Airbnb Review Etiquette

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How to Leave an Airbnb Review


Suppose you just stayed at an Airbnb. It was clean, reasonably priced, the listing was accurate, and the host communicated well. But it didn’t blow you away. When you leave your review, how many stars do you give? 3? Maybe 4? You might think that 3-stars means a place is average, and 4 stars is a good rating. 5-star reviews are reserved only for the most luxurious, above-and-beyond experiences.

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Airbnb holds hosts to a strict 5-star-or-bust expectation. They take any review that is less than 5-stars to indicate that there are major problems with a property or host. In fact, if a host’s account average drops below a 4.8-star rating, then they lose their Superhost status. On top of that, Airbnb could permanently remove a listing if the average drops below a 4.3-star rating!

Because of this, receiving a 4-star review is very damaging to a host. Obviously if someone deserves a 4-stars or lower, review them accordingly. But it’s good to keep in mind what consequences a 4-star review can have for hosts. A 5-star Airbnb rating indicates a great stay—not necessarily a perfect stay. Here’s a general guide to help with your Airbnb reviewing: 


Guest Rating Guide:

5-star: Nobody is perfect, but I enjoyed my stay!

4-star: There are several issues that need to be corrected.

3-star: There are major problems.

2-star: This listing should be removed.

1-star: Ban these hosts for life.


But what specifically should guests be considering in their reviews? Airbnb indicates that the following five things are sufficient for a 5-star review:

  1.        Cleanliness: Every room that guests can access is clean, there’s no dust or mold on surfaces or floors, linens are clean, and trash is clear from       previous guests.
  2.        Essential amenities: hosts provide toilet paper, soap, linens, and 1 towel & 1 pillow per person.
  3.        Accurate listing details: Address and bed/bath details accurate, photos are up to date, and amenities from listing are available and functional.
  4.        Easy check-in: Check-in process is clear and simple.
  5.   .    Proactive communication: Host is available to the guest during their stay.


Within these categories, the bar is low enough to allow for small mistakes. No host is prefect. And if there are problems, there is also room for the host to correct things during the guests’ stay. For example, suppose the internet goes out unexpectedly, for reasons beyond the host’s control. The host calls the internet company immediately. Even if it takes a few hours for things to be fully fixed, the host should not get a lower review, due to their concern and effort. Along similar lines, hosts should not be given a lower rating for things such as: location isn’t near enough to a grocery store, a bug got into the house, dust on the lamp shade, small stains on the clean towels, neighbors that look scary, a power outage, or even a malfunctioning door lock.


What Airbnb Reviews Are Not

Rating systems are a common part of our lives. To help further clarify the Airbnb review system, it will be helpful to see how Airbnb contrasts with other common rating systems.

Airbnbs Ratings are not Hotel Ratings: Similar to Airbnbs, hotels are rated with stars, on a scale from 1–5. A 1-star hotel is the cheapest, dirtiest, place to stay that gets the job done. A 5-star hotel is a rare high-end luxury hotel that you can only find in the finest locations of the best cities.

While these rating systems might seem similar, this is actually a totally different rating system than what Airbnb uses. An Airbnb listing should NOT be rated lower than 5 stars because it does not measure up to a 5-star hotel. To use an analogy, you don’t go 100mph on a highway in Canada just because the sign says “100.” Both are numbers on signs on the side of the road, but one is measured in kilometers, and the other in miles.

Airbnbs Ratings are not Google Reviews: What about Google reviews? It is normal to look at a Google review for a business that has 4.5–4.8 stars and think it is a very good rating. However, Airbnb holds hosts to a much higher standard. In fact, host are held to near perfection, with severe repercussions. If a host drops below 4.8 stars, they will lose Superhost status. Losing Superhost often causes a host to lose money, limits their customer service/support from Airbnb, and their listings are removed from valuable search filters. Worse yet, if an Airbnb host drops below a 4.3 rating (which is seen as a serviceable Google rating), that hosts could have their listing suspended and removed from Airbnb. Airbnb punishes anything but perfection. 


How should hosts rate guests?

There are no clear guidelines from Airbnb for hosts reviewing guests. But they should be consistent with the format for guests reviewing hosts. Specifically, even if some issues occur, that shouldn't automatically be reflected in the guests' rating, and there should be room for guests to make things right. For example, if a guest breaks an item and offers to pay for it, they should not be given a lower rating.


Host Rating Guide:

5-star: Minor issues, would happily host again.

4-star: Several issues and/or guests difficult to deal with, but still might host again.

3-star: Guest caused major problems and/or did not follow rules. Would not host again.

2-star: Other hosts should not accept their reservation.

1-star: The guest’s account should be suspended. 



Airbnb expects a 5-star review to be relatively easy to obtain. You might think is a bad thing: it indicates review inflation, and/or unrealistic expectations. But we can’t change or control these policies. 

Then, what do we do about it? Follow the guides above! Understand the system that Airbnb has set up and separate that from other platforms such as Google. Minor issues shouldn’t prevent you from leaving a 5-star review. Care about your fellow Airbnb users to help build a community that ultimately supports your ease of travel or your business. All in all, give guests and hosts 5-star reviews, unless you truly had a bad experience.