Weirdly low star ratings on review

I just had a guest leave. She’s from Israel, and seemed pleasant and undemanding, and didn’t say a word of complaint. I had a chat with her the night before she left, and she assured me that everything was fine. She said I was a “great host” (her exact words). She also didn’t fill out the suggestion form - I got the impression she thought none of the suggestions were necessary, and that everything was fine.

Her review was fine. However, her star ratings weren’t. They were.

Overall Experience: 4 stars

Cleanliness: 4 stars Accuracy: 5 stars
Value: 5 stars Communication: 3 stars
Arrival: 2 stars Location: 4 stars

The complete review is (verbatim cut and paste):

Faheem was an excellent host The room is clean and very nice, great location. Definitely recommend for the budget travelers that want to experience the host of a local family

I was particularly weirded out by the 2 stars for Arrival (can anyone enlighten me what the arrival stars are for?), and for the 3 stars for communication. As far as I could tell everything went smoothly. I’m particularly at pains to respond immediately to guests, because often things are time-sensitive, but of course I don’t manage a 5 minute turnaround or anything like that.

My understanding of the stars is roughly. 5 stars is excellent, 4 stars is good but not great. 3 stars means Ok, 2 stars means significant problems, 1 star means bad.

Now, I don’t want to be one of those people who obsesses over their listing, I don’t get paid enough, for one thing. And I realise such an occurrence is far from unusual - I’ve seen people discussing this very same issue multiple times on this forum. But I think maybe it’s worth writing and asking if there were, after all, problems. And why she gave 3 stars for communication and 2 stars for arrival.

So, one question. Should I communicate further via Airbnb’s official message channel, or should I send email to her email address directly? I do have her email address, of course. And does it make a difference either way?

You could ask her via the messenger.

I try to avoid guests from that country as much as I can… they are too hard to please.

As I have said many times, the 5-star system is way, way too critical, causing a monstrous influence by just 1 star. It is a system based on 20% incremental jumps. not 10% (10-star system).

@faheem You have zero to loose by contacting her, regardless of method (Airbnb is not a 3rd party in the issue), or reasons (educating her on the star system, getting to change her mind or learning something).


Hi @Chris,

By “that country” I assume you mean Israel?

But regardless of how hard to please you are, it is reasonable to actually indicate that you are less than completely satisfied, I think. Preferably at a time when it is possible to actually do something about it.

No idea. My arrival technique is the same everytime.

Open door.
Welcome them.
Tell them bathroom is through the kitchen.
Take them to room.
Tell them about the front door key.
Tell them I’m downstairs if they need me.

Used to be more to it but i left instructions in the bathroom. How to use shower, towels and bathroom products complimentary. I also have written the wifi password in the bedroom.

I have 19 reviews for arrival. 18 are 5 star, 1 is 4 star.

People seem to like the efficiency, it’s been mentioned in reviews. I think my way is friendly but professional.

I’m not the most outgoing person but I do try.

Hi Paul,

I’m not completely sure what point you’re making here, but I guess I could reciprocate with what I do at check in.

  1. Say hello. Ask them if they are doing Ok, etc. etc. How was the flight? Yada, yada.
  2. Write down their information in a book, including ID and contact information.
  3. Check their ID. Make copies.
  4. Hand them the key.
  5. Show them around, including the room of course. Run through some basics, including checking the wifi and the keys work for them. Answer questions if any. Mention that pesky Form C that the Govt of India makes me fill up.

This is a relatively prolonged process, but I don’t see myself making any changes. And it’s similar to what any hotel in India would do. Though I believe most Airbnbs in India (or so I’ve heard) don’t bother with much of anything. I realise lots of people, including some Americans, object to having to show their ID and/or having copies made of it, but imo it’s a reasonable security procedure. And the Govt of India makes us submit a bunch of information about travellers anyway.

If the low stars are a protest about giving me information/id, they they should say something at time, imo. But nobody has ever said a word.

I’m still not clear what the stars for arrival are for. Airbnb does not say anywhere, as far as I can tell.

You mean the Airbnb message system?

My point was just I make little effort and get high rating. So don’t really understand what you would need to do for a 2 star. Like my opinion would involve being rude or something equally awful. Which from knowing you on this forum is not the case because you are nice and actually care about your guests. :slight_smile:

But from what you describe it sounds like a great check in process.

Arrival is one category that I always get 5*, because it’s quite meaningless. Unless s guest could not get into the house which in my case is impossible as I have keyless entry. I think this category exists in a first place because guests and host have to make special arrangements vs hotel where there is 24/7 reception.
If you were there, or left keys this category should be always rated as 5*.Its very simple.
I would definitely contact her via anything you choose.
When I contacted my guests who gave me 4* I discovered that almost all of them did not realize that 4* is not enough. They had no suggestions on what to improve and said all was perfect. I stopped checking who gave me what long ago I am always between 75% and 79%, good enough

Hi @Paul_Janaway,

Ok, I see. Thanks for the clarification. No, I’m definitely not rude to my guests when they come through the door. :slight_smile:

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That sounds so odd, Faheem; I would definitely ask the guest for suggestions to improve arrival. You can just pose it as looking for suggestions, as opposed to asking ‘why the 2 stars’.

Let us know what you find out!!

Hi @Yana_Agapova,

Oh, I see. So maybe this category is for people who had difficulty getting in or problems with the key exchange etc.? No, I have a fairly good idea of when the guests are coming, because I ask them, and I’m there to greet them when they come to the door. I have to be (see the aforementioned check in procedure).

Yes, I’ll contact this lady, and another person who gave me less than stellar ratings. Two four star reviews on the same day. That sucks.

You sound very philosophical about the star ratings. I hope I too will soon attain that state of Nirvana.

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Hi @dcmooney,

Yes, I’ll ask them and update here if they reply. But I’m not sure I can avoid saying ‘why the 2 stars’. :slight_smile:

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I would sure want to know, if I were you!! What did she want? A military band? A string quartet? :grinning: Maybe flowers in the room? I have also been marked down in this category before, but since I don’t follow my stars, I didn’t know who did it. How complicated can it be? I greet them warmly, show them the rooms, ask what time they want breakfast, give them info on the nearest little pizza/sandwich place and market, and encourage them to ask me any questions or to let me know if I can help them.

Sometimes I wonder, because my personal space is always in flux, with us coming and going, if they mark me down because there is a flow of clutter in my living area, that they walk through. I almost always have that completely tidy when guests are arriving, but it’s impossible to keep it always neat (I know, I’ve about killed myself trying, because I personally loath clutter and disorder).

Anyway, I hope you get some useful information.

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Hi @dcmooney,

Yes, the bottom line is that if X and Y disliked something that I did, maybe Z will too. So it’s clearly a good idea to find out. Though my budget doesn’t stretch to a military band or a string quartet. I’ll leave that to Mearns and such-like grand people.

And our entrance room is certainly not a thing of beauty and joy forever, but I don’t see why a guest would care. I mean, they’re not staying there. Though, granted, a better common living area where people could hang out would not be a bad thing. But our home isn’t really set up like that.


In another thread you mentioned the recent local Indian guest also downgraded you on “arrival”. I am thinking it refers to the arrival experience for a guest.

Based on the clues given in your own statements, I suspect it may be that your arrival information and check-in process is a bit too lengthy: You ask the guest how they are doing, “etc. etc.,” and about their flight, “yada, yada”. You admit that it is “a relatively prolonged process.”

You also state that you don’t see yourself making any changes so…my lips are sealed.

Well, 20-30 min for a couple (double the information of a single person). Which is probably longer than most. But if I try to speed it up, I’ll just make errors. And like I said, nobody has actually ever said anything about it. I guess I could time it when I next do it…

I don’t really spend much time on preliminary chit-chat. But if I start by asking for ID, it would come across as a bit rude. And obviously one wants to make sure that your new arrival is Ok, not passing from hunger or fatigue or whatever.

30 minutes is a very long time. My check in lasts 5 min


I have to take guest information, but I give them a form to fill out, and sign.
I only check the ID for the correct number.
I only require the ID of the main guest, he is responsible for the correctness of the information of the other people in his group.

The whole process does not take any longer than 5 minutes, or a bit longer if they are slow.

Normal non airbnb guests do an online check in, I wish AirBnB would allow me to send email to my guests, so they can also do an online check in, this would save me lots of time.

BTW, if you copy an ID, make sure you blank the data you do not need.
When I go on holliday, I take my own copies with me, or and put tape over parts like social security number on my ID.
Full copies can easely be used for fraude.