Everyone I’ve rented to has had either glowing reviews or no reviews at all, which is completely at odds with what some of them are like as guests. It’s really disheartening to rent to someone who treats my home like a motel and me like motel staff, and I know from reading this forum and airbnbhell that I’m not the only host who experiences guests like this. The only way we’ll know in advance is if we leave honest reviews–my most recent guest-from-hell had 7 glowing reviews that focused entirely on the fact that he left the house clean, leaving out his entitlement and carelessness–as if they were looking only for the good points and leaving out the bad or mentioning the bad only to him in private comments.
If a host leaves a private comment for the guest, the guest may or may not change that behavior depending on their personality, and future hosts won’t know what they’re getting themselves into. Entitled guests are also more likely to leave bad reviews, something which may be a problem for new hosts without many reviews.
My new review policy is to describe my experience hosting them in detail and let other hosts make up their own minds with the information provided. The reviews are not just for the guest’s sake, they’re to let other hosts know what it’s like to rent to them. With guest-from-hell above, I really don’t care that he was clean as I can clean the house myself. I care much more that he expected me to run to the store for him like his personal assistant, didn’t offer to pay for the things he wanted me to fetch for him and then gave me a negative review–I wasn’t “very accommodating” because, while I did agree to go to the store for him, I asked him to pay for the things he wanted (bar soap because he didn’t like my body wash, and flavored coffee creamer because he didn’t like the half & half I’d provided).
I also agree with a comment above that airbnb should offer a 5-star system for guests as well, so I’ve simply started using my own in my reviews. This is the system I use:
Respect for owner
Respect for home/house rules
I’m done erring on the side of being polite and reserved in my reviews, because they sure as hell don’t offer me the same courtesy.