I Know, we've all talked about this before, just venting. STARS

I’m a new host. I’ve had 15 sets of guests in the past 4 1/2 weeks. Public reviews are all, for the most part, GLOWING.

I’m getting marked down occasionally on location (4 stars). I’m going to assume this is because we are 2 miles from the beach instead of on it. Yes, my listing states that we are 5 minutes from the beach. Whatever, that’s fine, since those stars don’t really “count” and there’s not much I can do about where the house sits.

What’s irking the heck out of me is the 3 out of 14 guests who have left me 4 stars for overall experience, while leaving all 5’s for the separate categories! I know, some people don’t leave 5 stars no matter what. But these guests are, just not when it counts! One of the reasons this is bothering me so much is that there are lots of hosts who DO get 5 stars, across the board, almost, if not all the time. I suppose one could say that 3 out of 14 IS almost all the time, but it’s not “almost” enough for Airbnb.

I am noticing that I only get less than 5 stars from foreigners. 2 from French Canadians and 1 from people actually from France. So far, all the Americans who have stayed here left 5.

Anyway, as I said, they leave great public reviews and no one has any suggestions or voiced any complaints in the private feedback. I have done everything I can think of to make people welcome and comfortable. Though it’s not in my listing, I provide a free continental breakfast every morning. People rave about our coffee and the mattress. What I’m getting at here is that there is nothing I know to do to improve these ratings. I’ve been given ZERO actual feedback. If I had any idea at all about what could be improved, I would try to improve it, but I am clueless!

As an aside, since I mentioned the coffee, I thought I’d share my secret. We use plain ole Dunkin Donuts coffee. It’s the Ninja Coffee Bar that makes it great.

I think 2 miles away and 5 minutes away are a bit different. You are being marked down for location, so perhaps you are not being totally transparent and clear about your proximity to the beach. I understand as I have the same situation. In beach traffic, 2 miles take a lot more than 5 minutes, and is not walking distance. I think you should be more specific about what you offer. A comment such as …“whatever”…is probably justification from your viewpoint. Some humility may be of service and help here.

I try to put thoughts in people’s heads. During check-in I might make a comment like “I want you to have a 5-star experience while you are here. Let me know if there is anything you need.” People respond positively to the eagerness in the comment and remember it later. During the visit I will try to reinforce the idea with little checkups “how are you doing? Is there anything you need to make your stay better?” My goal is to make them feel like there is nothing they did not get (within reason) and so there is no reason to give anything less than 5 stars.

If a guest asks for something that I just can’t supply during their stay (like, is there a TV for the room? - we have one in the guest living area but not the separate rooms) I make an effort to sound like I am taking their request very seriously (even if I’m not). “Yes, my husband and I have talked about that. I’m glad you brought it up. Do you think it would be better to have (list some options).” Since they know I’m not likely to just run out and buy a bunch of TVs during their stay, they feel like they’ve contributed to the improvement of the space. One guest left a note in the feedback area which is private, saying “I do like your idea of adding a new TV to the room” but she didn’t complain in the public review about not having one.

The only thing I’d recommend for your listing is maybe change the wording on location. Five minutes away, to me, sounds like I can walk down the street to get to the beach, which might also imply that I can see the beach from the house. Maybe say “2 miles from the beach - just five minutes in your car” to specify that it’s not a walkable 5 minutes.


Hi @georgygirlofairbnb, I wouldn’t say justification. Rather, I feel like this is the place I can come when I need to vent my frustration. That’s what that comment was about. I am nothing but genuinely kind to and interested in my guests and making their stay as comfortable and happy as I can.

Thank you for your suggestion. I have driven from my house to the beach, even in traffic, so the time is accurate. That being said, you and @Artemis make good points. I will add both time and distance to my listing and specify that it is by car and that it is too far to walk.


@Artemis, thank you for these ideas about subtly putting thoughts in guest’s heads. Though I have done some of this, I can certainly step it up a bit!

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We are about 1.5 miles from the beach and this is in the listing plus ‘just a few minutes by car’. I told one guest that it takes me about forty minutes to walk to the beach and later in her stay she scoffed at me (nicely) that it took her twenty five minutes. Other people take more than an hour to walk to the beach. So I never put walking times :slight_smile:

Gah… If I had a host fussing around and “just making sure there isn’t anything else that you need” I think I would find it really irritating. Like that over zealous server who you just KNOW is trying to manipulate you in to giving a larger tip. Just be authentic would be my advice. Make sure they know they can ask if they need anything and then relax.


That’s the very last thing I say to guests after the house tour - ‘be sure to let me know if there’s anything you need’. Very rarely have they done so.


Hi @Chloe,

I hand out a suggestion form. I’ve even posted it here. That’s one thing you could do, though it’s not a particularly useful one. I include a list of possible improvement. Most of the time the (short stay) guests aren’t very interested. Sometimes they ignore the form completely.

I think the only thing you can do is email and ask why they gave you the highest ratings in each category, yet their overall experience was less. Actually, I never even thought about what overall experience even means. Maybe the guest got into a fight with their spouse so the experience wasn’t so great. It’s all so subjective.

I don’t think there is anything you can really do about location rating. Guests are going to continue to book your place knowing they will need to drive 2 miles from the beach. Guests want to be right on the beach, but only pay “close to beach” rates.

Funny story, I have a recurring guest (we’re on week 4 of Mon - Thurs) and the very first night I asked him if he needed anything and he asked for an iron, I didn’t have one, it’s not listed and I said no, but I can get one (they’re fairly inexpensive , why not right?) The next day I go out pick one up and it has been right where I put it 4 weeks ago.


Ugh, I had a guy recently who booked to go to the Open Air fest at Toyota Park. Before he booked we had lengthy messages about how far we are, there’s no trains to get there, are you sure you want to book here with no car, sure, wel’ll take an uber, etc. Fine, fine fine.

Dings me on location. Private feedback? “Wish it was closer to Toyota Park.”

Oh REALLY! Next time I’ll move my building closer for you. Sheesh!


So true. Putting walking times is fraught. The nearest train station is a 6 minute walk uphill from our house. I know this is how long it takes to walk, as I’ve done it - very often. Putting it kindly, I’m overweight, in my 50’s and not that fit. So when my 20 something Chinese guests complain it is too far and takes a lot longer than 6 minutes, I’m kind of astounded. But there you have it. If they timed it, it probably DOES take 6 minutes, but if you hate hills it could feel like you’ve been walking for 26 minutes :grinning:

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I am French and French guests have a reputation among French hosts of giving low ratings and NEVER a 5-star rating. Hosts around here say it’s due to our school system where we can never reach the best rating and we’re always told things like “good but could be better”.


That’s so funny and so true. I lived in France for 6 years and my children went to school there. It was actually possible for them to get -3/20. You start with a perfect mark and then marks are deducted for each mistake - so technically you could get -30/20!! You French people have learned to be very tough. As a host you can help re-educate them on us much softer Anglos :slight_smile: