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I am a Superhost and also a traveler. I recently rented a 3 br condo in Washington, Utah for just one night. Three couples and we needed a place to sleep between Las Vegas and Lake Powell. The condo was sterile, clean, comfortable and quite basic. No real complaints about the space per se. Before arrival the Superhost, let’s call her Selby, asked for my personal email address via the Airbnb message platform. She said she needed it to send me a pdf of the house rules. Didn’t think much of that (other than she could have had the .pdf in the cloud and sent me a link). After we checked out we had little or no internet connection on our houseboat and so didn’t get around to writing a review immediately. But then, within a day of our departure, she sent me not one but two emails, a couple of days apart, basically bribing me to give her a 5 star rating. She asked me to do her a “huge favor” and give her 5 stars because 4 stars might hurt her Superhost status. Then she offered discounts if I came back in the future and most egregiously, she told me she had already submitted her review of me as a “perfect guest”.
This was annoying and alarming to me since a: if she had actually paid any personal attention to my booking, she would have seen I have been a host for 8 years and not sent a remedial, rather condescending explanation of the star rating system and such a blatant bribe. But mostly I was appalled that this was clearly her modus operandi. She gets the private email for a semi-valid reason, then AUTOMATICALLY generates boilerplate emails to coerce the guest into a favorable review.
I called Airbnb Support and they showed very little interest and I had to push them on whether they wanted to have behavior like this reported or not. They finally said, “yeah, you can report the listing”. But what I really wanted to do was to provide Airbnb Support with copies of the emails since they are smoking guns.
I also checked some of Selby’s other reviews of past guests and they are EXACTLY the same as the review I got. Boilerplate and probably automatically generated since she uses a website called Guesty.com.
Had she not shown such bad taste and leaned on me, and never contacted me to push for the rating, I would have given her a 5 just because the place met our needs. But as a result of her actions, I gave a 3 overall and 1 for communications. The only real gripe about the space was that she demanded that the towels and ONLY the white towels, be put into the washer… BEFORE 10 AM! One has to wonder where the $150 for cleaning is spent on this rather small condo that was used by us for less than 12 hours.
What do people think? Should Airbnb revisit her Superhost status? It sure seems like that kind of behavior which is explicitly mentioned as unacceptable in the TOS, should have consequences.
I think giving her the rating you did was her consequence and I wouldn’t have bothered to involve Airbnb- her behavior is tacky and crass, but not something a host needs to get suspended for.
I find it amusing that hosts think it so important to maintain Superhost. I got more bookings last season after I had lost my long-standing Superhost badge (not enough bookings to qualify because I closed my homeshare during the height of Covid) than I got with that ugly badge pasted over my photo.
If it were me, I would have private messaged her to say how inappropriate her M.O. is. (in addition to low stars for communication).
I also ask my guests for their email address, as I need to send them a map. None have ever balked at giving it to me. But I’d never use it to do what she did.
Interestingly, I just got a booking from a woman who says she only communicates while travelling by email- that she doesn’t use a phone, only her tablet. That’s going to make things a little more problematic as far as check-in, which I do in-person at my homeshare. She says she just arranges with hosts beforehand the time and place to meet. But things can change, flights and buses can be delayed, so seems like I’m going to just have to keep my laptop on, with my email open, and keep checking it every 10 minutes in case she tries to contact me on check-in day.
And re the $150 cleaning fee- as a long time host yourself, you likely realize that a place that sleeps at least 6 can either end up barely used on a one night booking, or people manage to make a big mess in a short amount of time, so the cleaning fee doesn’t sound particularly unreasonable. But I hate it when hosts ask guests to start a load of wash and stuff that should be part of the cleaning, not using guests to facilitate the cleaning time required. If hosts can’t get the place cleaned, laundry done, etc. in the allotted time between check-out and check-in, they should stop being so greedy and leave a night blocked between bookings.
And hosts who have more check-out requirements than washing your dirty dishes and bagging the garbage should list the expectations in their listing info, not just spring it on guests when they arrive.
Maintained a 4.8 overall rating (A review counts towards Superhost status when either both the guest and the Host have submitted a review, or the 14-day window for reviews is over, whichever comes first).
Nothing you described in your post is relevant to Superhost status. As far as getting Airbnb involved that’s just trying to teach a pig to sing.
Lots of bad behavior should have consequences and doesn’t. But you got lucky and had the opportunity to inflict some consequences on this undesirable host and also help all the fellow travelers who come after you because you already knew she had submitted a review when you submitted yours. Since she’s unethical she could have lied about saying you’re a perfect guest but after looking and seeing all the boilerplate reviews given to every other guest, you would know, (or I would in your situation) exactly what yours would say.
So on stars I’d give 5 stars where earned. It seems like you just downgraded on stars in a, shall we say, unethical manner? Deduction in communication would be the only possible justifiable category.
My written review would have said something like
“Selby’s unit was clean and serviceable for our needs. We didn’t appreciate being asked to sort and start laundry after paying a $150 cleaning fee. I wouldn’t stay with this host again because I objected to being bribed to leave a 5 star review. This is unethical and in violation of Airbnb TOS. I now question if this host has authentic reviews.”
Unemotional facts are germane, how you feel (annoyed, appalled, coerced, condescended to) is not. Vent here and keep the review concise and to the point. People who have the same concerns you do will avoid this host; those who don’t will carry on and your review will scroll on down the page soon enough.
As an aside, someone just posted that individual stars left by a guest are starting to be visible. I don’t know what this looks like as I don’t have that feature yet. I wonder if leaving low stars for a host is going to hurt you as a guest? Best to choose instant book only listings in that case in the future. Hosts who take the time to “vet” guests might look askance at you giving low ratings if all that host’s other ratings are good.
Edit to add:
If it’s this host I don’t see any “bad” reviews left for her. If you gave a good written review you missed your chance to really give any consequences.
How would leaving low stars hurt him as a guest? As a Request to Book host, I can’t see the star ratings a guest left a host (although it sounds from Xena’s post yesterday that Airbnb might be trying this out), I can only see the written review. If I cross-reference reviews to see how guests have reviewed their past hosts, I would only decline a guest if I saw they were a serial complainer.
One thing that jumps out at me that sort of sums up this host’s attitude (which I see as greedy- greedy in expecting guests to assist with what I consider housecleaning so they can flip the place the same day, and greedy for 5* reviews) is that they list a 3 bedroom, 3 bath place for 16 guests- trying to cram in as many people as possible.
They also state in the House Rules section that no pets are allowed, as the owner has allergies and asthma, but then state further down “Guest responsible for accurate guest/animal count including visitors to be included on reservation prior to Check-In.” Which is mixed messaging.
And her profile says she has 2 dogs herself, so it seems like the “allergy/asthma” claim is a blatant lie. Plus they have 21 listings- I seriously doubt the hosts do their own cleaning, so while I understand why many hosts don’t want to accept pets, it doesn’t seem like a host’s allergies would matter.
Yes, sorry, you did make the context clear, but even if Airbnb rolls this feature out to everyone (at this point it seems like maybe they are experimenting, as another host said they were visible, but then awhile later they weren’t) I would still look at the guest’s ratings of hosts the same way I look at the written reviews- if the guest made a habit of giving low ratings, I would decline them, but if I saw that the rating seemed fair given the written review, and the guest rated plenty of their hosts at 5*s, it wouldn’t be a red flag for me at all.
Of course, if the guest only has a couple of reviews they’ve left for hosts, with low ratings, it would give me pause, but in the OP’s case, he says he travels a lot as a guest, so he has likely left lots of reviews.
My issue with the cleaning fee was the bit about insisting that the towels be washing by 10 am, an hour before checkout. That’s just asking the guests to be the cleaners. We pay our cleaner a flat $50 and she can clean our place in an hour. When our regular cleaner can’t do the job we go with one of the local services that charge just $30 per hour. My point is that 5 hours is a LOT of cleaning at $30 per hour.
As to “not something a host needs to get suspended for.” I respectfully disagree. The TOS are very explicit that you shall not lobby or threaten or bribe to get a good review. In my view, any blatant disregard for the TOS is reason to lose your status.
I disagree. Utter disregard for the stated terms of service which explicitly prohibit the behavior of this Superhost IS reason to revoke the status. Breaching TOS is a long-established reason, across most of the commercial sites on the internet, for rebuke, punishment or banning. A host agrees to abide by the TOS. End of story.
What you pay your cleaner locally has no bearing on what anybody else pays their cleaners. Many factors weigh into the cost of cleaning an Airbnb, not just the hourly rate. Specific timing, breadth of project, etc can mean a much more expensive clean.
A three bedroom condo with three couples is going to take more than one hour to clean. And there is no way one can predict what you’re going to see when you walk into the cleaning situation…
But Superhost is based on the 4 criteria that KKC listed- it isn’t an assurance that the host is ethical- it’s basically a carrot Airbnb dangles to stress hosts out about achieving or maintaining it, bending over backwards to kowtow to guests in terror of a bad review.
If it were an assurance of a great host, than it wouldn’t be possible to lose Superhost status because a horrible guest left a 1* rating that Airbnb refuses to remove, tanking the host’s rating to less than 4.8.
Nor is the required number of bookings for Superhost any indication that the host is great. That stat is all about getting booked so Airbnb gets service fees. If a host doesn’t provide them with enough bookings to generate a lot of service fees, they don’t consider you “Super”.
The only two requirements for Superhost that the host really has control over, that would be accurate reasons for someone to be considered a responsible, good host is a high response rate and not cancelling bookings.
So while you or I or other guests may think that a host who dishonors some part of the TOS should be stripped of Superhost status, the reality is that Superhost isn’t based on anything but those 4 criteria. There are plenty of bad hosts out there who speak rudely to guests, who invade guests’ privacy, who try to charge guests the cost of a new sofa because they got a tiny stain on it, who shill for 5* reviews, who aren’t responsive in a timely manner to guest issues, but that has no bearing on maintaining Superhost. If the host’s behavior upsets enough guests, who then rate low, the host will eventually lose that status.
As far as you thinking $150 is a lot for cleaning, you see the cleaning fee when you go to book- if you feel it’s too high, no one is forcing you to book that listing. (Although, as I mentioned, expecting guests to provide free housekeeping chores, so the cleaners can get done faster is not something I approve of, at all. But that’s the sort of thing for a guest to mention in the review, if they find the host’s check-out requirements unreasonable or the host neglects to state their expectations in the listing info.)
I don’t believe the TOS prevents a host from educating a guest about the review system and asking for a positive review, especially since in your case she delivered what she promised in the listing as you wrote
What is wrong with mentioning that a guest is perfect? It seems like she shouldn’t have mentioned you are a perfect guest since you chose to complain about the cleaning fee.
She just sent you her standard message. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
It is common for many of us here to offer discounts to guests who leave our places in good condition. Many of us leave business cards so guests can book direct.
I believe the cleaning fee is shown to you before booking, so if you didn’t like it you should have not booked her place.
Did she make the space available to you at check-in time or did the host tell you to use the space for only 12 hours?
It seems to me that you are the problem rather than the host.
I personally would block her on my personal email and would mention something about her in the review. Something like " I didn’t appreciate host asking me for my personal email and then emailing me requesting a five star review. It’s against Airbnb policy; all messages must be on Airbnb’s platform."
I’d have to disagree with you- this host used the guest’s email address to send a message begging for a 5* review- she obviously knows that her message would likely get her in trouble with Airbnb if she did that in an Airbnb message.
And telling a guest you have left them a 5* review, to prompt them into leaving you one, is a form of extortion and manipulation. It also completely negates the purpose of reviews being blind. Reviews aren’t meant to be tit for tat- you give me 5*s and I give you the same. They are meant to be honest, and uninfluenced by anything but your true experience.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this host asks Airbnb to rescind her “5*, perfect guest” review after seeing how the OP rated her.
And generic cut and paste “Perfect guests” reviews, given to all guests, is not at all helpful to other hosts. When I see that a host does that, I completely discount that review, because I can’t trust that it’s accurate. And what’s a “perfect guest”? What i want to know is: Did they leave the place in good condition, no damages, cleaned up after themselves? Was their communication adequate? Respected House Rules?
And as a homeshare host, I also like to read that the guest was friendly, easygoing and self-sufficient, and considerate of shared spaces.
As a host who emails my guests a map, and often includes transportation and other info in those emails, the last part of your suggested review doesn’t resonate with me. I also whatsapp with guests for some things, like them contacting me when they arrive in town, so I can pick them up at the bus station.
The issue with communicating off-platform is when a host or guest does that in order for Airbnb not to be privy to the communication, because the host or guest knows what they are communicating is unacceptable and can get them in trouble.
The first sentence of your suggested review is right on, though.
And I would put it to you that the things that the host sent me by email, before I had completed a review, offering incentives to give a good review and telling me ahead of time how she reviewed me are ALL things that she would not have dared convey in the Airbnb messaging platform. It is clear to me that, while there are benign and appropriate uses of direct email to the client, obtaining it for one purpose and using it for another (hiding the incentives and 5 star ask) is entirely different. IMHO.