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Obsessing about stars ... again!

First a question: Can a guest leave a star rating without writing a review?

I ask because of a big disconnect between recent reviews and some star ratings. The reviews were all glowing without exception and the “overall experience” was pretty much all 5 with one 4. However, when I looked at the individual reviews (after reading @faheem’s post about 2 stars for arrival) I found that one lot of guests had given us ONE star for location and TWO for value! I have to say I was shocked, both at someone’s obvious two-facedness since there was no review that was less than great, and how a location that has 5 stars from evryone else can suddenly be so terrible!

I make a big point of warning people in our listing that we are not on a public transport route, we are not in the city centre, and though we have a free minibus service that connects with the bus into the city (about 20 minutes to half an hour altogether), this only runs at weekdays and at certain times of the day. What we offer is peace, tranquility, a nice garden and pool, shade from the Summer heat in a really lovely area.

My husband now wants us to actually make it a condition of booking that guests agree to rent a car to avoid anything like this happening again, although most of the non-drivers we’ve had seem to manage ok and don’t mind. Obviously someone did!

Any thoughts? I’m beginning to think the “Rating explanation” proposed on another thread is not a bad idea …

Yes they can just leave star ratings without a review

Hi @Malagachica,

It’s entirely possible this was an error. I recommend that you, or someone else (delegation is a great thing) keep track of your ratings, and write to guests for whom ratings seem unreasonably low asking for clarification. As people have suggested (e.g. @dcmooney), one can phrase this in a non-combative manner as a desire to improve… They may not reply, but hey, you can try.

I’m particularly interested in my ratings, because there are hordes of listings here in Bombay, and I need something to make me stand out. So making Superhost on the next cycle would help me. The other option, Instant Book, doesn’t appeal to me as an option.

There are plenty of people who have said that they don’t care about being ratings or being a Superhost. So, different strokes.

The answer is, I think, trivially yes. I.e. the guest can enter a dot, or just some gibberish. The question, I think is (a) is there a minimum length required (b) does Airbnb take any action wrt non-substantive reviews? I.e. a dot, or even, say, the word “good” (a favorite of Indian Amazon reviewers).

I asked the reverse question in the thread you referenced. I.e. can one leave a review without leaving star ratings? I don’t know the answer to that either.

It’s definitely a good idea. But I said so already.

@faheem, how did you contact your guest after the reservation ended? Once they have left I no longer have an email address for guests.

I just emailed, through the platform, a guest who stayed here in March, just fyi.

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Hi @Chloe,

The messaging system still works for me after they have gone. Does it not work for you?

Plus, I get guest contact information when they arrive, and apparently take too long about it. :rolling_eyes: You might have seen that thread. Always get contact information. You should not depend on Airbnb’s messaging system. Even for routine communication, it cannot always be relied upon.

@Faheem and @dcmooney, thank you. I finally figure out that I need to click the “view all reservations” button. Before that I could only see the reservations coming in the future, so I thought once a reservation was over, all the information for it disappeared.

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@Malagachica, I would tell your husband you can do anything and everything short of standing on your head while yodeling. Nothing is going to totally stop this star dinging that happens.

I started hosting only 2 weeks ago. My first guests gave me all 5 stars, all around. Yay! I was very naïve and thought I’d reach SH status in no time. OMG, I was so wrong.

My 2nd guests didn’t leave a review. My 3rd guests did, and they trashed my stars over a moth and the fact they didn’t like my town. So I went from 100% 5 Star reviews to 50%.

Now, my 4th guests, who were delightful and seemed delighted, just left their review. It was in French, but the translation seems pretty straight forward. It, along with the private comments are quoted below.

We had a pleasant stay . All suitable amenities were present. The place is very warm and well situated in a quiet location close to the beach. Barbara is a very friendly host. She greeted us on arrival and provided us with the information needed to ease our movements. The room was well decorated and very comfortable bed. We strongly recommend this place.
The proximity of the beach while being in a peaceful location and a host that does not hesitate to make our stay more enjoyable.

They left me all 5 starts in all categories EXCEPT overall, where they gave me a 4. There is no rhyme or reason for this that I can see. I suspect that people, and newbies in particular, simply don’t know that 5 stars is good and 4 stars is, basically, bad. Or, if there was something I could have done to have earned 5 stars with these last people, I have absolutely no idea what it could have been. So I give up.

I do know that the three reviews I’ve received so far all came from brand new Airbnb’ers. All three had just signed up and mine was the first place they had stayed. I think this has something to do with it.

I think the overall point here is that you can only do the best you can. There is so much that is out of your control in terms of knowing or being able to figure out what guests expect/want. You’re never going to please everyone, and even if you do, they might not leave you all 5 stars, because, well, it wasn’t the Ritz Carlton.


^^^ A winning philosophy, especially IF you want to go through life happy, which appears you do. Some guests make sense, some don’t. The start system and the whole review scene is a nebulous one, some ratings make total sense, some are a total mystery…

I think an attempt at star education, as per the card that someone created (see other thread) makes sense. If people know that

then maybe they’ll be more careful what stars they glve.

Also, I stand on my head while doing yoga. Otherwise not. And I can’t really do it unassisted. I haven’t yet tried doing it while yodelling. Actually, I don’t know how to yodel, but that’s a minor detail.

I agree. I’m looking for that card and though I hate to, I will start using it. I feel I have no other choice. With only 3 reviews under my belt, an Overall 5, 4 and 3, Air is giving me yellow triangles with exclamation points and “helpful tips” everywhere.

I know I have a good Airbnb. I’ve looked at what’s around me. My room keeps up with or surpasses many. My rate, at an average $80/night reflects my room, my home and my proximity to the beach. Things are clean and comfortable, and I am kind, welcoming and accommodating. Of course, nothing is perfect and there is always room for improvement, but for the most part, I don’t think I am the problem. New guests are the problem, so they need to be educated. Otherwise Air is going to bury my listing so deep no one will find it, or tell me I can’t list period.

For any that read my panic stricken “OMG, I got a 3 overall” a few days ago, I did reach out to that guest. In my original post I claimed she was also a host, but I was mistaken. My fellow host guest is the one who didn’t review me yet. Anyway, she wrote back and said how sorry she was. She thought she left me a very nice review (which she did in the public comments) and didn’t think a 3 was bad. She said she didn’t know how strict Air was with hosts and was surprised that they didn’t take her nice public review into account, like she felt is should balance out any not perfect stars.

So yeah, rating card, here I come.

@Faheem, I do wish I could meet you in person. I love your sense of humor. :smiley:


Yes, I think I’ll start using it too. Though I don’t hate the idea, personally. Maybe some people will consider such a document “fishing”. But, hey, all’s fair in love, war, and hosting. And it’s just an attempt to inform. I’m not coercing anyone into anything.

Yes, exactly the reason why some such information is a good idea. Did you ask the guest to change her stars? I think Airbnb will let her, if she is willing to do it. But if so, you should do it soon.

What was the link to that “OMG, I got a 3 overall” thread again?

I’m sure the guests don’t realise we get threatening messages from Air if our star ratings drop too low. It’s like living in a totalitarian state sometimes.

Thanks, Chloe! It’s nice of you to say so.

Oh, and

really sucks. I feel for you. I wonder if there is some way of politely telling them to stop. But it’s probably automated.

@Malagachica we get hammered for value and accuracy ALL the time. My theory on the Value ratings are that people still have this idea that Spain is extremely cheap, and their holiday will be a discount from their home country. When they get here they realize, that although we are not London, we aren’t a 3rd world country either. Here in Barcelona we always have new flats (illegal) popping up offering cheap cheap cheap pricing, and you obviously get what you pay for, a dormitory style shared flat. We have had numerous guests this season say that although our flat is beautiful, they did not think it was worth the 300E price tag, bc they saw other flats for 79E. I’m sure you have some of this in Malaga, people seeing other ‘cheaper’ flats, and kicking themselves for not booking the cheaper flat, then taking it out on you during the review process.

As for Location… People are stupid, is my only advice! We are 2 blocks away from Passeig de Gracia and we have had numerous complaints that we are not close enough , to the ‘shopping’ area. We state very clearly in our welcome email we are not on Las Ramblas, but people still think we are.

Thanks, @azreala, @faheem & all … makes me feel a bit better … I think I’m quite glad I didn’t know which of our guests did this. It would be worse if it was someone we really liked and thought we’d made a connection with.

I actually replied to an enquiry yesterday, after we’d had a few “your place is gorgeous” yadda yadda back and forth with my new “don’t even think about coming without renting a car” and I haven’t heard back. I actually count this as a plus as it means someone who it wouldn’t be suitable for won’t come and be disappointed!

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Good thread. This star system (and the way Airbnb uses it) perhaps warrants the host taking a more active part in educating their guests what the numbers mean and the consequences. Of course, in a light-hearted humorous manner.

You know, thinking back, most of my guests tell me right out how they are leaving a great review because they had a great time, and I oftentimes mention in passing how the review system is not perfect, but helpful, and I sometime joke how the star ‘thing’ needs more work because 5 stars is considered ‘good’ and 4 stars or below means ‘you are a bum’. They laugh, but the point is made and sure enough never gotten below 5-stars in anything for the last year.

I have (2) 4-stars left over a year ago, no idea by whom. Probably before I perfected my sales pitch, but not sure if that would have helped.

Like @faheem said, all is fair in love, war and hosting.


Depo$its are better than $tars, but a 4-star from a guest who raved about their stay is DEPRE$$ING.


Surely she didn’t think it was “good.” Every student is aware of A to F grades with A being Excellent, B good, C average, D bad, F fail. I don’t think a five star system should be that hard for people to figure out.

I like your idea of subtly educating guests about the star ratings. I try to engage with guests and just check in on how they are feeling. I start with the generic “please let me know if there is anything else you need” which occasionally brings up a request for something like an iron or more fresh fruit. Then I follow up with “I take hospitality seriously and I want to make sure you have a five star experience” which allows them to ask for something extra but usually spurs disclaimers that they have everything. Once they feel like they’ve got everything they want, it makes them realize they got a 5 star experience. So far it’s working, and at least one person has quoted the “host takes hospitality seriously” in their review.

To be fair, I’ve only been doing this 7 months and haven’t had a bad guest yet, so I haven’t had to deal with a jerk. Also, I have positioned my listing as a luxury location with amenities for business travellers (not vacationers) and so I tend to get people who are out all day and don’t really need a lot of extras. But they like the offer.

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^^^ Very thoughtful approach, on two counts. The mere mention that you so confidently state that 5-star is your only aim, sets the mental benchmark for you and the guests. Secondly, the fact you specifically target a specific market (in this case a very mature business clientele) is a smart approach; perhaps the more we hosts narrow our target audience (via our description), the the less ‘wild cards’ we will get.

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