Response to Great Stay / Low Rating

A guest just checked out who had a good stay. They mentioned it was quiet, clean, close to attractions, etc. All positive with nothing negative at all. They ended the review by saying the home is a good value and would recommend it. Then they rated me mostly 3s and 4s.

I am chalking it up to ignorance of the rating system, but since this just happened last week as well (guest said she was in the hospitality industry and though she had a great stay, she doesn’t give five stars), I’m resolved to respond from here on out. I don’t want these kind of guests back so I don’t see a downside.

So here’s my response sent through messaging - not a response that would show under the review. I’d welcome some editing.

Hi, XXXXX, I just saw your review and am glad you enjoyed your stay with us. I am writing because I want to clarify how the star rating works on AirBnb for the next time you book with someone.

AirBnb’s rating system is not the same as a hotel rating system. Five stars here doesn’t mean our home is like a five-star hotel. It means you had a good stay, the listing was as promised and that you would recommend it to other guests. Four stars means there was at least one issue brought to the attention of the host that was not addressed. Three stars is pretty bad. An average rating of 4.3 stars can result in a host being kicked off the platform. Less than 4.8 means I lose Superhost status, which affects my bookings and income.

Perhaps you stand by your ratings, but I wanted to be clear for the sake of the next host to make sure you understand both the meaning and the ramifications of your rating.


Thanks, helpful for future hosts. I might have selected “would not host again” to avoid any rebookings and help out my IB host friends who require positive reviews.


@Xanadu I see nothing wrong with that message. Guests obviously need to be educated about how their fickle ratings affect hosts.

I have had the review discussion with several of my guests, but as I’m a home share host, that happens casually in course of conversation.

The first guest I did this with, who was a wonderful gal who I really enjoyed sharing my home with and who I still keep in touch with, was totally shocked- she said she had left 4* overall ratings for her past hosts, who she liked and said she would happily book there again. She was under the impression that it was a rating the hosts would be pleased with, said she felt terrible to think she had tanked their rating, thanked me for telling her, and said she would never make that mistake again if it was a place and host she liked and would recommend.

It isn’t just leaving an honest review for bad guests that helps other hosts- cluing them in about the rating system, as long as it can be done without coming across like you’re shilling for a 5* review, but just sharing information, also helps future hosts.

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I ran across this article the other day. I did screenshots of it. My intention is to print out the screenshots and add them to my House Manual.


surely that’s the sort of advice you provide guests in your visitors guide so they are aware of this before they leave a review, not once they have already left one?


I’m not the creator of this but have used this through the years:

As you may know, the AirBnB experience is not the same as a hotel and ratings for hosts are different than on TripAdvisor or Yelp or Google. If you’ve never stayed in AirBnB before, here’s a quick and (we hope) funny guide to how AirBnB expects hosts to be rated:

Overall Experience:
5 ***** = Just as described (or better).
4**** = Not as described, it was just “OK.
3 *** = What a dump.
2 ** = This host should be banned.
1 * = Bulldoze the place

Location Rating:
5 ***** = I can read a map & the location was just as described on the map.
4 **** = I can’t read the map, the place was in the wrong location.
3 *** = I never found the place
2 ** = I didn’t read the description.
1 * = I forgot how to read a map.

Value Rating:
5 ***** = The price was as described.
4 **** = I didn’t read description of AirBnB’s fees.
3 *** = I skipped that part of the listing.
2 ** = I’m a total cheapskate.
1 * = I’d rather be couch surfing.


I would add a note at the bottom about the way Air views ratings - Seriously now, Even though Airbnb states a 4* rating equals “good”, any rating below a 5* could possible have major effects on my ability to host - loss of superhost occurs if the overall rating falls below a 4.8*, possible removal from the site for an average rating of 4.3* or below.


Does anyone have a guide I can leave for my host? I have several Airbnbs booked this summer and I don’t want any hosts to tank my rating. It’s obvious that many hosts have no idea how to rate guests.


“5 for 5” Uber shorthand? Ratings are pretty meaningless, as has been demo’d again and again. Notice you can’t rank search Airbnb properties by rating, beyond Superhost.

Searchers probably focus on the more revealing written comments anyway. “Hal was a great host. Just be aware his dress code is clothing optional in the morning.” “Mary was a charming guest. Though she seemed particularly attached to her trash, which she left piled on the floor.”

Of course, I have been rated a thoroughly great guest by property manager robo-raters. And my Ukrainian and Polish support bookings – I’ve handed out 5s all around.

One thing I wonder is why has Airbnb put so much effort into lengthy post-stay guest questionnaires on all the aspects and amenities of properties? As a host, I’ve never gotten feedback on any of my guests’ responses. Maybe they’re selling it to corporate multi-property companies looking for survey data as a basis to select properties, invest in amenities, or improve guest experience.


I think the lengthy guest review questions are all about verifications of what the host say they have.
How else would they do it?

I think it’s partly that, trying to catch hosts out not providing what they say they do, but I think it’s also data collection.

Yes, but it is AirBnB that should be the ones educating guests right on the review page that a 4 is not considered good and that hosts need to maintain a 4.3 average to stay on the system, and a 4.8 to remain a “Superhost”. If they are using a rating system that is so different to what many are used to (on a 1-5 scale, a 4 is above average) then it is up to them to post a simple blurb about it. It’s such a simple, easy, quick and low-tech solution that could solve a lot of problems.

Why don’t they still to this day?


False. Here’s a couple in Phoenix and I’m sure there’s more. Airbnb sends ominous automated messages but I don’t know that they kick many hosts off the platform. However, there are so many 4.9+ listings in PHX I don’t know how lower rated places get anyone to stay at them. The main reason to keep ratings up is to be on the first few pages of search.



I’ve seen places with less than 3* ratings that are on the first page of search for an area.

Wow. I don’t think I’ve seen that. But I’ve seen some very interesting things in terms of listings, ratings, responses, etc. Things I found hard to believe they were allowed to stand. We’ve posted here before about the fellow whose listing said “no fat people or pregnant women” allowed. After he was flagged he changed the wording but I have no doubt that he “vets” his guests so that policy hasn’t really changed. And there was the guy in Ohio who would outright insult his guests who left him a bad review. I think he called one a “puta.”


Because the review system is used as a stick to manage hosts.
If the review method was fair, there would not be the performance stress that hosts have to maintain excellent reviews.
And if you have a guest that knows that they can completely destroy your listing/ business with a really poor review ………you have a frightened host.
Why would they change it? It works so well to manage a host!


The issue is not with the guest or the review, but the Airbnb system. In the real world, I have said before that the Burj comes in at a 4.5 star out of 5; Essex House and others stumble with less. When we (not Air) have to ‘educate’, it sounds like we are jonesing for a very high reward.

We are measured to the 2nd decimal by our scores, but it’s still not clear to others, or why it’s 5 or nothing.

I agree that the system sucks. I have started to put a welcome letter on the pillow with important information (wifi etc) with a brief explanation why an overall 5 star review is important. I encourage any suggestions/criticism be presented privately and promise to give the guest a 5 star review as well. Since doing so, all my reviews have been 5 star. On the rare occasion that a guest is terrible, I say so and click that I would not host again. These are not guests I would want back and I do not owe them anything. A lot of the hosts on this forum are “pleasers” and seem to feel uncomfortable saying anything negative about a guest even when they deserve it

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Your note is very good and generous in that you’re helping out the next Host, and the one after that . . . .on and on.

In the interest of sharing, as you have, here’s what I do. In the scheduled pre-checkout letter I end with this:

Your stay has been orchestrated by our team of three: Tania’s vision guides the decor, design and colors you see inside and out. Glenn runs day to day Operations, Communications and amenities. Bob is our master gardener, housecleaner extraordinaire and pool master. Bob makes Tania’s and Glenn’s visions happen.

After you’ve checked out, we hope that we’ve earned your five star review. We work hard for these, and our Airbnb community deserves your input.

It’s a bit of an ever-changing puzzle to figure out what people like most So please help us solve this puzzle for you by leaving us a note outside of the review process to let us know what we could have done that would have made your stay more enjoyable.

Thank you for choosing our home as your vacation home.

We hope you’ll tell friends and family about [name of property], and that you’ll re-book with us when you return to the area.