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Generating Positive Reviews from Your Airbnb Guests

It's guest feedback that will make your travel hosting business a success – or kill it faster than you can say "lumpy beds and a dirty bathroom." Discover the secret to eliciting thumbs-up feedback from your guests.
Generating Positive Reviews from Your Airbnb Guests
Image credit: gerenme | Getty Images

The following excerpt is from the staff of Entrepreneur Media’s book Start Your Own Travel Hosting Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

For Airbnb and most other short-term rental services, ratings and reviews are extremely important in the decision-making process for a potential guest. Most people base their decision on several factors, including location, price, property description, property photos, property reviews/ratings and host reviews/ratings. In fact, many savvy Airbnb travelers (your potential guests) won’t even consider staying at a property that doesn’t have an average five-star rating, or won’t stay with a host with below a five-star rating or who hasn’t earned the Superhost accreditation.

Related: How to Handle Airbnb Guests Who Break the Rules

Ultimately, as a host, if you have many more negative or neutral reviews than positive ones, this is going to cost you a lot of future business. Far fewer potential guests are going to risk staying with you, especially if there are numerous other Airbnb properties in the area that have earned higher reviews and better ratings, even if the nightly rate to stay at one of those properties is higher.

How reviews work on Airbnb

When a guest looks at an initial listing for a property, each listing displays a photo of the property, a headline, the nightly rate, the type of accommodation being offered (private room, shared room, entire house, etc.) and how many guests the property can accommodate. A thumbnail photo of the host, the average star rating the property has received (between one and five stars), and an indication of how many reviews that average rating is based upon is also provided.

As the host, you get to customize the listing for your property to a certain degree. But there’s no way to hide this rating and review information: Your listing automatically showcases your average star-based rating and the number of reviews you’ve received.

Potential guests can dig deeper and also view a Ratings Summary chart, which offers average star ratings based on a handful of categories. Here’s a quick synopsis of what each of these highly subjective rating categories relates to:

Accuracy. This allows someone to determine how accurate, forthcoming and honest the host is related to their property listing.

Communication. This is a rating based on a host’s response time when communicating with a guest and whether the responses provided were accurate, help­ful and easily understandable.

Related: Essential Tips for Being a Successful Airbnb Host

Cleanliness. This relates to the overall cleanliness of the property, including the bedroom(s), bathroom(s) and common areas.

Location. This rating relates to how convenient the property’s location is to local landmarks, attractions, points of interest, public transportation, nearby shopping, restaurants, bars or whatever the guest is personally interested in.

Check In. This rating relates to how welcome the guest felt when they first arrived and how smoothly the initial introductions and property tour went, for example.

Value. Based on your nightly rate and what your property offers in terms of comfort, cleanliness, safety, amenities and your hospitality, each guest is asked to rate whether or not staying with you and paying your nightly rate is a good value.

As you’ll discover, some past guests will write long and detailed reviews of their experience staying at an Airbnb property. Others will write one short sentence and quickly provide the star ratings. Many guests, especially if they’ve had a positive experience staying with you, will forego writing a review altogether (which saves them time but doesn’t help you build up your credibility as a host). Thus, one of your challenges will be getting your guests to actually write and publish a review and submit their ratings upon checkout.

Related: 10 Hosting Options Beyond Airbnb

Keep in mind, when anyone using the Airbnb service views your personal profile, they can see the number of reviews you’ve received and whether or not you’ve been verified. Also displayed on your profile page are the Reviews from Guests you’ve received as a host, as well as Reviews from Hosts you’ve received when you’ve traveled and stayed at other Airbnb properties as a guest. Many savvy Airbnb travelers will look at a potential host’s profile page to read all of the host’s past reviews in order to learn more about them. 

The following 10 tips will help ensure you earn the best possible reviews from your guests.

  1. Respond to booking requests, questions and concerns from potential guests as quickly as possible.
  2. Be honest when creating your property listing and personal profile.
  3. Offer something unique that other nearby Airbnb properties don’t offer, or make a point to offer a great value based on your nightly rate.
  4. Set up House Rules that get everyone on the same page in terms of what guests can and can’t do while staying at your property.
  5. Provide a clean, safe and comfortable environment for your guests.
  6. Welcome your guests personally when they arrive, then be on hand for their checkout.
  7. Provide extra amenities, on a complimentary basis, that will make a guest more comfortable.
  8. Create a clearly written and easy-to-understand home manual.
  9. Check in with your guests periodically during their stay.
  10. Always be polite and professional when inter­acting with potential and actual guests. Try to avoid allowing small disagreements or misun­derstandings to escalate into formal complaints that get submitted to Airbnb.