How to Write a Negative Airbnb Review for Your Guests

How to Write a Negative Airbnb Review for Your Guests

negative airbnb review

A topic that a lot of Airbnb hosts struggle with is writing a negative Airbnb review for their guests. They fear retaliation, reputation loss, or simply feel uncomfortable saying something negative about a person they’ve build a personal relationship with.

I receive a lot of questions on this topic, such as

  • “My guests were nice people, but they didn’t adhere to the house rules. Should I mention this in the review?”
  • “My guests left my apartment a real mess, but they didn’t do any damage. What should I write in the review?”
  • “I had a really bad experience with my guests and I want to write a negative review. Should I wait until the last moment so they can’t retaliate?”
  • “I want to write a bad Airbnb review for my guests, but I’m worried it could deter guests from booking in the future. What should I do?”

There is no definite answer to all these questions, as the best way to proceed often depends on the situation. However, there are some misconceptions about how the Airbnb review system works that can be clarified, which will remove some concerns. In addition, a few general guidelines can help point hosts in the right direction.

How does the Airbnb review system work?

Lets start with the facts. Before you write a review, you should understand how the Airbnb review system works.

Time window: Hosts and guests have 14 days to leave a review, the clock starts ticking when Airbnb sends out the notification to leave the review

Review visibility: Both guest’s and host’s reviews remain hidden until (1) both parties have left a review or (2) the 14 day review period has passed

Editting reviews: There is a 48 hour window to edits reviews, unless the review become visible before this option expires

It sounds simple, but there’s one important conclusion that can be drawn from this information that a lot of hosts are unaware of.

The Airbnb review system is double blinded, in other words the host nor the guest can see the other party’s review until the review period is over or both parties have left their review. Therefore, there is no possibility of retaliation, neither party can base their review on the review left by the other party.

Can a negative Airbnb guest review hurt my business?

We’ve already established that leaving a bad review for your guests doesn’t increase the chance that you’ll get a bad review from the guests.

Is there any other way that a negative guest review could hurt your Airbnb business? Yes, but it’s probably very insignificant.

The only way that it could deter future guests from booking your place, is if they find out you’ve left a bad review for a past guest and they are worried about receiving one too. Or maybe they’re worried you’re difficult person to deal with.

airbnb bad review

Leaving a bad review doesn’t hurt your Airbnb business

Whatever their concern might be, it will only arise if they actually see that negative review that you left. And that chance, in my opinion, is very small.

In order to find out, your potential guest has to look at all the profiles of your past guests to find the review that you left. I seriously doubt that there are many guests that go through this trouble.

But lets imagine an Airbnb user would actually dig through your past guest’s profile to check out your reviews. What does that tell you about this person? The only reason someone would do this is if that person had gotten bad reviews in the past and is worried about another one. Is that the type of guest you want to host? I don’t.

Leaving a bad review for your guests doesn’t hurt your Airbnb business

The last concern that hosts might have is that if they write a negative Airbnb review that the guests might not come back for a repeat visit or recommend your place to others. This only applies if the feedback you have is quite minor of course, otherwise you don’t want them to come back and you probably also don’t want to host their friends.

In any case, repeat stays are quite rare in my experience, and I suspect that some minor feedback won’t prevent your guests from coming back if they enjoyed their stay. They’d have to have a really fragile ego to hold a bit of criticism against you.

My conclusion is that leaving a bad Airbnb guest review does not hurt your Airbnb business in a significant way.

The importance of leaving honest reviews

Reviews play an important role in the Airbnb community, they help hosts and guests to make an informed decision about whether the host or guest is a good fit or not. Better decisions lead to better experiences, which is to the benefit of hosts and guests.

Writing an honest review for your guests means that you sometimes have to write something that your guests may not like hearing. This can make a host feel uncomfortable in certain situations, for example when there has been a lot of interaction with the guests and the issues were minor.

Airbnb honest review

“Always leave an honest review”

In these cases, a lot of hosts opt to not mention the issues in the review. They don’t want to make the guests feel bad or prefer to avoid what could feel as being confrontational.

This is all understandable, but at the same time it does take away from the effectiveness of the review system. In order for reviews to function optimally, they have to be accurate representations of how the experience was perceived by both hosts and guests.

My advice to hosts therefore is to always be honest in the reviews you write for your guests. The good, the bad and the ugly. The more details you provide, they more helpful the review, both for future hosts but also for the guests.

For example, instead of writing “the guests were noisy,” it’s better to write “one night the guests played music in their room until 1am at night.”

Don’t just provide the negative feedback. Start your review with what you did like about the experience. You could say that your guests were very friendly people, it was easy to communicate with them, but that they left your place a bit messy and that you would have appreciated if they would have tidied up before leaving.

More on Airbnb reviews: Why You Should Respond To Every Single Airbnb Review

19 Comments

  1. Tom says:

    You make some good points. What about if you get a bad review from another host? You think that could have any negative effects?

    • Jasper says:

      I don’t think so, I can’t imagine guests would do that much research. Guests care about what other guests write about your Airbnb, not what other hosts have to say about you as a guest.

  2. Tiffany says:

    Well they have ur phone number and know where u live so if u leave a bad review they can haunt u.

    • Jasper says:

      That’s true, but I think if you keep the review polite and give constructive feedback that the chance of that happening would be pretty low. In any case, it’s not a reason for me to refrain from leaving an honest review.

  3. Jimmy says:

    It’s hard to leave a bad review I did one negative bad review when I was a newbie and regretted it. I’ve noticed that some host come in looking for anything to complain about. Like this one lady complained that there was dust on a shelf that was 7 feet high another guest complained about no hot water in shower when all she had to do was turn knob to the left. I’ve kearned to not let criticism bother me. What they should be looking at is how clean and how the price was amazing compared to hotels.

  4. Kathleen Viens says:

    I had a bad experience last year with 2 guests because I didn’t have the place cleaned the way they wanted and they wrote me up bad. Now I feel I’ll never do this again since it was hard and I lacked experience. What should I do over this? I tried hard but it didn’t meet their standards, however, they said it had potential.

  5. Margie says:

    I think that is not a customer friendly practice to leave bad reviews for guests for petty infractions. The guest is paying you for services you profit from. Unless the guest does something really egregious or dangerous I don’t see why any host would be so petty to leave every little minor flaw of a guest for public view of everyone. At least as a host you may get a bad review here and there but you still made money. That’s how any business works. Guest shouldnt be the ones worrying about their ratings! That’s ridiculous!

    • Jasper says:

      Thanks for sharing your perspective Margie. I do agree with you that it’s not the most friendly thing to do and not every tiny little annoyances needs to be mentioned if the overall experience was good. However, I do believe that Airbnb as a platform and community benefits from both hosts and guests leaving honest reviews by enabling both guests and hosts make better choices as to where to stay and who to host. To give an example, lets say a guest is caught smoking in a non-smoking space. Some might consider that a minor thing, while for others that’s completely unacceptable. Therefore it’s important that this is mentioned in the review, so that this particular guest will probably only be approved by hosts who don’t mind their guests smoking, preventing another bad experience.

    • Tom says:

      Ho about when the guest drinks your can of pop, in your fridge without asking you first, and also wipes off lipstick and foundation on a whit towel, when there were other colored towels in the bathroom. Knowing fully well this was a new towel?

  6. Sarah says:

    I’ve just had moderately bad guests. My rental was not destroyed, but they did not follow house rules with their dogs (which caused an afternoon of first responders releasing their trapped dog from under the deck) and the cottage was so dirty and smelly from their dogs we had to have the carpets shampooed (old dogs that both ‘leaked’ and pooped on the carpet that was not cleaned up). Am I being fussy?? I want to leave a constructive review for other hosts, I’m sure they don’t feel they were bad guests.

    • Jasper says:

      If your guests broke house rules I don’t think you’re being fussy and I would mention that in the review.

  7. Jasper says:

    Thanks for sharing that Gail, I like your private note suggestion.

  8. Cristina says:

    I just had a guest, and I’m thinking what to do about his review

    The guy rented a room in my apartment for 10 days, and he stayed in the room the whole time. Day and night, lights and AC on 24/7.

    He used to shower 3-4 times daily ! And after every time he did shower I had to pick up wet towels, dry the bathroom floor and clean the bathtub with his nose secretions 🙁

    Also he didn’t use the garbage can in the bathroom, all tissues were in the floor.

    The room is a mess ,full of empty boxes of food and drinks.

    I don’t want to be mean, but I think is important for other hosts to know a little bit about him.

    Please help me!!! What’s the better way to do this.

    • Jasper says:

      Hi Cristina, I recommend you write the review pretty much like you wrote this comment as this represents your perspective of your guest. You’re not mean when you’re sharing your perspective. Is there anything you liked about your guest? Anything he did do right? You could include that to make it more balanced.

  9. Yavuz says:

    This is not totally true. A guest gave me 5 star review and I reviewed them
    that they have picked the lock of owners closet to take supplies. Then he called Airbnb and have is good review removed. Which means they can negatively impact you

    • Jasper says:

      Oh wow, I’ve never heard of that happening. That really shouldn’t happen in my opinion but yes you’re right I guess there’s a small chance then.

  10. Manuel says:

    I rent out a room on airbnb and had a guest who was friendly but very messy. They put their feet up on the piano and didn’t clean up after themselves. I was not going to write a review on them, but when I realized they took the bathroom towels I feel I need to. What advise do you have for how to write my review?

    • Jasper says:

      Sorry to hear about this experience, I recommend you stick to the facts and be as honest as possible. Pretty much what you wrote in this comment.

  11. Julia Wesson says:

    I believe that all reviews should be truthful, but diplomatic. I’m a frequent guest, who assists various owners with their social media. I understand both sides of the reviewing coin.

    Guests should be sure to mention the good things, along with legitimate complaints (especially unmet expectations) about the conditions in the rental.

    Renters should remember that they are, indeed, rendering a service, which should be priced competitively to allow for a decent profit, They should limit their complaints about renters, to serious infractions (such as the dog problem reported here), but have cleaning costs sufficiently covered, if someone is especially messy. As a guest, I sometimes feel I’m walking on eggshells, because of so many specific house rules that are imposed after I arrive (that is, they are not specified in the listing). This takes the pleasure out of the stay for me.

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