Okay a little help with some guest insight, please

So we get a lot of tourist guests staying overnight on there way to or from Yellowstone National Park. About 70% of them so far have been from China. When we meet them, they are very nice, pleasant looking, seem happy with the place, voice no complaints whatsoever.
But they leave mediocre to poor reviews, primarily regarding cleanliness. Sometimes they make a glancing reference to it in the main reviews and just mark down the stars and leave a private comment, but on occasion they comment on it full put in the public review.
The complaints almost always involve the floor–saying the carpets aren’t clean (baffling, as there are only throw rugs on tile and laminate, which we vacuum literally daily) or the bathroom isn’t clean. The last guests said the towels were dirty. I was very much surprised, as we wash towels daily, always have fresh ones out, and they are all new within the last month–I probably have about 30 towels used exclusively for guests and just keep rotating them every day. We also clean the bathrooms daily, including showers, toilets, mirrors–the whole shebang. We’ve gotten very efficient about it over the last couple of months. As to the smell, we simply can’t find what is being referred to–even had folks come over who don’t live here, just to try different noses.

I realize there are cultural differences and I’ve tried googling for information on what I might be doing wrong, but I can’t figure out what I am missing. Clearly, I am missing something that would help these guests be more happy with their stay. Can anyone advise me on this? Without going in to too much money? I expect some guests, regardless of nationality, to be less than thrilled with ANY accommodations, as some folks simply look for problems. But the percentage is just too high with my Chinese guests and I really would like to fix that.
Is there something I should be doing, saying, maybe leaving in their rooms for them (we already leave a welcome basket and chocolates on the pillows) or whatever, that would make folks from Chinese culture feel more at home and comfortable? I hate the thought of someone in my home not being comfortable! I can take it if it is simply the one or two odd people now and then, but I get the sense that the accommodations overall are fund lacking something essential for these guests.
Any insight would be helpful!

I’m baffled. The country we get the most guests from is Mainland China. So far, we’ve gotten almost all five star cleanliness ratings from them. I think your best bet would be to ask some of your guests. You could explain that by American standards your house is very clean, yet you are getting less than five star ratings from Chinese guests and ask them to explain what you could be doing differently from their viewpoint. In talking with Chinese guests, I have been told of different views on cleanliness than Americans generally hold. For example, more than one Chinese guest has told me that their relatives use brooms instead of vacuum cleaners. They say that this is because if they don’t have to put their labor into getting the floor clean it isn’t as clean.

Out of curiosity, what is your cleanliness star rating?

I have had all five-stars from my Mainland Chinese guests for cleanliness. Is the linoleum old and worn, so it appears “scruffy?” Sometimes people equate older with dirty.

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So, my in-laws are Chinese and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in China. The only thing I can think of is, do you wear your shoes inside the house?

Chinese are very militant about taking their shoes off before entering the home. They view anything outside the home as dirty. Therefore, shoes that have touched public streets should never touch the floors of the home (even if the home floors aren’t all that clean.)

If they see you wearing your street shoes inside, then the floor is magically filthy, even if you scrub it every day and it’s actually cleaner than their own floor floor back in China. (Which is very possible. Mainland Chinese are not as clean and tidy as they or stereotypes may say.)

Do you offer slippers? Event he cheapest motel in China will have slippers for the guests. I think it gives them the heebie jeebies to walk on floors barefoot.

I agree with the other poster who mentioned the broom. It’s psychological. I’m not sure what your setup is, but try leaving a broom where they can see it.

As for the bathroom, I’m not sure. I still have PTSD about some of the bathrooms I’ve seen in China. Many public bathrooms there are straight out of horror movie. Bathrooms in homes, even affluent homes, tend to be functional rather than pretty. They have buckets and mops everywhere and are not sparkling clean.

Can you post a picture of the bathroom, as it looks when it’s ready for guests?

I’ve stayed in 5 star hotels in China where the towels are clean, as in sanitized, but a little discolored and frayed, so, again, not sure what they expect.


Do you use air freshener? I’ve had Chinese guests who said the scent of the air freshener was horrible and I had to remove it and air out the rooms. To my Western nose it smelled pleasant. To them it was horrendous.

Absolutely you must provide slippers and a no shoes in house policy if you cater to the clientle.
It is a topple effect then…floors are perceived as filthy and germy, so everything is perceived as dirty.
Fixing the shoes in the house, providing slippers, and some Febreeze will likely solve the problem

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Do you use heavily scented fabric softener and/or dryer sheets on the towels? I’m wondering if when they say the towels are dirty, what they mean is that they smell bad, i.e weird to their nose.

I don’t think a lot of people in China have dryers. They hang dry.

Did your friend with the nose try smelling the towels or just the room in general? I guess you could try skipping fabric softener and dryer sheets, or use unscented products.

In May you had a guest cancel due to mildew smell/concerns over mold. I think it is time to bring in a professional and give you a consultation about mold remediation/mildew remediation. They also may be able to find where the problem is. Perhaps you need a dehumidifier?

If you don’t already, use towels that are a color- my white towels look shabby quickly even when using bleach… so I opt for a colorful and striped set for my Airbnb units. You may also have a mildew smell in your towels that is causing guest concerns.

Can you post a link to your listing?

The overall star rating on my listings is 4.8. Other than the guest that cancelled in May for a “mildew” smell (as it turns out, the couple had some massive fight and the wife insisted he take her home), we have had only one other complaint on smell downstairs and that was that the person did not like having a cat in the house.
We don’t wear shoes in the house (I have three boys and that would be a disaster) and we do provide a place to put shoes on entry should a guest wish to. So far, the only ones to wish to were a Japanese group that stayed with us. However, I don’t provide slippers merely because I can’t figure out the logistics. Does one provide a brand new pair of slippers for each guest? The cheapest ones I can find are from ikea at $2/pair. That would be incredibly cost prohibitive when most of my guests are staying one to two nights in groups of 3-5 people. However, washing and reusing slippers would seem very icky to my nurse brain. How does one handle that?
I don’t use febreeze simply because the stuff can be very nauseating to some (or so I’ve read) and is actually fairly toxic. I’ve learned to make my own air freshener with water, baking soda, and citrus essential oils. Could the citrus smell (it’s pretty light) be causing a problem?
As far as linens and towels, I use the “free and clear” version of detergent no fabric softener to avoid any potential allergic reactions (hey, one never knows!). No fabric softener.

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I wear shoes in the house, but I provide slippers for guests who wish to use them. In fact, I bought slippers because Chinese guests asked for them. We wash the slippers in hot water between guests. As I mentioned I almost always get five stars for cleanliness from Chinese guests.

The scent of air freshener is horrible to my American nose.

The slippers we use are similar to these. When guests use them we wash them with the blankets in hot water. I’m confident of their cleanliness with this procedure. However, you could use the sanitize setting on your washing machine.

Personally, I am put off by any scent except for the breeze coming through open windows.


Are you absolutely sure it doesn’t smell like cat or litter box?

It could be they see the cat think it’s “dirty” to have an animal in the house, but that would be more likely with older Chinese. The young, urban generation have taken to pet ownership.

The cats go outside–my sister briefly had a cat box downstairs for her cat, which we kept immaculately clean, but the cat prefers outside anyway, so it isn’t used anymore. We have cat doors for the cats to go in and out.
I think I thought slippers had to be the fluffy/fabric kind one usually has around–kind of plush. If the more rubber/plastic versions are acceptable, those would be pretty easy to disinfect.