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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pro-Tip: with Smartbnb you can time the review to be sent 20 seconds before the review window closes. This is useful if you feel like you didn’t get along with your guests very well. Guests are sometimes apprehensive about leaving a bad review if it’s clear that it wasn’t a match made in heaven. They worry that the host will leave a bad one for them as well.
It’s like two armies holding their fire during a cease-fire. Both have the finger on the trigger in case the opponent fires, but neither army will initiate combat. If you find yourself in this situation, but you feel like it’s your duty to warn future hosts of the guest’s behavior without risking a retaliation review, you can schedule it to be published 20 seconds before the review window closes.
More on Airbnb reviews: Why You Should Respond To Every Single Airbnb Review