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Tell Truth

Airbnb’s review process has remained largely unchanged since its inception. It’s quite simple really. You receive an e-mail telling you to review your host (or guest) right around the end of the stay. Both parties leave their review and the reviews are visible in their respective profiles.

The goal here is honesty!

Recently Airbnb tweaked its review process in an effort to be more honest. Their concern was that some reviewers may be holding back their opinions in fear of retribution from the host or guest that they criticized. This could be a valid concern, especially when we know how important that first review can be.

Now, I’ll admit that you are more likely to leave a positive review after you’ve received a positive review. Does reading a negative (or even neutral) review influence people to be more negative in their subsequent reviews? Airbnb seems to think so.

The new system will allow reviews to be revealed to host and guest simultaneously. But Airbnb didn’t stop there. In the always quickening pace of the mobile world they’ve shortened the review window from 30 to 14 days. This comes after the company revealed that 90 percent of reviews are completed within 2 weeks.

While I understand the logic here, I’m curious about the review window. Certainly some people travel on extended trips where they may not have time or be in front of a computer for 14 days after leaving their latest Airbnb rental. But these people are in the minority and Airbnb has decided the pace needs to quicken!

What do you think? Are these positive changes to the review process or just tinkering too much on Airbnb’s part?

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Kathi · July 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I’d like to give an example using my most recently completed rental (they’ve left a review, and I have yet to do so). There were several issues that, depending on the review they left, would influence what I chose to bring up or just let slide. They may have left a good review of me, but I have no way of knowing that before I leave my review.

I had great difficulty reaching them immediately prior to their arrival when I was trying to make arrangements for getting them access to the house. I almost had to pay my property manager to come meet them to let them in. This was inconsiderate behavior that caused me unnecessary stress until I finally got a response a short time before they were scheduled to arrive. I let it be.

Then they complained that they had to go buy supplies, which were already in the house and accessible to guests, and could have been avoided if they had just emailed or called me first. I politely responded.

A few days after the rental ended, they emailed me with issues that could have been brought up during or even before the rental started. It almost seemed like a passive-aggressive (not explicit) attempt to get me to offer them a partial refund. I politely responded, pointing out the property had been accurately represented.

These are just a few examples of issues I handled quickly, with polite explanations, that would never make it into feedback. However, if a guest should feel somehow slighted, even if unfair to the host, they could put that in feedback. If I initially left a positive review, overlooking issues that came up with this rental, and not knowing in advance that they decided to punish me publicly, I then look like I’m disgruntled and retaliatory if I respond to the feedback with those issues that existed during the rental but I chose to let go of. It then escalates when it wouldn’t have had to, if the feedback had been visible in the first place. I think the old system actually keeps checks and balances more in place, as it forces people to be more civil. A guest may consider their own actions during the rental (for example, a previous guest obviously brought a pet even though my listing specifically prohibits that), and that it could be made public, before they write their review. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people follow the Golden Rule these days, which is why the old feedback system worked better than this new one.

I don’t think the Products development team considered enough scenarios before instituting the change. I have had very good experiences during the short time I’ve been a host, but I can see how it’s possible that this new system could quickly and unfairly destroy a host’s reputation. It makes me very uncomfortable and gun-shy about leaving feedback.


Chris · July 18, 2014 at 12:17 am

Thanks for the great feedback Kathi! The old system certainly had its positives and negatives. I’ve had similar “passive aggressive” type of reviewers as well. Once I even had someone leave me a glowing review on the website but then leave a handwritten note outlining minor inconveniences from their stay! It’s hard to strike a balance between honesty and civility. Let’s see how the new system works, would love to get your report back once you get your first new review!

Anonymous · May 4, 2015 at 9:33 am

I have been sick for the last 2 weeks, and missed the window to review our last 2 guests. I had no idea the option to review someone completely disappears – I feel terrible about it, and there doesn’t seem to be any recourse to backtrack and review a guest.


Chris · May 7, 2015 at 11:08 pm

That is a valid concern! I’ve actually had a similar experience when involved with a multi-stop trip. Sometimes you stay somewhere and then may be traveling without Internet access for a few weeks. It’s a major bummer when you lose your opportunity to leave a review for someone (whether that review was going to be negative or positive). It’s especially bad as a fellow host, you wouldn’t want someone to not leave you a review and you feel bad doing it to someone else. To my knowledge there is no way of backtracking and fixing something like this. Seems like something Airbnb really needs to fix!

John · August 17, 2016 at 9:29 am

I have a guest, that Ive been SUPER nice to. Helped her with all sorts of things a normal person wouldn’t do. Supersensitivity to gluten, finding a new charger, checking in/out late.

She has a late check-out (20:00). I then ask her politely if it could be arranged that some other new air-bnb’ers arriving the same day, can check in with their luggage in the meantime since she’s attending a course the whole day, and just need my apartment to store her luggage, before checking out late.
I feel I’ve been pretty ‘large’ with her checkout-time

She’s not comfortable with leaving her luggage while others check in and I ultimately respect that I’ve said yes to her late-checkout – Just trying to be nice to the people checking-in also. She then replies with a completely over the top aggressive answer in our private conversation, to what was asked as a polite question.

So what do I do? With this review system, I feel she will punish me for asking the polite question. I feel I wanna leave a review at her wall, to sort of point out that she’s not being very good at giving and taking, after all the nice things I’ve done for her.

If I do that though, and she’s writing a bad review on my wall – Wont it just be a constant war between us in our replies on both walls? Or can her review on my profile only get 1 last reply (from me)?


Chris · September 2, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Thanks for reading John! This is a tricky situation. The last thing you want to do is get into a war with your guest via reviews. I’d recommend taking the “high road” whenever possible. You won’t be able to please every guest. Sometimes you just have to move on from troublesome guests and not get too worried about their potential negative review. At least in my experiences, I think less of long, rambling back and forth reviews that seem like a personal issue between guests and host. A simple response to a negative review is all that is needed. Good luck!

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