Skip links

Poor reviews and Airbnb

I have to take issue with Airbnb. Yes, Airbnb the online marketplace focused on short-term homestays and experiences that is slowly mutating into an OTA.

My issue relates to reviews. So consider this scenario: a B&B with a set of positive reviews all summer long and no negative reviews until the last day of the season when up pops a negative one with an overall 2-star rating from a guest from abroad. More or less, immediately, an automated email arrives from Airbnb with a harsh warning: “Ads that have recently received a 1 to 3 star rating are at a serious risk of being suspended. If an ad is suspended, we will remove it from search results for 5 days“. How is one bad review indicative of below-par performance after a summer of high ratings?

The surprising thing is that one of the suggested pieces of advice was to read the review from the guest. I mean?! That is an “interrobang”, by the way. I hope my use of it conveys my sheer amazement at such “helpful advice”. Now let’s turn return to the point under discussion. The guests criticised the property for not allowing them to use the kitchen late at night to cook (!) and for not being allowed to put their feet on the “shared” lounge furniture (where is “lounge feet etiquette” these days?).

The holiday property’s ad clearly stated that the accommodation was a B&B so that is widely understood as no self-catering and secondly, without being culturally insensitive, usually at least in Italy people don’t put their feet on furniture out of respect for others. Many may debate the last point, but in a shared environment, the behaviour tends towards keeping one’s feet/shoes firmly on terra firma. A lesson-learnt from this experience is that tourists could prepare and learn a little about a particular culture before travelling for a better adaptation to the local context (fitting with Airbnb’s motto of “LIVE LIKE A LOCAL“) and maybe, the host needs to draw up an extensive list of house rules!

Now, in this situation, Airbnb took the side of the guest and penalised the host without even reflecting on the merit of the underlying criticism (all automated, of course). The host is at the mercy of a guest insisting on a degree of entitlement that shouldn’t be. The end result is that the guest moves on and the host suffers the benefits of the negative review: tarnishing of its reputation, a dive in its revenue stream and a threat of suspension from Airbnb.

Reviews are subjective and every guest is entitled to their opinion, but surely Airbnb could refrain from rubbing salt into the wound by shooting out an automatically-generated mail with a threat of suspension after one poor review?!

Out of curiosity, take a look at Airbnb’s score on Trustpilot!