A Well-Deserved 4 Stars

Ever since Air started showing us guest ratings, we’ve been sending out an email to anyone who gave us less than 5 stars - asking them why.

I’ve sent it maybe 3-4 times since this started, and last week we got our first response! I HATE it when someone leaves you 4 stars and you write to ask why and they won’t respond. They’re obviously so embarrassed that we found out and they don’t have a justification for it so they just leave you hanging.

But this one guest actually wrote back and it was so refreshing to see that he actually made sense and had a darn good reason for giving us 4 stars.

When a guest gives us 4 stars, we send them this message, provided they said only nice things in their review:


We just got your review on Airbnb and I wanted to thank you for your nice comments.

Whenever someone doesn’t give us 5 stars though, we like to reach out and ask why - so we can improve what we’re doing. This feedback has helped us a ton in seeing things that were wrong that we were sometimes totally unaware of.

Airbnb says you gave us 4 stars… and I wanted to ask if you would share with us any information on why you felt it was 4 stars instead of 5. I’d really appreciate any honest feedback you could give - even if it’s really critical!

Thanks so much!

So, this guy wrote back and told us this:

The house is clean and beautiful. Only one problem is that the room is a little small for three people. If you change the choice on Airbnb 2 guys at most it will be much better.

Finally, 4 stars make sense! He and his group were super friendly and nice while they were here and he wrote a really nice review, so it just didn’t make sense when I saw he left us 4 stars. But after reading his explanation it makes perfect sense.

Our rooms are too small for three people. We never even wanted to rent them to three people because of that. But every year more and more people kept asking if we could accommodate a third person. It is possible for an air mattress to fit in the room, but it makes it extremely cramped. So, we decided to charge for it - in an attempt to discourage it. But it hasn’t discouraged it at all. It’s happening even more now. And so many people have stayed with us with 3 and no one has ever complained about the space, which we always thought was odd considering how cramped it is. But we just figured if they don’t mind it, then we don’t care!

We know people can get a good idea of the size of the rooms from the pictures, so we figured they’ll understand how little space they’ll have. And most people do. But it was good to get that guy’s comments just to keep us on our toes in the future and make sure people understand the room will be crowded with three.


It’s tempting to add space for more guests. I added a single air mattress, and was thinking about getting a queen air mattress, then decided that large groups, more than 6, for me, create more work and stress than potential earnings.


We list our guest bedroom for a maximum of two guests. Occasionally, we get a request for a party of three. If I think it might be okay I ask them to verify on the Airbnb email system that they know both that the guest room is very cramped with the two twin beds and the air mattress and that they understand that the bathroom will be shared by five people. I ask them to verify that they won’t ding us on the review for either of these issues.


I love your wording for eliciting additional info! Hope you don’t mind if I borrow parts of it :slight_smile:

It’s so hard finding the balance between giving people what they want and knowing how our homes work best! I think your guest’s advice was great - list the number of people you think would be comfortable in the space, not the theoretical max.

I’ve had a similar issue with my small listing. It’s really best suited to 4, but sometimes people ask for a 5th. I sympathize with them because I’ve been in the same boat of wanting to add an additional person after plans were made. I ended up making a secret “snoozed” listing with max of 5, including an air mattress. When someone asks to bring a 5th, I just do a reservation modification to move them over to the 5person listing (after explaining how tight 5 people in a 440sf space will be!)


I don’t have room for a cot or air mattress and I won’t supply one or linens to make a pallet on the floor. It’s a 10x11ft room with a double/full bed. I turn down the rare inquiry asking about 3 or an air mattress. And while it may make sense to you I don’t understand why someone books a small room for 3 and then acts like it’s your fault that the room is small. Maybe change the max on air to 2 and only take 3 by special request after you’ve had a conversation with them about it.


You’re welcome to use as much of it as you like @Allison_H!

Yes, that’s a great idea actually! I think I’ll just say it in the listing that it’s perfect for two - but three can fit if you don’t mind being a little cramped. We used to say that to everybody and nobody minded. So, we got kind of lazy, figuring no one really cared.

My local govt permit only allows 2 per bedroom – easy answer for me to “but can we squeeze in one more?” inquiries.

I wonder if some of them didn’t reply because you used the phrase ‘reach out’?


Haha yes I would avoid that term as well


I also abhor the term reach out, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the guests responding to requests for clarification of their reviews. I also ask guests via the Airbnb email system for specifics when I receive less than five stars. Very few of them respond. Of the guests who’ve responded none of them have given me any useful criticism. Most of the guests who give me less than five stars for cleanliness state that they prefer modern, new houses. We state in our listing that our house was built in 1926. Most of the guests who give me less than five stars for location wish we were closer to the beach, the mountains, Universal Studios, Disneyland, etc.

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That’s great if it’s working for you. Personally I don’t ask, I just let the occasional 4 star review go and move on. If we started getting lots of 4 star reviews then I’d be concerned, but generally I just don’t worry about it. Our place will never be perfect for every guest.


a very chilled out way to avoid host burnout.

Not only will some reviews always be disappointing, but most guests will realise that when reading reviews

Massive assumption here! I have left hosts 4 stars, really they deserved 2 or 3, and find this approach of yours a tad aggressive. Just my opinion. I wouldn’t respond either and it’s not because I’m embarrassed.


I wrote only once, after I got 5 stars in all categories and then overall 4! It happened for the fifth time and I had enough of it, so I wanted to get a glimpse into the way of thinking of folks who do this. I wrote a very polite message to my guest, who replied but only the first sentence of the message was displayed. I wrote to her asking if she can send it again, as there was a glitch. Never heard from her again. So it will remain mistery for me. :smiley:

I only asked one guest as well. She raved about my place gave all 5 stars and then a 1 star overall. Just hit the wrong star. I asked if she would contact airbnb about it. She said she would but it never got changed and I just let it go. She also booked a return trip and I just asked her to please be careful because the overall is what counts for our status and search rank, etc. She wrote a second nice review and made sure she left 5 stars. it’s annoying but mostly harmless. Who cares if it’s 98% 5 star instead of 99%?

I don’t care much about SH status, but when you lose it by inch because of the 4 instances of the same thing (5 in each category, 4 overall), it pisses you off a bit.


Why would you “reach out” when all you are doing is sending an email? I don’t think I would have had responded to such reaching out.

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That’s so smart Allison! I often wondered how people manage multiple listings. I’m just starting out this year and doing only one small room, however, I’m planning on adding other rooms and opening up to either larger groups or separate rentals. But I love your work around.

After several “everything was great” 4 star ratings, we decided to try to get people to understand the Airbnb rating system.We have a “Welcome” letter in each room that says many things but we also address the rating system.
It states,

"Airbnb’s star rating system- Some people are confused about this subject. It’s understandable because in hospitality a 5 Star rating is only given to the finest hotels and resorts. Airbnb’s system is different from that. In order for us as hosts to get and maintain our Superhost status, we need to get 5 star reviews at least 80% of the time.

Basically, 5 stars means everything was good. If we fall short in some way, that’s when you would deduct a star. Some folks who have stayed with us were very pleased with everything yet only gave us 4 stars. That review actually hurts our rating. It is our goal to earn a 5 star review every time. If we fall short in any way, please let us know while you are still here so we can try to rectify it. We always welcome constructive advice on how we can improve."


Since implementing that, we had 120 consecutive 5 star ratings! Only to be broken recently by a PITA guest.