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Helping Airbnb to educate users on the rating system

#1

The topic of ratings is raised frequently in these forums. And it seems to me that the biggest issues still aren’t being addressed in an effective manner by Airbnb.

I love the sharing economy and what Airbnb and Uber have brought to my city and myself personally but there are many misconceptions out there and I don’t believe Air is doing enough to address them. I want to know if others feel the same.

  1. Star Ratings - a wise person once told me people don’t care what they pay as long as they feel they are getting value for their money. In other words, if you spend $29 to stay in a dormitory with a share bathroom in NYC and it’s clean, safe, the host is responsive and helpful and the space is what you expected, then in the Airbnb world it should be 5 star. On the other hand if you pay $1000 per night in an apartment with swimming pool, doorman, gymnasium, but the internet never works, the space is dirty and you can’t get hold of the host to address these issues, then it’s not 5 star (regardless of the facilities at the location). In this way, star ratings are very different in the Airbnb world to the hotel world. This is not explained to guests and creates all sorts feelings of frustration for hosts as well as spawning masses of articles from journalists being agog that the majority of Airbnb properties are 4 or 5 star!

  2. Lack of accuracy regarding guests. - Yes, they have been verified, but there should be rules. No photos of cute puppies as profile pictures and no pseudonyms. You can’t check into a hotel in Europe and present a photo of your dog and a homemade ID saying ‘Rover’ so the equivalent shouldn’t be allowed in the virtual world on Airbnb where we are taking total strangers into our homes. It’s apparently against Airbnb rules to book on behalf of another person, so why not complete the trust by being thorough about knowing who the guest is.

  3. Rating Guests vs Rating Hosts. It’s difficult to rate guests as you are not commenting on a space, a location, comfort, etc, but rather making an observation that is personal. So hosts are limited. We get to give guests a star rating on cleanliness, observance of rules and communication (I think that’s the 3), but no future hosts ever get to see those stars. Surely if a guest is a repeat offender in any of these areas, knowing that their ratings will be seen by future hosts could make them lift their game.

I would be really interested to know if others agree.

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#2

Thank you for this post and I agree with what you have written. I have expressed similar sentiments on this forum and Airbnb’s forums.
Here are my issues:
Overall rating: In the guidance it states the 5 stars as an exceptional experience - a VERY subjective term - a better description might give guidance such as - did the experience meet ALL your expectations based upon the property’s description?
Accuracy- I take this to mean that my description of the property is accurate - well if guests don’t read the description their expectations may not be met since it may be quite different than the actual property.
Value- another very subjective evaluation. I base my price points on the market in my area and the seasonal demand. I am extremely competitive for a waterfront apartment with lots of amenities BUT if you don’t know the area or market how do your guests evaluate value?
Cleanliness - easy one I think but I cannot always control the critters that wander into the apartment when guests leave the doors open - we are in the country.
Location- REALLY! So I have been marked down a few times on location - so I am on my farm in a rural area and market myself as such so if you come to my River House Apartment on Moot Point Farm which is described as rural and two miles from the closest small town and one hour and a half fron Washington DC & it is accurately depicted on the map what is this evaluation about - I cannot meet a guest expection if they wanted to be in a city or town nor should I since I am advertised as a getaway destination.
Communication - easy peasy - always get a 5 star since I get a text on my smart phone when there is any request or email from a guest so I usually respond in minutes.
So my opinion as a Superhost since I began with Airbnb in April 2014 is to get rid of some of these evaluation categories and do not make it manadatory. I use other booking services such as VRBO/Homeaway and really like their system - very simple with clear instructions.
I also am an Airbnb guest and have had to private message hosts with problems such as very uncomfortable bed in one place and a house that was not cleaned when we arrived. Both hosts were extremely grateful I told them of the issues since they are not on-site hosts.
Having said all this and sorry I am so long winded but I really believe the Airbnb rating system needs to change and it may eventually drive me away as a host since I am not interested in the constant pressure from Airbnb “to do a better job” and Airbnb building up unrealistic expectations with guests for their stay in my home!
Cheers - Helen

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#3

Helen,

I had no idea Air asks guests to rate 5 stars if experience was exceptional. I am also in a rural area and one guest under location feedback said “I don’t really know what I am supposed to say. But the location was not really convenient.” - The rental is 1.5 miles from the one and only major grocery store/deli/pharmacy/Red Box in the area. He was attending an event that was a little over 6 miles away. We’re in the mountains so the roads are curvy but he was only 15 minutes or so from the event. So what was inconvenient about the location?? - That there was no McDonald’s or Starbucks within walking distance?

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#4

One comment on this… we rate guests with stars… but we don’t see the stars as part of their profile? So what’s the point?

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#5

Exactly, Cabin! It’s all relative… subjective!

I just had a guest leave who said the location was not as close to [name of South Kona town] as she would have liked… even though that disclosure is all over my listing… described, disclosed in detail a million ways from Sunday! And she suggested in the private feedback I add it to my listing! (You mean the listing that you obviously did not read???)

You can’t walk to a starbux or Mickeys. But you are next to a premier, unknown, secluded, off-the-beaten-path snorkeling beach… but sure go ahead, ding me on location.

Location as a rating metric is worthless. Completely. Because a good location to one guest is a crappy one to another.

You might rate the five star Mauna Lani Resort Bay & Bungalows as a great location. Or you might not love the strong trades they get every afternoon, sometimes blowing you right off the beach… or off the golf course. It’s apples and oranges! If you want to fork over $900 and up for a room at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel… you still might not find the location ideal? Google it and I bet you will find some disgruntled travelers who find something wrong at the best 5-star resorts here.

The Four Seasons resort here doesn’t have the best beach in the world… They are constantly bulldozing it to make sure it holds a berm and stays stable. They sometimes have to close it in winter due to high surf that removes the sand. But you will still see Jennifer Lawrence, Steven Tyler, Ben Affleck or Brittney Spears lounging poolside and all rooms sold out. Do they know the beach there isn’t that great? Do they care?? Would they say it’s still a good location?

Celebrities like the Big Island because they can come here and not be bothered. There’s no paparazzi. So the beach might be not as good as the Wailea in Maui… but because they can have a holiday in peace, they prefer our island for its privacy. Making it, obviously, a better “location” than Maui or Oahu if you are a high-profile person.

My guests checking out today on the way out said, " We love this location! Everyone down here is so laid back. It’s so cool and quiet out here. We fear we won’t find that in our next place. " Probably correct!

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#6

Isn’t it funny how some view a place right on a snorkeling beach as an awesome location, and the next person thinks it’s not close to Starbucks!

The ones who rave about my location say how much they loved the fact that it is secluded (no view of neighbors) yet convenient to everything. At least some of my guests understand the difference between rural and being downtown in a city…sheesh!

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#7

Cabin & Kona your points are so well taken and I think that Air needs to lose all the breakdown in ratings. As I mentioned other sites have you rate your experience - I stayed at a cabin in West Virginia and I was VERY careful to read the description in great detail and asked a few questions of the host before booking so I know exactly how far I was from Berkley Springs, etc. - I really think Airbnb needs to hear from hosts concerning this rating system since it needs to change and hopefully soon.
Best,

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#8

This really bothers me. I just don’t see the point in rating guests at all because of this.

#9

Hi Helen

Thanks for your response. Okay, so I see that most of us are in agreement on the rating system. It’s not quite right and could certainly use a little finessing to improve it.

In terms of certain star rating categories, they’re not all compulsory. For instance, when I look at my stars, I have had approx 30 reviews in the overall star rating category, but only 26 for cleanliness and 27 for accuracy. Some guests don’t address certain categories -through haste or not wanting to comment I don’t know.

For location, I agree it’s one that’s contentious but I believe it’s relevant. Yes, as a host you cannot control your location, but it’s the same with any type of accommodations - hotels included, and as a guest I value that information. As an example, there is a town in Australia I like to holiday in. There are many Airbnb properties there and they are all on the beachfront. However, approximately half of them are nestled behind the dune - so although you’re right on the beach, you can’t see it, you don’t get the ocean breeze, there’s not as much sunshine in the late afternoon, and the lack of breeze means more mosquitoes. The lower location ratings for these houses aren’t because they’re not near a Starbucks or too far from the city, it’s because regular guests are rating them in relation to other houses along the beach front.

The categories make sense, but perhaps rather than asking people to star rate location they could be asked to make a short comment on it.

I think too, that one of the issues with the reviews is the section where the guests are asked ‘what did you love about it’ and ‘what do you think could be improved’ - my guests always fill these in, but I believe they don’t always notice these are private comments and hidden from future guests. My guests often write far more in these sections that the overall review. My last guest wrote in the ‘what could be improved section’ ‘Nothing, these guys are doing a great job.’ This clearly shows she didn’t realise that this was to be a personal message to me. Airbnb could certainly make this more obvious.

I am glad that any negative comments (that can be easily fixed) are sent to me in private and not written in the review, but then if everyone does that and the host never addresses it, as guests we will never know.

Anyway, I appreciate your comments and will continue working on my letter to Airbnb.

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#10

That’s so true. There’s a hotel down the road from me which costs $500 per night. (I charge $105) They are one block closer into town so some of their reviews say it’s too noisy!

Also it so depends on the circumstances of someone’s stay. I have a swimming pool which guests can use if they wish. (The $500 a night hotel doesn’t), but if it rains your entire stay and you don’t get to use the pool, you may not feel you got great value.

Case in point - I had a young woman come and stay with her 4 y.o. son - they were excited about being able to use the pool. A couple of weeks before they arrived, my son won a McDonalds competition which gave him free entry to the Aquarium in our city ( approx $35 value). We’ve all been so I gave them the voucher as it’s an amazing aquarium and I thought the son would love it. He did. However it rained the whole time they were with us and it never got warm enough to get in the pool. They were disappointed. My star rating? 4 stars overall and 4 stars for value. I don’t think she meant to be so mean spirited, it’s just that it was her first Airbnb experience and if you give 5 stars straight up, where do you go from there?

Also I’ve mentioned it here once before, having been a guest quite recently in France, I was surprised at the lack of guidance (given that it was my first experience as a guest) when it came time to do the review.

Anyway, I’m sorry I miss these conversations while they’re hot off the press, but being downunder the topics are often done and dusted by the time I get to them.

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#11

Yes, very pointless, I agree.

#12

Thanks Wilburforce,
I do agree about the private comments and have appreciated what can be improved and that has been mostly helpful. Also, though I am frustrated with the rating system, I agree that just having guests make comments about location, accuracy, cleanliness would be better then actual star ratings. Ratings for responsiveness (communication) I always check since I have had some instances where hosts have never responded. I think your premise for this posting was to have Air explain better the rating system to guests which I think is very important as well. Most of my guests do not know I am a superhost or have a clue what that is, nor do they understand that a 4 star rating a few times warrants a note from Airbnb saying please check and see if you can do better which is difficult if I do not know why they rated me 4 stars for accuracy or 4 stars for location so I would much rather have a comment than a star. I also think maybe an instruction for a review that says something like - for the categories please make sure you have reviewed the listing since your rating should reflect your experience based upon the listing not on a guests unrealistic expectations. My one great disappointment with a very few guests is that when they had a problem - internet not working during the day -really??? - they didn’t tell us so I could fix it and then wrote a very nice review and ended it with “and the internet doesn’t work during the day”! Of course it works during the day but may have needed to be reset. Oh well. Thanks for this discussion and maybe something will change for hosts and guests as well. Reviews are important and I very much pay attention to them when I travel. Cheers.

#13

Yep, well I’ll send a draft of my letter to Airbnb when it’s done and if anyone else is feeling the same they can write their own version. Thanks for your input.

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#14

Totalmente de acuerdo. Lo que más me preocupa y me jode es que los viajeros pueden poner un poema de despedida en la evaluación, pero te califican muy mal en cosas que no son ciertas. Tú como anfitrión no tienes posibilidad de defensa ante esto y simplemente afecta tu reputación en Airbnb. Educar a los “guest” es muy importante o mejorar el sistema de evaluación, porque debe reflejar exactamente lo que ocurre y no quedarse con la impresión de una persona. En mi caso han calificado mal tres veces mi ubicación y aún no sé por qué. El aviso es claro sobre la ubicación, el entorno, los servicios alrededor, hice una lista de sitios, etc. Sin embargo, a pesar de cumplir con las normas de Airbnb sobre la calidad y honestidad de la información, parece que los “Guest” no entienden qué significa y califican otra cosa. A veces siento como si los “guest” no pudieran identificar las diferencias entre un gran servicio en Airbnb, en donde además hay mucha información precisa en cada aviso, del servicio estándar de un hotel. Por cierto, creo que sería muy bueno inventar un sistema de calificación a la altura de los franceses, pues nunca es suficiente para ellos, aunque siempre regresan.

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