Are Airbnb reviews reliable?

Old Jul 2, 16, 6:24 am
  #16  
 
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I really dislike the Airbnb review system. On my one and only Airbnb stay, I left a very fair and positive review, but made note of extreme neighbor noise and thin walls that were very disruptive and made it hard to sleep. My review was 95% raving about how wonderful the place was, and 5% making note of the noise issue. I was totally ripped apart in my review from the owner, saying I was a horrible, demanding, unrealistic guest, and that he would never rent to me again. At least I had a chance to reply to his review, but still, how ridiculous?
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Old Jul 3, 16, 11:33 am
  #17  
 
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10000% skepitcal of airbnb reviews.

Even myself, I only give 5 stars or no reviews. Unless something terrible happens, in which case I give a 1 star.
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Old Jul 6, 16, 1:35 am
  #18  
 
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I used - or tried to use- Airbnb for the first time recently. I have a wedding to attend in Sonoma county at the end of July. I am traveling with my gf and our three dogs. Finding dog-friendly places in wine country can be challenging. I found a spot about 6 weeks ago in Santa Rosa and communicated with the host. I was offered the house and paid in full.

Yesterday i received notification that my reservation was cancelled by the host. No explanation was given. I attempted to contact the host but she did not respond. I contacted Airbnb support on Twitter and our conversation resulted in very little satisfaction on my end. The host has a minimal $50 penalty, while I was at risk of the entire (>$300) amount if I would have cancelled. I wanted to leave a review about the rental/host, but was told that I was not allowed to do so. They attempted to placate me with a $75 credit towards my next reservation with them. Meh.

I think their policies need some tightening up. Hosts should have more exposure if they cancel. Reasons for cancelation should be relayed to guests. Finally, when a host cancels like this, there should be the opportunity to review them so that the rest of the community may be aware of the particular host's proclivities.
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Old Jul 6, 16, 11:16 am
  #19  
 
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dr freeze, that does suck. There are some other (non-financial) consequences for hosts who cancel reservations, but you're right, Airbnb/VRBO/HomeAway etc. will always have this risk.

To avoid it in future on Airbnb, look for rentals whose hosts have "Superhost" status. To get that designation, you can't ever cancel a booking (among other pretty strict criteria), so it at least means that you will have a host who's never done that in the past. It is also possible for hosts to work out some sort of solution to a need to cancel a booking with the help of Airbnb's customer service desk, like shifting the reservation to another Airbnb property. That would have been a respectful and service-oriented action for your host to take, and it's a shame that s/he didn't try it.

Back on the original thread topic of reviews, there are indeed negative reviews. I just left my first negative review of a guest, after 3 years of hosting. A twentysomething couple somehow managed to leave major, very hard-to-remove stains on the bathtub in their room, and left without a mention or an apology for it. Not cool, and I mentioned it in my review of them--other prospective hosts should know about it (and so should these guests). I also have no problem leaving less-than-glowing reviews/ratings of properties I stay in, if the situation warrants, although it rarely does. When I stay at Airbnbs, I've been seeking out Superhost properties for the last year, and it is a good practice.

CurbedEnthusiasm, the host can't see what you've written until both of you submit your reviews. So their negative review of you could not have been a response to your review of the property. They can write replies to what you wrote in your review of the property, but it wouldn't appear in the list of host reviews of you. If their initial review of you was negative, you do have the chance to respond, but that response appears in the list of reviews of you as a guest. ETA: I didn't know this until now, but I now see that lhrsfo is right and even non-mutual reviews do appear after some period of time--I just checked on a guest I reviewed two months ago who never reviewed me, and my review of him is there on his profile page.

Last edited by travelmad478; Jul 6, 16 at 11:57 am
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Old Jul 6, 16, 11:50 am
  #20  
 
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Originally Posted by gungadin View Post
I rarely look to any review for being positive or not since that can be a very subjective opinion. Instead I read reviews very carefully indeed to find out the most I can about any rental. I check to make sure that the owner listed is the owner of record by googling the name. I talk to any owner personally and ask lots of questions. As with anything you buy, the seller wants to show their product in the best light and the buyer needs all the information that a large purchase warrants. I have rented successfully from Home Away , VRBO, and Airbnb
How do you talk to them. Is there a phone number given somewhere?

Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
dr freeze, that does suck. There are some other (non-financial) consequences for hosts who cancel reservations, but you're right, Airbnb/VRBO/HomeAway etc. will always have this risk.

To avoid it in future on Airbnb, look for rentals whose hosts have "Superhost" status. To get that designation, you can't ever cancel a booking (among other pretty strict criteria), so it at least means that you will have a host who's never done that in the past. It is also possible for hosts to work out some sort of solution to a need to cancel a booking with the help of Airbnb's customer service desk, like shifting the reservation to another Airbnb property. That would have been a respectful and service-oriented action for your host to take, and it's a shame that s/he didn't try it..
I agree on looking for Superhosts! I chose a Superhost on my first Airbnb rental out of caution. I had a wonderful experience, but I was contacted a week before I was to fly there (to Barcelona from the U.S.) and asked to switch to a different apartment (same building) saying the guest in my original choice had medical issues and needed stay there. I was very skeptical, but had already paid for the stay and accepted. We were given a choice of two apartments when we got there, both bigger and better located in the same building.

The host was very responsive during our stay and helpful with all questions. The place was great! But last minute changes with unverifiable excuses after one pays $2k make it difficult to fully trust.

My review was good, but I mentioned the switch and rated the host 4 stars. He gave me an excellent review 5 stars.

Also, isn't there a private feedback one can give that both the host and Airbnb corporate can see?
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Old Jul 6, 16, 11:53 am
  #21  
 
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Originally Posted by Bear4Asian View Post
Also, isn't there a private feedback one can give that both the host and Airbnb corporate can see?
There is private feedback that only the host can see, and there is also private feedback that only Airbnb corporate can see (although I am rather skeptical that anyone from Airbnb corporate actually reads any of those--the volume must be enormous). That said, you can only give feedback of any kind if the stay has actually occurred. If it's been canceled by either side, then no reviews are possible.
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Old Jul 8, 16, 5:44 am
  #22  
 
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Unfortunately you shouldn't trust the reviews on Airbnb especially for "private rooms".

Having used Airbnb myself for "entire place" and "private rooms" (in LA mainly), a lot of those reviews are unreliable. Anything less than a five star is basically sub-standard for a host.

Case in point...I once had a friend write a five star review for a property; sent him a message on Facebook to ask him if the place was actually good. Response, "book elsewhere" lol - It wasn't that bad apparently, just wasn't as clean and there were better options closer downtown.

Guests feel the pressure to leave five star reviews because of the culture on the site and not to offend any host. Since you build a relationship with then often and don't want to inconvenience the host (at least from my point of view)

There were some great entire condos that were better than hotels which certainly deserved their five+ star reviews. There were also some unique "private rooms" in Singapore that was worth the experience. To gauge an Airbnb listing, really look at the listing information itself and the small hints in the reviews. (don't look at the stars, look at the comments and the enthusiasm)
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Old Sep 8, 16, 10:48 am
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by ritesa View Post
Exactly. One of the best-thought-out posts I've ever read on FT.
+1! The "real Airbnb" I like - the "professionally managed" hotel types I dislike. Make that "detest"! Of the five Airbnbs we've stayed in, that was the worst experience, especially because the manager was not even available in person when we showed up. We were supposed to call (phone) him.
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Old Nov 29, 16, 6:32 am
  #24  
 
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i have used airbb as guest and as host many times.
agree totally with LHRFSO about guest reviews.
an additonal IMPORTANT point is that guests frequently OVERRATE because
if they write poor review they know the next host they want to stay with might reject them.
i have stayed at real dumps with good reviews
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Old Dec 4, 16, 9:57 am
  #25  
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I guess I've been part of the problem. I have given good reviews when things have gone wrong but they have all been minor like a single cockroach found at a tropical property (where its impossible to keep them out regardless of cleanliness). One problem is a 5 star review is subjective. A super cheap place may deserve a 5 star based on what one would expect at that price point. You also have to remember 5 stars is not equivalent to the hotel rankings.

It goes the other way as well. Sometimes the really bad reviews are out of the blue and unwarranted. For instance at this one I stay at has had some bad reviews but its mainly people who did not read the house rules or even the actual description. Another one they were expecting a 5* resort on a $100 a night Miami beach rental where nearby hotels are charging 4x that price

I'm at 16 stays so far (8 in the last 8 months) Outside of 2 minor issues and 1 host who cancelled last minute, my experience has been positive.
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Old Dec 8, 16, 9:10 am
  #26  
 
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I've had 3 AirBnB stays and my philosophy thus far has been to start at a baseline of 5 stars. What will affect the rating, in my mind, are:

- Was the property misrepresented in any way? If so, how significantly? If it's minor, no impact.
- How was the host? I don't expect them all to be super-friendly and spend a lot of time going over things to see/do, restaurant recommendations, favorite shops, etc. But are they, at a minimum professional, on time, providing all the house rules, basic directions/tips, resources like maps, keys, etc.?
- Were there any hidden or unexpected fees, or did we pay what we expected to pay?

If it passes all those criteria, 5 stars. If not, I'll try to take it up with the host first. If it can't be resolved to my satisfaction, then it will affect the rating. So far, all 3 properties have received 5 stars.

For the record, I also noted in one of my reviews that there could be quite a bit of noise from the stairwell and from church bells, and that street noise could be an issue at another property given the very central location. I said it's something to be aware of if you're a light sleeper, so pack ear plugs. Didn't affect my rating and those reviews, last I checked are still up. No negative reaction from the hosts, either.
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Old Dec 29, 18, 9:06 am
  #27  
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They have improved. Last year the renter got to see your review before they did yours and if you wrote a bad one, they would crucify you such that you could never rent again. Now they are supposedly blind to your review
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Old Jan 2, 19, 2:12 pm
  #28  
 
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Originally Posted by Zurick View Post
They have improved. Last year the renter got to see your review before they did yours and if you wrote a bad one, they would crucify you such that you could never rent again. Now they are supposedly blind to your review
They are blind but all future renters/owners will see your profile. So if one wrote a scathing review for a host, future hosts will see it and consider not hosting someone they see as too picky. So there is still pressure on both sides to sugarcoat everything.
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Old Jan 2, 19, 3:35 pm
  #29  
 
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Originally Posted by Agneisse View Post
They are blind but all future renters/owners will see your profile. So if one wrote a scathing review for a host, future hosts will see it and consider not hosting someone they see as too picky. So there is still pressure on both sides to sugarcoat everything.
This is a bit of a stretch. I've been a host for 7 years and have never once looked up a guest's reviews of other hosts before deciding whether to rent to him/her. I occasionally look at hosts' reviews of prospective guests, but not very often. Honest reviews are best for everyone.
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Old Jan 2, 19, 3:48 pm
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by eigenvector View Post
I have two different review standards for AirBnB depending on whether it's a "real" AirBnB (i.e. person renting a room in their home or their summer/vacation home) vs. the many "AirBnB hotels" that are professionally managed, often by an agent managing 10+ units and have been purchased for the sole purpose of being rented on AirBnB.

For the former I don't have as high expectations and will basically give 5* to any host who is making a good effort with no major deficiencies or inaccuracies in their listing. For the latter I hold them to the same standard as a hotel and will review harshly if the place obviously hasn't been cleaned since the last guest, if the furniture/bedding/kitchenware is inadequate or isn't clean, if communication is poor and they are not available to answer questions, etc.

For example, if I am renting an extra bedroom from someone in their home, I don't expect their entire home to be in the same state of industrial cleanliness as a hotel. However, if I'm renting what is effectively a hotel suite from a professional property manager, it's absolutely unacceptable to have dirty dishes in the cupboards. Likewise, when dealing with a "real" host, they may be unavailable at certain times of day for example if they are at work. When dealing with a full-time property manager, they had better pick up the phone when I call and if not, return the call immediately, the same as a hotel front desk.
Absolutely! Very well said.
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