Frustrating Guest Reviews - "Great place!" then docking stars

Hi everyone, I’m new here! I’ve been creeping for a while, and I finally signed up today. I need your help/advice/perspective about guest reviews (womp womp). I know negative and positive reviews are covered in detail, and I’ve already learned a ton. I’ve tried searching for my specific need, so if there is a good thread for me to check out, please let me know. Like I said, I’m new and still learning the ropes!

I need your input on more frustrating reviews. I’m new to Airbnb hosting as well as this forum! So we’ve been hosting a guest suite (private entrance, deck, bathroom, and bedroom) on the first floor of our home in Pittsburgh. It’s been really fun for us so far, we’ve used Airbnb exclusively to travel for the last three years, so it’s cool to be on the other side. We are sitting at 31 reviews, and while they are all really nice reviews, there are a few that are just frustrating me to end.

We’ve had three guests now leave public reviews along the lines of “Great place!” and then dock us stars in random categories. I know that a four star review isn’t bad, but as a newbie host with only not so many reviews in a market that is gaining more Airbnbs all the time, getting a star docked is frustrating (plus I put a lot of effort into our Airbnb). We’ve been hit on our location three times now (because that’s something I can change), even though we are literally a ten minute bus ride into city center. I guess I will never understand when the guest picks our neighborhood they then dock a star. I can’t exactly change the location of my house.

My husband convinced me I needed to start an account when our guest left today and took a star for location when he was in town for a conference three blocks away.

I can’t respond publicly to these guests, because it’s not like they give me a ton of excellent feedback (really, “great place”, that’s all you can give me??). I guess my question is what do you guys do for those incredibly frustrating reviews? I know I should just forget it and move on, but it’s making me slightly ragey. I can’t really do anything except complain to my husband and drink a bottle of wine, and neither he or my liver wants this trend to continue.

My experience is some people just won’t give you a 5 star review. I’m using this copy as I get a lot of first timers. “I see this is your first Airbnb stay as you have no reviews. The Airbnb system works on good reviews, feedback and communication. I work hard to keep it in good repair, so If you need anything or anything is not working properly, please give me a chance to fix it instead of dinging me on a 5 star review, much appreciated and I will do the same for you!” A 4 star review hurts, I know! Good luck!

This is a universal complaint. There is nothing much you can do. Particularly as you are just starting each review is a bigger part of your percentage. It’s probably worth your effort to try to educate guests on how important 5 stars are to Airbnb as wendybarner suggests.

I had a fellow a couple of weeks ago who reserved and said he just needed a place to lay his head for the night. He didn’t give me a check in time or message me after I send check in instructions. I had no idea what time he was going to arrive. He showed up two full hours ahead of my stated earliest check in time. Lucky for him the room was ready. My thanks for letting him check in early? A review that said “nice,” and docking me one star on accuracy, check in and communication.

It’s only one star but I was furious. He was the one that didn’t communicate, who arrived early and as for accuracy? Who knows. I have 99% 5 star reviews on that and almost 300 reviews. My only satisfaction came from knowing I had given him a thumbs down, 3 stars on rules and 3 on communication. Because I’d seen his reviews for other hosts (get the air review extension on Chrome: ) I knew I wasn’t going to feel bad about the review I left him.

The best strategy is to keep doing your best and not worrying about the occasional missing star.

Sometimes guests interpret location as the quality of the neighborhood

When I had the awful New Year’s Eve guests last year, they gave me one star on accuracy because they couldn’t find the place.

Oh… maybe that was because you used process of elimination… you backed down every driveway on the street until you found my place!!! And hello, you were not supposed to even THINK of backing down my driveway in the first place. Yet I was docked a star for accuracy becaus they did not read a single direction I gave them. Horrible guests, left trash and the place a mess. Complained incessantly about a few bugs, did not appreciate refunds I gave and wanted more. Awful people. PM if you want their name, they LOVE to use Airbnb! :rofl:

That was the least of what they did to me. Second worst guests ever.

I had some real baddies in 2017. Looking for a much better quality guest in 2018.

I posted this previously on a different thread;
Yes, it’s really about educating guests about the rating system. We have a welcome letter in their room that explains it saying ;

"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.

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 using this, virtually everyone gives us 5 stars.

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Copious amounts of alcohol help!


Well there’s always this too…

The review system has literally made me sick. This is what I have learned.

Airbnb is priced significantly lower than hotels. There will always be a steady stream of requests; sometimes a trickle and sometimes a torrent. If you have done your best, you will get requests.

My ratings are my metric. I make my requirements clear. One of them is to get a 5 star rating. Some people are not comfortable with this, but I believe that people need to know my priorities, and this is one of them. I clearly state that I want to provide a 5 star experience at a 2 star price.

When I get a request, I try to weed out those who probably won’t fit. I’m not a particularly good psychic, and yes, sometimes jerks get past this. In the same breath, I’ve probably thumbs-downed perfectly good guests, but I didn’t want to risk it.

Part of my assessment includes whether or not they would likely give me a 5 star. Some people would say that this is mercenary, but this is a business, and that’s how I am assessed.

When the guest arrives I give them the option of cancelling on the spot without penalty if it does not meet their needs. This is my choice, but I don’t want an unhappy person under my roof. And yes, I don’t want a lousy review. Nobody has ever cancelled.

When they have been there for a night, I ask them (on platform, of course) how they enjoyed their first night and if anything needed attending to, and that I am available at all times for them. Between me, you, and the keyboard, this is also a CYA note, to minimize the possibility of a “problem” arising without notice.

And they DO arise when rules and common decency are not respected. My experience is that a succinct, direct and clear direct communication in the kitchen with the guest clears the air very quickly, one way or the other. And I have no problem stating GTF out of my house. And they know it. It’s surprising how often THOSE guests turn into 5 stars, too.

In 92%+ of the cases, it will be win-win. When review time comes, I send a platform post to them thanking them for their stay, stating what the ratings stars are all about, and advising them truthfully how I will be reviewing them. Then I mention that this is a small business, and that ratings are critical to my success, and mention some of the over and above description extras that I provided for them. In effect, I’m asking for a 5 star rating and showing them how to do it.

In the beginning I had 2 x 2 star reviews that were completely unwarranted. Fortunately the prospective guests were quite understanding. I also had prospective guests who got shafted by irrational hosts, and I learned from them too - again, win win.

Like most hosts, one of these days I will get a run of plywood princesses, renegades, and armchair terrorists in my home leaving me with a 60 Minutes crew and a SWAT team to cope with. It’s coming, just like death and taxes. Hopefully I will have enough equity to fend off crappy ratings in future.


Do you say how far/close you are to certain locations? I have a little explanation on my listing because I am just outside of historic downtown but it is still considered town…because it is the second largest city in Hawaii…and it is a sprawling town. I was saying that I am “in the middle of town” because technically I am but people’s feedback was that I am “just outside of town.” Their idiot logic multiplied by the fact that they aren’t FROM here means they have no f-ing clue. So, I changed my verbiage a bit and haven’t been docked a star on location since.

We are at a disadvantage… being on the Big Island. No matter how much you try to explain how big it is and how much they will be driving you will still get blamed for your location.

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i do not read them.


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I had never thought of that before! I live right in the middle of a popular tourist town and have been marked down to a 4 for location a few times and could not figure out why.