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Ant issue - how to avoid a poor review?

#1

I’m a Superhost with nothing but 5 star ratings. Most of my guests tend to stay 2-3 months as the cottage is very well located and equipped for longer stays. I also offer a significant discount for month-long stays. The cutrent guests are no exception.
The space had been empty for about 3 weeks before they arrived in early Feb. About 5 days before they arrived I went to check on everything and noticed a few itsy bitsy ants (“sugar ants”) in the bathtub and around bathroom commode. I called the exterminator and had him treat area. He said that this year has been worst for ants he’s ever seen because we’ve had a historic rainfall.
Anyway, the guests have been extremely complimentary of the space and my hosting. But I’ve had to have exterminator back twice, and I’ve had my handyman out to caulk up any tiny openings where they might be getting in. All to relatively little avail. The traps we put down seem to have made the situation temporarily worse - which I know is part of the process because the borax attracts the ants and then they supposedly bring back to nest and that helps kill off nest. The exterminator said it may take another 3 weeks for full resolution. That will extend past end of their stay.
Regardless, most all of their 2 month stay they’ve had to content with ants in the bathroom. It’s not a horrendous “infestation”, and the ants have not gone Into any other room. But there’s no doubt it’s less than ideal.
My question is: How should I address the review before they leave one?? They’ve been very complimentary on everything, and so perhaps their not planning to trash me for “cleanliness” when this is clearly out of my control. But I worry about what will happen, and I’d like to get ahead of it if I can. I’ve brought them a cake, offered that they use one of my main home’s bathrooms, told them I’ll offer them a free weekend in future, been all over gettting exterminator back and handyman out, apologized profusely, etc. Not sure what else to do. I’m afraid to bring up the review directly with them, but perhaps I should?? How could I mention it in my review without “encouraging” them to comment on it. I am confident this is a temporary problem that will be resolved before the next guests, but mention of bugs would be terribly offputting to any potential guest, I’m sure.
Suggestions??

#2

To be very honest I think you have handled everything perfectly. You’ve gone well out of your way to make them happy as well as to show that you are trying to take care of the issue for them. Are they complaining? I think if they were terribly Disturbed that they would have left already

4 Likes
#3

Just show your guests that you really care and make them feel special. Do something nice for them. I had one guest who loved cheese but was a little grumpy about the parking situation. I bought her some cheese when I was out grocery shopping and no bad review! I just knew it’d make her happy.

4 Likes
#4

I think you’ve done what you can. We had plumbing issues during a guest’s stay (nothing gross, just the toilet running non-stop) which required bothering them twice. We gave them a 10% refund and they gave us a 4* review, which I’m fine with.

I fear bugs and critters showing up in our house when someone is staying. Once I was cleaning in between guests and found evidence of a mouse. Luckily we caught it that night, and it seems that was the only one.

3 Likes
#5

I would rather expect them in a cottage.

“We are proud of our cottage and it’s close proximity to the garden. Kindly note that to avoid excess visits and extermination, occasionally ants or other insects may get in. Kindly advise us immediately if this is a concern.”

3 Likes
#6

Just blame the ants on the guests. I’m just kidding, of course. When I read this, I recalled reading the reviews of one of my guests. The guest had a dozen great reviews and one bad. The host that gave him the bad review actually blamed having ants in the house on the guest. Not surprisingly, he turned out to be a great guest in my listing.

1 Like
#7

Thanks. I did already bring them a lovely cake from a great local bakery, and have offered free weekend. It’s more that I am unsure of whether or not I should proactively address it in review before they do?
They seem otherwise happy. They’ve been nice guests.

1 Like
#8

Airbnb is using the ‘prisoner dilemma’ in their review system so its really a philosophical question.

In actuality though your review will mostly only be seen by hosts and your guest’s review will mostly only be seen by guests. The two would rarely ever be taken in context of each other so it probably doesn’t matter. What would matter more is your public response to their review. If you think its going to be bad, wait the full 14 days and get as many good reviews in after they checkout as possible. So that way if their review does end up being bad, you at least get a head start on new reservations made before it was posted and potentially good reviews posted after the bad one.

3 Likes
#9

You sound like an excellent host. Sounds like you have done everything you could.

4 Likes
#10

Doesn’t really work that well if, as the OP states, the typical length of stay is 2-3 months

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#11

I’d be interested to know from other hosts what the likelihood is of the guests mentioning the ants in the review.

During my hosting years I’ve had the AC break down, ants, plumbing problems, no hot water, cooker not working and one time, a lady who knocked on my door showing me a photograph she’d taken of a cockroach in the apartment. (Note: Our apartments are lovely and problems are rare - these things happened in two apartments over several years. Just in case the previous sentence made us sound slobby…)

But none of these issues has caused a bad review or even been mentioned in the review. Do other hosts find the same?

Baking them a cake? Giving them a free weekend? Personally, I think both those things are above and beyond. What more you can do is simply say to them “thank you so much for not mentioning the ant problem in the review you’ll be writing. Thank you so much. I really look forward to reading it and to seeing you again soon”.

2 Likes
#12

+100 for mentioning the prisoner dilemma. Can you elaborate? I sort of get the gist but am fascinated withany details that you touch on vis a vis Air reviews.

1 Like
#13

Hmmm. So, I had noisy horrible rehabilitation work that would go on for 2 months start next door after a couple from D.C. booked. I asked them pre-trip if it was going to be a problem and they said no, they would be out in daylight hours.

After they arrived, they said they were going to the local vegetarian restaurant. As they were walking there, I called the restaurant and ordered a $25 gift certificate for them and gave my credit card details. I said, “Look for a completely adorable couple” – some clothing / height / hair color details.

The rave review was well worth it, they said they were going to recommend my listing to everyone they know.

P.S. I in a sense felt I owed them for working with me and being understanding. Personally I am pretty sensitive to banging noises, so I felt a gift card was almost the bare minimum for their kindness.

4 Likes
#14

Funnily enough, I’ve done the same thing for construction. (It was emergency construction that couldn’t be planned for). However I gave the guests a gift card for a chain restaurant. That way they could use it either locally or in their home town if they wished. I also have a stash of lower value Starbucks gift cards for lesser problems. (Part of the ‘guest kit’.)

3 Likes
#15

Perhaps the product we use to control ants will help you quickly handle those trails of ants on your premises. We live in the tropics, and ants are constant companions - but not inside the house. We found a terrific professional gel at Amazon, just a dime-sized dab will attract every ant passing by, and that same day, within 4 or 5 hours, the whole ant trail will disappear. And they do not reappear for a month, often 3 months. The product is Advion Ant Gel Insecticide With 4 Tubes:(https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B014EIAAPS/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1).

1 Like
#16

@jaquo

Interesting question about how likely it is for guests to leave “buggy” feedback.

I’ve had the following occur during guest stays and the guests did not mention it in their reviews. I think it was because: 1. I promptly followed up on a correction. 2. Apologized. 3. Offered a token $25 or $30 refund on their stay for the inconvenience

Events:
Neighbor’s upstairs Airconditioning condensation tube was blocked & dripped into my unit
Tiny ants after prolonged rain
Toilet pump needing replacing (constantly running)
Ceiling fan replacement on porch
Refrigerator dying thus being replaced. (It took 6 days for replacement to arrive & be installed. I loaned them a very nice cooler)
The ever present and constantly wandering & flying in Palmetto bugs.

Most people are understanding that “things happen”.

2 Likes
#17

Thanks Anne, good to know. It makes me chuckle (and fume slightly, to be honest) if guests leave the door open and then are surprised that there are mosquitos (and possibly a palmetto) in the apartment. It was the guests who let the things in! I try to let them know during the house tour that it’s a bad idea to leave the door open but it doesn’t always sink in. Plus I can visualise the expensively-cooled air flying out too :slight_smile:

5 Likes
#18

Thank you! I’ve been using Terro, which came highly recommended. It certainly attracts the ants well. I think the best must just be huge. We’ve had historical amounts of rain this year. But I may add your recommendation into the mix of the issue isn’t resolved in 2 weeks or so.

#19

POLL-time !!!

1/ How many stars would you give @Newbiehost for handling this situation?

  • :star:
  • :star::star:
  • :star::star::star:
  • :star::star::star::star:
  • :star::star::star::star::star:

0 voters

2/ Do you think these guests will mention the ant problem in their review?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

3/ Do you think these guests will deduct 1 or more stars for cleanliness?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

1 Like
#20

I hope you have the success we have. We also had used Terro and every other product you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Then a carpenter here told me he found this gel online, but couldn’t remember the name. I tried 2 from Amazon. This is the one that is most impressive.

1 Like
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