Dear Airbnb Hosts: Let’s talk about reviews

Airbnb Hosts: How you speak to your guests when they post a genuine and honest review of their experience lets me know if you are someone who’s home I would like to stay in. 

I am in the process of searching for my next Airbnb home and I gotta tell you…the way some of these hosts attack their guests when they mention an issue they had during their stay…oh my goodness!!!

Reviews are to be a reflection of someone’s experience, and while some of the feedback may be hard for the host to hear, most reviews are intended to provide insight for the next guest, not to be a trash session for the host. 

I know a lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into hosting. I know it feels personal when people say negative things about your space, your procedures, things you’ve put so much effort into trying to make your home great. It can feel like you are being attacked versus someone just stating what their experience was, and it can be hard to hold yourself back from immediately responding.

But I really urge you to take a beat before you fire off a response to an unfavorable review.

Try your absolute best to take your emotions out of your response. Really absorb what the person is saying, and do some inward reflecting as to whether what they wrote could be their version of what they experienced when they communicated with you, checked into your space, and stayed in your home.

Maybe there really was something overlooked by the cleaning staff. Maybe the parking space was actually difficult to locate. Maybe their version of their stay is actually accurate according to them.

I will be honest. If a reviewer is nuts, sometimes that comes out loud and clear in their review, so a comment from the host, much less a snippy comment, isn’t even necessary. But I will tell you, once the host responds with something snarky, rude, mean, or sassy, that shows me the type of person I may be dealing with when I check into their space.

Will you be polite if I come to you with an issue, or will you lash out?

Mean, sarcastic, harsh comments to a guest’s review puts a bad taste in a potential guest’s mouth. Once I see something like that, I move on and I don’t look back. Life is too short to deal with someone that may potentially lash out at me if I say something to them that they don’t care for.

I also know that hosts would rather a guest reach out the them first, or even send them a private note instead of posting the issues publicly and blind-siding them. But truthfully, guests are not under any obligation to do this. If a guest is staying for two days, and they notice that the sink hasn’t been cleaned off or the oven is dirty, there’s a good chance they will clean the sink and avoid the oven, and the first time it comes up may be in their review. They are only there for a couple of days for an event, for work, or whatever, and they may not want to spend any of that time dealing with housekeeping issues. They may opt to get through their weekend’s events and not deal with the issues at the time of their occurence. That is well within their rights, and the fact that they didn’t mention it to you prior to their review, or privately in a message, does not cancel the fact that it happened.

With that said, that is not my choice…to air issues in a review, but guests have that right, and future potential guests can benefit from them sharing their experience. That is the whole purpose of the review. And a guest does not have to alert a host of their issues or feedback before they write that review.

When a guest reviews a home, the host has the option to respond. This is the opportunity for the host to share their side of the story and to show potential future guests what kind of host they are. Do you think a future guest would prefer to see you blast out a past guest and get into an online verbal fighting match? Or would they rather know that you want people to enjoy your space and that you hope that the next guest has a better experience?

Remember, the response to a review isn’t necessarily to square things away, or to have a final say, with the previous guest. Responding to a review lets future guests know whether you have addressed the concerns raised by the previous guest.

If the previous guest mentions a broken garbage disposal, future guests don’t care that the previous guest should have sent you a private note instead of voicing it in a public forum. They want to know whether the disposal will work when they arrive. If check-in didn’t go smoothly, have you updated your check-in packet or figured out how to make yourself more available when guests arrive? Future guests don’t want to see you have a tit-for-tat with a guest after they are gone. They want to know whether the issues raised will impact their visit if they choose to book with you.

What would a potential guest rather see if your home has a less than favorable review?

Instead of writing on impulse or sassing back to your guest, consider the following things that a potential guest would rather see:

A thank you for bringing the issues to their attention (ex: Thank you for raising my awareness to this issue! I had no idea this happened…) –> Show that you value feedback, whether good or bad.

An apology for something that was overlooked prior to the guest checking in (ex: I’m so sorry! We typically do xyz before guests check in, and I apologize that this was overlooked!) –> Own up to what happened. You have a process, but maybe something was overlooked. We’re all human and it happens.

A statement that corrective action has been taken (ex: we have spoken to our cleaning company and they have assured us that xyz will be done going forward.) –> Sometimes procedures slip. Future guests just want to know that you’re on top of things, and that you want to ensure that they have a clean and comfortable stay.

A message that repairs have been made (ex: we have replaced the broken shower nozzle and our bathroom is all set for future guests.) –>Things break. Guests want to know that everything will be in working order when they arrive.

An acknowledgement that the guest’s visit didn’t go as planned (ex: We are so sorry we couldn’t make your stay more pleasant, but wish you well in your travels!). –> Even if you ultimately feel like there was no pleasing this guest no matter what you did or didn’t do, wish them well and be done with it.

A nice way of saying the guest didn’t read the listing well (ex: I am so sorry that this wasn’t understood! We tried to make this clear in our listing but will look for a better way to let guests know about this up front.) –> There are nice ways to say that you did your part, and the guest just overlooked something. Find the nice words. When all else fails, start your response with “Oh my goodness!” Everything sounds nice after that lol.

My final words on the topic…lean on good customer service. Your response to a review is for the benefit of future guests. Do not waste your effort or energy being rude or upset with someone that has already checked out and gone on about their life. Use your response to reassure future guests that you will do all that you can to make sure that their stay, if they choose to book with you, goes well.

Are you an airbnb host or guest? Have you received or given an unfavorable review? How did it go?

Published by


I'm a Maryland girl, cat owner, and music lover. I'm awkward and introverted and totally flawed, and learning to be ok with it all. Share this journey with me as I write about the various things I love about my state, my random ponderings, and this life of mine.