Help with reviewing guest

So this is a spin-off to my last question about when to give a current guest a partial refund, although that part of the story is done and really, not relevant to my current question.

Our guest checked out yesterday morning. 2 sisters and their 3 boys, under age 7. According to Airbnb, this was their first stay and the booker had no reviews but her identity was verified.

The house was left in the condition I was expecting… toys/small items/chairs moved around and not returned to original location - a little annoying but totally within the realm of okay.

What really threw me off was the amount of food, crumbs, spills on the floor throughout the house. Nothing was ruined but it appeared that a popcorn, Fruit Loop and tortilla chip factory exploded in the house. Or else the kids walked around for 3 days just crushing food in their hands and dropping it on every surface and piece of furniture. There was also about 100 hand prints all over the TV.

If I was cleaning on my own, I would not have finished in the 5 hrs I have allotted for cleaning before the next guest. Thank goodness my son’s soccer team lost their game and my husband just happened to come with me to clean. We literally finished up just as the next guest was pulling in. (Side note: it was so nice to actually meet our guests. I don’t usually experience that)

I have learned from this lovely group to keep my public feedback non-emotional and factual. I can do that but I wonder how much to disclose in my public review? (ie: how long it took me to clean, etc)

Or do I just give a 3 on cleanliness and comment that the guest was pleasant and easy to communicate with, which she was. Do I go into more detail in a private message to her?

I don’t want to ruin her start as an Airbnb guest but I also want to inform her that that wasn’t an acceptable way to leave a house.

As always, thanks for your time and advice.

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Always leave an honest, accurate, and detailed review for your fellow hosts. We hosts need to hear about the problems you had with this guest so we can decide when this guests wants to book with us what we are getting in to.

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What I have learned from the forum is to not complain about guests leaving a mess. :neutral_face:

At the beginning of our hosting journey we imposed a house rule to broom/vacuum before leaving the accommodation - something that I’d do out of respect. But apparently either the guests ignore this or it is just unreasonable to ask for that since “we have to clean anyway”.

So, take it as a win and move on, since nothing was broken and you could immediately receive your next guests.

However, I totally understand your situation and it irks me as well when such “obvious” dirt is left behind which to me is a type of disrespect.

I would leave a 3 or 4 for cleanliness no doubt. Other hosts may not care at all about that while others may not want to host a guest like this - at the same time you could be branded as one of those “overly picky” hosts.

Do as you feel it’s best. I wouldn’t see anything wrong doing so.

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I would do exactly as you mentioned, give 3 stars for cleanliness, basic written review and a private note.

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I would consider this extremely disrespectful. I raised three kids and they were never allowed to walk around with food- you eat at the table.

If you are going to go the private message route, so as to not start her off with a bad written review, you should definitely let her know that many hosts would have given her a bad written review and even charged her for extra cleaning time for the state she left the place in, but that you gave her the benefit of the doubt since it was her first Airbnb booking.

Personally, I would not be shy about mentioning this level of disrespect in the public review, because there’s no way of knowing if she’ll take the private messaging to heart and do better next time. She’s an adult, and not only did she not bother to clean up after her kids, she’s teaching them that it’s fine to drop food all over someone else’s home and just leave it there.

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You could mention it in a somewhat gentle way in the review “Susie and her sister brought three young boys with them and our home was left in a very messy state. Since this is Susie’s first AirBnB stay, she may not have realized the expectation we have for cleanliness from our guests, and we’re hopeful she’ll do better next time and keep our home much cleaner than this time”.

And then give her more feedback in private.

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Thanks everyone - this is helpful.

I don’t want to overthink this but I also want to be intentional in what I do.

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Out of curiosity, at what point would it be justified for the guest to claim that they did pay for a cleaning fee (as long as this has been charged)?

I did get asked once by a guest what the cleaning fee is for (at the time we still had the sweeping/vacuuming house rule in place). I ran down the list of our cleaning protocol and that did shut them up quite convincingly. The cleaning fee in our understanding is not a “I’m not your mom”-fee but some guests don’t have a concept of that.

But most guest would assume that leaving crumbs and handprints on the TV not as an excessive messy behavior, right?

That is such a great question, @Hosterer and one I’ve been thinking about since we started Airbnb last year. It’s almost like the vague “you know it when you see it” idea. But that’s so subjective it’s probably not helpful.

I’d say 9 out of 10 guests leave our house better than I would’ve expected. I don’t ask guests to do any “chores” before checking out and put my faith in them to do the right thing.

But occasionally I’ve been burned by a guest like we just had. Or someone that stayed for 5 days and never once took the trash out.

What I’m considering putting in my house info section is something to the effect of “The cleaning fee is not for housekeeping but for cleaning and preparing the house for the next guest”. But even as I write that here, it feels clunky and not the vibe I’m going for.

I expect some of that with kids - I understand the struggle. But what we were left with was truly over-the-top!

Certain things are not worth talking about but sometimes a guest can push the limits to new heights like opening two jars of our homemade Mirabelle jam and then only eating half of each leaving them without a lid on amidst the breadcrumbs all over the table. It was neither a ‘hurry’ situation nor did there seem to be something wrong with one jar so that he had to open and taste (half of) the second jar. :man_shrugging:

I mean we’re not a Disney hotel suite for $1000 a night where you might take a single bite out of every apple in the fruit basket. A minimum of respect and decency could be shown in our opinion but these ‘odd’ guests will always be there…

I think it’s wonderful and very generous of you to feel that way. I have to admit that I wouldn’t be able to be so lenient towards these guests.

I fully understand that you don’t want to spoil her start with Airbnb but she didn’t behave like a decent human being - and as a host, I’d like to think that guests are decent human beings.

If her behaviour is allowed to run unchecked, she’ll never improve and if that’s the case, I certainly wouldn’t want her as a guest and I imagine that other hosts here feel the same way.

Please bear in mind that reviews are written to let future hosts know what to expect from guests.

Look at it this way - if you knew that those guests were going to stay at your best friend’s rental after they checked out from your place, you’d warn them wouldn’t you?

So please warn other hosts what to expect.

P.S. I thought that review along the lines of the one written by @PitonView would be perfect.

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Whether to keep criticism of guests private or public would depend to me on the circumstances. I would tend to give an 18 or 19 year old newbie guest private feedback if they were otherwise acceptable guests apart from a mess left behind, because many people that age may have just moved away from home, or still live with their parents who foolishly clean up after them and they just have no consciousness of cleaning up after themselves.

But 2 women who are adults, with 3 children between them, I wouldn’t give a pass to.
Hand prints and crumbs I’d consider part and parcel of hosting kids (When my kids were young, I couldn’t understand why they had to put their grubby hands on the wall when they rounded the staircase at the landing- the stairs weren’t steep and they weren’t so young and small they needed to support themselves when mounting the stairs, but there were always grubby hand prints on that wall.).

But no instructions to “stop touching the TV”, and a food explosion all over the house with no attempt to clean it up is really disrespectful. If they had at least left a note like “So sorry about the mess- trying to pack, and wrangle all the kids out the door to check out on time left us no time to clean up. I realize we should have started earlier or cleaned and packed last night, but we aren’t used to travelling with the kids, and didn’t time things well. Apologies.”, it might have been different as far as the host feeling disrespected.

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Thanks everyone. This has been helpful. I finally had time to sit down and compose my review for her but I didn’t post it yet. Thanks for @PitonView for the template… I used some of it. I can include what I’ve written so far at the end of this post.

But now I’m wondering if I should make reference to her being understanding when the power on the block went out for 6 hrs on a hot TX night. Is that relevant? Should I disclose that we did refund her for one night? I feel like that isn’t something I should advertise…

" XXXXX was friendly, responsive and informative in our messaging. She was staying in our home with her sister and three young children. We appreciated that the dishes were washed and the fridge was emptied but the house was left in a very messy state (excessive food and crumbs throughout the entire house, a few spills on the hardwood floors and many, many handprints on the TV).

As this looks like XXXXX’s first AirBnB stay, she may not have realized the expectation for general cleanliness from our guests and we’re hopeful she would do better next time."

I would never mention having given a refund in a review. And while I think it’s nice to mention when a guest is understanding about something beyond your control, in this case I wouldn’t, because she may well have been nasty about it had you not offered a refund.

And as I recall, you said she called you at midnight to complain about it being too hot to sleep, even when she knew you couldn’t do anything about the electric outage, so I wouldn’t characterize that as “understanding”, anyway.

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Thanks @muddy and that’s true re: her response may have been different if I didn’t offer the partial refund.

Just to clarify: she didn’t call me in the night to complain. After the estimated time of when the power was to be restored passed, she sent me a message via Airbnb inquiring if I had any updates. She was understanding… all our correspondence re: power was pleasant and understanding, even before I offered compensation.

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I would give her 3 stars on cleanliness and follow up with a private note if it were me. I would also mention in the review what she complied with. She does not sound like a horrible guest, we have all had those but someone who clearly needs to understand the rules that are different from staying in a hotel.

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Adherence to house rules, quality of guest cleanliness, etc. has nothing to do with the amount of stays, etc. As a host looking at reviews, poor guest activity whether their first or their 100th stay tells me how to judge if I want them in my airbnb. Hosts read reviews for potential stays and the reviews do not tell us (nor does it matter to me) if they are new guests, busy moms with unsupervised kids, boomer dads with issues about gender roles, etc - the quality of their actions is what we hosts look for.

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@Mihls I appreciate your comment and it helps validate my assessment of the situation.

@Rolf I disagree and believe a brand new guest might not know what the unspoken rules are on how to leave a house.

I’m trying to strike the balance so she knows what is expected and future hosts know my experience with her.

I’ll share my revised review. My 15 year old daughter actually had some great insight and prompted me to do some editing.

"XXXX was friendly, responsive and informative in our messaging. She was staying in our home with her sister and three young children. XXXX was communicative and understanding when a transformer blew and knocked out power to most of the block for a few hours on a warm Texas night.

We appreciated that the dishes were washed and the fridge was emptied. However, the house was left with excessive food and crumbs throughout the entire house, a few spills on the hardwood floors and many handprints on the TV.

As this looks like XXXX’s first AirBnB stay, she may not have realized the general cleanliness that is expected from guests upon checkout. All things considered, I believe she’d be a conscientious guest in the future."

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I generally like your review but with a couple of important follow-up questions for you.

First I have to say that I flat-out refuse to have children under the age of 10 in my house and Airbnbs because I have found that all of them leave messes like this. And the only young children who have been in my house and Airbnbs have been children of so-called friends of mine :grimacing: :laughing:

Anyway, I’m going to ask a couple of questions that I don’t think have been asked above.

  1. What does your checkout list require?

  2. Is there a broom and dustpan, mop or wet cleaning wipes or a vacuum readily available/easy to find for the guests’ use in the unit?

I’ve been a guest a lot recently and Airbnb is really pushing reminders on the checkout list. I remember thinking that when they came out with publishing the checkout list that it may cause more issues than it solves and so far I think I was right. Of course no host wants to turn off guests before they book with a cumbersome checkout list so they mostly appear to be exceedingly simple and even go against common sense.

For instance, I just stayed somewhere for 5 months with my dog and the checkout list (which Airbnb prodded me to follow before checkout) simply said, “Turn things off. Return key. Gather used towels.” It totally goes against common sense considering the length of my stay and the inclusion of my dog. I obviously need to sweep/vacuum, take out the trash and do the dishes at the very least even though those things were not on the list (and I did and would no matter what). The host seems to be aware of the discrepancy as well because he reminded me several times to clear the home of dog hair and dander and even asked that we wash the sheets before we left.

All of that is to say that what your published checkout list requires is relevant. It doesn’t mean you can’t mention that it was left overly messy because you can and you should but if they followed your checkout list you should also mention that. Does your checkout list ask guests to sweep? It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have picked up the cheerios detritus because they should but if you don’t ask them to sweep then that should be taken into account. If you do ask them to sweep then it should be mentioned that you do.

If there isn’t a broom or other cleaning equipment available to them then you must take that into account as well. I’d even say you were asking for it, so to speak, if there’s not a broom.

One other thing, I think the fingerprints on the TV sounds a little petty to me when I see it in writing. That is for sure annoying but may have easily gone unnoticed. They wouldn’t show up except in certain lighting so, personally, I’d have to give the benefit of the doubt on those and not mention them at all. I’d also rather that guests not wipe my TV screens with water or random products from under the sink that may not be appropriate for a screen anyway.

Just my 45 cents or whatever.

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@JJD I’m running out the door to clean the airbnb but wanted to thank you for all these comments. I’ll reply in more detail later but here’s the skinny:

  • my check-out list is minimal and not published in the way you described. I did ask her to make sure the dishes were washed and left to dry in the rack, which she did.

  • there is a broom, dustpan, plenty of paper towels and a vacuum.

The handprints were literally all over the total bottom portion of the TV. Multiple dirty hands dragging, wiping, smearing all over. There was not a spot untouched. I’ll post a pic when I have a sec.

Stay tuned…