a listing but the most emphasis is on your most recent review. A recent review (ideally very recently, no more than a couple of weeks old) is the best advert for your listing. If you’re unlucky enough to have a very bad review recently then this could explain a significant drop off in bookings.

My chances of reaching Superhost status are looking very slim. My booking have not suffered since my ratings decline, mostly I think because of the general increase in demand during the summer, and keeping my prices well below the London average.

About the author

richsaint18

Airbnb host and I live in London.

3 comments

  • Hello,

    We are having the same issue. We’ve had a lot of people stay with us over the past 18 months and most people love it. We’ve been very descriptive about our house however there is still some confusion about the house and the location. Our house is called Broadclough Farm and it’s an old farm house with a few acres of land attached, however it’s on the side of a road and even though we spell that out several times in the description we still get people turning up not expecting to be on the side of a road. And then there are the other ones that complain about the location of the house in terms of the town of Bacup, which despite only being 20 miles from Manchester is a bit of a hard to get to, sleepy backwater and it seems that’s what we’re being judged on! In addition we’ve had some bad reviews at various points based on how people perceive the star rating system. I think it would be better to use something other than star ratings as that conjours up images of proper established B&Bs whilst most people are just letting out a room in their house.

  • A couple of things. The rating system is bogus on so many levels. Before accepting a guest hosts should be able to see how that guest rated other hosts and what their comments were so we can decide if this is a good fit for us as a host. Of course we want to take bookings, so we might still risk a less than perfect guest (and that would be our risk to take), but a least we are able to make a more informed decision for ourselves. Furthermore we can have that honest conversation with the guest before they stay “I see you were not happy with…in your last stay, so I’d like to make sure that my place is right fit for you, so please let me know if you have any questions about…or would you have any problem with…?”. We are in the dark about who we are renting to and their travel quirks (or whatever it might be), because hosts cannot see how much or often the guests have appreciated or not appreciated their past Airbnb stays. That is the one thing that should change — when you click into a guest’s profile you should be able to see all the reviews they left and what kinds of ratings they gave. This needs to happen pronto! Period. Airbnb must make this available.

    Now having made that request many times, there are also a whole lot of other problems with the review system that I can mention, but the most important is that hosts cannot appeal and inaccurate or irrational review or even see it in detail for that matter. Firstly, the details of the the individual reviews should be visible to us. Secondly you should be able to appeal:
    If a guest gives less than 5 stars but DOES NOT make it clear in the comments private or public what the complaint is, then their review should be deleted. A guest should not be allowed to leave fewer than 5 stars without backing it up clearly. Secondly, the next step to this litmus test should be — if the guest made a complaint in the comments of the review but they DID not inform the host during their stay about the said issue, then their review should be deleted (this give the host a chance to sort out the issue during the stay). And the third element of this should be, if they are less than perfectly satisfied (less than 5 stars) and their complaint is about something that was 100% evident before booking: eg. location (a guest can see the location and easily decipher if they will be close enough to whatever it is they want to be close to, the neighborhood and location are accurately described by both the host and Airbnb); the apartment itself and it’s contents, when a host can point out how exactly everything the guest is complaining about was made clear in the listings; etc… If everything is made clear in the listing but the guest complains about it, then that review should be deleted. So, hosts should be allowed to dispute the guest’s reveiws and have the review deleted by Airbnb if the reveiw is shown not to pass these above litmus tests I’ve outlined. This is a simple process that Airbnb could put in place. An appeal process for hosts — if you will — and it would be fair and it would help Airbnb to show that they are fair and not simply guest-centric. It would also make the reveiws MORE accurate. Responding to a false reveiw on our own host’s profile page is not the appropriate way to handle these things: 1) it doesn’t solve our status standing 2) it puts a dispute warranted or not into a public forum which just isn’t ideal 3) and only the HOST suffers for this publicly displayed debate, because it is only on the HOST’s profile — you can’t show your response to an inaccurate review on the GUEST’s profile — so future HOST’s will never know that the guest gave an unwarranted poor review. In fact hosts don’t see any review left by guests on the guest’s profile page (I state this again, because it is the #1 problem with Airbnb’s system!)
    Furthermore, and I have experienced this: Airbnb will not even correct the review when the guest admits that they accidentally clicked on the wrote number when submitting the review, or that the guest admits to the host that their trip was perfect and they have no complaints at all, and they just gave 4 because they never give fives to anything or anyone (what does this even mean? Are they comparing a studio apartment in Brooklyn to a Park Avenue penthouse in Manhattan and that is why they can’t give 5 stars, because they are saving the 5 star for the most supremely ultimate place — really? It is supposed to be a review based upon the listing and whether the place is what was presented to them upon booking! I also like to make clear 4/5 is 80% which is a “C” grade in school — that is NOT an appropriate grade for a place that you found to be perfectly lovely and accurately listed. Perhaps Airbnb should give some clearer instructions to guests about how to review a place appropriately.) Airbnb should start to become much more involved in this process and more dedicated to fixing these glaring issues.

    Since I have many times voiced these concerns to Airbnb and there have been no changes, I have decided that I am boycotting the review system all together. Of course that means that guests are leaving reviews for me but I am not leaving any reviews for guests, no matter what — no reviews ever by me anymore. I think if more hosts who feel the same way I do about this unbalanced system did this kind of boycott, then eventually Airbnb would have to finally confont the problem and hear the host’s concerns, because guests will start wondering why they can’t accumulate reviews. Of course this boycott is not a perfect solution — in fact it is not a solution at all, but it’s all I got, and I’m frustrated. Another possible solution I have thought about is to keep an independent website listing all Airbnb guests who give less than five start reviews so that hosts can go there to check for names before they take a booking. And I would invite all Airbnb hosts to contribute names to it. This is a thought too.
    I just really hope Airbnb will fix this extremely lop-sided and in fact oddly-subjective and inaccurate review system they have in place.

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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