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Leaving a Bad Review for a Non-Communicator

Pretty sure everyone dislikes leaving bad reviews (especially in the narrative). However we, of course, leave them on warranted occasions. This is about the non-communicator.

When a guest confirms a booking we have a minimum of 4 communications that go out to the guest. They are as follows:

  1. UPON CONFIRMATION: Thank you for your booking/nice to meet you, etc.
  2. MORNING OF CHECK IN: Welcome message, directions, door code, etc.
  3. MORNING OF VACATE: Check out instructions, etc.
  4. AFTERNOON OF VACATE: Thanks for staying with us, make us a favorite (as long as our crew doesn’t tell us they destroyed the place, etc.)

About 1 out of 25 guests confirm their booking and they go on to respond to NOTHING. That is, we don’t even know if they arrived or if they ever left. It can be pretty frustrating.

In our review, we ding them (severely) on communication (2-stars) and then give them applicable stars in the other areas based on what our crews report.

This is our narrative in the review:

“John Doe was 100% non-communicative from the moment he confirmed his reservation until after he vacated. However, he was a respectful guest and we would host him again.”

There’s the rub: We had a guest who was appalled by this exact review of them. Like up in arms about it. Carrying on about how “we left you a deserved 5-star review and recommended your home to our family and friends. Now with this review we’re second guessing ourselves, etc.” Of course, we immediately responded to her. We confirmed that we had no communication from her. We talked around further interaction, our desire to gain a better understanding of the situation, etc.

Wouldn’t you know it - she ignored the above response too!

Thoughts?

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It does seem a bit harsh. Is there important information that you’re waiting for, or is it just the principle of the thing?

I like to know when they’re planning to arrive, and if they don’t respond to that I’ll knock off a star. Other than that, I follow their lead on communication.

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It is frustrating but if it’s that important to you that you’d give 2 stars you may wish to reach out via text as well to ask them to respond. Then I could see 4 stars if ignored.

But if they left my place nice, I’m cool. I have cameras and alerts (when codes are used, when motion is detected, etc…once I know they’ve arrived I turn them off and then back on the day of departure) so if I really need the info you’re missing in those communications I can get it myself.

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I definitely prefer good communicators, and 95% of my guests have been.

But I wouldn’t be so harsh about what seems to really aggravate you. Many guests these days just want to book a place, stay, and leave, especially if it’s an entire home with off-site hosts and self-check in.

If you ask them specific questions which they ignore, or ask them to please respond and they don’t, that’s different. But the type of messages you have posted above may not be anything they feel they need to respond to, and in fact may cause some types of guests to think, “Oh for heaven’s sake, why doesn’t he just bugger off with all the niceties, is he shiilling for a 5 *review, or what? He got paid, what more does he want”, even though they are just brief, polite messages that show you care.

Basic manners and courtesy seems to be in short supply these days, so I wouldn’t necessarily be expecting it. A message that doesn’t obviously require a response may not register with guests as requiring a response.

If they didn’t respond to requests for ETAs or other info the host asked for, I’d mark them down for communication, but just because they didn’t respond to other messages, I wouldn’t. I just might not want them as guests again.

And you may not be aware, but there are plenty of hosts who don’t particularly like much communiication with guests, either. They also prefer book, pay your money, follow the house rules, leave the place clean. 5* guest.

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I think that’s a bit harsh as well. Some people just don’t communicate- maybe they are busy, maybe they aren’t into online communication.

I ask people for their arrival and departure times, and if people don’t respond, I send them an extra message with the check in information a few days before their arrival that says something like: Check in is anytime after 3 pm and check out is anytime before 11 am. If you are expecting to arrive outside of those times, please let me know ahead of time and I’ll see what I can do.

That may or may not prompt communication. And if it doesn’t, I’ve decided that’s fine with me. And I’ve found a lot of those non-communicators actually read the listing, plan on arriving and departing within the set times, and are just self-sufficient. And have left very good reviews more than not! Sometimes no review, but I got paid! I’ll take them over people with copious communication.

I think if it’s important to you to have communication, then you should make that clear in your description and/or in your first message to people. If I rented out a shared space, I’d likely be more particular. But a 2* is very harsh, IMO.

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These are “Hotel guests” They are used to hotels and don’t understand that the direct communication from the host is an important part of the guest / host process.
If I don’t hear from them - I call them!

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We have to TEXT 20% of guests, that we sent a msg’d them on Air or VRBO etc (no response to 2 msgs over 1 day).
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Not everyone gets Air notifications, even IF they have the phone App. Some people are not tech savvy.
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They probably are not “ignoring you”, and just had no idea. This is pretty common for us. If we don’t get a response to 2 Air msgs within 1 day, we send a “text poke”, and VOILA - usually along with “hey sorry I did not see your message”.
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If you got nothing post booking (pre check-in) and ALSO sent 2-3 texts - and STILL nothing, that is an issue.
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Otherwise, they paid and sound like they took care of your place? So, that’s a win.

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What are you expecting as a response to those messages?

I’d take the confirmation as your reply to me asking to stay. Unless there is a specific question in there, such as “what are your plans while here?” I let that one go.

The welcome/checkin message I ping the host to say I’ve made it into the property and everything looks good, assuming it does look good. You might want to tell them you expect a message when they make it inside. Otherwise they may figure you have cameras or other monitoring that says they are there. In my case, the nest snaps out of away mode when someone comes in, so I can tell if they found their way there. I’m okay if they don’t tell me.

The checkout message should include a blurb to tell them to message when they’ve left the premises, so the cleaners can enter. That’s the only message I need a reply to.

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Base your review on receiving information you actually NEED from the guest? Everything else is nice, but not necessary. You compete with hotels, don’t expect a guest to provide with more communication than what would be necessary for a hotel check-in/check-out. If more than that is actually needed for your listing, make it part of the process (e.g. a walkthrough of the property).

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Pretty harsh to leave one star when many folks don’t add the Air app to their phone and email goes to their home computer that they booked from.

I tell guests that I do all my communication on the Air platform so they need to make sure to add the app to their phone. I also don’t send the entry code until the place is ready.

If they have the app, it will work anywhere they can find wifi (like our local airport), even if they don’t have phone service.

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Great question. . . It’s a bit of both. I’d like to know when they arrive and when they leave. It feels like common courtesy (I know I tell all my hosts). Along those same lines, as a guest, when I get ANY communication from a host, I respond to them. “Thanks!” “Sounds great!” “You got it!” That sort of thing. In other words, “I know you’re a human being, and I’m a human being too.”

What does the “Communication” category mean, then? That they communicated badly? Like bad English? Or were insulting? Maybe I have it wrong. . . I’m assuming it means “responsiveness and respect for your host by virtue of your communication.” If a guest doesn’t communicate, at all, then how do they deserve any stars? That’s how I got to 2-stars.

Imagine a category for the guest like “Door Locks” and the listing didn’t have door locks. You’d leave 1-star, right? Why should it be more than that if a guest doesn’t communicate at all?

Great point. We did ask her one question at the beginning (she had booked for 1 guest in a 2BR home). She ignored our guest count confirmation. But we lost track of it (my fault) and didn’t follow up on that question specifically. When the remaining canned communications all went out and her stay was underway, there was indeed not a single additional question I was asking. So that might also be on me. But she never responded to anything regardless.

And several years ago (spanning about 750 bookings total), we had a “please confirm receipt of this communication” blurb included every time we’d send instructions and salutations. The problem with that was guests specifically mentioned how this irritated them later on in their reviews of us. And it cost us a handful of what I think would have been 5-star reviews. So we got rid of that part to protect ourselves. . . Maybe bring it back?

Very good point. I like this idea a lot. We’ll highly consider the text back up when we get the silient treatmeant moving forward.

I considered adding this somewhere to what already may feel like “wordy stuff” to a guest. I feel that so many guests are already hardly reading ANYTHING. But I can maybe find a way to add that. Trouble is, for this example above, the gal had several reviews (along with specific notations about how good she communicated). So why say nothing to me whatsoever throughout her stay?

A part I left out in her Air message to us when she was all upset was how “busy” she said was (explaining not commuincating). I’m sorry, but I just have a hard time accepting that. Everyone is really, really, really, really busy. You pull your phone out to get the door code. You see all the fun sweet things my wife and I have in our welcome instructions. You can take an additional 10 seconds to say “Got it!” or “I’ve arrived safe and your place is amazing!” (majority say something just like this when they arrive).

But when you completely ignore me the entire trip, I ding them like this. But I’m going to try the text route. See if that wakes them up. And even still, you’ve inspired me to maybe go with a 3-star Communication ding rather than down to 2-star like before.

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A strategy that can be useful to encourage communication is to phrase things in a way that the guest perceives that it’s to their benefit to do so, rather than yours. If a host just asks a guest for their ETA, for instance, they might ignore it. If instead the host says something like “Please send us your ETA, so we can assure that all is ready for you. And if you get waylaid, as things can sometimes go, let us know that right away- we do turn our phone ringers off when we go to bed, and if for some reason you arrived quite late, and had any issue, we’d hate for you not to be able to reach us.”

As far as seeing that a guest had previous good ratings for communication, but don’t find they are that way with you- ratings are very subjective, as you can see from the responses here. What might be a 3* guest to you might be a 5* guest to me, or vice versa. As you can also see from the responses here, not all hosts care that much if a guest is communicative, as long as they aren’t problematic in other ways. And there could be something about the initial communication between a host and guest that rubs the guest the wrong way, so they decide to communicate as little as possible, whereas they might have been better with other hosts.

And we really have no idea what’s going on in a guest’s life- they may in fact be really busy, they may have something personal going on in their lives. There was a guest who wasn’t answering any of my messages- I really needed to have confirmation that she had received the map I had sent her, as my house is almost impossible to find without it. Even Airbnb couldn’t reach her. Finally she responded, apologizing profusely, saying a close family member had died, she hadn’t even been looking at her phone, and her Airbnb bookings were far from her consciousness.

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Sounds like you are a remote host. Don’t you have CCTV or similar so you can see when they depart/arrive . If not why not install it?

I think it’s rather unfair to mark them down to 2 stars because they don’t reply to your standard messaging.

I think they see our messages as automatic communication and so not needing a reply. This is especially true, I’ve noticed, for new users. When this happens I send again with a “just to make sure I’ve the right details”. You may have read my tale on this forum about the woman who booked using an incorrect email and only a landline (consequence of zero IT skills, she also forgot the password and even Air couldn’t help her).
So it does happen that they don’t get my communications and I sometimes mention the example above to the guest as a way of seeming concerned rather than nagging. It’s always worked so far. But I think, from being on this forum, I’m lucky with the type of guests I get - usually grateful families or walkers from the less attractive parts of the UK!

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I too feel it’s harsh, like Mica said. They communicated with you once with your confirmation message. They’re on vacation so they really don’t want to be bothered with numerous emails.

Most folks read emails but don’t respond. They just feel it’s not necessary. I do agree that they should acknowledge it by a quick thanks, but I think that’s my generation’s way of thinking. The newer generation will just read them and not respond.

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I consider whether they have communicated appropriately— did they tell me everything I need to know to do my job properly? If there are no problems I don’t mark them down.

Everyone runs their business their own way, but if you are getting negative reactions from your guests about the way you do things, it’s worth listening.

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Not everyone installs the app or allows notifications. I personally think you have one too many notifications and the timing is off (Just my opinion).

  1. I would hate getting check in info on the day of check in. I’m often traveling - I want my message at least the day before.

  2. I message guests once I get notification from my camera that they have checked in welcoming them and making sure everything is ok.

  3. I send check out info the night before. Some guests are late sleepers and may not get message until too late. I think you can combine message 3 and 4).

My first message requires a response so if I don’t get a response, I will send them a text using their phone number on record and tell them that they have a message in the airbnb app that needs to be messages. I ask them not to reply to the text. (I keep all correspondence in the Airbnb message system.)

All others I just let it go. It does irk me too but unless there were other issues with the guest I just don’t ding them for that.

My husband and I were just discussing non-communicative guests. We have a home share with private bedroom/bath/sitting room but serve breakfast in the dining room and allow access to the whole first floor. We had the contrast of super friendly, fun guests one day, succeeded by a couple that barely communicated. They had not read the check in time and asked if 10 PM was OK about 3 hours before that. It stretched our time and greeted them warmly with my usual orientation to the space. We talked about light breakfast the next day. We never saw them again.
After two days I asked by text if I should continue putting out breakfast which they were ignoring and they said no need. Sadly, the food doesn’t totally go to waste - we end up eating way too much, lol. They left without a word. I gave them a 3 on communication and deservedly high marks otherwise. Left a very short review that we didn’t see them much but they left the space tidy. Yet to see a review from them and won’t be surprised if they don’t leave one.

I happened to know that one of the guests had a father on hospice so I cut her some slack. She may not have wanted to talk with strangers right now. We never know what people might be going through to affect their mood, distract them, etc.

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Also some people struggle with the language. Perhaps English isn’t their first language, they have hearing or sight problems, they struggle to read, speak or write. Some people mistake shyness or social anxiety as rudeness.

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I don’t care if a guests responds at all. When I get the booking I send a thanks, Ill send check in info morning of. Then on the morning of I send it via direct text and Air messaging. over 80% respond to the text. People do not have notifications set on app I am guessing.

If they pay, they leave on time and do not leave a mess they are 5 star guests for this host.

All that said, in home hosts may want/need more communication and appreciate your review.

RR

Edited to add: If you give 2 stars you are telling the guest they are not welcome back. Is that your intention? Do you click the would not host again button?

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